Buenos Aires Tetra

Family: Characidae Buenos Aires Tetra, Hyphessobrycon anisitsiHyphessobrycon anisitsiPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough
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I have three of these guys in my 29 gallon blackwater aquarium. To add more color, I purchased a shoal of 9 neon tetras. Within an hour of their introduction, my... (more)  Jake

One of the easiest fish to keep, the Buenos Aires Tetra is great for the beginning aquarist!

The Buenos Aires Tetras Hyphessobrycon anisitsi are very hardy, long-lived, and prolific breeders. These handsome, full-bodied fish can reach up to about 2 3/4 inches (7 cm) in length and have a lifespan of about 5 to 6 years.

This fish has a pretty, silvery color overall, with some flashy neon highlights. Its most distinguishing feature is the bold, black 'cross' shaped pattern at the base of the tail fin, accented with red above and below.

These fish are great for beginners. They can adapt to most water conditions, within reason, and have no special requirements or considerations. A fairly peaceful fish, they will do very well in a community tank, but they do have a big appetite and must be kept well-fed. If they get hungry, they will nip the fins on any of their long-finned tankmates!  They are best kept in large groups of 5 or more individuals. Keeping them a good-sized school will also cut down on their desire to nip.

For many years, they were one of the most popular fish in the aquarium hobby. The Buenos Aires Tetra, however, will eat live plants. With so many people today growing plants in their aquariums, these fish have fallen a bit out of favor. If you are keeping an aquarium with artificial plants, they make a wonderful addition to a community tank.

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


Geographic Distribution
Hyphessobrycon anisitsi
Data provided by FishBase.org
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Characiformes
  • Family: Characidae
  • Genus: Hyphessobrycon
  • Species: anisitsi
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Buenos Aires Tetra - Quick Aquarium Care
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner
  • Size of fish - inches: 2.8 inches (6.99 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 25 gal (95 L)
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
  • Temperature: 64.0 to 82.0° F (17.8 to 27.8° C)
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Habitat: Distribution / Background

The Buenos Aires Tetra Hyphessobrycon anisitsi (previously Hemigrammus caudovittatus and Hemigrammus anisitsi) was described by Eigenmann in 1907. The species is not listed on the IUCN Red List. They are found in South America in the La Plata region, Argentina, Paraguay and southeastern Brazil.

These schooling fish inhabit a range of biotypes, including streams, rivers, lakes, and ponds. In nature, these tetras feed on worms, crustaceans, insects, and plants.

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

Description

The Buenos Aires Tetra is a full-bodied, large fish that can reach up to 2.75 inches (7 cm) and have a lifespan of 5 to 6 years. Its silvery color picks up flashy neon highlights. The top and bottom of the tail fin is generally red, as are the pelvic and anal fins. The dorsal fin also has a hint of red. Its most distinguishing characteristic is the caudal peduncle, which features a bold, black 'cross' shape.

  • Size of fish - inches: 2.8 inches (6.99 cm)
  • Lifespan: 6 years - They have a lifespan of about 5 to 6 years.

Fish Keeping Difficulty

The Buenos Aires Tetra is a hardy fish that is good for the beginning fish keeper. They are very durable and long-lived, and do not have any special needs or requirements that have to be met for them to thrive. However, they are hearty feeders that must be kept well-fed or they may resort to nipping at their long-finned companions. Keeping them in a school will help reduce fin-nipping. They will also eat live aquarium plants.

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

Foods and Feeding

The Buenos Aires Tetras are omnivorous. In the wild they primarily feed on worms, crustaceans, insects, and plants, but in the aquarium they will generally eat all kinds of live, fresh, and flake foods. To keep a good balance, give them a high quality flake food every day. To keep these tetras at their best and most colorful, offer regular meals of live and frozen foods, such as bloodworms, daphnia, and brine shrimp. Vegetables should also be added to their diet. Blanched spinach is a great choice. Feed these tetras several times a day and only what they can consume in 3 minutes or less at each feeding.

  • Diet Type: Omnivore
  • Flake Food: Yes
  • Tablet / Pellet: Yes
  • Live foods (fishes, shrimps, worms): Some of Diet
  • Vegetable Food: Some of Diet - This fish loves to eat aquarium plants.
  • Meaty Food: Some of Diet
  • Feeding Frequency: Several feedings per day

Aquarium Care

Buenos Aires Tetras are not exceptionally difficult to care for, provided their water is kept clean. Aquariums are closed systems and regardless of size, all need some maintenance. With home aquariums, the nitrates and phosphates build up over time, and water hardness increases due to evaporation. To combat these ever-changing conditions, water should be replaced on a regular basis. At least 25 to 50% of the tank water should be replaced every other week, especially if the tank is densely stocked.

  • Water Changes: Bi-weekly

Aquarium Setup

This fish is a very active swimmer and needs plenty of open space. It also likes to be kept in a school with 5 or more companions of its own kind. Keep Buenos Aires Tetras in a tank at least 20 inches long and ideally 25 or more gallons to provide them with plenty of space for swimming and shoaling.

They are happy with any type of substrate and do fine with normal aquarium lighting. However, the tank should be securely covered as these fish are skilled jumpers and will probably do so if given the opportunity. This is a very undemanding species, as can be seen by the wide range of acceptable conditions. However they will eat most plants with the possible exception of Java Fern. Thus, the tank should mostly be decorated with driftwood, rocks, and plastic plants.

  • Minimum Tank Size: 25 gal (95 L) - This fish is very active and requires space and companions of its own kind so it can school.
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: Yes
  • Substrate Type: Any
  • Lighting Needs: Moderate - normal lighting
  • Temperature: 64.0 to 82.0° F (17.8 to 27.8° C)
  • Breeding Temperature: 75.0° F
  • Range ph: 6.0-8.0
  • Hardness Range: 2 - 30 dGH
  • Brackish: No
  • Water Movement: Strong
  • Water Region: All - These fish will swim in all areas of the aquarium.

Social Behaviors

The Buenos Aires Tetra are generally a good community fish. They are quite active and will school when provided with plenty of space. These tetras are best kept with their own kind in a school of 5 or more or with other fish that can tolerate their boisterous behavior. Just remember to keep them well fed, so they don't snack on the fins of their tankmates. Sometimes, they can be outright aggressive, so monitor them in community tanks. To avoid fin nipping, keeping this fish in schools of 5 or more will restrict most of the aggression to within the school.

Good tankmates are similiarly sized tetras, rainbowfish, larger rasboras, barbs, and danionins. Non-aggressive cichlids also do well with these tetras. Slow-moving, long-finned fish like gouramis, anabantoids, and dwarf cichlids will nip and harrass this tetra, so they do not make good tankmates.

  • Venomous: No
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive - Although not usually aggressive, this fish is very active and will irritate more temperate fish. It is also a notorious fin nipper, so select tankmates carefully.
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species - conspecifics: Yes - Best kept in a school of 5 or more.
    • Peaceful fish (): Monitor - Watch for fin nipping induced stress in other fish. Sometimes Buenos Aires Tetras can be outright aggressive, especially if not kept in a school.
    • Semi-Aggressive (): Threat
    • Aggressive (): Threat
    • Large Semi-Aggressive (): Threat
    • Large Aggressive, Predatory (): Threat
    • Slow Swimmers & Eaters (): Monitor
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Safe - not aggressive
    • Plants: Threat - One of the only drawbacks to this fish is that it will eat plants.

Sex: Sexual differences

The males have brighter, red fins, sometimes tending towards yellow. The female is fuller-bodied with a more rounded stomach.

Breeding / Reproduction

The Buenos Aires Tetra have been bred in captivity. They are egglayers and fairly easy to breed. The female will lay eggs on plants or green floss. To get the best mortality rate for your fry, a second tank is recommended. Use an air-powered sponge filter. Fine-leaved plants and spawning mops should be used to give the fish a place to deposit their eggs. A mesh can also be used as long as the holes are large enough for the eggs to pass through but small enough to keep the parents out. The tank should be kept at 75 degrees, and water should be slightly soft and acidic.

These tetras should be kept in groups of 6 males and 6 females for best results. Feed these tetras a good supply of small live food, and they will normally start to spawn. Eggs will begin to hatch in 24-36 hours, and the fry will be able to free swim within 4 days. For a description of breeding characin fish, see Breeding Freshwater Fish: Characins.

  • Ease of Breeding: Easy

Fish Diseases

As with most fish, Buenos Aires Tetra are prone to skin flukes, parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.), ichthyobodo infection, parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.), bacterial infections (general), and bacterial disease. Buenos Aires 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 Buenos Aires 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 Buenos Aires 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 Buenos Aires Tetra is reasonably priced and readily available both in fish stores and online.

References

Author: Clarice Brough CFS, David Brough CFS, Jeremy Roche
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Lastest Animal Stories on Buenos Aires Tetra


Jake - 2014-06-16
I have three of these guys in my 29 gallon blackwater aquarium. To add more color, I purchased a shoal of 9 neon tetras. Within an hour of their introduction, my shoal was down to two neons. The two survivors look stressed and I want to get them into a school again. Any suggestions on how I can stop them from eating neons?

  • Clarice Brough - 2014-06-27
    It sounds like, from their point of view, that 'neons are on the menu!' I don't think you will be able to keep these fish together in your current tank, perhaps if you get a bigger tank with lots of plants and hiding places, you may keep them together successfully, but these guys they now see them as lunch.
  • Heath Hunter - 2014-09-04
    Remove the b.a. and rearrange the tank. Leave the school of neon to get along with the new setup till they seem calm/comfy. Add the b.a. and turn the lights off for a day. They should get along without the territory battle to drive them. It may even help having no decorations at first.
  • Bishu - 2015-10-18
    I don't think that Buenos Aries Tetra killed your Neon Tetras ..... I have 21 gallon tank with 7 Buenos Aries Tetra and 8 Neon Tetras along with platies and zebra danios ..... they are all living peacefully without any casualties till date (1.5 years) .....I think your Neon died because of some other things like stress, water parameter, etc.
Reply
floridafishkeeper - 2014-06-15
I have three of these fish in my 29 gallon amazon blackwater aquarium, along with one panda corydoras. To bring more activity to the tank, I bought a shoal of nine neon tetras. Within an hour of bringing them home, the trio had eaten seven out of nine of the neon tetras. Is this normal?

  • Clarice Brough - 2014-06-27
    Hey Jake, I answered this below... but here's a re-cap: 'It sounds like, from their point of view, that 'neons are on the menu!' I don't think you will be able to keep these fish together in your current tank, perhaps if you get a bigger tank with lots of plants and hiding places, you may keep them together successfully, but these guys they now see them as lunch.'
Reply
T - 2012-10-06
These fish definitely need regular water change. I recently lost 3 large females suddenly with no sign of disease. Thanks to your website, I will refresh their water every week. My original 6 have multiplied to 12. Hornworth is hardy enough to survive if you have a large amount. Amazon swords also. I am going to introduce some giant danios. That should provide some action.

Reply
Tay P. - 2010-07-11
I had just bought four Buenos Aires tetras and two of them are chasing the other two and my gouramis who were originally the leaders in my tank are scared of them but are'nt these fish community fish?

  • \" Ron L \" - 2010-10-09
    That's what they said these fish is a community fish when I bought 2 at petsmart. As soon as I brought them home put them in my 36 gallon tank. They started to terrorize my neon tetra, rummy nose, and bala shark. This fish is not community fish. I brought them back for a refund.
  • tj black - 2011-01-25
    Having same problem, took a piece of my biggest gouramis tail, I have smaller black strip neon and they don't bother them, they go for the big lid on the block, gouramis which once ruled the tank, now run scared.
  • pleco - 2011-07-18
    Keeping them as group (at least 6) really helps with the said agression. I keep ten with silver hatchets and cory cats and no issues as of yet. Don't think neons are something I would house them with, though, and guaramies would also be trouble simply because of the long pelvic "feelers". Definately boisterous for a tetra.
  • steven vallee - 2012-01-01
    Try putting some rainbow fish in, they are peaceful but tough.
    Quick swimmers, they take a licken, but keep on ticken.
    They will take the pressure off your gourami's.
  • Alex Burleson - 2012-01-01
    It is not uncommon to find fish which are listed as 'community fish' that become seemingly aggressive to tank mates. One method to combat this problem is to add a few more [3-5] Buenos Aires Tetras. Buenos Aires Tetras are a schooling fish, which means they need to be kept in schools of 5+. Often, when the school is not large enough a few in the school, (or the entire school) will behave in an aggressive manner. However, in the majority of incidents, it is only because they feel threatened.

    Given you have correct aquarium parameters, and space requirements, I would add 3-5 more Buenos Aires Tetras. If this does not combat the problem, try seeking an alternative solution such as returning all of the Buenos Aires Tetras to your place of purchase, and opt for a different fish.

    Best wishes!
  • Manny Fresh - 2012-09-07
    I have had 4 Buenos Aires in a 110 gal community tank with about 6 Gouramis, 10 Barbs, 4 Red Eye Tetras, Red tail shark, 2 SAE's, and a few others maybe a total community of about ~40-50 other fish and they are great, they do eat a LOT, so to keep them happy they should be fed more than the others. Also I have them in a planted aquarium, but plant selection is trial and error because they will eat ALL of your plants especially the ones with leaves like the consistency of lettuce. They are super aggressive feeders, so make sure you have a larger tank if you intend on keeping them, and these guys will live for a LONG time so be prepared. Avoid smaller fish unless they have a place to hide, becuase these guys can be cannabilistic if they arent fed a varied diet. High quality algea wafers is a must, and they can get quite large.
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