The beautiful Rosy Tetra is a cheerful, active little fish that makes a great addition to a community aquarium!

The Rosy Tetra Hyphessobrycon rosaceus is a fun addition to a peaceful community aquarium with other smaller fishes. It has the deep-bodied shape of larger tetras, like the Bleeding Heart Tetra. This pretty little tetra has a deep salmon-colored body highlighted with red accents and bright white tips on the fins. Hence, it is also known as the Rosy Fin Tetra, White-Finned Rosy Tetra, and Rosey Tetra.

A happy fish, the Rosy Tetra has earned its place in the community aquarium. It is relatively hardy and moderately easy to care for, but it must have pristine water. It also does not tolerate water condition changes well, so it is best kept by an intermediate fish keeper. Although a bit of extra work is needed, it will reward the hobbyist with hours of entertainment.

Multiple companions are needed for this little fish and it will get along well with other small, peaceful tankmates. This loose-schooling fish should be kept in a small group. A minimum-sized school of 6 tetras is recommended. This group can consist of either its own kind or some of its close relatives, such as the Ornate Tetra and the Bleeding Heart Tetra. The Ornate Tetra is so similar, in fact, that the Rosy Tetra was at one time considered its subspecies.

Rosy Tetras will not show their beautiful colors unless they are fully content. Take care not to keep them with fish that bully them and be sure to provide them with a pleasant environment. They will enjoy an aquarium that is planted heavily around the edges for shelter with plenty of open room for swimming. Although they prefer soft, acidic water, many tank-bred specimens have spent their lives otherwise and will adapt.

Scientific Classification


Rosy tetra – Quick Aquarium Care

Aquarist Experience Level:Intermediate
Aquarium Hardiness:Moderately hardy
Minimum Tank Size:15 gal (57 L)
Size of fish – inches1.6 inches (3.99 cm)
Temperature:75.0 to 82.0° F (23.9 to 27.8&deg C)

Habitat: Distribution / Background

The Rosy Tetra Hyphessobrycon rosaceus (previously Hyphessobrycon bentosi rosaceus) was described by Durbin in 1909. The species is not listed on the IUCN Red List. They are found in South America, particularly in the Rio Guopore region of Paraguay and in the lower Amazon River Basin of Guyana, Suriname, and Brazil. The species is found in several river systems, including the Rio Essequibo, Rio Corantijn, and Rio Suriname. Other common names they are known by include Rosy Fin Tetra, White-Finned Rosy Tetra, Rosy Finned Tetra, and Rosey Tetra.

These tetras prefer the heavily forested, sluggish tributaries off of main rivers. The waters they inhabit are normally stained brown and very acidic. They live in schools in these river systems feeding mostly on small invertebrates. These fish are now mass-produced commercially, so most specimens available in the hobby are captive-bred.

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


The Rosy Tetra is a deeper-bodied fish with a shape typical of some of the larger tetras, such as the Bleeding Heart Tetra. This fish will generally reach about 1 1/2 inches (4 cm) in the home aquarium and has a lifespan of about 3 to 5 years.

This tetra’s coloration and appearance is very similar to its close relative the Ornate Tetra with only subtle differences. Both fish have a pink to deep salmon body color though the Ornate Tetra will often appear more transparent. Both species have dark red markings on their fins. The Ornate Tetra will have a faint grayish ‘shoulder patch,’ which is absent on the Rosy Tetra.

The Ornate Tetra will have white markings on their dorsal and pelvic fin extensions, thus the term ‘white ‘tip’. The Rosy Tetra will have a black marking or ‘flag’ on its dorsal fin extension, and will sometimes (but not always) have white tips to the fins. But to all rules there are exceptions, and even an occasional Ornate will have the black ‘flag’ type marking on its dorsal fin as well.

  • Size of fish – inches: 1.6 inches (3.99 cm)
  • Lifespan: 5 years – They have a lifespan of about 3 to 5 years.

Fish Keeping Difficulty

The Rosy Tetra is moderately hardy and a good choice for an intermediate fish keeper. These fish need pristine water and do not tolerate water condition changes well though captive-bred specimens tend to be a bit more tolerant.

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

Foods and Feeding

Since they are omnivorous, the Rosy Tetra should be given a varied diet. They have fairly high vitamin requirements, so quality flake foods should make up about 60 to 80% of their diet. They love to chase after live foods and may occasionally nibble on plants or algae. These tetras like several feedings a day, but offer 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

Rosy Tetras are not exceptionally difficult to care for provided the water is kept clean and stable. Aquariums are closed systems, and regardless of size, 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, especially if the tank is densely stocked. At least 25 to 50% of the tank water should be replaced every other week.

  • Water Changes: Bi-weekly

Aquarium Setup

Rosy Tetras are fairly hardy, and a school of 6 will do best in about a 15 to 20 gallon aquarium. They need a high quality filter that does not create too much current as this fish prefers more sluggish waters. Lighting should be dim as they come from areas with dense forest cover.

The aquarium should be heavily planted around the sides and back and have plenty of open water for swimming in the front. It is best to use a river sand for the substrate. Adding aquarium-safe peat to the filter will simulate the black water conditions these fish inhabit in nature. Add a couple handfuls of dry leaves to give a good natural feel to the tank. Make sure to remove and replace the dried leaves every few weeks. Woodwork and floating plants will make them feel comfortable. Provide a few hiding places with scattered drift wood and twisted roots.

  • Minimum Tank Size: 15 gal (57 L) – A school of 6 will do best in about a 20-gallon aquarium.
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: Yes
  • Substrate Type: Any
  • Lighting Needs: Low – subdued lighting
  • Temperature: 75.0 to 82.0° F (23.9 to 27.8&deg C)
  • Breeding Temperature: 80.0° F – These fish need a spawning temperature of 80 to 82° F (26.6 – 28° C).
  • Range ph: 5.5-7.5 – Though they can be kept in slightly alkaline water, they tend to be more colorful when their water is more acidic.
  • Hardness Range: 5 – 19 dGH
  • Brackish: No
  • Water Movement: Weak
  • Water Region: All – The Rosy Tetra will inhabit all areas of the aquarium, but they usually spend a good deal of their time in the upper or middle regions.

Social Behaviors

In a well thought out aquarium the Rosy Tetra will be peaceful, active, and colorful. Be sure to keep them in a group of at least 6 tetras. This fish will happily school with its relatives, such as the Ornate Tetra, Black Widow Tetra, White Skirt Tetra, and Bleeding Heart Tetra.

Rowdy neighbors will bring out the worst in them, so house them with peaceful and non-fin nipping tankmates. They will be startled by loud sounds or excessive movement outside the tank as well, so be sure to situate them appropriately.

  • Venomous: No
  • Temperament: Peaceful – This fish should never be housed with boisterous tankmates. Instead, it must be kept in a school of its own kind or closely-related fish.
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species – conspecifics: Yes – This fish should be kept in a school of at least 6 fish, but more are better.
    • Peaceful fish (): Safe
    • Semi-Aggressive (): Threat
    • Aggressive (): Threat
    • Large Semi-Aggressive (): Threat
    • Large Aggressive, Predatory (): Threat
    • Safe
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Safe – not aggressive
    • Plants: Safe

Sexual differences

Males have longer fins and are more slender and brightly colored than females.

Breeding / Reproduction

Breeding the Rosy Tetra is tricky, but a healthy pair will usually breed readily when brought together in a tank with the right conditions. They are egg scattering spawners that exhibit no parental care. Pairs in good condition will spawn often in a community tank, but the eggs and fry will usually be eaten. Pairs should be isolated, ideally in a separate tank, to get the best number of fry.

A 10-gallon spawning tank is adequate, with fairly soft water and a slightly elevated temperature of 80 to 82° F (26.6 – 28° C). The water should be slightly acidic with a pH of 6.5 to 7 and a hardness of 4° dGH or less. The tank should have fine-textured live plants for a spawning medium and be dimly lit. A gentle current and low lighting will mimic their natural habitat. A small, air-powered sponge filter is needed for filtration and oxygenation and will provide a gentle water flow.

They can be bred as a pair or in a small group with about a half a dozen of each sex. To optimize breeding success, condition the males and females in separate tanks prior to breeding. Feed them plenty of small live foods. Select a breeding pair or a small group and transfer them into the breeding tank in the evening. A mature female’s belly will become nicely rounded when she is full of eggs. Choose males that are the most colorful.

They typically spawn in the morning, and the females will release the eggs among the fine-leaved plants. Remove the parents immediately after spawning, or they will eat the eggs. Eggs will hatch in approximately 24 to 36 hours, and fry will be free-swimming after approximately 5 days. Change the tank water frequently, taking great care not to remove any fry in this process. For the first few days, feed the fry infusoria type foods until they can feed on microworm or brine shrimp nauplii. The baby fish are fairly slow to reach maturity and ought to be kept isolated until they are too large to be eaten. See Breeding Freshwater Fish: Characins for a general description of breeding processes, and see Fish Food for Fry for information about types of foods for raising the young.

  • Ease of Breeding: Moderate

Fish Diseases

Rosy Tetras will resist disease as long as the tank is well-maintained and stable. Overall, they are 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. 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 Rosy Tetras 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 Rosy 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. Stressed fish are more likely to acquire disease.

As with most fish, they are prone to skin flukes, parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.), ichthyobodo infection, parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.), bacterial infections (general), and bacterial disease. Aquarists should read up on common tank diseases. Knowing the signs and catching and treating them early makes a huge difference. For information about freshwater fish diseases and illnesses, see Aquarium Fish Diseases and Treatments.


The Rosy Tetra is readily available in fish stores and online and is moderately priced. It is also known as the Rosy Finned Tetra and the Rosey Tetra.



Featured Image Credit: Steve Bower, Shutterstock