Rummy Nose Tetra: Species Overview

Category: Tetra

Common Names: Rummy Nose Tetra

Scientific Name: Hemigrammus bleheri

Family: Characidae

Minimum Tank Size: 10 Gallons

Care Level: Easy

Temperament: Peaceful

Max Size: 2 Inches

Temperature: 72-80 F

pH: 5.5-7.0

Tank Level: Bottom to Middle

Colors: Tan, Red

Diet: Omnivore

Breeding: Difficult

Rummy Nose Tetra over Plants

Rummy Nose Tetra: Species Overview

Rummy noses are a unique variety of tetra fish because they come in stunning colors and patterns. They’re popular because they’re active schooling fish, making them fun to watch as they dart around their tank.

You’ll need to keep rummy nose tetras in a group of at least six for them to stay emotionally well.

Since these fish originate in the Amazon River, they require specific water parameters for optimal health. So, while they’re suitable for beginner fish keepers, it’s vital to follow the recommendations we’ll share here to increase the chances of them living a long life.

Distinguishing Features

Three species of fish fall under the rummy nose category, given that these tetras have similar appearances. They include:

  • True rummy nose tetra
  • Common rummy nose tetra
  • False rummy nose tetra

The average fish keeper won’t be able to tell the difference between these rummy nose tetras. That said, the common rummy nose tetra often grows slightly shorter than the other two varieties.

Rummy nose tetras have a torpedo body with a more slender appearance than many other tetra species.

These fish have a base color that ranges from silver to olive, with even hints of green in some cases. Their bodies are semi-transparent, often allowing you to see their spine.

But the rummy nose tetra’s head is what catches most people’s eyes. It’s a bright red color, with the red even covering the fish’s irises and sometimes as far back as its gills.

All fins on the rummy nose tetra are translucent except for its tail. A thick black stripe divides the forked tail.

From there, each fish has a unique set of white and black markings.

Left Side of Rummy Nose Tetra in Front of Plants


Rummy nose tetras are from the Amazon River region in South America. They’re freshwater fish that gravitate towards smaller streams and tributaries, including the Negro and Meta river basins.

They live in the middle to the upper portion of these rivers in areas with thick plant vegetation. The plants originate both from the ground and those that float on the water.

Rummy nose tetras often have cloudy water in the wild due to heavy rains from the Amazon. However, they prefer slower-moving water.

The substrate where rummy nose tetras live is thick and rich in nutrients. It contains a combination of decaying organic matter, sand, rocks, and mud.

Since it’s so easy to breed rummy nose tetras, most of the fish you’ll purchase will have been bred in captivity instead of being caught straight from the wild.


Rummy nose tetras grow between 2 to 2.5 inches long.

Of the different varieties of these tetras, the common rummy nose tetra tends to remain on the shorter side.

Unlike some species of tropical fish, size isn’t a way to tell male and female rummy nose tetras apart, as both genders grow to equal lengths.

Rummy Nose Tetra over Gravel


Rummy nose tetras have an exceptionally long lifespan for tropical fish, averaging five to six years. But they can sometimes live as long as eight years.

The most critical factors determining the ultimate lifespan of your tetras include:

  • Genetics
  • Food quality
  • Proper tank parameters

You have control over two of these factors. We’ll soon describe what to feed your rummy nose tetras and how to set up their tank to help them live the longest life possible.


Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to distinguish between male and female rummy nose tetras.

Unlike some tropical fish species, there’s essentially no difference in size or coloring between genders.

That said, you’ll likely be able to tell a fish is female once her stomach grows rounder with eggs. But since most people want to know the gender of their fish to initiate breeding, this is largely unhelpful.


Rummy nose tetras are notorious for being peaceful fish, making them an excellent fit for tanks in community settings.

These tetras prefer to find a hiding spot rather than fight when threatened. Furthermore, there isn’t a distinguishable difference in the temperament between males and females.

Not only are rummy nose tetras peaceful with other fish, but they’re social with fish within their species. For this reason, keeping your tetras in a group of at least six is vital.

Rummy Nose Tetras Swimming next to Plants

Tank Parameters

We’ve already discussed how getting your rummy nose tetra’s tank parameters right is crucial to their well-being. Below are the specific steps you’ll need to follow to do so.

Minimum Tank Size

You should purchase a tank size of at least 20 gallons per six rummy nose tetras.

But the larger the tank you can afford, the happier your tetras will be, given their love for schooling and exploring.

Note that if you add other fish to your tetra’s tank, you’ll need an even larger tank to accommodate their water requirements.

Water Parameters

Below are the water parameters you must follow to prevent your rummy nose tetras from going into shock or becoming ill.


Rummy nose tetras are from a warm environment, so you must keep their water temperature between 75°F to 84°F.

You’ll need to install a heater to keep the temperature within this range.

As with all the water parameters we’ll discuss, aiming for the middle of the range is ideal. That way, you’ll have some wiggle room should the number increase or decrease.

One Rummy Nose Tetra with Stones in Background


Rummy nose tetras prefer a pH between 5.5 to 7.0.

So, these fish enjoy a slightly acidic environment. You can purchase pH strips to measure your tank water’s pH periodically.


Since rummy nose tetras are freshwater fish, you don’t need to add salt to their tank.

But small amounts of aquarium salt have benefits if your rummy nose tetra looks ill. That’s because salt helps improve a fish’s immune system.

Should you decide to add salt to your rummy nose tetra’s tank, be sure to use aquarium-approved salt and follow the instructions on the back of the bottle.

Tank Setup

Once you get your rummy nose tetra’s water in order, it’s time to set up the rest of their tank.


It’s rare for rummy nose tetras to venture to the bottom of their tank, so the type of substrate you use isn’t too important.

Nevertheless, these fish are used to dark-colored substrates in the wild. Therefore, we recommend using a dark brown or black sand or fine gravel substrate.

Rummy Nose Tetra over Gravel


As with substrate, decorations aren’t vital to your rummy nose tetras’ well-being.

However, placing some rocks, caves, and driftwood in the tank are all excellent options for mimicking their natural habitat.

When choosing decorations, remember that your tetras will spend most of the time in the middle of the water column. Therefore, it’s helpful to have at least one decoration that reaches that high so your tetras can use it for play and hiding.


Incorporating live plants into your rummy nose tetra’s tank is vital for keeping their stress low. These fish live in heavily vegetated areas in the wild, as it offers them safety from predators.

Plants also help protect these tetras from aquarium lights, as they prefer a dimmer environment.

Some excellent plants to include in your rummy nose tetra tank include:

  • Amazon sword
  • Anubias nana
  • Java fern
  • Red root floater

The idea is to ensure the plants reach or surpass the middle water column. Furthermore, adding plants that float, such as the red root floater, are also excellent choices.

It’s best to place thick groups of plants around the sides and back of your tank.

That way, your rummy nose tetras will have plenty of hiding places and open space for schooling.

Rummy Nose Tetra over Gravel with Leafy Plants


Lighting isn’t essential for rummy nose tetras since they live in such dimly lit areas in the Amazon.

But if you have other tropical fish in your tank, you’ll likely need to use a tank lamp. In that case, try to keep the tank light on a medium setting at most.


An external filter is a must for rummy nose tetras. Ammonia and nitrates will naturally occur in the water since aquariums are a closed ecosystem.

So, a high-quality filter will remove these toxins before they impact your fish’s health.

When choosing a filter, select one that’s robust enough to handle the number of gallons of water in your tank. You should also opt for a filter that doesn’t create much water flow.


All rummy nose tetra tanks must have a heater to ensure the water remains warm enough.

Heaters are economical, as are the aquarium thermometers you should purchase to accompany them.

Keeping a thermometer in your tank will allow you to quickly check the temperature when you feed your fish to ensure the heater is functioning correctly.

Rummy Nose Tetras with Stones and Plants


Since rummy nose tetras are omnivores, they might snack on some of the plants in their tank. However, they also need high-quality protein in their diet to remain healthy.

Some of the best foods you can feed your rummy nose tetras include:

  • Daphnia
  • Bloodworms
  • Fish flakes
  • Fish pellets

Leaving too much uneaten food in your tetra’s tank is unhealthy because it’ll create extra toxin build-up in the water. It’ll also risk your fish becoming overweight from having access to extra food later in the day.

Therefore, you should feed your tetras twice per day, allowing them to eat as much as they’d like in three minutes. After that time, remove all excess food.


Breeding rummy nose tetras isn’t hard, but given that it’s challenging to distinguish males from females, you’ll need to have a large group of fish to ensure you have both genders.

You’ll also need a breeding tank. Setting up the breeding tank with water that’s 84°F with good filtration and live plants is vital.

Once the male and female are ready to spawn, the female will roll onto her side, and the male will fertilize her. She’ll then lay her eggs on a plant.

You should remove the parents after this happens, for they often eat their eggs and live young, which hatch within 24 hours.

At that point, you can start feeding the baby fry special powder and tiny brine shrimp until they’re large enough to move into the community tank.

Rummy Nose Tetra with Stone Driftwood and Plants

Common Diseases

Many common diseases in rummy nose tetras come from a dirty tank or these fish having contact with infected fish. Below are some of the ailments they can obtain.


Dropsy is a symptom of several potential diseases, including bacterial infections, liver dysfunction, and parasites. It happens when a rummy nose tetra’s stomach fills with fluid.

You’ll need to determine the cause of the dropsy to treat it, and the outcome depends on the severity of the condition. Adding antibiotics and aquarium salt to the tank is often helpful.


Ich is a parasitic infection that spreads quickly from an infected fish to rummy nose tetras. White spots dotting a tetra’s body are an iconic symptom.

You should move all infected rummy nose tetras to a quarantine tank. Then put ich medicine in the aquarium and use frequent water changes to manage the issue. If you catch ich early, your fish will likely recover.

Fin Rot

Fin rot is generally a non-deadly but uncomfortable condition for rummy nose tetras. It results from a bacterial infection that eats away at a rummy nose tetra’s fins.

You can treat fin rot by applying anti-bacterial to the water. In some cases, the fins might not grow back, but your fish will still be able to live a good life.

Rummy Nose Tetras over Dark Gravel

Potential Tank Mates

Since rummy nose tetras are so peaceful, you have many options for choosing tank mates for them. Nevertheless, avoid placing large fish in the tank since your tetras might become a snack.

Keeping that in mind, some of the best tank mates for rummy nose tetras include:

  • Danios
  • Mollies
  • Hatchetfish
  • Corydoras catfish

You can even add other species of tetras to the tank.

Shrimp is also a great option, given that they live at the bottom where rummy nose tetras rarely venture. But we don’t recommend placing snails in the aquarium, as your tetras might eat them.