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
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WE have a 50 gallon tank with 18 neon tetras, 4 Peppered Corydoras Catfish, 6 bloodfin tetras (4 died, so now 2), 4 Pristella Tetras, 1 Opaline Gourami, 1 Twig... (more)  Anonymous

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 tetra has been an aquarium staple for many years. Even advanced aquarists will find themselves adding a school of these fish 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 lifespan is 5 to 8 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.

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. The Bloodfin Tetra is peaceful with tankmates, so It makes a great addition to a community aquarium, though they like the company of their own kind and are happiest in a school of 6 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 fins 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. Plant 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, as much as they will eat in about 3 minutes for each feeding.

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

  • 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 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 quite a 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 without a heater, though a cooler aquarium will not show their coloring to best 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 its 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 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

Bloodfin Tetras are very undemanding in general. But because they are very active swimmers, they should be kept 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, 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 Tetra is commercially-bred in huge numbers, so it is adaptable and will thrive in most well-maintained tanks. It will look best in a heavily-planted setup, though, and can appear a little washed out if 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)
  • 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
    • Slow Swimmers & Eaters (): Monitor - Tetras can out compete them for food.
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Safe - not aggressive
    • Plants: Safe

Sex: 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 tanks where they can see each other. Offer high quality dry or frozen foods, or live foods like bloodworms and daphnia, 3 times 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 2/3 of the bottom with breeding mops or bushy plants. Water temperatures should be between 76 and 80° F (24-26.6° C) and somewhat 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 fall into the water. The female will deposit between 300 and 500 eggs in total. Remove the adults after the spawn, or they may eat the eggs. 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, fry can be 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.


Author: Clarice Brough CFS, David Brough CFS
Lastest Animal Stories on Bloodfin Tetra

Anonymous - 2016-04-03
WE have a 50 gallon tank with 18 neon tetras, 4 Peppered Corydoras Catfish, 6 bloodfin tetras (4 died, so now 2), 4 Pristella Tetras, 1 Opaline Gourami, 1 Twig Catfish, 8 Zebra Danios, and 2 Koi Angelfish. We have had this tank for about three months, we have 2 amazon swordplants and 2 unknown plants. We have also unexpectedly acquired a bunch of Ramshorn Snails. The Neons have been eating normally and none have died, but they tend to just sit in a corner, also they have been picked on by the bloodfins for while, we can't get more bloodfins to prevent their aggressiveness becauese of a disease which killed four. The owner of our local pet shop (Sailfin Pet Shop) said once the disease stops, don't buy bloodfins for another 4 months. The disease made them have a huge hole in the front of their faces, then eventualy die of starvation, once we saw signs of it, we just took the sick ones out of their misery. I'm Wondering if we should put them in our old 10 gallon tank (they originally came from it) or wait 4 months. The tank is sitting on my bookshel with a fake plant in it, we'd have to re setup the tank and put more decorations and gravel in it, also we'd have to find an 82 degree 10 gallon heater. The tank was kept for 9 years with water in it (i got it when I was 3, i'm now almost 13) and 3 months without, and smells kind of funny. Also it has algae left in it that we've tried over and over again to scrub out. The only decorations left over are two small fake plants, we also have an algae coated fake plant from the new tank we took out because we had enough real plants. All the rocks were moved to the new tank. Before we lost some, the bloodfins kept to themselves and left everyone else lone, Now that there are only two left they nip at the gouramis and angelfish's fins, the break up the schools of tetras and danios, and it pushes the twig catfish around. The 50 gallon tank has a serious algae problem, we just cleaned it out, and there is still a ton of algae on the back. We have such a bad algae problem because of our LED system to keep the live plants alive. We decided to keep the snails because we caught them eating alae, and read that they are good algae eaters, but the bloodfins have eaten at least 19. We are just trying to figure out if we should move them or let them stay. We also have another small problem, our opaline gourami (there is only one because when we floated the angelfish, 3 jumped out (my sister was floating them because I had to do homework) has been well, pooping all the time, although we suspect it is because we've seen him eating the fluffy algae off the intake for the filter, the rocks, the out take, the plant leaves, etc, we are worried about it's health and how much poop is on the bottom of the aquarium. Any help would be well, very helpful.

  • Molly Malone - 2016-05-31
    Did anyone ever respond?

    If not, and you'res still having issues, please let me know and I'll give it a crack.

    I have a couple Bloodfins in my tank while cycling. They do tend to get a bit skittish/testy when they are not in schools. So, that could be why they were nipping at the Neons.

    How did it all work out?

    Your tank was cycled right?
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.