Fish, Tanks and Ponds

Fish, Tanks and Ponds
A comprehensive guide to fish

Hemigrammus bleheri

Rummy nose tetra

Rummy nose tetra, Hemigrammus bleheriRummy nose tetra, Hemigrammus bleheri
Photos by Andy Rapson


Hemigrammus: Greek, hemi = half + Greek, gramma = letter, signal.

General Notes:

Wild rummy nose tetras live in very soft very acidic water. Captive bred specimens will not be used to such extreme conditions although they will still do best in slightly soft and acidic water around pH 6 - 7. Rummy nose tetras are fish which live in shoals, keep at least five individuals or more. Rummy nose tetras are reliably peaceful and gentle, their tank mates should be of a similar disposition.

There are two other species which could easily be confused with Hemigrammus bleheri these are H. rhodostomus and H. georgiae. Hemigrammus bleheri can be told apart from the other two because it is the only species where the red colouration extends beyond the gill covers.


Feeding rummy nose tetras is easy, they will thrive on a staple of good quality flake food supplemented with suitably sized live or frozen food two or three times per week.


Adult females are larger and more rounded than the brightly coloured males.


Breeding rummy nose tetras is not for the beginner but it can be achieved in the home aquarium in the usual characin breeding set up. Use a separate aquarium filled with soft acidic aged water and containing a small air powered sponge filter and something to act as a spawning mop such as a bunch of fine leaved plants tied in to a bunch for example. Keep the tank away from direct light and in very dim conditions because both eggs and fry of this species are light sensitive. Introduce a well conditioned pair in the evening and they will probably spawn at dawn. After spawning remove the parents to prevent them from eating all their eggs. The eggs hatch after about 30 hours but it will be another three or four days before the fry become free swimming. Add a commercially available liquid fry food to the tank about a day or so before the fry become free swimming as this will encourage the growth of infusoria which the fry can eat but don't add to much and pollute the water. Carry on using the liquid food or similar until the fry are large enough to take micro worms or newly hatched brine shrimps. Rummy nose tetras can be bred as a pair or in a group. If you breed them in a group be aware that you will have a very large number of fry which will require a great deal of space to raise and dealers won't thank you if you flood the local market with these fish and they end up stuck with them.

Wild status

Wild populations of rummy nose tetras have not been evaluated, almost all rummy nose tetras offered for sale will have been bred commercially.

Information at a glance

pH: 5 - 6.5
dGH: 4 - 12
Temperature: 23 - 26°C (74 - 78°F)
Diet: Omnivore
Size: 3.6cm (1.5in)
Min tank size: 100 litres
Difficulty level: Easy
Aquarium type: Community
Swimming level: Middle

Distribution and habitat

distribution map for Rummy nose tetra, Hemigrammus bleheri

Origin: South America: Negro and Meta River basins.

Habitat: Black water rivers, streams and tributaries.


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Characiformes
Family: Characidae
Genus: Hemigrammus
Species: H. bleheri Géry & Mahnert, 1986

Common name:
Rummy nose tetra, firehead tetra

Synonyms: None