FIA is community supported website. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn More.

Bleeding Heart Tetra Care Guide, Breeding Tips & More

If you like small fish more than larger ones, Tetras are simply the best ones to keep in your tank. Among the most exotic tetras, the Bleeding Heart Tetra is unique and apt for any beginner to pet.

Bleeding Heart Tetras are usually found in Columbia and Peru. Growing up to 2-3 inches, they live for 8-10 years. These types of Tetras are pretty easy to distinguish with their red heart-shaped blotches on either side. They are best cared for in a 15-gallon tank while kept in a group of 6 fish.

Species Overview

Level of CareEasy
AppearancePeach-orange or silvery lavender-colored body with a heart-shaped red blotch on their sides.
Life Expectancy8-10 years
Size2-3 inches
Tank Size20-gallon
Tank EnvironmentSoft acidic water with proper hiding places and dense plantation
Tank MatesPeaceful

With the scientific name Hyphessobrycon erythrostigma, Bleeding Heart Tetra is one of the most exclusive fish from the tetra species. This fish has a common name of Red-tipped Tetra.

These tetras are usually found in the basin of slow-moving shallow tributaries or streams and forest lakes. These typically prefer the boundary area between the deeper or shallow water regions, which comes with overhanging vegetation.

These fish are easily found in Columbia and Peru of South America, where they inhabit the little creeks and river bends of the Upper Amazon, having dense vegetation.


The Bleeding Heart Tetra fish is much stockily built as a popular freshwater fish.


They have a deeper body color of orange, beige, or silvery lavender. However, what makes them more attractive is the bright red blotch present on their sides that comes in the shape of a heart. It closely resembles the look of a bleeding heart, which makes their name apt.

Like Characins, these Bleeding Heart Tetras are much susceptible to the affliction that makes their scales appear golden in color.


Bleeding Heart Tetras are pretty popular as small-sized freshwater fish. The average size of an adult Red-tipped Tetra ranges about 2-3 inches when they are fully grown.

Usually, the female fish are more full-bodied than the males. However, there is no difference in their size.

Behavior & Temperament

It is usually considered peaceful, similar to other tetras. However, some of the specimens can turn out to be prominent fin nippers.

They are usually very popular as schooling fish. So, if you are not keeping them in a group or school, they will start doing fin nipping of other fish. Otherwise, these fish do not create any such prominent problems for their tank mates.

In captivity, the Bleeding Heart Tetra fish loves to explore all the tank areas in a shoal. They are usually active swimmers that roam around freely in a larger aquarium.

If they do not get a suitable tank atmosphere or their kind of friends, they might tend to spend most of their time hiding.


Bleeding Heart Tetras are hardy enough to keep in a community tank. Thus, these tetras tend to live up to 3-5 years in an aquarium.

However, the life expectancy is dependent on various other factors. The water parameters, diet, and water changes matter a lot in deciding the life span of these fish.

Improper water quality can produce high-stress levels in them, making them more prone to various diseases and even causing premature death. However, with proper caring, these Red-tipped Tetras can easily live up to 8-10 years.

Tank Requirements

Bleeding Heart Tetras require proper tank requirements for their excellent health. These tetras need adequately stable and clean water for thriving well in your fish tank.

It is better to keep these freshwater fish species in a medium-capacity tank, where they can have enough space for swimming around freely.

To meet the optimal water parameters, it is essential to facilitate soft and peat-filtered water in the aquarium. For the tank of Red-tipped Tetras, an under-gravel filter will work fine to keep the tank clean and tidy.

This freshwater tetra usually prefers stable water chemistry. So, it is recommended to maintain the pH range between 5.6-7.2. Also, it is better to add dense vegetation to the tank to mimic their natural habitat site, which is essential to keep this fish healthy and happy.

While picking the substrate for the community tank of your Hyphessobrycon erythrostigma, try to opt for a darker one, which will make them enjoy a peaceful environment in the aquarium, emitting bright colors.

A biotype tank is also highly suitable for the Bleeding Heart Tetra fish. You can add some dried leaves on the tank substrate and let those dried leaves reside for some time to turn the water slightly brownish in color.

To ensure the best color, there is no need to add too much bright lighting, as this can make them tensed and stressed.

Tank Setup

The aquarium setup needs to be top-notch. A poorly set up tank can lead them to have pale coloration. Thus, it is essential to focus appropriately on décorating and setting up the tank.

So, here is how you can ensure a proper tank setup for your Red-tipped Tetra.

Tank Size

For keeping Bleeding Heart Tetra, it is important to add them in a minimum of 15-gallon aquarium size. Also, these tetras are suitable for nano tanks. However, adding a larger tank is always beneficial to maintain optimum water parameters.


You can use any substrate, as your fish won’t complain. However, it is better to include a dark sand substrate to mimic these South American tetras’ natural habitation properly.


There is no need to add bright lighting to the fish tank. Moderate to normal lighting will be fine for your Bleeding Heart Tetra

Water Parameters

The water temperature needs to be within 73-82 ℉.

It is vital to maintain slightly acidic conditions for facilitating the best care to your Red-tipped Tetra. You can add them to a 6.6-7.8 pH maintained tank. For wild-caught specimens, a pH range of 5.6-7.2 will be the most suitable.

Other water parameters like the hardness range need to be maintained within 3-12 dGH.


The water movement in the aquarium needs to be moderate enough. You can add an under-gravel filter for better control of the water flow.


You can incorporate dense vegetation with proper aquatic plants to offer them efficient places to hide since this species is shy enough.

Tank Mates

The Bleeding Heart Tetra fish are highly suitable for any of the usual community tanks. However, while housing them in a community aquarium, make sure you keep them in a group of 6 specimens of the same species.

Keeping one specimen alone can make them do fin nipping. Thus, you have to be careful enough while picking suitable tank mates.

Usually, these fish prefer to get along with their kind of specimens. So, it is better to keep them with their relatives or another similar kind of fish.

You can easily keep them in pairs, along with other fish, apart from Tetra. But a group of Red-tipped Tetra fish must not be kept with any aggressive, semi-aggressive, or predatory fish, which can turn out to be a threat for them.

Also, it is better not to keep them with any slow-moving tank mate as this fish has the habit of darting around the tank, which a slow-moving fish might find to be stressful enough.

So, here are the suitable tank mates that you can pick for your Bleeding Heart Tetra.

  • Black Tetra
  • Black widow
  • Albino tetra
  • Rasboras
  • Danios
  • Cherry barb
  • Clown Loach
  • Kuhli Loach
  • Odessa barb
  • Dojo Loach
  • Cory catfish
  • Snails
  • Aquarium shrimps

Food & Diet

Bleeding Heart Tetra fish are very easy to feed. Since they are omnivorous fish, they can readily accept any kind of fish food and other food products.

In the wild habitat site, these Red-tipped Tetras are opportunistic feeders. They tend to eat any aquatic insect and larvae at ease. Also, sometimes they eat away the aquatic plants.

However, while you are keeping Bleeding Heart Tetras in your home tank, you need to ensure that you feed them all types of food to maintain a variety in their diet.

They will readily accept any kind of commercial aquarium food products such as flakes. They will even prefer mixed foods like a live meaty diet or chopped and blanched lettuce leaves. These food sources will render them high nutritional content.

To add more nutrition to their diet, you can offer them live or frozen dried blood worms. These tetras even eat brine shrimp and other small-sized live fish foods.

Nevertheless, it is not at all recommended to overfeed. Instead, they are best fed multiple times a day.

It is better to offer them food only which they can consume within 3 minutes. There is no need to provide them with large feedings, which will keep getting deposited at the bottom of the tank and affect the water quality.


Bleeding Heart Tetra fish are not at all difficult to care for. Instead, they do well in casual care as they are much harder than freshwater aquarium fish. However, you need to ensure that the water quality and tank environment you provide to them are stable enough.

These Red-tipped Tetras are better kept in a clean condition. These tetras are much adaptable and thrive well in heated or insulated aquariums too.

But you need to take proper care of the decomposing matters, like leftover food, leaf litter, etc., in the tank over time. Accumulation of nitrates and phosphates in tank water can badly affect their health condition. So, to keep these conditions under proper control, you should replace the water regularly.

If the aquarium houses more tank mates or a denser decoration, it is vital to maintain frequent water changes. At least 25-50% of tank water change every week is necessary.

Bleeding Heart Tetras can suffer from common freshwater fish diseases. Various diseases like ICH, fin rot, etc., can appear if proper care is not served to your tetras. Also, these tetras are much susceptible to fungal infections and flukes.

However, you can easily avoid such diseases with the proper maintenance of water quality. A stable and tidy water condition enhances their immunity, whereas dynamic water conditions make them weaker.

If you spot any symptoms or notice lethargy in your Red-tipped Tetra, it is better to quarantine the fish.

Breeding & Reproduction

Bleeding Heart Tetras are not at all hard to breed in your home tank. These tetras are usually egg layers and breed frequently in the aquarium.

Though you can breed these species in a community tank, it is better to provide them a separate aquarium to accomplish successful spawning.

Besides, you need to ensure proper tank parameters to fulfill their breeding habits. While setting up the breeding tank for your Red-tipped Tetra, make the water slightly more acidic than usual. Keep the pH level near 6.

It is necessary to add plenty of plants to the aquarium to make it more suitable for their spawning. You can also consider adding spawning mops to the tank.

Usually, Bleeding Heart Tetra fish do not have much parental behavior in them. So, it is essential to keep the eggs hidden to keep this fish species away from eating them. As you add Red-tipped Tetra pairs to the tank, slowly raise the temperature.

It is better to keep the male fish in isolation and condition it well in the aquarium. Also, feed both males and females with small live foods and flakes to properly condition them before spawning.

A female Bleeding Heart Tetra fish will get fluffier with eggs after spawning. She will deposit those eggs around plants. The eggs tend to stick to the leaves or fall at the bottom area of the aquarium.

As soon as egg-laying is done, now it is time to remove the parent fish from the tank to prevent them from eating away the eggs.

The eggs of Red-tipped Tetras usually hatch after 2-3 days. After emergence, the fries feed on the egg yolk sac for 2-3 more days before they start swimming freely.

The breeding tank must have many fine-leaved plants or java moss to protect the eggs in a safer place. Also, you can add a layer of mesh, which is wide enough for the eggs to pass through and sufficiently small to keep the parent fish away.

Both eggs and fries are much sensitive to light. Thus, keep the lighting very dim for the tank. Covering the aquarium with a few floating plants will also be much helpful.

Try to maintain the temperature between 80-86 ℉. Also, to keep the aquarium clean, add a small air-powered sponge filter for suitable filtration and aeration.

To offer good health to your fries, you can add powdered fry food or infusoria to the tank. As they grow a bit, you can offer them flakes and baby brine shrimp as nutritious foods.

Bleeding Heart Tetra Interesting Facts

So, do you want to know some more exciting facts about Bleeding Heart Tetras to offer them the best care in your home? Well, then check out the details given below.

The males of the Red-tipped Tetras species are pretty easy to distinguish through their fins. The male one comes with a long dorsal fin and an extended anal fin. You can spot their dorsal fins with a sickle shape, which arches to the length of their tail base.

On the contrary, female Bleeding Heart Tetras come with much shorter and rounded fins.

These Red-tipped Tetras are prominent and skilled jumpers. So, it is crucial to add a tight cover to the aquarium to prevent them from falling off.

Typically, these can get slightly territorial if they do not get a proper group of the same kind of specimens in the tank.

Where to Buy?

Bleeding Heart Tetras are much easier to find, which you can get at any local pet store. Also, you can easily buy them from any of your nearby hobbyist shops. The online fish stores come with a large number of stocks of this species, which are moderately priced.

So, if you are thinking of purchasing some Red-tipped Tetra fish for your aquarium, go and find them easily in any fish farm or store at a great deal.

Final Thoughts

This fish may not be as hardy as other tetras, but they are suitable for keeping in home tanks. Bleeding Heart Tetras are best for beginner fish-keepers. A novice or moderate level of experience is enough to take proper care of these fish in captivity.

However, these fish are not much adaptable to frequent changes in water conditions and are more susceptible to different fish diseases. So, you need to facilitate them with clean and fresh water quality to ensure their good health.

Besides, these tetras are very easy to house with a wide range of tank mates. Thus, keep them with the best tank mates to make them happy and stress-free in the aquarium.