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Rummynose Tetra (Hemigrammus bleheri)

Rummynose Tetra (Hemigrammus bleheri) aka “Firehead Tetra”

The Rummynose Tetra (Hemigrammus bleheri) is a South American characin that has been a long established favorite of tropical fish keeping enthusiasts.  The Rummynose Tetra is a peaceful omnivore that make an excellent addition to any tropical community aquarium with other non-aggressive fish.

The Rummynose, also known as “firehead tetras“, are found in the upper and lower Amazon River basins, the Rio Negro and Rio Meta basins, and the Orinoco River.

Rummynose Tetras live in the quiet, tannin stained, slow moving creeks and “blackwater” river areas of Brazil and Columbia.  They prefer the soft, acidic water that is the result of decayed vegetation and leaf litter, and frequent areas with an abundance of aquatic plant life and hiding places.

When housed in a heavily planted aquarium environment, Rummynose Tetras are benefited by placing a piece of water logged driftwood into their tanks. When kept in a suitable environment, the ruby red head that is the namesake for these fish becomes more vivid and pronounced.

Schooling Rummynose Tetras

                        Schooling Rummynose Tetras

Rummynose Tetras are a silvery, torpedo shaped fish with two black and white stripes on each caudal fin and horizontal black and white stripes on the tail fin. Its head is a deep iridescent red that continues from the iris of the eye, past the gill plate to mid body. Its name is derived from the word “rummy“, which was the name given to rum addicted alcoholics who often had red (rummy) noses.

Rummynose Tetras are shoaling fish that seldom exceed 2” in length.  They are sensitive to water hardness, pH, and water temperature fluctuations and are best kept in schools of 6 or more fish.

Rummynose Tetras are a hardy fish that require only minimal care when housed in a densely planted 20 gallon tank with plenty of gentle water filtration.

Keeping the water warm (between 73 to 80 degrees), the pH between 6.0 to 7.0 and providing weekly 25% water changes will keep your Rummynose Tetras healthy.

When Rummynose Tetras are stressed, the vivid red on their noses will become drab and eventually disappear.  This can occur when the fish are first introduced into your aquarium, but after a couple of weeks they will regain their beautiful ruby red “nose” if water conditions are optimal.

Rummynose Tetras will eagerly accept commercial flake foods, live brine shrimp, tubifex worms, mosquito larvae and a variety of freeze dried and frozen foods.

Tropical fish keeping enthusiasts find Rummynose Tetras a major challenge to breed, however they will spawn in a low light aquarium with soft acidic water when the temperature is raised to 89 – 91 degrees F., and some Java Moss is placed on the bottom of the tank.

They are extremely difficult to sex, and pairing is largely a matter of luck.  In the event you do get a successful spawn, the eggs are somewhat photosensitive and notoriously susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections.  Remove the parents from the tank, introduce an anti-fungal agent to prevent fungi from attacking the eggs and keep them dark until hatched.

The eggs will hatch in 72 to 96 hours at 89.6 °F.  The fry become free swimming after their egg sacs are absorbed (usually 24 to 48 hours) and they are notoriously slow growing. Feed them influsoria and baby brine shrimp.

Most Rummynose Tetras are now captive bred in Europe and Southeast Asia.

Rummynose Tetra (Hemigrammus bleheri)

Rummynose Tetra (Hemigrammus bleheri)






Minimum Tank Size: 15 – 20 gallons
Care Level: Easy
Temperament: Peaceful
Water Conditions: 72-80° F, KH 2-6, pH 5.5-7.0
Max. Size: 2″
Color Form: Red, White
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Ok with large non agressive fish
Origin: South America, Bred in Europe and Southeast Asia
Family: Characidae
Lifespan: 5 to 6 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Experienced

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