Silver Tip Tetra Guide: Care, Lifespan, Tank Mates…

Silver tip tetras are beautiful freshwater fish that don’t get the attention they deserve. This underrated species is truly a joy to own if you know how to provide them with the right conditions.

This guide will cover everything you need to know about silver tip tetra care. You’ll learn about their tank mates, diet, lifespan, tank setup, and more!

Species Summary

While not as well-known as other popular tetras, the silver tip tetra (Hasemania nana) is a gorgeous freshwater fish with a unique personality to match. Like other types of tetras, silver tips are resilient and relatively easy to raise. They thrive in most tropical biotype aquariums and do well in community tanks.

The silver tip tetra is endemic to small streams and tributaries in South America. They’re most prevalent in the São Francisco basin in Brazil. However, they have a pretty wide distribution that includes both white and blackwater environments.

Author Note: As a shoaling fish, this species does best in large social groups. When kept in a large aquarium, these colorful fish can create a shimmering wave that you can’t help but enjoy!


Silver tip tetras have the same iconic torpedo-shaped body as other species in the Characidae family. In fact, their silhouette is very similar to that of the neon tetra and cardinal tetra. Beyond the color, the main difference with the silver tip tetra is that it lacks an adipose fin behind the dorsal fin.

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One silver tip tetra looking for food

Male silver tip tetras have a deep copper color. They’re semi-transparent, but the coppery sheen reflects the light beautifully in most conditions. 

Females have a subtle yellow undertone as well, but they’re not as vivid. Instead, the body color is closer to silver. Plus, they have a larger overall shape and a plumper belly!

Both males and females are sporting golden-yellow fins. Each one is dotted with bright silver at the tips, which is how these fish get their name.

On the base of the tailfin, silver tip tetras have a distinct black mark. It extends into the caudal fork and is flanked on both sides by a touch of yellow.

This species is a sight to behold. The finer physical details make them more intricate than other tetra species. But the overall coppery sheen also works to create a uniform shoal color in large groups.


With good care, the typical silver tip tetra lifespan can be anywhere from five to eight years.

Many factors will impact the lifespan of these freshwater fish. While genetics play a big part, so does the level of care you provide. Good husbandry is a must to keep these fish stress-free and healthy.

Average Size

The average size of silver tip tetras is around 1.2 inches in length. That puts them on the smaller end of the size spectrum.

Author Note: In some instances fully grown adults have reached up to two inches in length, but that’s quite uncommon. Having a silver tip tetra reach this size is a combination of good genes, great care, and some luck. 

Silver Tip Tetra Care

Silver tip tetra care is a very straightforward process. These fish are some of the most resilient in the trade. They adapt well to standard tropical conditions and are relatively undemanding.

All that said, they do have some preferences and behavioral quirks you’ll need to accommodate if you want them to truly thrive.

Here are some care guidelines to help you start on the right foot.

Tank Size

Thanks to their small size, silver tip tetras don’t need a massive aquarium to stay healthy. A small group can do fine in a standard 10-gallon tank. But for the best results, we recommend starting with a tank size of at least 20 gallons instead.

20 gallons is enough to support the lifestyle of a small shoal. As a good rule of thumb, provide about three gallons of volume for every adult tetra you plan to have.

Author Note: You can scale up if you plan on owning a big group or want them as one of the community fish you plan on keeping.

Water Parameters

Hailing from the warm waters of South America, silver tip tetras are the epitome of “tropical.” One of the reasons why these fish do so well in captivity is because they adapt to standard tank conditions!

These fish are all about warm water, neutral pH levels, and low hardness. Check out the preferred parameters below.

  • Water temperature: 64°F to 82°F (around 72 to 74 degrees is ideal)
  • pH levels: 6.0 to 8.0 (Aim for neutral)
  • Water hardness: 4 to 8 KH

Author Note: Make sure to check these parameters regularly with a reliable aquarium test kit. Maintaining water quality is one of the most important aspects of silver tip tetra care, and you need the proper equipment to do it well!

What To Put Inside Their Tank

Usually, the best course of action for any fish is to recreate their natural environment as closely as possible in your tank. While that sentiment is still true with silver tip tetras, you can take some creative liberties to provide a much more fulfilling life for these freshwater fish.

Start with a layer of fine sand substrate. Sand substrate closely mimics a natural riverbed. Plus, it’s safe and suitable for any bottom feeder fish you might add later.

Hasemania nana in a planted tank

On top of the substrate material, consider adding some pieces of driftwood and rocks. You can also toss a few Indian almond leaves onto the substrate. Not only does it replicate the plant detritus from their natural habitat, but the tannins will infuse the water for better health!

Next, you can add plants. Interestingly enough, silver tip tetras don’t have a lot of exposure to plants in the wild. Their natural habitat is filled with fallen plant leaves and twigs rather than lush vegetation.

However, these fish seem to enjoy having some plant coverage. It acts as a place to play and hide. Use fine-leaf plants that are hardy and tough.

Author Note: Silver tip tetras have a reputation for nipping leaves, but the damage usually isn’t too much of a problem. As long as you go with a fairly durable plant you’ll be fine.

Common Possible Diseases

Like any other fish, silver tip tetras are susceptible to diseases that flourish in crappy water conditions. They don’t have any unique health ailments, but they can fall prey to the usual tropical fish illnesses.

Ich, fin rot, and velvet disease are all standard.

Fortunately, those conditions are easy to treat with over-the-counter medication and some effective quarantining.

To avoid those problems altogether, stay on top of water conditions. Silver tip tetras are hardy and do a fine job of resisting disease on their own, but they do have their limits.

When water conditions fluctuate regularly, the fish undergo tons of stress. Disease-causing bacteria and parasites will flourish as well. With their already weakened immune system working against them, silver tip tetras cannot fight off diseases when water conditions aren’t top-notch.

Test the parameters regularly and perform weekly water changes to keep diseases at bay.

Food & Diet

Silver tip tetras are omnivores. They consume insects, plant detritus, and pretty much anything else they can find in the wild.

In captivity, it’s important to provide a high-quality diet with tons of variety.

The base of the fish’s meals should be premium flakes or dry granules. Look for nutritionally balanced formulas or those focused on color vibrancy.

Author Note: A fish’s color says a lot about its overall health and nutrition. When that signature coppery sheen starts to fade away, it means that you need to look for better food!

Along with flakes or pellets, provide high-protein snacks. Silver tip tetras love bloodworms, Daphnia, brine shrimp, and other meat-based foods. You can offer up freeze-dried, frozen, or live foods.

Silver tip tetras need a couple of meals every day to stay healthy. Only provide enough food that the fish can eat in two minutes. After that, clean up any leftovers to keep the water in good shape.

Behavior & Temperament

As mentioned earlier, silver tip tetras are shoaling fish. Therefore, they need to stay in groups of at least six or seven fish. If possible, it’s better to have a shoal of ten or more.

When kept alone or in small numbers, silver tip tetras tend to get very aggressive. This is because they rely on the rest of the group to stay comfortable exploring the tank. Without that support system, they live in constant fear and usually don’t have a long lifespan.

A silver tip tetra swimming in a freshwater aquarium

As a whole, silver tip tetras are considered to be a little more hostile than other tetra species. Even in large groups, they have a habit of antagonizing fish by nipping fins. Of course, they will target long-finned species, but they can bite any fish that’s unlucky enough to get in the way.

Thankfully, that behavior is pretty easy to mitigate with careful planning. A large tank can also subdue aggression to keep the peace.

Silver Tip Tetra Tank Mates

When planning a community tank with silver tip tetras, you have to think long and hard about potential tank mates. These fish do fine in communities and can coexist with other species. However, you might witness aggression from multiple parties if you pair these fish with incompatible creatures.

Never put these fish in the same tank as large aggressors. Thanks to their small stature, silver tip tetras are quick targets for hungry fish. They can’t outswim larger species, so they quickly become food!

Avoid fish with long fins as well. To keep things peaceful, it’s best to avoid slow-moving fish that the silver tip tetra can target as well.

Similar-sized tetras, peaceful bottom-dwellers, and more can flourish alongside the silver tip tetra. Here are some good tank mates to consider.


Silver tip tetras willingly breed in captivity. They are egg scatterers, which means that females deposit eggs all over the tank. Usually, they prefer to lay them among plants for security.

These fish don’t exhibit parental instincts at all. So, it’s essential to remove the adult fish.

To maximize survival rates, set up a separate breeding tank. The tank will serve as a place for spawning and a nursery tank.

Use a tank that holds 10 to 20 gallons. Similar water parameters as the primary tank will do. However, you can also aim for slight acidity to induce spawning.

For egg safety, add plants with soft and dense leaves. Alternatively, you can outfit the tank with a layer of mesh. The eggs will fall through the mesh while keeping hungry adults separated.

Place three pairs of male and female silver tip tetras into the breeding tank. Then, condition the adults with high-protein foods like bloodworms or brine shrimp. Eventually, the males will become more vibrantly colored while the females swell up with eggs.

When they’re ready, the pairs will mate. This usually occurs in the early morning. Females lay their eggs all over the tank while the males fertilize them.

Remove the adults after spawning and place them back into the primary tank.

Eggs typically hatch in 24 to 36 hours. After that, the fry will continue to feed on their egg sac for another three days. At that point, they become free-swimming.

Provide brine shrimp, infusoria, or microworms. Tiny, nutrient-dense foods will encourage growth until the babies are large enough to eat everyday foods.

Closing Thoughts

Silver tip tetra care isn’t anything to be afraid of. As long as you have a good understanding of their behavior, it shouldn’t be hard to provide these freshwater fish with the conditions they need to thrive.

Let us know if you have any questions about these amazing fish. We’re always happy to help!

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