Bleeding Heart Tetra: Care, Tank mates & Full Details!

The Bleeding Heart Tetra (scientific name: Hyphessobrycon erythrostigma) is a robust, peaceful, and visually appealing fish, making it an ideal choice for beginners.

However, its charm is not lost on experienced aquarists who equally appreciate this species.

Originating from the upper Amazon Basin, these small, sociable freshwater fish thrive in large groups. They are an excellent addition to larger community tanks, provided they are paired with compatible tank mates.

Their natural habitats are tributaries, lakes, and streams, teeming with life, which should be replicated in captivity for their well-being.

Bleeding Heart Tetras, with their distinctive appearance and lively demeanor, are impossible to overlook. Their low-maintenance nature makes them an excellent choice for both novice and seasoned aquarists.

This guide delves into the intricacies of Bleeding Heart Tetra care, equipping you with the knowledge you need to successfully nurture this species.

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Quick Stats About Bleeding Heart Tetra

Scientific name: Hyphessobrycon erythrostigma
Common names Bleeding heart tetra, bleeding heart fish
Distribution: Upper Amazon Basin
Size: Up to 2.5 inches
Life expectancy: 5 years
Color: Light pink, beige-orange, and silver, with a red spot on the sides
Diet: Carnivore
Temperament: Peaceful
Minimum tank size: 20 gallons
Temperature: 72–80°F (22–28°C)
pH: 6.0–6.5 pH
Hardness: 3–12 dGH
Care level: Easy
Breeding: Egg-layer

Bleeding Heart Tetra Appearance

The Bleeding Heart Tetra is a sight to behold, with a unique appearance that sets it apart from other freshwater fish.

Its most distinctive feature is a bright red spot located near the gills, which gives the impression of a bleeding heart, hence the name.

The body of the Bleeding Heart Tetra is diamond-shaped, a common trait among tetra species. It’s laterally compressed, with a pointed snout that adds to its streamlined look.

The eyes of this fish are a striking combination of red and black, adding to its overall allure.

The fish’s color is a rosy silver hue, which can become more vibrant with proper care and diet.

The anal fin, tailfin, and pectoral fins are transparent, while the dorsal fin displays a splash of red and black. This beautiful fish will undoubtedly add a burst of color to your aquarium.

Natural Habitat of Bleeding Heart Tetra

Bleeding Heart Tetras originate from the upper Amazon Basin, where they thrive in large groups in tributaries, lakes, and streams.

These natural habitats are teeming with life, providing a lush environment that should be replicated in captivity for their well-being.

In the wild, these tetras inhabit slow-moving waters filled with leaf litter and wood debris. The water is typically tea-stained due to tannins released from leaves.

This natural setting provides a rich ecosystem that supports the growth and development of the Bleeding Heart Tetra.

Origin and Distribution

The Bleeding Heart Tetra (scientific name: Hyphessobrycon erythrostigma) is native to the upper Amazon Basin.

This region, known for its rich biodiversity, provides an ideal environment for these small, sociable freshwater fish.

They are a fantastic addition to larger community tanks as well, assuming that you house them with compatible tank mates.

Their distribution in the wild spans across various tributaries, lakes, and streams, where they live in large groups and contribute to the vibrant aquatic life.

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Growth, Size & Lifespan of Bleeding Heart Tetra

Adult Bleeding Heart Tetras typically measure between two and three inches when fully grown. This manageable size makes them suitable for aquariums that don’t require a lot of space.

Females are generally more full-bodied than males, making them easier to identify, although they are approximately the same length.

With proper care, Bleeding Heart Tetras can live between three and five years in captivity.

Factors such as improper water conditions, subpar living conditions, and an inadequate diet can lead to high stress levels, potentially causing disease and premature death.

Therefore, it’s crucial to provide them with the right care and environment to ensure their healthy growth and longevity.

Bleeding Heart Tetra Behavior and Temperament

Bleeding Heart Tetras are known for their peaceful nature and sociable behavior. They are a schooling species, which means they prefer to live in groups of at least four to six.

When kept in a suitable group, these fish exhibit a lively and active demeanor, often seen swimming around the tank together.

However, when kept alone, they may become territorial or shy. Therefore, it’s crucial to maintain a suitable group size to ensure their well-being and natural behavior.

Their active nature and vibrant colors make them a joy to watch, adding a dynamic element to your aquarium.

Tank Setup For Bleeding Heart Tetra: Creating a Comfortable Environment

Setting up the right environment for your Bleeding Heart Tetras is crucial for their health and happiness.

Here’s a detailed guide on how to set up the perfect tank for these beautiful fish.

Tank Size

A 20-gallon tank is the minimum recommended size for housing Bleeding Heart Tetras. This size can comfortably accommodate a small group of four to six fish. However, if you plan on creating a larger community tank, a bigger aquarium would be more suitable.


Bleeding Heart Tetras prefer a sandy substrate, which mimics the riverbeds they inhabit in the wild. Sand is safe for these fish and allows them to scavenge for food at the bottom of the tank.

Decorations and Hiding Spots

Decorate the tank with live plants of various species, including leafy foreground plants and taller stem plants for the rear.

Floating plants provide shelter from light, which these fish prefer. A few pieces of driftwood can offer security and create a more organic look.

Water Parameters

Maintain the following water parameters for the well-being of your Bleeding Heart Tetras:

  • Water temperature: 72°F to 80°F (around 75°F is ideal)

  • pH levels: 6.0 to 6.5 (Slightly acidic)

  • Water hardness: 4 to 8 KH

Filtration and Aeration

Choose a powerful filtration unit that can cycle your tank several times an hour. These fish can produce a lot of waste, and a high-filtration system will ensure that ammonia and nitrate levels stay low.

Additionally, ensure proper aeration to maintain oxygen levels in the tank.


Bleeding Heart Tetras do not have specific lighting requirements. However, moderate lighting that mimics their natural habitat is ideal.

Too bright lighting can stress the fish, while too dim lighting can affect their activity levels.

Tank Mates

Bleeding Heart Tetras can coexist with a wide range of tank mates, including other tetra species and fish of similar size.

Avoid slow-moving fish, as the tetras’ active nature might stress them. Also, avoid larger or aggressive fish that could prey on the tetras.


As omnivores, Bleeding Heart Tetras readily accept a variety of foods. A high-quality pellet or flake product is suitable for regular feeding, supplemented with live, freeze-dried, or frozen foods such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, and daphnia.

Feed these fish several times a day, but only provide enough food that they can consume in three minutes.

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Tank Maintenance of Bleeding Heart Tetra

Maintaining the tank environment is crucial for the well-being of your Bleeding Heart Tetras.

Regular cleaning, water changes, and filter maintenance can help ensure a healthy and stress-free environment for your fish.

Here’s a detailed guide on how to maintain your Bleeding Heart Tetra tank.

Regular Water Changes

Regular water changes are essential to maintain optimal water quality in your tank. It’s recommended to change about 25% to 30% of the tank water every two weeks.

This helps to remove waste and toxins that the filter may not have caught, ensuring a clean and healthy environment for your fish.

Cleaning the Tank and Decorations

In addition to water changes, it’s important to clean the tank and decorations regularly. Algae can build up on the tank walls and decorations over time, which can affect water quality and the overall appearance of your tank.

Use an algae scraper or pad to clean the tank walls and a soft brush to clean decorations. Avoid using soap or detergents, as they can be harmful to fish.

Filter Maintenance

The filter plays a crucial role in maintaining water quality by removing waste and toxins from the water. Therefore, it’s important to clean and maintain your filter regularly.

Rinse the filter media in tank water (not tap water, as it can kill beneficial bacteria) and replace it as per the manufacturer’s instructions. If the filter is not working properly, it may need to be repaired or replaced.

Monitor Fish Health

Regularly observe your Bleeding Heart Tetras for any signs of illness or stress. Changes in behavior, appetite, or appearance can be signs of health issues.

If you notice any signs of disease, such as spots, discoloration, or lethargy, it’s important to diagnose and treat the issue promptly.

Consult with a vet or a fish health professional if needed. Regular monitoring and prompt action can help ensure the health and longevity of your Bleeding Heart Tetras.

Acclimating Bleeding Heart Tetra: A Step-by-Step Guide

Acclimating your Bleeding Heart Tetras to their new environment is a crucial step in ensuring their health and well-being.

This process helps the fish adjust to the water parameters of your tank, reducing stress and potential health issues.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to acclimate your Bleeding Heart Tetras:

  1. Float the Bag: Start by floating the sealed bag containing the fish in your aquarium for about 15 minutes. This allows the water in the bag to gradually match the temperature of your tank water.

  2. Open the Bag and Add Tank Water: After 15 minutes, open the bag and add a small amount of tank water to it. This helps the fish adjust to the water chemistry of your tank.

  3. Gradually Add More Tank Water: Over the next hour, gradually add more tank water to the bag every 10 minutes. This slow introduction helps the fish acclimate to the pH, hardness, and other water parameters of your tank.

  4. Transfer the Fish: After an hour, gently net the fish and transfer them to the tank. Avoid adding the bag water to your tank, as it may contain contaminants.

  5. Monitor the Fish: Keep a close eye on the fish for the next few hours to ensure they are adjusting well to their new environment.

Bleeding Heart Tetra Diet and Feeding

Feeding your Bleeding Heart Tetras a balanced and varied diet is key to their health and vibrancy.

Here’s a detailed guide on what to feed your Bleeding Heart Tetras and how often:

What to Feed

Bleeding Heart Tetras are omnivores and can eat a variety of foods.

Here are some options:

  • High-Quality Pellets or Flakes: These should form the staple of your fish’s diet. Choose a product specifically designed for tetras or small freshwater fish.

  • Live Foods: Live foods like brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms are a great source of protein and can help enhance your fish’s color.

  • Freeze-Dried or Frozen Foods: These can be a good alternative to live foods and are often more convenient to store and feed.

  • Vegetables: Occasionally, you can offer small pieces of vegetables like lettuce or spinach. These provide essential vitamins and minerals.

Feeding Schedule

Feed your Bleeding Heart Tetras two to three times a day. Only offer what they can consume in about three minutes to prevent overfeeding and water pollution.

Remove any uneaten food after feeding to maintain water quality.

Tips for Feeding

  • Vary the Diet: Offering a variety of foods ensures your fish get a range of nutrients and keeps them interested in feeding.

  • Observe Your Fish: Watch your fish during feeding times to ensure they are eating properly and to spot any potential health issues early.

  • Adjust as Needed: If your fish are leaving food uneaten or appear overweight, adjust the amount of food you’re offering.

Remember, a healthy diet is key to keeping your Bleeding Heart Tetras vibrant and active.

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Bleeding Heart Tetra Tank Mates

Bleeding Heart Tetras are peaceful fish that can coexist with a variety of other species.

However, it’s important to choose tank mates that share similar water parameters and have a compatible temperament.

Here are some suitable tank mates for Bleeding Heart Tetras:

  • Danios: These active swimmers are peaceful and can coexist well with Bleeding Heart Tetras.

  • Rasboras: Known for their peaceful nature, Rasboras can make excellent tank mates.

  • Cory Catfish: These bottom dwellers are peaceful and can add diversity to your tank.

  • Cherry Barbs: These small, peaceful fish can coexist well with Bleeding Heart Tetras.

  • Kuhli Loach: These nocturnal creatures are peaceful and can share a tank with Bleeding Heart Tetras.

  • Clown Loach: These active and social fish can make great tank mates.

  • Odessa Barb: Known for their vibrant colors and peaceful nature, they can coexist well with Bleeding Heart Tetras.

  • Dojo Loach: These peaceful bottom dwellers can add diversity to your tank.

However, not all fish make suitable companions for Bleeding Heart Tetras.

Here are some fish to avoid:

  • Cichlids: Many Cichlids are aggressive and can bully or harm Bleeding Heart Tetras.

  • Bettas: Known for their territorial nature, Bettas may not coexist peacefully with Bleeding Heart Tetras.

  • Oscars: These large, aggressive fish can pose a threat to Bleeding Heart Tetras.

  • Arowanas: Their large size and predatory nature make them unsuitable tank mates.

  • Piranhas: Known for their aggressive and predatory nature, Piranhas are not suitable tank mates for Bleeding Heart Tetras.

Breeding Bleeding Heart Tetra and Fry Care

Breeding Bleeding Heart Tetras can be a rewarding experience.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to breed these fish and care for the fry:

  1. Set Up a Breeding Tank: Set up a separate breeding tank with slightly more acidic water than the main tank. Add plenty of plants or a spawning mop to catch and protect the eggs.

  2. Introduce the Fish: Introduce a pair of healthy, mature Bleeding Heart Tetras to the breeding tank.

  3. Induce Spawning: Slowly raise the temperature a few degrees to induce spawning.

  4. Egg Laying: The female will swell up with eggs and, when ready, will deposit them around the plants. The eggs may stick to leaves or sink to the bottom.

  5. Remove the Parents: After the eggs are laid, remove the parent fish to prevent them from eating the eggs.

  6. Egg Hatching: The eggs will hatch in about two to three days. The fry will feed on the egg sac for a couple more days until they are free-swimming.

  7. Feeding the Fry: Once the fry are free-swimming, you can feed them powdered fry food or infusoria until they can accept baby brine shrimp.

Remember, breeding Bleeding Heart Tetras requires patience and careful monitoring.

With the right conditions and care, you can successfully breed these beautiful fish and raise the next generation.

Signs of Stress in Bleeding Heart Tetra: What to Look For

Stress in Bleeding Heart Tetras can manifest in various ways.

It’s crucial to monitor your fish regularly and look out for these signs:

  • Changes in Behavior: This could include less activity, hiding more often, or changes in eating habits.

  • Changes in Appearance: Look for faded colors, clamped fins, or spots on the body.

  • Erratic Swimming: This could include darting around the tank or swimming near the surface more than usual.

  • Breathing Rapidly: If your fish is breathing more rapidly than usual, it could be a sign of stress.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to identify and address the cause of the stress.

This could be due to poor water quality, inappropriate tank mates, or illness.

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Common Health Issues and Treatments for Bleeding Heart Tetra

Bleeding Heart Tetras can suffer from common freshwater fish diseases.

Here are a few and their treatments:

  • Ich: This is a common parasitic disease that causes white spots on the fish’s body. It can be treated with over-the-counter medications and by raising the tank temperature slightly.

  • Fin Rot: This bacterial disease causes the fins to fray and rot away. It can be treated with antibacterial medications.

  • Fungal Infections: These can cause cotton-like growths on the fish. Antifungal medications can be used for treatment.

Remember, prevention is better than cure.

Regular tank maintenance and monitoring can help prevent these diseases.

Additional Tips for a Healthy Aquarium

  • Regular Maintenance: Regular water changes and tank cleaning are crucial for maintaining a healthy environment.

  • Monitor Water Parameters: Keep a close eye on water temperature, pH, and hardness levels.

  • Feed a Balanced Diet: Provide a variety of foods to ensure your fish get all the nutrients they need.

  • Quarantine New Fish: Always quarantine new fish before adding them to your main tank to prevent the spread of diseases.

Should You Get a Bleeding Heart Tetra for Your Aquarium?

Bleeding Heart Tetras are a fantastic addition to any freshwater aquarium. Their vibrant colors and active behavior make them a joy to watch.

They are also relatively easy to care for, making them suitable for both beginners and experienced aquarists.

However, they do require a tank of at least 20 gallons and prefer to live in groups. Therefore, they may not be suitable for very small tanks or for those who prefer solitary fish.

If you can meet their needs, Bleeding Heart Tetras can make a wonderful addition to your aquarium.

Conservation Status

As of the current data, the Bleeding Heart Tetra is not listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. This species is widely distributed in the Amazon Basin and does not face any major threats in its natural habitat.

However, it’s always important to purchase these fish from reputable suppliers who follow sustainable practices to ensure the continued health of wild populations.

Availability & Pricing: Adding Bleeding Heart Tetra to Your Aquarium

Bleeding Heart Tetras are widely available in pet stores and online due to their popularity among aquarists.

The price can vary depending on the size and age of the fish, but they are generally quite affordable.

Always ensure you purchase from a reputable seller to guarantee healthy and ethically sourced fish.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Bleeding Heart Tetra

Q: How long do Bleeding Heart Tetras live?

A: With proper care, Bleeding Heart Tetras can live for 3 to 5 years in captivity.

Q: What do Bleeding Heart Tetras eat?

A: Bleeding Heart Tetras are omnivores and can eat a variety of foods, including high-quality pellets or flakes, live foods, freeze-dried or frozen foods, and vegetables.

Q: Can Bleeding Heart Tetras live alone?

A: No, Bleeding Heart Tetras are schooling fish and prefer to live in groups of at least four to six.

Conclusion: Is the Bleeding Heart Tetra Right for You?

Bleeding Heart Tetras are a wonderful addition to any freshwater aquarium. Their vibrant colors, active behavior, and peaceful nature make them a joy to watch.

They are also relatively easy to care for, making them suitable for both beginners and experienced aquarists.

However, like any pet, they require a commitment to their care and well-being. Regular tank maintenance, a balanced diet, and a suitable environment are all crucial for their health and happiness.

If you can provide these, the Bleeding Heart Tetra can make a fantastic addition to your aquarium.