African Red Eye Tetra (arnoldichthys spilopterus)

African Red Eye Tetra (arnoldichthys spilopterus)

African Red Eye Tetra (arnoldichthys spilopterus)

African Red Eye Tetra (arnoldichthys spilopterus) known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Niger Tetra or Large-Scaled African Characin is found in the Niger and Ogun river systems in Nigeria, Africa.

Because of pollution and deforestation, African Red Eye Tetras are scarce in the aquarium hobby and are only found in 10 areas of their range.

Arnoldichthys spilopterus is an active, peaceful, schooling species that are mostly found in slower moving, tannin stained, rivers and streams with an abundance of decaying organic matter.   They are a mid to top water species that feed on surface insects, insect larvae, worms, and crustaceans

African Red Eye Tetra (arnoldichthys spilopterus).Male

African Red Eye Tetra (arnoldichthys spilopterus).Male

African Red Eye Tetras have an olive green body color above a gold,green, and black lateral line that runs through the eye to the end of the clear caudal fin.

Below the lateral line, the body is a metallic green edged with yellow/gold beneath.  The African Red Eye Tetra has large scales, a large eye with red/gold above, and a black splotch on the clear dorsal fin.

The clear, square, anal fin in males is lined on top and below with a dark black stripe.  In females the stripes are absent.

African Red Eye Tetra (arnoldichthys spilopterus) Female

African Red Eye Tetra (arnoldichthys spilopterus) Female

Males are slightly more colorful than females and are somewhat slimmer than adult (especially gravid) females.

African Red Eye Tetras are best kept in schools of at least 10 individuals in an aquarium of at least 55 gallon capacity, with a sand or fine gravel substrate decorated with some smooth river stones, some driftwood branches, and a densely planted background of aquatic plants.     A few pieces of Indian Almond leaves on the bottom and some floating plants to minimize jumping and diffuse overhead lighting will benefit them enormously.

Because of their active, schooling activity, African Red Eye Tetras need plenty of swimming room and need a good filtration system to maintain water quality.    Filtering over peat can be used in lieu of Indian Almond Leaves to simulate their natural tannin stained water conditions.

Although best kept in large groups, Arnoldichtys spilopterus can be housed with other shy, peaceful species such as Alestiid tetras, dwarf chchlids like Pelvicachromis pulcher, and smaller Synodontis spp., and Corydoras.

African Red Eye Tetras are egg scatterers that are relatively easy to spawn in an aquarium environment.   Condition the fish with live or frozen bloodworms, daphnia, brine shrimp, etc. and select the fattest female and best colored male from the group.   Place them in a smaller, dimly lit aquarium with a few clumps of plants and either a mesh base, or a layer of marbles covering a bare bottom.   The water in the breeding tank should be soft with a pH below 7.0.

In their natural habitat, African Red Eye Tetras scatter their eggs among the submerged vegetation.   Males will spawn side by side with the female in a quivering motion until the female deposits up to 1000 eggs around the plant leaves.   The eggs hatch out in about 28 to 30 hours and the yolk sacs are absorbed in about 24 hours.   The fry can initially be fed infusoria or commercially prepared powered fry food as soon as the yolk sacs have been absorbed and later in about 2 or 3 days, microworms, moina, or baby brine shrimp.

African Red Eye Tetras are not fussy eaters and will accept most foods.   Although they do well on quality flake foods, they should be provided with fresh, frozen or freeze dried brine shrimp, bloodworms, black worms, white worms, daphnia, etc.

The African Red Eye Tetra (arnoldichthys spilopterus) is not a common item to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts but have become more available lately from breeders, specialty fish shops, and importers online.   They are usually available as juveniles when they are 1 1/2″ to 1 3/4″ in length and command a high price.

African Red Eye Tetra (arnoldichthys spilopterus)

African Red Eye Tetra (arnoldichthys spilopterus)








Minimum Tank Size: 55 gallons
Care Level: Easy
Temperament: Peaceful, Shy
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 75-81° F, H 18 – 268 ppm, pH 6.0-7.5
Max Size: 4″
Color Form: Green, Black, Gold
Diet: Carnivore
Compatibility: Peaceful community
Origin: Nigeria
Family: Alestidae
Lifespan: 5 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner

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