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Fish Care: Rummy Nose Tetras

Updated on July 6, 2011

The rummy nose tetra is a small but beautiful fish that hasn't yet receive the popularity it deserves. It's very colorful, and it's care is similar to the neon and cardinal tetra's. Being a bite-sized meal for many fish means that it can only be kept with equally small fish, or peaceful herbivores. 

Scientific Name: Hemigrammus rhodostomus

Family: Characidae

Distribution: South America, particularly around the lower Amazon Basin and the Orinoco River

Temperament: Peaceful, community fish

Diet: Omnivorous

Lifespan: About 5 years, possibly longer

Adult Size: About 2"

Tank Size: 10+ gallons as they are active schooling fish

Temperature: 72-80 degrees Fahrenheit

Tambopata River
Tambopata River

Natural Habitat

The rummy nose tetra inhabits the Amazon Basin, particularly towards the south and the Orinoco River. Often, they live in blackwater environments, like the neon and cardinal tetra. These habitats have very acidic, pure water with lots of decaying foliage and wood that leaches tannins into the water. Therefore, to make your aquarium more natural for your rummy nose tetras, it's recommended to filter your water using peat.


Tank Size - As with neon and cardinal tetras, it is recommended to have a least a 10 gallon sized tank for your rummy nose tetras. Not because of their size, which doesn't produce much waste, but for their tankmates, which should be at least six of these playful fish. In addition, they are sensitive to poor water quality, and larger-sized aquariums let you clean less often while the water quality remains high.

Décor - While natural-looking decorations have been said by some hobbyists to be more comfortable for fish, just about anything that is safe for aquariums can be used as decoration. It's important to have some plants in your tank, as rummy nose tetras need a place to hide when they are stressed.

Substrate - Rummy nose tetras thrive in a variety of substrates- sand, gravel or bare-bottom will do just fine. However, if the gravel is small enough, the fish can swallow it and choke, so rocks larger than the tetra's mouth is preferable.

Lighting - Dim lighting is recommended for rummy nose tetras, since in the wild, the flora and floating sediment keep a lot of light from traveling through the water. If there is a large amount of light hitting your tetras, it could stress them out and possibly lead to disease.

Equipment - These small tetras need little equipment- a filter that can run a current that can mimic their natural habitat, a heater if the temperature in your house drops below 72 degrees Fahrenheit, and some supplies to make sure the tank is in good shape. Supplies include: a thermometer to watch the temperature, a gravel vacuum and bucket for weekly water changes, and test kits to keep an eye on the water quality.


Rummy nose tetras are omnivores, and need a diet rich in both plant and animal matter. Being omnivorous, there is a very wide diversity of what you can feed them, but here's a list with some examples:

-Krill (frozen, live, or freeze-dried)

-Algae wafers

-Mosquito larvae (if you collect them from your backyard, make certain that the larvae are not treated with any chemicals)

-Bloodworms (frozen, freeze-dried, or live)

-Small insects (for example, wingless fruit flies)

-Brine shrimp (frozen, live, or freeze-dried)

-Boiled greens like romaine lettuce

-Fish fry

It is worse to overfeed your fish than underfeed them, since fish have evolved to withstand days, sometimes even weeks, without food in the wild. Only give your fish a small pinch of food a day, in fact, it is recommended you even skip feeding them every once in a while!


There is a wide variety of tankmates for your rummy nose tetras, including:

- Danios

- Livebearers, such as guppies, platies, mollies, swordtails, etc.

- Some bottom dwellers like corydoras catfish

- Many schooling tetras, including neon tetras

- Aquatic snails, like the mystery snail

- Shrimp (ghost shrimp, bamboo shrimp, etc.)

If you decide to keep your rummy nose with larger fish, make sure there isn't a possibility of them eating the tetras. Keeping them with fish like Oscars can spell disaster.

African dwarf frogs are great tankmates for rummy nose tetras!
African dwarf frogs are great tankmates for rummy nose tetras!

Rummy-nose tetras are lively, beautiful additions to community aquariums. They are inexpensive and relatively easy to care for, but you must make sure to provide proper tank conditions in order for them to thrive. Should you decide to give these small fish a try, you will be rewarded with their playful antics and vibrant colors!

Thanks to: EvaApple, Furryscaly, and Bird Brian for the photos used in this hub.


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    • jonno96 profile image

      jonno96 5 years ago from Australia

      Weird looking frog :)

    • profile image

      Boss 5 years ago

      This is a very nice page, thanks for the info!