Bloodfin Tetras are one of the most suitable fishes for less experienced aquarists as they don’t require any specific knowledge for care and maintenance.

These are tiny-slender freshwater fish species from the Characidae family and are primarily a schooling fish that are comfortable living in groups either in the wild or in captivity.

It is a prevalent ornamental fish found in household aquariums and is highly demanded worldwide. They got introduced to some places in South America and Florida while accidentally escaping from the breeding farms.

The fish is pretty shy but can live with most aquatic species without hassle if put in a community tank.

Here you can read the detailed care guide of the bloodfin tetra to learn some exciting features about the fish, including its feeding habits, breeding process, tank setup, and compatible mates.

Review of the Species

Quick Species Facts
Scientific Name Aphyocharax anisitsi
Other Common Names Blood tetra, True bloodfin tetra, Red finned tetra
Family Characidae
Origin South America (Paraná River basin)
Lifespan 5 to 7 years
Max. Length 5to5.5 cm
Type Freshwater Fish
Temperament Peaceful


Bloodfin Tetras were initially recognized in 1903 and were found predominantly in regions of South America, inhabiting the basins of the Paraná River. It starts from Brazil, passes through Paraguay and Uruguay, and extends to Argentina.

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They hang around streams, tributaries, and distributaries in dense floating vegetation areas. It mostly prefers shaded, dark places rather than sunlit zones.

Maximum Life Expectancy        

Bloodfin is a hardy fish and can survive extreme conditions as well. On average, they live for five years but can live up to 7 years in the wild.

Though it can handle various water conditions, it is difficult for fishes to overcome poor unclean water, which mainly hampers their lifespan.

They might survive for close to10 years in captivity if the conditions are ideal, given that any disease or disorder does not afflict them.

Size And Appearance

The bloodfin tetra got its unique name from the vibrant red or crimson shade over the dorsal, anal, and tail fins.

The fish is in silver color and has an iridescent green hue with a slight purple tint, but it depends upon the lighting in the tank and how it appears. When getting scared or feeling stressed, their colors may become pale, but it’s only a temporary case.

They possess a sleek body structure with larger scales than other tetra species. It grows a bit larger than other tetras and elongates to an approximate length of 2 – 2.2 inches.

Fact: Glass bloodfin tetras, another subspecies of bloodfin tetra, have a more transparent body where even the organs can be seen with the naked eye.

How to Determine Gender of Bloodfin Tetra?

Differentiating the bloodfin tetra based on gender is not very difficult once they reach adulthood. Here is a description of prominent differences between the male and female species.

  • Males possess more streamlined bodies than females.
  • The colors on the male fish are brighter with more shine and shimmer, while it is much paler in females.
  • The males have a hook-like shape at the edge of their anal fin while the females do not.
  • Males have a slight blueish tint with a white outline at the edges, which is not seen in females.
  • Females have a rounder body than males even when they do not carry any eggs inside them.
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Study: Researchers have deduced a systematic development in the number of hooks of anal fins in mature males, where the hooks are minimal in juveniles and increase as they mature or reproduce.

Availability And Price

Bloodfin Tetras are widely found worldwide as they don’t require much handling knowledge. For commercial purposes, the fish is purchased for breeding in artificial setups.

Quick Tip: You can knock off a lower price if purchased in bulk

They can be bought from a local aquarium and online stores, but shipping charges could differ from country to country. The fish is priced between $1.99 to $2.99, while some may go up to $3.99 depending upon the appearance.

Care Guide

Quick Care Facts
Care Level Beginner
Breeding Easy
Social Friendly
Temperament Harmonious
Diet Omnivorous

Food And Diet

Bloodfin tetras are omnivorous, so that they can eat various vegetables, plant matter, and fish food. In the wild, they have been feeding upon worms and insects.

But their diet in captivity may include multiple choices of food items, from live feeds to flakes and green veggies.

They can eat in 4 – 5 fixed schedules, but you must not let them eat more than 3 minutes at a time. Check the list of food items you can provide them while petting.

  • Small crustaceans
  • Shrimps (live, frozen, or brined)
  • Vegetables- boiled carrots, lettuce, spinach, plantains, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, etc.
  • High-quality fish pellets &flakes
  • Bloodworms (live or frozen)

General Behavior

Like other tetras, bloodfins are also socially active and behave peacefully most of the time. But they may show slight aggression towards other males, feeling irritated or stressed if they don’t get enough swimming space.

They are friendly and like to live in large schools. Smaller groups tend to make them feel more scared and shyer.

This fish may occasionally nip on the fins of their fellow schoolmates and other companions that swim slowly or show off long flowing fins.


Bloodfin tetra puts up an easy way out for breeders to harvest them in captivity. They successfully reproduce without the hassle and do not demand specific conditions or parameters. Though on the safer side, you must ensure specific settings to instigate the process for efficient results.

Essentials in Mating Tank

Arrange a separate tank for the mating pair to avoid any disturbances. Use a bigger tank as per the number of fishes you are inducing for mating, but get males and females in equal numbers to avoid fights among the males.

Keep the water temperature between 24°C – 28°C and keep it in a dim light area. You may also feed the pair with protein-rich foods for better results, and fish begins to mate once they feel comfortable in the tank.

Note: Use a tight-fitting lid to cover the top surface of the tank, as the bloodfin tetra fish tends to jump above the water while spawning. It may accidentally fall out of the water. Avoid filling the tank to the top to avoid them hitting the lid.

Spawning And Fertilization

Eggs are generally spawned during the early morning hours by the female, preceded by continuous stimulation from the male. Females start making leaps over the water surface while laying the eggs that ultimately sink.

The fertilization takes place externally where the eggs are spawned first by the female, and then sperms are released over them by the male to fertilize them.

Fact: Bloodfin’s eggs don’t have adhesive properties, so they gradually descend to the tank’s floor. This is also known as substrata scattering. Fishes like tetras, danios, barbs, etc., exhibit this egg scattering technique.


As you observe the fertilization process is complete, you must remove the pairs from the tank. They do not show any parental care and instead pave a possibility of consuming the hatched/ unhatched eggs if hungry.

The eggs are transparent or glassy and are spawned in large numbers of around 700 – 800. This ensures the survival of a few hatchlings at the end.

After fertilization, the usual time for hatching into sac-fry or baby fish is between 24 – 48 hours. As the babies come out, they start eating the sacs. Later you can provide them infusoria or fry foods in liquid or powdered form, followed by baby shrimps after some days.


Bloodfin tetras are strong species and can tolerate changes in their environment up to quite an extent. But continuous exposure to very high or very low temperatures with unhygienic conditions can lead to various diseases and disorders.

This, in turn, can lead to a vulnerability against several pathogens. A few commonly occurring diseases are as follows:

Disease/Disorder Causes Symptoms Prevention/Treatment
Dropsy Disruption of fluid regulation/ Bacterial infection Bloated body, Lethargic movement, Popped eyes Antibiotics, Putting Bath salts- Epsom Salt, Fresh food diet
Tail & Fin Rot Fungal/Bacterial infection Rotting of fins and tail, Hindering movement Broad-spectrum antibacterial or antifungal
White Spot Disease (Ich) Protozoa- Ichthyophthirius multifiliis White spots (1 mm) all over the fish body Administering zinc-free malachite, Copper Sulphate, Formalin
Columnaris Bacteria- Flavobacterium columnare Cloudy patches on gills, difficulty breathing Putting bath salts, antibiotics- Terramycin/a combination of nitrofurazone and kanamycin

Tank Care

Quick Tank Facts
Water Temperature 65°F to 82°F
Minimum size 60Liters
Water Hardness 10 – 25 dGH
pH Level 6.0 to 7.8
Minimum population School of 5 – 6 fish
Nitrate Content 0 to 50 ppm
Lighting Moderate
Brackish No

Ideal Tank Size

They are gregarious fish who prefer to be in groups. A larger tank means more swimming area and less overcrowding.

Many aquarists use a measurement of 2 Gallons of tank volume per 2 inches of fish (equal to the size of approximately one fish).

As a result, a minimum of 15 gallons tank is required to accommodate a school of bloodfin tetra which contains a minimum of 5 – 6 fish in this capacity.

However, a tank of 20 gallons or a length of 20 inches is advised to provide enough room for other fish.

Tank Care – How to set up Tank for Bloodfin Tetra

Many natural freshwater florae are usually chosen because they provide biological oxygen and hiding places as safe havens to relieve stress.

Vallisneria and Sagittaria, rosette plants, can be used for utility and decoration.

Floating plants such as Salvinia and water lettuce (Pistia) can be utilized as a floating refuge for hatchlings and prevent algae growth in the aquarium.

Several bryophytes can be grown in the aquariums, such as Hornwort, Crystalwort, Java Moss, Flame Moss, Weeping Moss, etc., which provide oxygen and shelter for their hatchlings and eggs.

To mimic the dark surroundings of their natural habitat, dim or subdued lighting is best. Low illumination also highlights their glittering silvery appearance in the backdrop.

Low lighting also aids in the incubation and hatching of eggs, similar to their natural habitat.

  • Substrate
    Bloodfin tetras can be kept on any substrate, including sand, gravel, etc. They do not scavenge or burrow on the substrate, but it is advised to use a soft base. Generally, dark-colored sand is used.
  • Oxygen and Filtration
    The tank flora can provide enough oxygen for them. A simple bubbling air pump would be the only requirement to meet the fish’s oxygen needs.
    Standard air-driven sponge filters are adequate for filtration because of their gentler flow. It would not disrupt the natural feel in the tank.
  • Décor
    Despite the lack of specifics, decorating a tank for bloodfin tetra scan be done in various ways.
    The brilliant shine and color of the fish are brought out by dull-looking materials like gravel, pebbles, stones, and driftwood, along with green aquatic plants and mosses.
    The artificial decoration is never preferred as they have irregular sharp ends that could harm the fish. Also, if it is ingested, it could be fatal for them.
    Driftwoods and big rocks with holes can be used in the tank to provide hiding spots.

Water Parameters

When using tap water to fill the tank, be cautious because it has already been disinfected and may include hazardous chemicals such as chlorine & chloramine, which can harm the health of bloodfin tetra.

There are a few other significant parameters listed below that you should consider while preparing an aquarium setup for this fish.

  • Keep the water temperature between 22 to 28°C.
  • Water acidity levels are most suitable with a pH of around 6.5 – 6.8, which is slightly acidic, but the fish may adjust a pH ranging from 6.0 up to 7.8.
  • Water hardness should be regulated between 10 and 25 dGH. They like soft water, typical for freshwater fish but can endure slightly hard water for limited periods.
  • The nitrate concentration in the tank should be kept close to zero but should not exceed50 ppm. High nitrogen levels are a potential cause of dropsy in fish, while it also plummets the water, causing stress.
  • A small amount of anti-chlorine should be used after each renewal.

Author Note: Replace 25% – 50% of tank water with fresh water bi-weekly to replenish the tank.

Tank Mates

Bloodfin tetras move in short spurts and are agile, while they are best to be kept in a group of 6 – 8 fishes at a time.

Slow-moving fish with long-flowing fins, such as Angelfish and Goldfish Bettas, should not be kept because bloodfins tend to nibble on their fins.

Fish species of similar size have proven to be better companions of blood in tetra fish. Gastropods such as sea snails or crustaceans like shrimps can also be good tank mates.

A few fish species commonly kept together with bloodfin tetras are:

  • Gold Barbs
  • Pleco (Clown, Bristlenose, Rubberlip)
  • Catfish (Cory, Pictus, Bumblebee, Corydoras)
  • Swordtails
  • Other Tetras (Ember, Neon, Green, Cardinal)
  • Shrimps (Ghost, Amano)
  • Mollies
  • Platy
  • Celestial Pearl Danios
  • Loricariids
  • Rasboras
  • Nerite snails (Other Freshwater Snails)

Keep an eye out for tension levels when keeping different types of fish together. A tank must have adequate space for all of them to swim around freely without having to feel crowded.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does bloodfin tetra require a heater in the tank?

Bloodfins can tolerate cool water up to a specific limit but should not be exposed to such temperatures for long. While living in a tropical or sub-tropical area, you wouldn’t require a heater for your tank. But if you dwell in a cold place, getting a heater for a tank is recommended.

Are they skittish?

Yes, they are skittish, timid, and get scared fairly easily. To endure this behavior, they are kept together in the tank, as the bigger the group, the safer they feel.

How many bloodfin tetras can you keep in a 5 – Gallon tank?

You cannot keep more than two of these species in a 5 – Gallon tank; however, they feel stressfree in a group of 5 – 6, which will get cramped in small size tank. So, it is recommended to at least get a 10 – Gallon tank for a group of 5 Bloodfin tetras.

Do bloodfin tetras go well together with neon tetras?

Yes, both in terms of behavior and contrasting colors. One is bright shimmering silver, and the other is a dark body with an iridescent stripe. They look similar in shape and size and are suitable as tank companions.

How long can bloodfin tetra last without eating?

They don’t have sufficient fat storage, while the movements require a lot of energy. So, they would only survive up to 2 weeks without food.

How to confirm if the fish is ready to spawn?

As the female gets pregnant, its abdominal shape starts enhancing. Another noticeable feature is the dark spots that appear below the stomach close to the tailfin. It is a confirmed sign that the fish is about to spawn.

Final Takeaway

The bloodfin tetra easily astonishes the viewers with its refined appearance and adventurous jumping behavior above the water surface.

Adding these to a home aquarium wouldn’t be difficult as this schooling fish quickly adjusts to other aquatics and glamorizes the experience.

They are suitable fishes for newbies, and with few precautionary steps, the fish lovers can easily pet them for long years.

About the Author

Victoria Lamb

Victoria is a freshwater aquatics specialist, fish keeper, and amphibian enthusiast. She has had more than 6 years of experience caring for aquariums and keeping several fish species, and her home boasts of 3 aquariums and a garden pond. Her goal is to educate fish owners on raising healthy and happy aquatic pets.

Career Highlights:

  • Has worked with several aquarium manufacturers as a consultant
  • Organized and hosted workshops on freshwater fish keeping at retail stores, educational facilities, and libraries
  • Released content for the amphibian community through her writings

Educational Highlights:

Bachelor of Science in Animal Behavior and Welfare

  • University of Lincoln, Lincoln, UK (2014-2018)

Writing Experience

Victoria has done ghostwriting for many aquarium and pet websites in the past. She has also worked for Canada's largest natural health magazine- ALIVE, with 300,000 monthly circulations as a freelancer. She had six published articles on animal behavior and welfare during her graduation for her thesis.

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