Bleeding Heart Tetra: A Colorful and Fascinating Aquarium Fish

bleeding heart tetra

Bleeding Heart Tetras (scientific name: Hyphessobrycon erythrostigma) are popular and beautiful freshwater fish known for their distinctive red markings that resemble a bleeding heart. These small and peaceful tetras are a great addition to any community aquarium, adding color and liveliness to the tank. In this article, we will explore various aspects of bleeding heart tetras, including their characteristics, behavior, breeding, compatibility with other fish, and their interaction with plants.

bleeding heart tetra

Introduction to Bleeding Heart Tetra

Bleeding Heart Tetras are native to the clearwater streams and rivers of the Amazon basin in South America. They belong to the Characidae family and are closely related to other tetra species like the neon tetra and black skirt tetra. With their vibrant red patches on their silver bodies, bleeding heart tetras have become a favorite choice for aquarium enthusiasts.

Bleeding Heart Tetra Habitat and Tank Requirements

Bleeding heart tetras prefer homes in the wild flowing streams endowed with thick foliage which shelters them adequately ensuring survival. Mimicking this exact setting is crucial when creating an indoor environment for them.

It’s important you establish an aquarium full of plants with plenty of open areas created for swimming purposes. Matched closely to their natural habitat, the water conditions should be controlled to ensure optimal living conditions.

The aquarium owner must maintain temperatures in the range of 72-79°F (22-26°C), maintain pH levels between 5.5 and 7.5 and retain moderately hard water that’s slightly soft in nature.

Bleeding Heart Tetra Behavior and Aggression

Bleeding Heart Tetras are known for their peaceful nature, making them suitable for community aquariums. They thrive when kept in a group of 6 or more, as they feel more secure and display their natural behaviors. These tetras are shoaling fish, and their interaction with each other is fascinating to observe. However, despite their overall peaceful nature, some instances of aggression may occur, especially during breeding or territorial disputes.

Differentiating Male and Female Bleeding Heart Tetras

Male and female bleeding heart tetras bear such close aesthetic similarities that identifying them presents quite a challenge, but fear not! With careful investigation comes promising results! Males usually possess a noticeably slimmer frame compared to bulkier females. Moreover, during mating periods males adopt deep crimson hues on their chests while expectant mothers -females- showcase subtly swollen bellies due to egg-bearing responsibilities likely taking center stage at this time.

Breeding Bleeding Heart Tetras

To encourage breeding, it is recommended to provide a separate breeding tank with suitable conditions. The tank should be well-planted with fine-leaved plants like java moss or spawning mops where the female can deposit her eggs. A temperature increase of a few degrees and regular water changes can also stimulate breeding behavior.

When the female is ready to spawn, she will scatter her eggs among the plants. The male will then fertilize them by releasing milk. After spawning, it is crucial to remove the adult fish from the breeding tank to prevent them from consuming the eggs. The eggs usually hatch within 24 to 48 hours, and the fry can be fed with infusoria or commercially available fry food.

Compatibility of Bleeding Heart Tetras with Angelfish

Bleeding heart tetras generally have a peaceful disposition, but it’s important to consider their compatibility with other fish species, particularly when it comes to keeping them with angelfish. Angelfish can be larger and more territorial, and there is a risk of them preying on smaller tetras.

If you choose to keep bleeding heart tetras with angelfish, it is advisable to provide ample hiding spots and visual barriers within the tank. This allows the tetras to retreat and reduces the chances of aggression. It’s also essential to monitor the behavior of both species closely to ensure compatibility and intervene if necessary.

Feeding Habits of Bleeding Heart Tetras

Bleeding heart tetras are omnivorous and have a diverse diet in their natural habitat. In the aquarium, they readily accept a variety of foods, including high-quality flake or pellet food designed for tropical fish. It is beneficial to supplement their diet with live or frozen foods like brine shrimp, daphnia, or bloodworms to provide essential nutrients and mimic their natural feeding behavior.

Feeding bleeding heart tetras two to three times a day in small portions is recommended. This helps prevent overfeeding and maintains water quality within the aquarium. It’s important to observe their feeding habits and adjust the amount of food accordingly to avoid wastage and potential water pollution.

bleeding heart tetra

Bleeding Heart Tetras and Plant Consumption

One common concern among aquarium enthusiasts is whether bleeding heart tetras eat plants. While bleeding heart tetras may nibble on plant leaves occasionally, they are not considered avid plant eaters. However, individual behavior may vary, and some tetras may develop a taste for certain types of plants.

To prevent excessive plant consumption, it is advisable to choose robust and well-established plants for the aquarium. Adding floating plants or placing taller plants in the background can also provide shade and shelter for the tetras, reducing their inclination to nibble on other plants. Additionally, a balanced and nutritious diet can help minimize their interest in consuming plants.

Common Diseases and Health Issues in Bleeding Heart Tetras

Like any other fish species, bleeding heart tetras are susceptible to certain diseases and health issues. Ich (white spot disease), fin rot, and fungal infections are among the common ailments that can affect them. These diseases are often caused by poor water quality, stress, or the introduction of infected fish.

To maintain their health, it is crucial to maintain optimal water conditions, including regular water changes, proper filtration, and adequate oxygenation. Quarantining new fish before introducing them to the main tank can also help prevent the spread of diseases. If any signs of illness are observed, prompt treatment with appropriate medication and adjustments to the tank conditions are necessary.

Tips for Keeping and Caring for Bleeding Heart Tetras

To ensure the well-being of your this fish, here are some essential tips for their care:

  • Provide a suitable tank size: Bleeding heart tetras can thrive in tanks as small as 20 gallons, but a larger tank with more swimming space is preferable. Aim for a tank that is well-suited to their needs and allows for proper filtration and maintenance.
  • Maintain optimal water parameters: Regularly monitor and maintain the water temperature, pH levels, and water hardness within the recommended range for bleeding heart tetras. Stability is key to their health and overall well-being.
  • Create a peaceful environment: They are shoaling fish, so keeping them in groups of six or more is important. This helps reduce stress and encourages natural behavior. Additionally, provide plenty of hiding places and plants to create a peaceful and secure environment.
  • Ensure a balanced diet: Offer a varied diet to your bleeding heart tetras, including high-quality flakes or pellets, as well as live or frozen foods.
  • Observe and monitor behavior: Pay attention to the behavior of fish. Look out for signs of stress, aggression, or illness.


1: Are bleeding heart tetras suitable for beginners?

Yes, they are generally suitable for beginners due to their peaceful nature and relatively low maintenance requirements. However, proper research and understanding of their needs are essential before bringing them home.

2: Can bleeding heart tetras be kept with other tetra species?

Yes, they can coexist with other tetra species, provided their tank size and water requirements are met. It’s important to choose compatible tetra species that share similar temperaments and water parameters.

3: How often should I feed my bleeding heart tetras?

They should be fed two to three times a day in small portions. Monitor their feeding habits and adjust the amount of food accordingly to prevent overfeeding and maintain water quality.

4: Can bleeding heart tetras jump out of the tank?

Yes, they have been known to jump out of uncovered tanks. It is advisable to have a secure lid or cover on the aquarium to prevent any accidents.

Recommended Reading: Green Chromis: Lifespan, Aggressiveness, and Breeding

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