Bloodfin Tetra

True Bloodfin Tetra, Glass Bloodfin Tetra, Redfinned Tetra

Family: Characidae Bloodfin Tetra, Aphyocharax anisitsi, True Bloodfin Tetra, Glass BloodfinAphyocharax anisitsiPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough
Latest Reader Comment - See More
I've had blood fin tetras for years with good luck. Now they are dying one by one every 1- 2 weeks. No sign outward of illness . Look healthy. All aquarium... (more)  Carla

The Bloodfin Tetra is one of the time tested favorites in the aquarium hobby. A school of these attractive fishes is a pretty sight!

The Bloodfin Tetra Aphyocharax anisitsi is a good schooling fish and likes to be active. This is an attractive and durable little tetra. It has been an aquarium staple for many years, and even advanced aquarists will find themselves going back and adding a school of these fish to to their community tank from time to time.

Like many aquarium tetras these characins are fairly small, reaching just under 2 1/4 inches (5.5 cm) in length. Overall their life span is 5 - 8 years in the aquarium, but when well tended they have been known to live for 10 years or more. They are also commonly known as the True Bloodfin Tetra, Glass Bloodfin Tetra, and Redfinned Tetra.

This is a great fish for beginners as it is very hardy and easy to breed. This durable fish can even be kept in an unheated aquarium, though its coloring will fade under these conditions. It makes a great addition to a community aquarium as it is peaceful with its tankmates. But they do like the company of their own kind, and are happiest in a school of six or more. When kept in a community setting they are usually easygoing, but if they are not kept in a large school they get a bit testy. They will nip the fin of slow moving long fish tankmates.

These tetras are very active fish so  they need an aquarium of 15 gallons or more. The tank should also be at least 20 inches long. They do well in a planted tank and will appreciate rosette type plants like valisneria and sagittaria. Planted around the inside perimeter of the aquarium to leave lots of open room for swimming. Being energetic, they also need lots of food. The rule of thumb is to feed them three or four times a day, and  as much as they will eat in about three minutes for each feeding.

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

Geographic Distribution
Aphyocharax anisitsi
Data provided by
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Characiformes
  • Family: Characidae
  • Genus: Aphyocharax
  • Species: anisitsi
Bloodfin Tetra Feeding Frenzy!

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Group of Bloodfin Tetras excitedly eating their food!

Bloodfin Tetra - Quick Aquarium Care
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner
  • Size of fish - inches: 2.2 inches (5.51 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 15 gal (57 L)
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • 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 Bloodfin Tetra Aphyocharax anisitsi was described by Eigenmann and Kennedy in 1903. They are found in South America in Argentina, Rio Parana. This species is not listed on the IUCN Red List. Other common names it is know by are True Bloodfin Tetra, Glass Bloodfin Tetra, and Redfinned Tetra. They inhabit the upper and middle layers of the water feeding on worms, small insects, and crustaceans.

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


The Bloodfin Tetra is a more slim-bodied species of tetra. This fish will generally reach just under 2 1/4 inches (5.5 cm) and has a general lifespan of about 5 - 8 years, though can live over 10 years in a well maintained habitat. It has body colors ranging from a beige-orange to a silver, picking up some flashy neon highlights. Their most distinguishing characteristic and their namesake is derived from the bright red color at the base of its anal fin and on the lower half of the tail fin.

  • Size of fish - inches: 2.2 inches (5.51 cm)
  • Lifespan: 10 years - They generally have a life span of about 5 - 8 years, but have been known to live for 10 years or more.

Fish Keeping Difficulty

This tetra makes a great fish for beginners!  They are very hardy and adapt to a variety of water conditions within reason.  In a house that maintains a decent room temperature these fish can even do well without a heater, although in a cooler aquarium their color will not be at its best.

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

Foods and Feeding

In the wild, the  Bloodfin Tetra feeds mostly on worms, small insects, and crustaceans. Yet since they are omnivorous they will generally eat all kinds of live, fresh, and flake foods. To keep a good balance give them a high quality flake food everyday. Feed brine shrimp (either live or frozen) or blood worms as a treat.  These fish should be fed several times a day, but 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
  • Meaty Food: Some of Diet
  • Feeding Frequency: Several feedings per day

Aquarium Care

The Bloodfin Tetra is easy to care for provided the water is kept clean. Aquariums are closed systems and regardless of size, they 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. At least 25 - 50% of the tank water should be replaced every other week, especially if the tank is densely stocked.

  • Water Changes: Bi-weekly

Aquarium Setup

Bloodfin Tetras are very undemanding. But because they are very active swimmers it is advisable to keep them in a tank at least 20 inches long and ideally 15 gallons or more. Additionally, the tank should be securely covered as these fish are skilled jumpers and will probably do so if given the opportunity.

These fish 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 drift wood and twisted roots. Add some dried leaves to the tan, which will stain the water a light brown and replace leaves every few weeks. Use dim lighting and it will develop the tetras best coloring.

It is commercially bred in huge numbers, so is adaptable and will thrive in most well-maintained tanks. It does look particularly effective in a heavily-planted setup though, and can appear a little washed out the decor is too sparse

  • Minimum Tank Size: 15 gal (57 L)
  • 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)
  • Range ph: 6.0-8.0
  • Hardness Range: 2 - 30 dGH
  • Brackish: No
  • Water Movement: Moderate
  • Water Region: All - These fish will swim in all areas of the aquarium.

Social Behaviors

The Bloodfin Tetra is fairly peaceful, but if not kept in large schools they will nip at long-finned, slow swimming fish.  These Tetras do best with their own kind in schools of 6 or more, with other tetras and characins, Corydoras catfish, and small Loricariids.

  • Venomous: No
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species - conspecifics: Yes - This is a schoaling fish, a minimum school of 6 is best but more are better.
    • Peaceful fish (): Safe
    • Semi-Aggressive (): Threat
    • Semi-Aggressive (): Threat
    • Aggressive (): Threat
    • Large Semi-Aggressive (): Threat
    • Large Aggressive, Predatory (): Threat
    • Slow Swimmers & Eaters (): Safe
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Safe - not aggressive
    • Plants: Safe

Sex: Sexual differences

Picture of a Bloodfin Tetra, Aphyocharax anisitsi

The male is slightly more colorful than the female, has a small hook on the anal fin, and a more slender body. The female is more plump.

Breeding / Reproduction

The Bloodfin Tetras are egg layers. A quite interesting behavior of this fish is that at the moment of spawning, the fish will leap out of the tank and the eggs will fall back into the water. The eggs are not sticky so will fall to the bottom. The female will deposit 300-500 eggs in all. See the description of how to breed egg layers in Breeding Freshwater Fish: Characins.

  • Ease of Breeding: Easy

Fish Diseases

As with most fish the Bloodfin Tetra are prone to skin flukes, parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.), ichthyobodo infection, parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.), bacterial infections (general), and bacterial disease. Bloodfin 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 anything you add to your tank can bring disease to your tank. 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 not to upset the balance.

A good thing about Bloodfin Tetra is that due to their resilience, an outbreak of disease can often be limited to just one or a few fishes if you deal with it 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 Bloodfin Tetra the proper environment and give them a well balanced diet. The closer to their natural habitat the less stress the fish will have, making them healthier and happy. Stressed fish are more likely to acquire disease.

For information about freshwater fish diseases and illnesses, see Aquarium Fish Diseases and Treatments. This is a great source for information on disease and treatments. It is recommended to read up on the common tank diseases. Knowing the signs and catching and treating them early makes a huge difference.


The Bloodfin Tetra is readily available and moderately priced.


Author: David Brough CFS
Lastest Animal Stories on Bloodfin Tetra

Carla - 2015-06-02
I've had blood fin tetras for years with good luck. Now they are dying one by one every 1- 2 weeks. No sign outward of illness . Look healthy. All aquarium conditions have remained the same. It started after I introduced a new group from pet store, perhaps those fish carried something? How should I proceed?

  • Clarice Brough - 2015-06-03
    Hard to say when you can't observe any outward signs of disease, but you can also watch for a change in eating and swimming behaviors. Look for signs that any of the fish may be harrassing others, as that can cause stress. Also check your tank size for the number of fish you have and make sure there is plenty of space and lots of decor (plants, driftwood, rockwork) for everyone to retreat. You could ultimately remove the new fish to their own tand and see if things straighten out again, if you can tell which is which.
Connor - 2014-11-25
I have two of these remarkable fish in my community tank and they are lovely fish. They swim in lovely shoals and get on with every fish in the tank but mainly with neon tetras and rummy noses. They always swim with them or with their partner. These are lovely fish to keep and I am going to get some more soon. I recommend you get these fish in your tank.

carlosR - 2006-05-20
I love these fish! I have noticed that some individuals get a peculiar "wasting" until several weeks later they die. Others puchased from the same source at the same time thrive. Beautiful when they school. They enjoy a well planted tank.

james g. adelhoch - 2011-12-28
I have the blood fin tetras in my aquarium ten gallon capacity the most I have ever had together is six. They are very active and eat well but I have noticed a few of the them have developed a sagging spine bending downward after that they live a short while then die. They are known to be very hardy and live for many years. What is the reason for this to happen.

  • Wet Thumbs - 2012-02-27
    The Bloodfin Tetra is a beautiful and very active schoaling fish. I have 15 adult-sized (1.5 inch) Bloodfins in a heavily planted 60 gallon aqaurium along with 6 med-large Angelfish. These Tetras are exciting to watch as they school tightly and also when they split up to explore amongst the plants. They appear too large for the Angels to bother with and it works out well since the Tetras spend much of their time mid to upper tank and the Angels from mid to lower tank (except of course when they are begging for food). I have not seen issues with the 'wasting' described, but if it happens I will be replacing any losses. Great fish!
  • Jeremy Roche - 2012-02-27
    Could be FISH TUBERCULOSIS. If that is the case the and it is spreading to other fish, the entire tank will need to be cleaned with bleach and allowed to dry. Make sure to wear gloves when cleaning the tank and DO NOT start siphon with your mouth. Are their any other symptoms?