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Bloodfin Tetra: A Beginner Care Guide

Bloodfin Tetra: A Beginner Care Guide

The allure of the Bloodfin tetra (Aphyocharax anisitsi) often lies hidden behind its modest size and understated charm. Most aquarists love these sprightly silver swimmers for their resilience and ease of care. 

Originating from the murmuring tributaries of South America, these hardy fish introduce a dash of fiery color to any freshwater aquarium with their vibrant red fins that contrast against iridescent scales.

As a popular choice among aquarium enthusiasts, proper care is essential to ensure their well-being. This species thrives in a community setup and requires attention to water quality, suitable tank mates, and a balanced diet. Understanding the fundamental aspects of Bloodfin Tetra care is crucial for creating a thriving aquatic environment.

Key Takeaways

  • Bloodfin tetras grow up to 2 inches and thrive in a group of six or more, preferring a tank that is at least 20 gallons to provide ample swimming space.
  • They require a varied diet consisting of flake food supplemented with live or frozen protein like brine shrimp and occasional greens for optimal health.
  • For breeding, set up a separate tank with slightly higher temperatures and provide fine-leaved plants or spawning mops as places where eggs can be laid.
  • Common health issues can arise if proper care is not taken; it’s crucial to maintain clean water conditions and monitor for any signs of disease to keep Bloodfin tetras healthy.

Bloodfin Tetra Overview & Natural Habitat

  • Common name: Bloodfin Tetra
  • Scientific name: Aphyocharax anisitsi
  • Care level: Easy
  • Size: Up to 2 inches
  • Lifespan: 5 – 8 years
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Group size: Groups of six
  • Minimum tank size: 20 gallons
  • Water temperature: Between 64°F – 82°F (18 – 28°C)
  • Water pH levels: Between 6.0 and 8.0
  • Water hardness: 2-3 dGH

The Bloodfin Tetra, scientifically known as Aphyocharax anisitsi, originates from the clear, slow-moving waters of South America, primarily found in the Paraguay and Paraná river basins. In their natural habitat, they thrive in shaded areas and amongst lush dense vegetation and submerged structures provide shelter.

Appearance & Size

The Bloodfin Tetra, a striking addition to any freshwater aquarium, boasts a vivid red caudal fin contrasting against its shimmering silver body. Mature individuals typically reach an impressive length of up to 2 inches, presenting a sleek and streamlined profile that is both elegant and dynamic in the aquatic environment.

Difference Between Males and Females

Males stand out with a more intense red hue on their anal and tail fins, capturing the eye with their lively splash of color. They often display brighter colors compared to females, making it easier to distinguish them at first glance.

While both genders contribute to the vibrant school within your tank, males can grow slightly larger, reaching up to 2.5 inches in length.

Females may have a subtler appearance but are no less important for a balanced aquarium environment. Their presence is essential for breeding and maintaining the dynamic social structure that bloodfin tetras enjoy.

Personality & Behavior

These tetras have a peaceful demeanor, making them an excellent choice for community aquariums. They prefer the company of their kind, often seen swimming in schools which enhances their natural color and helps keep stress levels low.

These fish enjoy exploring the aquatic landscape but are not known to be aggressive towards others, ensuring a harmonious tank environment.

Keen on darting around plants and decorations, they exhibit high energy levels during feeding or playful interaction with fellow species. Their schooling nature is not only visually appealing but also signals a sign of well-being within these small yet lively freshwater companions.

Expected Lifespan

These resilient fish typically have an impressive lifespan ranging from 5 – 8 years in a home aquarium setting.

However, with exceptional care including proper diet, clean water, and a stress-free environment, they can surpass this expectancy.

Providing optimal conditions not only ensures their health but can potentially extend their years beyond the decade mark. Consistent maintenance of water parameters and regular monitoring are key factors in promoting their longevity.

Bloodfin Tetra Care & Tank Set Up

Proper care and setting up the right environment are crucial for maintaining the health and vitality of Bloodfin tetras. Creating a tank that mirrors their natural habitat not only encourages thriving life but also displays their beauty to its full extent.

Tank Size

Selecting the right tank size is crucial for these fish to thrive. A minimum of 20 gallons provides ample space for a group of these active fish, but opting for a 30-gallon tank allows even more room for them to swim and exhibit natural behaviors.

It’s essential to give them enough space since Bloodfin tetras are schooling fish that love to move around.

How Many Can Be Kept Together?

These fish thrive in groups and their schooling nature dictates that a minimum group of six is essential for their happiness.

Keeping them in smaller numbers can lead to stress, which may manifest in health issues or subdued colors. A full-fledged school not only mirrors their natural living conditions but also promotes a more vibrant display as they dart and shimmer through the water together.

Water Parameters

  • Water temperature: Between 64°F – 82°F (18 – 28°C)
  • Water pH levels: Between 6.0 and 8.0
  • Water hardness: 2-3 dGH

Maintaining the proper water parameters is crucial for the well-being of your fish. Ensuring your tank setup adheres to these specific environmental standards will help these resilient freshwater fish thrive in your care.

Water temperature:

Bloodfin tetras thrive in water temperatures ranging from 64°F to 82°F (18 – 28°C). Keeping the temperature within these bounds ensures a comfortable environment.

Use an aquarium heater and monitor with a reliable thermometer to maintain stable water conditions and prevent any sudden changes that could stress the tetras.

Steady temperatures not only support overall health but also encourage natural behaviors and appetite. 

Water pH levels

These tetras flourish in a pH range between 6.0 and 8.0. Consistency in water parameters helps prevent stress and health issues, making it essential to keep an eye on pH levels to ensure they stay within this optimal range.

To keep your tank’s pH at an ideal level, make routine adjustments using natural methods like driftwood or peat moss or employ chemical buffers if needed. Steady monitoring combined with careful maintenance fosters a stable aquatic habitat conducive to their well-being and is especially important during breeding times.

Water hardness

Consistent hard water levels are key for the health of these fish. In their natural river basin environment, Bloodfin tetras thrive in waters with a certain mineral content that reflects a moderate degree of hardness. Aim for a general hardness between 2-3dGH.

Keep an eye on these levels regularly, as stability is crucial; sudden changes can stress out your fish or even affect their health. 

Water current

Bloodfin tetras prefer a gentle water current. In their native habitat, these tetras thrive in shaded rivers and streams where the flow is subdued by overhanging vegetation.

To recreate this setting in the aquarium, use a filter that provides a moderate flow rate or position decorations strategically to disrupt stronger currents, ensuring they have calm areas to swim.

These active swimmers need to experience conditions close to their wild counterparts, which includes subtle movement in the water. This not only mimics their home waters but also helps keep your tank clean and oxygen-rich, contributing to the overall health of your bloodfin community.

What To Put In The Tank

Creating a comfortable and stimulating environment for your Bloodfin tetras involves more than just filling a tank with water; it’s about creating an ecosystem that mimics their natural habitat.

Choosing the right mix of substrate, decorations, and plants will not only keep your fish healthy but also enhance the aesthetic appeal of their home.


Ensure your aquarium setup mimics their native South American rivers by using dark sand substrate at the bottom; this not only creates a comfortable environment but also enhances the vibrant colors of your fish.

Ensure that you spread the sand evenly across the tank’s bottom, providing a layer thick enough for any live plants to root properly but thin enough so it doesn’t encourage excessive waste buildup.


When it comes to decorations, I incorporate rocks and driftwood to create hiding spots and help reduce stress.

Decorations are not just for aesthetics; they serve practical purposes as well. By adding various ornaments, you provide additional surfaces for beneficial bacteria to colonize which aid in maintaining a healthy aquarium ecosystem.

Strategically placed decorations also encourage natural behaviors such as exploration and territorial claim, making life in captivity stimulating for your tetras. Avoid using sharp or rough-edged decor that could injure their delicate fins.

Instead, opt for smooth-surfaced items that offer shelter without posing risks. Keep their active swimming needs in mind and ensure there is plenty of open water space for them to dart around with ease while still enjoying the complexity of a well-decorated home.

Ideal Plants

Adding the right plants not only enhances its beauty but also supports a healthier environment. Plants help keep nitrates in check and also offer hiding spots for your fish.

  • Java moss is a lush, green plant that’s perfect for creating a natural look in your tank. It’s easy to grow and offers excellent cover for the Bloodfin tetras.
  • Narrow-leaf anacharis, another great choice, grows well in varied conditions and helps oxygenate the water while absorbing harmful toxins.
  • Floating plants like duckweed can provide shade and give your tetras places to hide, which mimics their natural habitat.
  • Hornwort adapts quickly to different types of water conditions and its dense foliage serves as a playground and refuge for your tetra fish.
  • Amazon sword plants boast broad leaves that create an eye-catching backdrop for your aquarium. They’re hardy and can reach impressive sizes, offering more coverage.


Bloodfin tetras enjoy a home with dim lighting. To provide a comfortable environment that encourages their natural behavior, aim for softer lighting in your aquarium setup.

This not only makes them feel secure but also enhances the subtle iridescence of their silver-hued bodies as they navigate through the water.

Incorporating floating or low-light plants can help achieve the right ambiance while adding to the aesthetic of your tank. Ensure any artificial lights are positioned and dimmed correctly to avoid stressing these peaceful fish.

Clever positioning of your decorations and rocks can offer shaded areas where your tetras can retreat when they are seeking out less light exposure.


Good filtration plays a crucial role in keeping the water clean and oxygen-rich, which is vital for the health of these fish.

A filter helps remove debris, excess food, and waste products from the water. This process not only keeps the tank looking pristine but also prevents harmful ammonia and nitrite levels from rising.

Choose a filter that can handle at least 2-3 times the volume of your tank to ensure efficient cleaning. For Bloodfin tetras, it’s essential as they thrive in well-oxygenated water with minimal ammonia or nitrite content.

The filter will work continually to circulate water and maintain optimal conditions by engaging with beneficial bacteria that break down toxins through biological filtration. Remember to regularly check and clean your filter as per manufacturer instructions so it remains effective in maintaining a healthy aquarium for your vibrant swimmers.

Bloodfin Tetra Tank Mates

Choosing the right tank mates for your Bloodfin tetras is crucial to maintaining a peaceful aquarium environment

Bloodfin tetras are peaceful and versatile companions in a community tank, thriving alongside a variety of other non-aggressive species. Tank mates they will live harmoniously with are:

Tank Mates To Avoid

Some species are not suitable companions due to their aggressive behavior or differing environmental needs.

  • Kissing Gourami and Paradise Gourami: These fish can grow significantly larger than Bloodfin tetras and may exhibit territorial behavior, which can stress or injure your tetras.
  • Cichlids: Known for their aggression, especially during breeding, cichlids can be a threat to the smaller and more peaceful Bloodfin tetras.
  • Oscars: Their large size and predatory nature make oscars unsuitable as they might see Bloodfin tetras as food rather than friends.
  • Large catfish species: While some catfish are gentle giants, others may become too boisterous or grow too large for safety around bloodfins.
  • Bettas: The fighting fish often have issues with fin nipping, and their slower movement makes them easy targets for Bloodfin tetras.
  • Angelfish: They possess long fins that Bloodfin tetras may nip at. This can lead to stress and damage to the angelfish.

Bloodfin Tetra Food & Diet

These tetras are omnivores and thrive on a mix of plant-based and protein-rich foods. A balanced diet enhances their health and brings out the vibrant colors they are known for.

  • Offer them flake food daily as it’s easy to eat and provides a good nutritional base.
  • Complement their diet with live or frozen brine shrimp, a source of protein that bloodfin tetras love.
  • Include freeze-dried bloodworms or tubifex worms as occasional treats to vary their intake.
  • Introduce greens such as boiled lettuce or spinach, which can aid in digestion and provide essential nutrients.
  • Consider adding small amounts of spirulina flakes to ensure they are getting enough vitamins and minerals.
  • Feed adult bloodfin tetras small portions 2-3 times per day; juvenile fish may require more frequent feedings for growth.
  • Be mindful not to overfeed; remove any uneaten food after five minutes to keep the tank clean and prevent water quality issues.

Breeding Bloodfin Tetras

Creating a breeding environment for Bloodfin tetras involves setting up a separate tank with mildly acidic to neutral water and raising the temperature slightly higher than their regular habitat.

This warmer environment encourages spawning. Place fine-leaved plants or a spawning mop at the bottom of the tank to catch eggs, which fall freely as they are not sticky. Ensure you have both males and females in your breeding group.

Females will lay hundreds of eggs during each breeding cycle. After spawning, remove the adult fish to prevent them from eating the eggs or fry. The transparent embryos hatch within 24-36 hours, so monitor closely.

Initially feeding these tiny new lives requires infusoria or liquid fry food until they grow large enough for baby brine shrimp or finely crushed flake food. Proper care from this stage is crucial for their survival and growth into healthy adults that add lively flashes of silver and red to your aquarium community.

Bloodfin Tetra Common Health Issues

Keeping an eye out for signs of common health issues is crucial in maintaining a healthy aquarium. Here are the common ailments that affect Bloodfin Tetras and ways to treat them:

Ich (White Spot Disease): Bloodfin tetras often fall prey to Ich, a widespread parasitic infection recognizable by white spots on the skin and gills.

Treatment includes raising the water temperature slightly to speed up the parasite’s life cycle and adding medication specifically formulated to eliminate Ich.

Bacterial Infections: Poor water conditions can lead to bacterial infections, manifesting as ulcers, tail rot, or cloudy eyes.

Antibiotics can be effective when added to aquarium water or administered with food if caught early.

Fungal Issues: Fungi may attack Bloodfin tetras, especially if they have open wounds, resulting in cotton-like growths on their body or fins.

Antifungal treatments available at pet stores can help clear up fungal diseases.

Parasites: External parasites might latch onto your fish, causing irritation and breathing difficulties.

Parasite-specific treatments are necessary to eradicate these pests from the tank environment.

Neon Tetra Disease: This serious condition affects many tetra species and is recognized by symptoms like bloating and restlessness.

Prevention is key since there is no known cure; thus maintaining proper tank conditions and avoiding cross-tank contamination are vital strategies.

Fin Rot: Typically caused by bacteria or fungi when fins become frayed or discolored.

Clean water and medicated fin rot treatments should halt the progression of this condition.

I always recommend consulting with an experienced aquatic veterinarian or a knowledgeable professional before attempting any treatment to ensure you have the right diagnosis.

Wrapping Up

Bloodfin tetras bring a dynamic presence to any freshwater aquarium with their shimmering red fins and lively personalities. Their care is straightforward, appealing to both beginner aquarists and those who have honed their fish-keeping skills over the years.

Given that these charming fish thrive in groups, providing them with ample swimming space in a tank adorned with suitable plants and decorations will ensure they exhibit their natural schooling behavior.

If you’ve got an aquarium calling out for some friendly finned companions or are considering what new additions could grace your watery world without causing waves—Bloodfin Tetras might just be the perfect fit

I’m Elle, the founder of FishHQ. I created this website to share knowledge, tips, and inspiration for beginner hobbyists to help them create a healthy, happy, and vibrant environment for their fish to thrive. Read more...