In our opinion, the Bloodfin Tetra is one of the most underrated species in the aquarium industry. Due to a lot of other popular Tetras, these freshwater fish don’t get nearly the amount of attention as they deserve.
In fact, we’ve been big fans of these fish for the last few years. They’re quite pretty, easy to care for, and peaceful.
This guide will give you the rundown on every aspect of Bloodfin Tetra care. You’ll learn about their ideal water parameters, tank mates, how to set up their tanks, and even breeding tips!
Table of Contents
Bloodfin Tetras (Aphyocharax anisitsi) are a visually striking freshwater fish that are fun to watch and easy to care for. They are part of the characin family and share many of the same characteristics of other Tetras.
These fish are endemic to rivers in South America. They are most commonly found in the Parańa River basin. However, they’ve also been spotted throughout the Amazon, in Eastern Peru, and Colombia.
Today, you’re most likely to see these fish as part of a colorful community tank. Bloodfin Tetras do well in large groups and get along with most other peaceful fish. No matter how large your community tank is, these fish are sure to be stars of the show.
The typical Bloodfin Tetra lifespan is around 5 to 8 years in captivity. This is on-par with many other popular tetra species.
Of course, there are no guarantees. Despite their hardiness, these fish can be sensitive to poor water conditions. They need a well-maintained habitat and plenty of high-quality food to truly thrive. Otherwise, their lifespan might be shortened significantly due to disease or injury.
While Bloodfin Tetras may not have the flowing fins or unique body shape as some other aquarium fish, they are certainly quite beautiful in their own right. These are smaller fish that take on a torpedo-like shape. They are girthier towards their head and midsection. However, their shape tapers off to meet their sizable caudal fin.
The primary color of the fish is silver. The scales take on a somewhat iridescent finish. As a result, you may notice flashes of greenish-blue as light bounces off their body. The silvery color covers most of their mass.
What’s unique about this fish is their fins! They’re aptly named after the vivid red color that covers their dorsal, anal, adipose, and tail fin. It offers a stark contrast to the rest of their body and makes the fish stand out in any environment.
Typically, the red will cover most of the fins. The only part that’s not red is the tips, which are usually transparent. These are ray-finned fish. However, the rays are quite delicate and difficult to see compared to other species.
You won’t find too many differences between males and females. Sometimes, mature males will develop visible gill glands and some subtle hooks on the anal fins. However, this isn’t a guarantee.
The best way to determine sex is to take a look at the red coloration. Males tend to be more vibrant than their female counterparts. Females also tend to be a bit more plump. This is especially true around breeding time.
The size of a full-grown Bloodfin Tetra is just over 2 inches in length. Thanks to their small size, they are very manageable and do well in small to medium-sized tanks.
Author Note: If these fish are born into poor conditions it’s common for them to be a little bit smaller than normal. This is due to developmental issues that end up affecting their size.
Bloodfin Tetra Care
For the most part, Bloodfin Tetra care is pretty easy. This species is hardy and can adapt to a wide range of environments, which is a perfect trait for a community tank. Plus, they’re relatively peaceful and rarely cause harm to others.
Of course, these fish still need proper care if you want them to be healthy. To reach their full potential, Bloodfin Tetras actually need carefully monitored environments. Providing them with everything they need will ensure that they reach their full size while living long and happy lives.
Bloodfin Tetras are schooling fish. They do best in larger groups. As such, don’t expect to see much success keeping a solo fish in a small tank.
As the bare minimum, we recommend starting out with a tank size of 20 gallons. A tank of that size is suitable for 5 to 7 fish. Of course, bigger is always better.
Author Note: If you plan on housing different species with your Bloodfin Tetras or having a larger school, you must increase your tank size significantly.
The great thing about Bloodfin Tetras is that they aren’t particularly fussy when it comes to water parameters. They adapt well and won’t have too many issues with slight fluctuations.
That said, you still need to stick to a general range of water parameters. Like any fish, Bloodfin Tetras do best in waters that are similar to their natural habitat.
This species comes from bodies of water in South America. They prefer things to be on the warmer side (they can survive in colder tanks as well though) with a relatively neutral pH balance. Here are some parameters to follow:
- Water temperature: 64°F to 82°F (around 70 degrees is preferred)
- pH levels: 6.0 to 8.0
- Water hardness: 2 to 3 dGH
As long as you stick within these ranges, your fish should have no problem staying healthy. However, it’s important to test these levels on a consistent basis to make sure they’re stable.
Setting Up Their Tank
Here is where you can really get creative.
Bloodfin Tetras need a lush tank filled with some natural decor (they do come from South American rivers after all). The goal when planning your tank should be to replicate that environment as closely as possible.
You can start with some dark sand substrate at the bottom. The dark color is reminiscent of river beds, which are usually covered in dead plant matter. Bloodfin Tetras don’t spend a ton of time at the bottom of the tank, but having that foundation doesn’t hurt.
Now, use live plants to decorate the tank. Bloodfin Tetras need plants for a couple of different reasons.
First, they offer shelter. These fish can get skittish sometimes and will need places to hide.
Secondly, it helps to block some light. Those South American rivers they come from are often filled with vegetation. Plus, the shores are lined with trees that block out the sun.
When adding plants, make sure that you leave plenty of swimming room in the center of the tank. Arrange any vegetation around the perimeter so that that nothing is preventing the fish from swimming freely.
In addition to plants, consider utilizing some artificial hideouts. You can use plastic caves, real rocks, or even some driftwood.
As for equipment, your standard canister filter will do just fine. Just make sure that it’s powerful enough to cycle the tank efficiently. Bloodfin Tetras don’t really need an in-tank heater if the water stays above room temperature throughout the year. The light can always heat things up when needed.
Author Note: Don’t forget a sturdy lid! Bloodfin Tetras are notorious for jumping above the surface of the water. This tends to happen even more when they breed, so you need that lid to ensure that they don’t jump out.
As we mentioned earlier, Bloodfin Tetras are quite hardy. Despite their small size, they are tough and relatively healthy. The only time you need to worry is when water conditions take a nosedive.
Like any other fish species, Bloodfin Tetras are sensitive to extreme changes in the water. Rapid temperature fluctuations or high levels of ammonia in the water can do a number on their health.
They will become stressed, which increases their risk for several common fish diseases. This includes bacterial infections, fungal issues, and even parasitic infections! The most common ailment you’ll likely have to deal with is Ich, which can be fatal if not treated.
Luckily, you can easily treat the condition with some over-the-counter medications. Just make sure that you quarantine your infected fish, as Ich is highly contagious.
The best way to avoid disease altogether is to stay on top of water conditions. Monitor parameters regularly and perform water changes every week or two.
Food & Diet
In the wild, Bloodfin Tetras often eat insect larvae and plant matter. They are omnivores, so you shouldn’t have any issues finding something that they will like. For the most part, you can stick with commercial flakes or pellets.
However, we always recommend supplementing dried foods with high-protein snacks. Brine shrimp, bloodworms, tubifex worms, and daphnia are all good protein-rich options.
Only feed these fish as much food as they can eat in about 2 minutes. They have small stomachs and overeating is a very real risk.
They should be fed twice a day, but make sure that you keep the meals small.
Behavior & Temperament
Bloodfin Tetras are active swimmers. You’ll see them darting around in groups throughout the day. Typically, they only occupy the upper half of the aquarium.
Aggression isn’t too much of an issue. Overall, they are quite peaceful and will get along with other peaceful fish species.
However, you might notice some small signs of aggression here and there depending on the situation. They will fight within their group every once in a while. Sometimes, some bigger fish will pick on the smaller ones. You might notice bigger Bloodfin Tetras nipping at others around feeding time.
This usually isn’t a big deal, but keep an eye on them just to be safe. If it becomes a constant problem, you might want to consider getting rid of the aggressor to ensure that everyone stays healthy.
Bloodfin Tetras have been known to nip at the fins of some other fish as well. They’re attracted to the flowing fins of Guppies and Angelfish, so you might not want to keep those types of fish in the same tank.
Bloodfin Tetra Tank Mates
Bloodfin Tetras do best in groups. We recommend a group of 5 to 7 fish. If you have room, feel free to add more! A larger group can reduce the chances of in-fighting and will help every specimen feel more comfortable in the tank.
These fish do well with other similarly-sized fish species. Other types of Tetras are great. In general, try to keep the fish similar in size.
Avoid all large fish and aggressive fish. With their small size and bright red fins, they can quickly become targets.
Below are some good Bloodfin Tetra tank mates that can live peacefully with this species:
- Neon Tetra
- Cardinal Tetra
- Cory Catfish
- Green Neon Tetra
- Peaceful shrimp (we like the Ghost and Amano)
- Any freshwater aquarium snails
- Ember Tetra
- Gentle Plecos (try the Bristlenose or Rubber Lip)
- Bottom-dwelling Catfish (Pictus and Bumblebee are great)
Author Note: There are plenty of other Bloodfin Tetra tank mates you can consider. This list should just serve as a starting point. As long as the species is similarly-sized and peaceful, they’re probably compatible (behaviorally).
The Bloodfin Tetra breeding process is quite easy. We recommend setting up a separate breeding tank. Fill it with plants and ample open space.
To trigger the process, you can keep light levels low and provide plenty of protein-rich foods. When they are ready, the fish will naturally pair off and the female will lay eggs.
You might notice her jumping out of the water. This is normal. These fish often leap above the surface of the water and let the eggs sink down to the bottom tanks. Sometimes, they are a bit more organized and choose wide-leaf plants to lay eggs.
Either way, it’s important to remove the adult fish after spawning. They don’t exhibit any parental behavior and will try to eat the eggs. In total, female fish can lay between 300 and 500 eggs!
They will hatch in a few days’ time. The fry will consume the egg sac first. After that, you should provide infusoria and powdered fry food until they are big enough to consume baby brine shrimp.
What Are You Waiting For?
Now that you’re familiar with Bloodfin Tetra care and all the reasons why they’re such a great freshwater species, you should really consider getting some for yourself.
These fish are a pleasure to own and really are fun from start to finish. They’re relatively low-maintenance, beautiful, and fun to observe.
We’ve heard from plenty of owners over the years who have nothing but great things to say about this species. Maybe you should join their club!