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Rummy Nose Tetra Care Guide: Everything You Need To Know

Rummy Nose Tetra Care Guide: Everything You Need To Know

Rummy Nose Tetra, also known as Hemigrammus rhodostomus, is a captivating freshwater fish species that has earned its place as a beloved favorite among aquarists. With its striking red nose and sleek silver body, the Rummy Nose Tetra adds a touch of elegance and vibrancy to any aquarium.

Rummy Nose Tetras are peaceful freshwater fish that live in schools of at least six. You’ll want to keep their water between 74°-82°F (23.3°-27.7°C) to keep them comfortable. They also come from acidic, soft water, so you’ll want to do your best to reach those conditions.

In this article, we will delve into the world of Rummy Nose Tetra, exploring its natural habitat, physical characteristics, and ideal aquarium conditions for successful care and breeding. We will also look at its dietary needs, compatible tankmates, and the health and well-being of these enchanting little tetras.

Rummy Nose Tetra Overview and Natural Habitat

  • Common name: Rummy Nose Tetra
  • Scientific name: Hemigrammus rhodostomus
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Size: 2 inches (5 cm)
  • Life Span: Five years
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Group size: At least six
  • Minimum tank size: 20 gallons
  • Tank level: Mid-top dweller
  • Water temperature: 74°-82°F (23.3°-27.7°C)
  • Water pH levels: 5.5 to 7.0
  • Water hardness: 5-20 dGH; 2-6 KH

Like other tetras, Rummy Noses are peaceful and non-aggressive. They aren’t shy and will often zip around their tank and play with one another. Many aquarists love them for their beautiful appearance and fun personalities.

This tetra is often confused with Firehead and False Rummy Nose Tetras due to how similar the three species look. True Rummy Noses have a shorter dark stripe connecting to the center of their tail fin, with a dark spot at the base of where the tail fin starts. They also lack the red line near their head that Fireheads have.

Rummy Nose Tetras are a tropical freshwater fish from South America, often found in the Amazon Basin. They also live in Colombia’s Rio-Vaupes River and Brazil’s Rio Negro River. These waters are very dark, soft, and acidic, so you’ll want to recreate those conditions in your aquarium at home.

They require very specific water conditions, so beginners can have difficulty raising them. First, you should get more experience with beginner-friendly fish, such as Neon Tetras.

Rummy Nose Tetra Appearance and Size

The Rummy Nose Tetra is a visually captivating freshwater fish species that boasts a distinctive and striking appearance. With its vibrant colors and unique facial markings, this tetra is a true standout in any aquarium.

The body of the Rummy Nose Tetra is sleek and elongated, featuring a shimmering silver hue that glistens under aquarium lighting. What truly sets this species apart is the remarkable red coloring on its head, which extends from the tip of its nose to the area just above its eyes, the color sometimes extending past the head and to the gills. 

The intensity of the red coloration can vary among individuals, but when the fish is in optimal health and comfort, the red nose is a striking, vibrant shade that provides a stunning contrast against the silver body.

Most of their fins are translucent, except for their tail fins which have black and white stripes like a zebra that further accentuates the fish’s overall appearance.

Adult Rummy Noses can grow up to two inches (5 cm) long, which is a bit larger than other common tetras, such as Neon Tetras. So, you’ll want to ensure you don’t overcrowd them in their tanks.

Difference Between Males and Females

Male and female Rummy Nose Tetras are nearly identical at a glance. However, there are a few ways to tell them apart.

The females are usually rounder and slightly larger than the males. The males have straighter bodies and a hook on their rear fins, although the difference is subtle.

It’s easier to tell between the two when your tetras are ready to breed. The females will have much rounder bellies during this time.

Rummy Nose Tetra Personality and Behavior

Rummy Nose Tetras are outgoing and friendly. They form schools of six or more and zip around the tank’s middle to top sections. These fish love exploring and won’t get aggressive with other species in a community aquarium. 

You’ll want a long tank so they have enough room to swim back and forth in open water. Rummy Noses are also prey fish, so you want to ensure they have plenty of plants to hide in.

Rummy Nose Tetras are most active during the day. They’ll become paler during the night and usually huddle together in one spot while they rest.

Overall, these tetras are tons of fun to have in a tank. They’re beautiful, peaceful, and have quirky personalities.

Rummy Nose Tetra Expected Lifespan

Most Rummy Nose Tetras live between five and six years as pets. If you take great care of them, you can get them to live up to eight years. 

You can increase your tetras’ lifespans by offering them a healthy diet and good water conditions. Rummy Noses require particular water parameters to thrive, so you must meet those requirements.

Rummy Nose Tetra Care and Tank Set Up

You’ll want to prepare your aquarium well before adding Rummy Noses. These fish can be very sensitive to changes in the water and need very specific conditions to survive. Waiting until your tank is stable is essential for that reason.

Tank Size

You won’t want to use a tank under 20 gallons for your Rummy Nose Tetras. Since these fish prefer to live in schools, you’ll need enough space for at least six in the tank. Plus, they’re slightly larger than most other kinds of tetras.

Rummy Noses are active fish and will be happier in a larger tank with more swimming room. So, the larger the tank you can get for them, the better.

How Many Rummy Nose Tetras Are Suitable For 20 Gallons?

Ten Rummy Nose Tetras are suitable for a 20-gallon tank. Generally, you can safely fit one Rummy Nose per two gallons of water. So, a 20-gallon can comfortably keep ten of these tetras.

If you plan on making a community tank, you may want to size it up. Rummy Noses need to be kept in groups of six or more, so having more space for your other species is a good idea.

Water Parameters

  • Water temperature: 74°-82°F (23.3°-27.7°C)
  • Water pH levels: 5.5 to 7.0
  • Water hardness: 5-20 dGH; 2-6 KH

Rummy Nose Tetras come from slow-moving, dark rivers with soft, acidic water. They like a slight current to their water and prefer it to be highly aerated. The better you can meet those conditions, the happier your fish will be.

Water Temperature

These tropical fish need their water to be warmer. You’ll probably need to use a tank heater to keep them comfortable. 

Rummy Noses temperature requirements fall in a range between 74° to 82°F (23.3° to 27.7°C). They can be sensitive to sudden changes in temperature, so you’ll need to ensure you can keep them consistent before adding them to the tank.

Water pH Levels

Their water pH requirement is 5.5 to 7.0, which is acidic to neutral water. The natural habitat of these fish contains a lot of decaying leaves and debris from trees, which can make the water more acidic.

If you don’t have a way to measure your tank’s pH, I recommend this Pocket Size pH Meter from It’s straightforward to use, and you won’t need to worry about running out of pH test strips. You’ll check the pH often with Rummy Noses, so ensure you have a reliable tool like this before you get them.

Water Hardness

Rummy Nose Tetras also require soft water. Their natural environment doesn’t have many minerals, so you’ll need to replication those conditions. 

They can tolerate water between five to 20 dGH, but you’ll want to keep the water on the lower end of that range to keep them happy.

Water Current

Rummy Nose Tetras appreciate a slow-moving current since it reminds them of their natural habitat. If you have a too high current, the fish will get pushed around too much, leading to severe stress.

So, you want to provide them with a very gentle water flow.

What To Put in the Tank

Next, you’ll need to know how to decorate your tank. Rummy Nose Tetras love plants and decorations because they need plenty of hiding spaces to feel at home. You’ll also need to consider what lighting, heaters, and filters you’ll use.


Dark sand is the best option for these tetras. They come from an area with dark waters, replicating their environment better.

Dark substates look the best with these fish because they make their red heads more vibrant. Sand is also fine enough that they won’t choke on it, although they don’t visit the bottom of the tank that often.

You can get away with using dark gravel, too, since the fish won’t bother the substrate that much.


Rummy Nose Tetras like having a lot of rocks, driftwood, and caves in their tank. These decorations give them places to hide if they’re stressed. Adding more decorations can also filter light more, which tetras like. 

You’ll want to ensure you arrange the decorations so your fish still have an open swimming space. Many people add plants, rocks, and driftwood to the sides of the tank while leaving the middle open for the fish to zip around in.

Ideal Plants

Java moss is an excellent option for Rummy Nose Tetras. It filters light, keeps the tank clean, and creates a great hiding spot. It’s also easy to care for and is pretty hardy, so it’s good practice for those new to planted tanks.

Guppy grass is another excellent plant for these tetras. It spreads fast and produces a lot of oxygen, which these fish love.


Rummy Nose Tetras dislike bright, direct light. Adding plants and other decorations to their tank can help filter the light, so it’s not so bright for your fish.

Setting up a daily routine with your tetras is also a good idea. You’ll want to have the lights on for about 12 hours and off for 12. Putting the lights on a timer can help you keep them consistent.

Overall, you’ll want to ensure your tetras have filtered light that’s not always on. 


Water heaters are usually a must with Rummy Nose Tetras. They’re used to warm waters, so you’ll need a heater unless you live somewhere warm.

An in-water heater will be the best option. It should keep the temperatures within a set range easily.


Lastly, you’ll want to ensure proper filtration with your tetras. Since they live in larger schools, they can produce a lot of waste in a small amount of time. Without a good filter, the water can get filthy quickly.

An external water heater is usually the best option for these tetras. They can help control ammonia and nitrate levels in the water to which the Rummy Noses are more sensitive.

Rummy Nose Tetra Tank Mates

Rummy Nose Tetras are peaceful and get along well with plenty of other fish. However, you should only put similar-sized fish in the same tank.

Corydoras, rasboras, and other tetras are all great ideas. Shrimps are another great option. Of course, you can always add more Rummy Noses to your tank and have a huge school.

Tank Mates To Avoid

Large fish will try to eat your tetras, so you should never put them together in a tank. Cichlids and angelfish can also be very aggressive and aren’t good tank mates for Rummy Noses.

Fish that like cooler water will also never be a good fit. While Rummy Noses can tolerate higher temperatures, they’re susceptible to cool water.

You don’t want to add large, aggressive fish to tanks with Rummy Nose Tetras.

Rummy Nose Tetra Food and Diet

Rummy Noses are omnivores and will eat just about anything. They’ll nibble on algae and like protein.

You’ll want to offer them fish flakes most of the time, with occasional live or frozen foods as treats. Bloodworms are one of their favorites.

You should feed Rummy Nose Tetras at least two small meals daily, only offering them enough to eat in a few minutes. Overfeeding them can leave a lot of food waste in the tank, making it dirty. 

Breeding Rummy Nose Tetras

Rummy Nose Tetras are relatively easy to breed if you can get their tanks in the right conditions. You’ll need multiple fish in the tank since it can be hard to differentiate between males and females.

To encourage breeding, the conditions in your tank need to be optimal. Raise the tank temperature to 84°F (about 28.9°C), this will help trigger spawning. These fish are sensitive to water conditions and won’t spawn in polluted water, so strong filtration is important.

If successful, the female will swim over to a leaf and turn over allowing the male to fertilize the eggs. She will then lay her eggs on the leaf.

Make sure to remove the adults so they don’t eat the eggs. After a full day, you’ll usually see the fry swimming in the tank.

Rummy Nose Tetras Common Health Issues

You’ll want to know some common health issues among Rummy Nose Tetras. These include ich and dropsy, which are both preventable diseases. 


Ich (white spot disease) is a common disease among freshwater fish. The most likely cause of it is stress, so it’s usually easy to prevent.

Ich Symptoms

Ich is a parasite that causes white spots on the fish’s body, often around the gills. Your tetras will try to scratch themselves against objects in the tank for relief.

They may also hide more often and won’t have an appetite. 

Ich Treatment

Treating ich is luckily very simple. Start by removing the carbon from your filter since it can make any medicine you add to the water less effective.

Then, raise the temperature of the water slightly, add aquarium salt to the water, and finish off by adding the treatment.

Ich often takes weeks to go away completely, so follow the instructions on the medicine strictly.

Ich Prevention

Ich is easy to prevent. All you need to do is quarantine any new fish you get in a separate tank for a few weeks. Ich is often introduced by new fish, so separating them is essential.

You’ll want to quarantine any new plants you get for two weeks without fish in case they have ich hidden on them.


Dropsy is when fluid builds up inside a fish. It’s usually a sign of other health issues, such as an infection.

It causes loss of color, bulging stomachs, and scales to stand out. It’s hard to cure, so preventing the problem is your best bet.

Dropsy Symptoms

Dropsy symptoms can vary depending on the fish. Most of the time, they have a swollen belly, and their scales stand out. However, they might also become pale or have bulging eyes.

Your tetras will be bloating and might have trouble swimming when they have this disease.

Dropsy Treatment

First, you must move the sick tetra to a quarantine tank. Then, you can add salt and antibiotics to the water to help deal with infections.

A broad-spectrum antibiotic is usually your best option for dropsy. Kanaplex (link to is a great choice. It can treat dropsy and other common fish health issues such as tail rot or popeye, so it’s good to have on hand.

Dropsy Prevention

Prevention is best for dealing with dropsy. Avoid causing your fish stress, and keep their water very clean. It’s also best not to overfeed your tetras.

Dropsy is very unlikely in fish that are well taken care of.

Are Rummy Nose Tetras Right for You?

Rummy Nose Tetras are great for many people. If you have some experience raising other kinds of tetras, they’ll be easy for you to care for. However, they can be challenging for first-time fish keepers.

So, you should get some experience raising other types of tetras first. 

Rummy Nose Tetra FAQs

What Are the Different Types of Rummy Nose Tetras?

There are three different types of Rummy Nose Tetras. These include the True Rummy Nose Tetra, the False Rummy Nose Tetra, and the Firehead Tetra. They all look very similar, but they’re technically different fish species.

You’ll want to know exactly what type of tetras you add to your tank. All of these tetras look similar, but there are subtle differences to help you identify them.

Do Rummy Nose Tetras Lose Color at Night?

Rummy Nose Tetras lose their color at night to help them hide from predators. They usually return to their normal brightness after waking and moving for 30 minutes to an hour.

If your tetras move about for a while and don’t return to their usual color, they may be sick or stressed.

Do Rummy Nose Tetras Eat Plants?

Rummy Nose Tetras won’t dig up or chew on plants. They will eat algae off them, which may make them look like their nibbling on your plants. As long as you feed them correctly, they shouldn’t eat them.

So, ensure you’re feeding your fish at least twice a day.

Wrapping Up

Caring for Rummy Nose Tetras in your home aquarium can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. By providing them with a suitable environment that mimics their natural habitat, such as well-maintained water parameters and ample swimming space, you can ensure their health and well-being.

Remember to keep them in a peaceful community tank with compatible tankmates, as their schooling nature thrives in the presence of their own kind. Offering a varied and balanced diet will help maintain their vibrant colors and overall vitality.

With their striking appearance, peaceful demeanor, and captivating schooling behavior, Rummy Nose Tetras will make an excellent addition to your freshwater aquarium.

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...