The Red Eye Tetra: A Hardy Silver School of Fish for Your Aquarium

Most people who keep freshwater aquariums are drawn to the shimmering effect produced by a large healthy school of tropical fish.

Unfortunately, not all schooling and/or shoaling fish make for good aquarium pets.

The Tiger Barb, for example, while attractively colored and quite lively, proves too quarrelsome and nippy for most other (more delicate) tankmates. The famous Neon Tetra, though beautiful and extremely peaceful, has been bred (and even inbred) to the point that the vast majority of this once easy to care for fish have become far too frail to handle all but perfect aquarium conditions!

A great alternative to both fish is the Red Eye Tetra. These fish have been in the aquarium hobby for a long time and have acquired a fitting reputation for being very hardy, yet are unfairly overlooked or brushed aside as mundane.

red eye tetra fish

Although their silver coloration may seem all too ordinary, Red Eye Tetras, when kept in sizable groups of 7 or more, produce a shimmering mass of aquatic life that’s not easy to ignore. Moreover, their distinctive red eyes and black and white tails produce attractive points of contrast to their silver bodies.

Red Eye Tetras are active swimmers and will occupy the middle portion of the aquarium. Although these fish have a peaceful temperament and are a great addition to almost any community aquarium, it is not recommended to keep Red Eye Tetras with slow moving long finned fish (the betta comes to mind) for sporadic cases of fin-nipping have been reported.

Aside from the above noted consideration, Red Eye Tetras make for great community fish. They tolerate a surprisingly wide range of aquarium water conditions (see Aquarium Care below) which makes them a great beginner schooling fish.

Aquarium Care:

Scientific Name: Moenkhausia sanctaefilomenae

Origin: Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Peru

Water Temperature Range: 74-82 °F (23-28 °C)

Water pH Range: 5.8 – 8.2

Temperament: peaceful

Maximum Size: 2.75 inch (7 cm)

Minimum Tank Size: 10 U.S. gallons (38 liters), though, as I indicate in this Freshwater Aquarium Care Guide, a larger aquarium size is strongly advisable.

Diet: omnivore that will take all kinds of food, including flake food, frozen brine shrimp, cyclops-eeze, frozen bloodworms (not recommended)

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