The Bloodfin Tetra is a time tested favorite, and 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 attractive and durable little tetrahas been an aquarium staple for many years. Even advanced aquarists will find themselves adding a school of these fish totheir community tank from time to time.

Like many aquarium tetras, thesecharacins are fairly small, reaching just under 2 1/4 inches (5.5 cm) in length. Overall, their lifespan is 5 to8 years in the aquarium, but when well-tended, they have been known to live 10 years or more. They are also commonly known as the True Bloodfin Tetra, Glass Bloodfin Tetra, and Redfinned Tetra.

Thisis 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. The Bloodfin Tetra is peaceful with tankmates, soIt makes a great addition to a community aquarium, though theylike the company of their own kindand are happiest in a school of 6or more. When kept in a community setting, they are usually easygoing, but if they are not kept in a large school, they get a bittesty. They will nip thefins of longer, slow-moving tankmates.

These tetras are very active fish, so they need an aquarium of 15 gallons or more and at least 20 inches long. They do well in a planted tank and will appreciate rosette type plants, like valisneria and sagittaria. Plantaround the inside perimeter of the aquarium to leave lots of open roomfor swimming. Being energetic, they also need lots of food.The rule of thumb is to feed themthree orfour times a day, as much as they will eat in about 3minutes for each feeding.


Scientific Classification


Bloodfin Tetra – Quick Aquarium Care

Aquarist Experience Level:Beginner
Aquarium Hardiness:Moderately hardy
Minimum Tank Size:15 gal (57 L)
Size of fish – inches2.2 inches (5.51 cm)
Temperature:64.0 to 82.0° F (17.8 to 27.8&deg C)

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 known 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.

They are found in streams, rivers and tributaries, preferring shaded areas with floating and overhanging vegetation. They are a schooling fish and 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 slim-bodied species of tetra. This fish will generally reach just under 2 1/4 inches (5.5 cm). It is quitea long-lived fish with a general lifespan of about 5 to 8 years, yet it can live over 10 years in a well-maintained habitat. Its body colors range from a beige-orange to a silver, picking up some flashy neon highlights. The Bloodfin Tetra’s most distinguishing characteristic, from which it gets its name, is 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 to 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.In a well-insulated house, these fish can even do well withouta heater,though a cooler aquarium will not show their coloring tobest effect.

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

Foods and Feeding

The Bloodfin Tetras are omnivorous. In the wild they primarily feed on worms, small insects, and crustaceans, 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. 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 itswater 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 water hardness increases due to evaporation. To combat these ever-changing conditions, water should be replaced on a regular basis. At least 25 to50% 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 in general. But because they are very active swimmers, they should be keptin 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, which will stain the water a light brown, and replace the leaves every few weeks. Dim lighting will develop the tetra’s best coloring.

The Bloodfin Tetrais commercially-bred in huge numbers, so it is adaptable and will thrive in most well-maintained tanks. It will look bestin a heavily-planted setup, though, and can appear a little washed out ifthe 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&deg C)
  • Breeding Temperature: 76.0° F – Between 76 to 80° F (24-26.6° 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, it will nip at long-finned, slow-swimming fish. This fish should never be housed with boisterous tankmates. It must be housed in a school of its own kind or closely related fish. These tetras do best with their own kind in schools of 6 or more. Other tetras and characins, Corydoras catfish, and small Loricariids are also good tankmates.

  • Venomous: No
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species – conspecifics: Yes – This is a schoaling fish, so it should be kept in a school of at least 6 or more individuals.
    • Peaceful fish (): Safe – It must be housed in a school of its own kind or closely related fish.
    • Semi-Aggressive (): Threat – This fish should never be housed with boisterous tankmates.
    • Aggressive (): Threat
    • Large Semi-Aggressive (): Threat
    • Large Aggressive, Predatory (): Threat
    • Monitor – Tetras can out compete them for food.
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Safe – not aggressive
    • Plants: Safe

Sexual differences

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

Breeding / Reproduction

Bloodfin Tetras have been bred in captivity. A mature female will become nicely rounded when she is full of eggs. Condition the fish prior to breeding. Place males and females in separate tankswhere they can see each other. Offer high quality dry or frozen foods, or live foods like bloodworms and daphnia, 3times a day.

A separate 10 or 15 gallon breeding tank is needed with a sponge filter to provide aeration and gentle water movement. Cover about 2/3of the bottomwith breeding mops or bushy plants. Water temperatures should be between 76 and 80° F (24-26.6° C) andsomewhat soft and acidic (pH 6.5 – 6.8). Keep the light level low.

Bloodfin Tetras are egg scatters, and their eggs are non-adhesive. 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 fallinto the water. The female will deposit between 300 and 500 eggs in total. Remove the adults after the spawn, or they may eat theeggs. The eggs should hatch in a day or two, and the fry will have yolk sacs that provide nutrition for a few more days. After hatching, frycanbe fed liquid fry food or infusoria until they are large enough to eat baby brine shrimp. For a description of breeding characin fish, see Breeding Freshwater Fish: Characins, and Fish Food for Fry for more information.

  • 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 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 Bloodfin 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 Bloodfin 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.


The Bloodfin Tetra is readily available and moderately-priced.



Featured Image Credit: Karel Zahradka, Shutterstock