Animal-World > Aquarium Tropical Fish > Characins > Bleeding Heart Tetra

Bleeding Heart Tetra

Spotfin Tetra, Tetra Perez

Family: Characidae Bleeding Heart Tetra, Hyphessobrycon erythrostigma, Spotfin TetraHyphessobrycon erythrostigmaPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough
Latest Reader Comment - See More
This is a great fish! Great for community tanks WITHOUT fin-nippers. In our tank about 3 years ago, they were healthy, but something nipped their fins off. Back... (more)  J

The blotch of bright red color on its side, often in the shape of a heart, gives the Bleeding Heart Tetra its memorable name!

The Bleeding Heart Tetra Hyphessobrycon erythrostigma is a stocky, vivacious little fish from the swiftly moving streams of the Amazon. Although it can get up to about 3 1/2 inches (9 cm) in the wild, it will only reach about 2 3/4 inches (7 cm) in the aquarium.

It does best with when kept with a school of its own kind. Once established in a shoal, it will show off deep body colors ranging from a beige-orange to a silvery lavender. It is also known as the Spotfin Tetra and Tetra Perez.

The Bleeding Heart Tetra will show its best colors if it feels secure. Provide dark gravel, a balance of hiding places, and subtle lighting. These things, along with floating plants and some open swimming space, will keep it happy. Given time to acclimate to its environment in peace and security, the Bleeding Heart Tetra's colors will become more developed. This fish makes a great addition to most tanks, but it is prone to disease if stressed from changes to its water conditions.

This fish requires at least a 15 gallon tank with optimal water conditions. Although it is not as hardy as some of the other tetras, it can be a good fish for a conscientious beginning fish keeper. The Bleeding Heart Tetra is generally a peaceful community fish, but it is known to be a nipper. Nipping behavior can be reduced by keeping these fish in a large school of at least 6 or more individuals. They can also be kept in pairs along with other peaceful fish.

For Information on keeping freshwater fish, see:
Freshwater Aquarium Guide: Aquarium Setup and Care


Geographic Distribution
Hyphessobrycon erythrostigma
Data provided by FishBase.org
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Characiformes
  • Family: Characidae
  • Genus: Hyphessobrycon
  • Species: erythrostigma
Bleeding Heart Tetra

Report Broken Video
Good video of a Bleeding Heart Tetra not being too friendly with its tankmates.

Bleeding Heart Tetra - Quick Aquarium Care
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner
  • Size of fish - inches: 3.5 inches (8.99 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 15 gal (57 L)
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
  • Temperature: 73.0 to 82.0° F (22.8 to 27.8° C)
Enter a Freshwater Aquarium
  • My Aquarium - Enter your aquarium to see if this fish is compatible!
Popular Searches

Habitat: Distribution / Background

The Bleeding Heart Tetra Hyphessobrycon erythrostigma was described by Fowler in1943. They are found through Columbia and Peru where they inhabit the densely vegetated little creeks and river bends of the Upper Amazon. Though they are primarily still collected from the wild, this species is not listed on the IUCN Red List.

These tetras are found in the slow moving tributaries of streams and in forest lakes that are well shaded from the forest canopy. They prefer the boundary area between deeper and shallower waters, where there is often overhanging vegetation along with aquatic vegetation and submerged wood in the form of fallen branches and roots. The substrate is sandy but the waters they live in are typically highly acidic and stained a dark brown from tannins in decaying vegetation. This is a schooling fish and its natural diet consists of aquatic insects and larvae, aquatic plants, fallen fruits, and plants.

  • Scientific Name: Hyphessobrycon erythrostigma
  • Social Grouping: Groups
  • IUCN Red List: NE - Not Evaluated or not listed

Description

The Bleeding Heart Tetra is a stockily built tetra species. This fish rarely exceeds 2.75 inches (7 cm) in the home aquarium, but can grow up to 3.5 inches (9 cm) in length in the wild. It has a lifespan of about 8 to 10 years. Its deep body colors range from beige-orange to a silvery lavender. But its most distinguishing characteristic, from which this tetra gets its name, is a blotch of bright red color on its side, often in the shape of a heart.

  • Size of fish - inches: 3.5 inches (8.99 cm) - This fish can grow up to 3.5 inches (9 cm) in length, but rarely exceeds 2.75 inches (7 cm) in captivity, even in the best-kept aquariums.
  • Lifespan: 10 years - They have a lifespan of about 8 to 10 years.

Fish Keeping Difficulty

This characin is not as hardy as some tetras but can be a good beginner fish. They do not adapt well to changes in aquarium conditions and are prone to ich and velvet when stressed. Frequent water changes are very important with this fish. These fish get along with most peaceful community fish but are known to harrass other tankmates at times.

  • Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner

Foods and Feeding

These tetras are omnivorous. In the wild they are opportunistic feeders and eat everything from aquatic insects and larvae, to aquatic plants, fallen fruits, and other plants. The Bleeding Heart Tetra or Spotfin Tetra requires a varied diet. It will happily eat most appropriately-sized commercial aquarium food in addition to live aquarium foods and chopped blanched lettuce leaves. Live or freeze dried blood worms will also be greatly appreciated. They do best if fed multiple times a day, and then only offer what they can consume in about 3 minutes.

  • Diet Type: Omnivore
  • Flake Food: Yes
  • Tablet / Pellet: Yes
  • Live foods (fishes, shrimps, worms): Some of Diet
  • Vegetable Food: Some of Diet
  • Meaty Food: Some of Diet
  • Feeding Frequency: Several feedings per day - Offer only what they can consume in 3 minutes or less with multiple feedings per day.

Aquarium Care

Bleeding Heart Tetras are not exceptionally difficult to care for provided their water is kept clean  and conditions do not vary greatly. These tetras are very adaptable and can do well without a heated aquarium in well-insulated homes. Aquariums are closed systems, and regardless of size, all need some maintenance. Over time, decomposing organic matter, nitrates, and phosphate build up, and the water hardness increases due to evaporation.

To combat these ever-changing conditions, water should be replaced on a regular basis, especially if the tank is densely stocked. At least 25 to 50% of the tank water should be replaced every other week. Make sure to remove all of the decomposing organic matter that has built up.

  • Water Changes: Bi-weekly

Aquarium Setup

These fish are fairly hardy but somewhat more demanding than other tetras, requiring clean, stable water. Because they are very active swimmers, it is also advisable to keep Bleeding Heart Tetras in a tank at least 20 inches long and ideally 15 or more gallons. They do best with soft, peat-filtered water. An undergravel filter is a good addition to help maintain water quality. Wild-caught specimens need a lower pH range than captive-raised Bleeding Heart Tetra, so keep the pH between 5.6 and 7.2.

These fish need open areas to swim freely and prefer some plant cover and a darker gravel. To get the best out of this fish, set up a biotype tank. For the substrate, use a river sand with some driftwood and twisted roots. Add some dried leaves to the sand, which will stain the water a light brown, and replace the leaves every few weeks. Use dim lighting to help the tetras develop their best coloring. Additionally, the tank should be securely covered as these fish are skilled jumpers and will probably do so if given the opportunity. In addition, this fish can be easily spooked into hiding, so situate the tank appropriately.

  • Minimum Tank Size: 15 gal (57 L)
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: Yes
  • Substrate Type: Any
  • Lighting Needs: Moderate - normal lighting
  • Temperature: 73.0 to 82.0° F (22.8 to 27.8° C)
  • Range ph: 6.6-7.8 - Wild-caught specimens should be kept within the range of 5.6 to 7.2.
  • Hardness Range: 3 - 12 dGH
  • Brackish: No
  • Water Movement: Moderate
  • Water Region: All - The Bleeding Heart Tetra inhabits all areas of the tank but tends to favor the middle region.

Social Behaviors

The spunky Bleeding Heart Tetra is generally a peaceful community fish. However, some boisterous individuals can be fin nippers. To help reduce nipping, keep them in large schools. They will do best if kept in a school of at least 6 individuals, preferably more.

This fish will generally get along amongst its own kind, and will often school with its relatives, the Black Tetra or Black Widow and Albino Tetra. They can also be kept in pairs along with other peaceful fish. Keep fin nippers out of their tanks as the males have fairly large delicate fins. In addition, this fish can be easily spooked into hiding so situate the tank appropriately.

  • Venomous: No
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species - conspecifics: Yes - A minimum school of 6, but more are better.
    • Peaceful fish (): Safe - This fish should never be housed with boisterous tank mates. It must be housed in a school of its own kind or closely related fish.
    • Semi-Aggressive (): Threat
    • Aggressive (): Threat
    • Large Semi-Aggressive (): Threat
    • Large Aggressive, Predatory (): Threat
    • Slow Swimmers & Eaters (): Monitor
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Safe - not aggressive
    • Plants: Safe

Sex: Sexual differences

The male is distinguished by longer, extended dorsal and anal fins.The dorsal fin is elongated into a sickle shape that arches to the length of the tail base. The female has a shorter, rounded fin.

Breeding / Reproduction

The breeding process for the Bleeding Heart Tetra is difficult in home aquaria but not impossible. A separate breeding tank is required. Females will often ignore males. If fish do breed, eggs will be laid among floating plants. Parents must be removed immediately following fertilization. Within 5 days, free swimming fry will emerge from the plants. After this, 1/3 of the water must be changed daily, and fry must be fed with small live and crushed dry foods. Unfortunately, few fry often survive to adulthood. For a description of breeding characin fish, see Breeding Freshwater Fish: Characins, and Fish Food for Fry for more information.

  • Ease of Breeding: Difficult

Fish Diseases

As with most fish the Bleeding Heart Tetra are prone to skin flukes, parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.), ichthyobodo infection, parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.), bacterial infections (general), and bacterial disease. Bleeding Heart Tetra are extremely hardy and disease is not usually a problem in a well-maintained aquarium. That being said, there is no guarantee that you won't have to deal with health problems or disease. Remember that anything you add to your tank can introduce disease. Not only other fish but plants, substrate, and decorations can harbor bacteria. Take great care and make sure to properly clean or quarantine anything that you add to an established tank so as not to upset the balance.

A good thing about Bleeding Heart Tetra is that due to their resilience, an outbreak of disease can often be limited to just one or a few fishes if dealt with at an early stage. When keeping more sensitive types of fish, it is common for all fishes to be infected even before the first warning signs can be noticed. The best way to proactively prevent disease is to give your Bleeding Heart Tetra the proper environment and a well-balanced diet.

The more closely their environment resembles their natural habitat, the less stress the fish will have, making them healthier and happier. It is recommended to read up on the common tank diseases. Knowing the signs of common tank diseases and treating them early makes a huge difference. For information about freshwater fish diseases and illnesses, see Aquarium Fish Diseases and Treatments.

Availability

The Bleeding Heart Tetra or Spotfin Tetra is readily available and reasonably priced. It can be obtained from most fish and pet stores, as well as online.

References

Author: Clarice Brough CFS, Barbara Roth, Jeremy Roche
Available From These Merchants
Bleeding Heart Tetra Hyphessobrycon Erythrostigma Small Bleeding Heart Tetra Hyphessobrycon Erythrostigma Small
Offered By: That Pet Place
Price: $2.99
Compare products and prices!
Bleeding Heart Tetra Hyphessobrycon Erythrostigma Medium Bleeding Heart Tetra Hyphessobrycon Erythrostigma Medium
Offered By: That Pet Place
Price: $4.99
Compare products and prices!

Lastest Animal Stories on Bleeding Heart Tetra


J - 2006-05-21
This is a great fish! Great for community tanks WITHOUT fin-nippers.
In our tank about 3 years ago, they were healthy, but something nipped their fins off. Back then we had goldfish, neon tetras, black skirt tetras, glowlight tetras, and a common pleco.

  • Berenice - 2015-11-27
    Black skirts are very naughty.
Reply
Rhianna - 2015-03-13
My four bleeding heart tetras are anything but peaceful. They are actually quite aggressive and go after every other fish in our very large tank. They are looking to be rehomed.

Reply
Anonymous - 2013-01-23
my bleeding heart tetras stopped eating

  • Jeremy Roche - 2013-01-24
    Most common reason for a group of fish to stop eating is water conditions.  Test your water levels with some test strips or bring a water sample into the pet store and ask them to test it.
Reply
kevin lindstrom - 2011-05-29
I just want to say these are great fish but I did find one of mine with a little neon in his mouth the other morning. So make sure the fish you have are of same size.

  • Charlie Roche - 2011-05-29
    I am sorry. The Bleeding Hearts school really well with their own species. However, they do get large and a neon is just a little fella. Thanks for telling us all cuz we forget or don't remember - or in many cases just don't know. Thanks again.
  • JG - 2012-01-16
    Shocking. Bigger omivorous fish eat littler fish. Who'd a thunk it?
Reply