African Red-eyed Tetra (Arnoldichthys spilopterus)

African Red-eyed Tetras (Arnoldichthys spilopterus) are found in the streams and rivers of the Ogun and lower Niger river delta systems in Nigeria, and are known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Large Scaled African Characin, Red Eyed Characin, or Niger Tetra.

African Red-eyed Tetra (Arnoldichthys spilopterus)

African Red-eyed Tetra (Arnoldichthys spilopterus)

The African Red-eyed Tetra is most distinguished by their huge scales. The males are more colorful than the females and possess dark stripes in the anal fin. They also tend to be slimmer than sexually mature females.

The African Red-eyed Tetra is scarce in the wild and not usually available to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts.

It is a peaceful, hardy, highly active schooling species that does well in a West African themed community aquarium with other Alkestid tetras, small Synodontis spp., or dwarf cichlids like Pelvicachromis pulcher.   They should be kept with at least 10 other specimens when housed in a single species tank.

Arnoldichthys spilopterus is a perfect candidate for larger community tank settings. As juveniles, African Red-eyed Tetras like to form into shoals, but when fully grown they tend to become less active and hang in a corner of the tank waiting to be fed.

Although Arnoldichthys spilopterus can be kept in hard, slightly alkaline water, they do best in soft peat filtered water that mimics their natural habitat in the wild of tannin stained water littered with decaying organic matter.

In an aquarium environment, they require Well filtered water with some current, a densely planted, dark soil, fine gravel or sand substrate, some driftwood, a bit of smooth rockwork, and plenty of swimming space. Regular water changes are necessary to keep the fish healthy and maintain water quality.

Although breeding African Red-eyed Tetras is not that difficult, most tropical fish keeping enthusiasts do not make the attempt. Provide a breeding pair with a well planted, dimly lit 20 gallon tank with soft, acidic water and frequent water changes.   Lower the water and feed the pair plenty of live food to induce spawning.

The female disperse up to 1000 eggs among the plants that will hatch out in about 30 hours. After the egg sacs have been absorbed (around 24 hours) the fry should be given infusoria until they are free swimming (3 to 4 days) at which time they should be fed baby brine shrimp, Daphnia, , or the like.   When fed well, the fry grow extremely fast and in about two months should be approximately 1 1/2 inches long.

African Red-eyed Tetras are omnivorous but prefer live, frozen or freeze dried foods along with a quality flake food.   Bloodworms, tubifex, daphnia, and brine shrimp are all eagerly accepted.

The African Red-eyed Tetra is not a common resident of tropical fish shops but are available online and from specialty fish shops. When available for sale, they are 1 2/2″ to 2 1/2″ in length.

African Red-eyed Tetra (Arnoldichthys spilopterus)

African Red-eyed Tetra (Arnoldichthys spilopterus)









Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 73-82° F, KH 4-8, pH 6.0-7.5
Max. Size: 3″
Color Form: Bronze, Silver
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Suitable for peaceful commuinty tanks
Origin: Nigeria
Family: Alestidae
Lifespan: 7 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner

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