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Firehead Tetra (Hemigrammus Bleheri) Overview & Care

Tetras are undoubtedly one of the major attractions in the aquarium trade but if you want to keep one, what’s the best species to start?

Brilliant Rummy Nose Tetra could be a great option with its vibrant coloration and patterns. A species or community tank, this tetra is a brilliant choice for you.

Brilliant Rummy Nose Tetra or Hemigrammus bleheri is a small species of 2.5 inches in length.

You only need a 20-gallons to keep schools of this tetra. Not only they have an eye-catching experience, but also have enjoyable behavior with considerably easy care.

Species Overview

Level of CareMedium
AppearanceVibrant coloration and patterns
Life ExpectancyUp to 8 years
Size2.5 inches
Tank Size20-gallons
TankEnvironmentTropical water set up
Tank MatesKept in a group of six
Kept with peaceful, same-size species in the community tank

Hemigrammus bleheri is simply Brilliant Rummy Nose Tetra or Rummy Nose Tetra which is a freshwater fish species, a member of the Characidae family.

It’s native to the Amazon river in South America along with other Runny Noses including Hemigrammus rhodostomus and Petitella georgiae.

It is a popular fish in the aquarium trade especially among beginners even though tank caring could be challenging.

They can get along with other peaceful species in a community tank.

On the other hand, this rummy nose is available in the aquarium market at a very affordable price.

Behavior & Temperament

Hemigrammus bleheri is a shoaling species so it’s natural to see them grouping that creates impressive movements to enjoy. Their grouped swimming is another major attraction despite their striking color.

You can expect a better display by keeping larger shoals of these fish in the tank. However, this tetra would love more swimming space so you better don’t overload your tank.

They’re middle dwellers that can be good tank mates for catfish or upper dweller fish but Hemigrammus bleheri is a quite shy species.


Hemigrammus bleheri appears with a plain silver body with a rummy redhead. They have zebra-like white and black horizontal blacks with a unique caudal fin. This tetra has a torpedo-shaped body with those clear fins except for the standing-out caudal fin.

While they look appealing for aquariums, sexing could be a daunting task. You can barely distinguish the male and female. On the other hand, Brilliant Rummy Nose Tetra also has minor differences from the other two rummy noses.


Brilliant Rummy Nose Tetra can grow up to 2.5 inches long in the tank.


This tetra can live up to eight years in the species or community aquarium. The key is to maintain the best tank environment with controlled water conditions.

Care & Tank Setup

The main idea of tank setup Hemigrammus bleheri is the planted freshwater tank with open swimming space.

They prefer peaceful community aquariums if you decide to add tank mates. You better keep groups of these fish in the tank as they’re shoaling species.

Set planted areas in the tank with the sandy substrate at the bottom. Landscape the aquarium with caves and rocks that together act as the shelter or hiding places for them.

The water should be kept slightly warm and acidic while Bright lighting in the tank environment is preferable.

The fine grain substrate is the best choice for the bottom setup that resembles the natural habitat of Hemigrammus bleheri.

If you want to keep the fish in the middle or upper part of the tank, you may use gravel for the bottom. Consequently, you better choose the plants that can live and grow at such level

Tetras generally prefer plantation as shelter and these are not an exception.

When stressed, they would shelter behind these plants where lights and other fish can reach them. You can decorate the tank but keep it moderate and leave more space for swimming.

Water Conditions

Resembling the natural environment in the Amazon river, you better keep the pH values of 6.2 – 7.0 and maintain the water temperature somewhere between 75-84 °F. Keep the tank hardness in the range of 2-10 KH.

This way, you’ve resembled the tropical waters that make them more comfortable in the tank.

A filter outlet is enough to create shallow water flows in the tank so a water pump isn’t necessarily needed. External filters are essential to keep the nitrates or ammonia out of the water as Hemigrammus bleheri is generally sensitive to these substances.

Tank Size

Hemigrammus bleheri can grow up to 2.5 inches, so a 20-gallon tank would be great. This size of aquarium enables you to keep up to 10 tetras assuming two gallons for one fish.

If you desire larger groups of these species, you’d consequently need larger tanks.

Also, take the tetra’s schooling and swimming habits. A larger tank not only gives them more space for swimming but enables you to view them schooling around which is an enjoyable experience for any aquarist.

Group of firehead tetras

Possible Diseases

Ich and Dropsy are two common diseases that strike Hemigrammus bleheri in the tank.

Even though you’ve done your best to keep your tank clean, diseases could be inevitable. Bad water conditions would make your tetras ill that’s usually shown by developed white spots in their body and the paler coloration of both sexes.

Despite external filtration, partial water changes should be done regularly to keep the best water condition.

Don’t overfeed them as uneaten food build-up would end up contaminating the water environment.

Firehead Tetra Tank Mates

Hemigrammus bleheri is a peaceful species that can live well in a community tank. However, they can be distressed by some boisterous species. In the end, choosing the best tank mates is very important to keep the well-being of your tetras.

It’s better to avoid aggressive species or larger fish that can simply prey on your Hemigrammus bleheri in the community tank. These fish also drive major changes in the water conditions that your tetras are sensitive to.

The best tank mates include those peaceful small fish. These are some ideas:

  • Danios
  • Mollies
  • Corydoras
  • Tetras
  • Yo-Yo Loaches
  • Harlequin Rasbora
  • Hatchetfish
  • Dwarf Gourami
  • Cherry Barbs
  • Catfish
  • Snails
  • Shrimp

Keep at least a group of six Hemigrammus bleheri, especially in the community tank. They would school around your tank and won’t be bullied by other species.

Generally speaking, a specific tank of these species is less hassle to care for.

Longshotof firehead tetra in an aquarium

Food & Diet

Brilliant Rummy Nose Tetra is an omnivore species. They would eat anything that fit into their mouth including larvae, eggs, small insects, plants, and nutritious debris.

Tetras are very popular fish in aquarium trades so you can find their foods in the market.

For practical reasons, you can feed Brilliant Rummy Nose Tetra with flake and pellet foods with no problems. However, you’d still need to ensure that these foods have all the nutrients they need. Despite staples with pellets or flakes, you can supplement their diet with treats.

They can also take protein sources from live or frozen foods including bloodworms and Daphnia. Varied diets should be promoted to ensure the health of fish. After meaty foods, you can add some green vegetables but ensure they are small enough for the tetras’ mouth.

It’s better to feed your Hemigrammus bleheri twice a day which enables them to digest foods. The portion is what they can finish within two minutes. Don’t overfeed your tetras and remove all excess foods as they can rot and contaminate the tank water.

Use only high-quality foods to feed on your tetras. Specialty foods can be considerable if you want to vary and supplement the current diet. A varied, balanced diet is the best approach when feeding Brilliant Rummy Nose Tetra.

Breeding Guidelines

Hemigrammus bleheri can be tricky because you can barely do sexing on the males and females. At this point, you better get your fish’s sex confirmed by a specialist breeder when you buy specimens. You can have a better chance to breed them from there.

In the species tank, you need to control water conditions. Boost the filtration and treat the water to eliminate contaminants or bacteria. You can raise the water temperature to trigger Hemigrammus bleheri spawning. If it’s a community tank, you may need to set up a breeding tank.

Plants are also fundamental elements in the breeding environment. The Female would allow the male to fertilize eggs and then release them. Remove the adults once eggs have been laid to prevent them from being eaten. At this point, you’d need to stand by when your tetras are spawning in the tank.

Within 24 hours, the egg would hatch into the fry but not swim around until the seventh day. You can then start feeding them with specialized fry foods and you can use adult foods as they’ve grown up. Keep the food supply proportional to the populations in the species or community tank.