Bleeding Heart Tetra – The Complete Care Manual

The bleeding heart tetra is a beautiful fish that is loved by many aquarium enthusiasts. This care manual will teach you how to look after these wonderful fish.

Bleeding Heart Tetra – Quick Facts

In a rush? Check out the quick facts about Bleeding Heart Tetra below.

Fish Info

Scientific NameHyphessobrycon erythrostigma
Common NamesBleeding Heart Tetra
AppearanceDiamond-shaped body with a prominent red spot near where the heart is. They have silver scales and transparent fins, except for the dorsal fin, which is black and yellow.
DifficultyBleeding heart tetra care is not difficult.
DistributionThe bleeding heart tetra is found in the upper Amazon basin in the ‘Tres Fronteras’ region, where the borders of Brazil, Peru, and Colombia meet.
LifespanThe lifespan of the bleeding heart tetra is about 3-5 years in captivity.
TemperamentThe temperament of bleeding heart tetras largely depends on their social group, but they are mostly peaceful fish.
Keep in Groups of6 or more
Tank MatesCory; Neon Tetras; Lemon Tetra; German Blue Ram; African giant filter shrimp; Zebra Loach; Guppies; Crabs; Snails; Shrimps
DietThe diet of bleeding heart tetra includes high-quality pellets or flakes, as well as live, freeze-dried, or frozen foods.
LengthThe average size of a bleeding heart tetra is between 2-3 inches in adulthood.
Sexual DimorphismFemales are more full-bodied, and male fins are longer and more pointed than female fins.
Breeding DifficultyBreeding the bleeding heart tetra is a pretty difficult task to accomplish, not impossible, but quite difficult.

Water/Tank Recommendations

Water TypeFreshwater
Water TemperatureThe ideal water temperature for bleeding heart tetra is 22-25°C (72-77°F).
Water pHThe ideal water pH for bleeding heart tetra is 6.0-6.5.
Water HardnessThe ideal water hardness for bleeding heart tetra is 8-12 dH.
Tank sizeThe minimum tank size for bleeding heart tetra is 20 gallons. The recommended tank size for bleeding heart tetra is 30 gallons.


The bleeding heart tetra is a stunning freshwater fish that’s quickly becoming more popular with aquarists all over.

And for a good reason! This species’ red and silver coloration makes them stand out in any tank. Some people say the red spot on their torso looks like their true heart.

But their beauty isn’t the only thing that makes these fish so great. Unlike some other types of tetras, caring for bleeding hearts is pretty easy (once you know what to do). That means you can enjoy watching this beautiful species thrive without spending hours each week maintaining your tank.

About Bleeding Heart Tetra

The bleeding heart tetra is a beautiful freshwater fish that can make any aquarium look stunning. They’re also quite easy to take care of, making them an excellent choice for both beginners and experienced aquarists.

Though they are often compared to the neon tetra due to their bright coloration, the two species have distinct differences. For one thing, these fish don’t require as much light to appreciate since their red markings are more pronounced when there is less illumination in the water!


A unique element of the bleeding heart tetra is its coloration. Most of the fish’s body is silver in color, but there’s a large red spot located where the fish’s heart would be.

This red spot stands out in contrast to their shimmering silver torso and colorful, transparent fins.

Note: This fish is one of 3 species of the ‘bleeding heart’ subgroup. The other 2 members are also tetras, and they look so visually similar that it can be difficult to tell them apart!

Their Length

The average bleeding heart tetra size is between two and three inches when fully grown.

There are reports of specimens that have grown larger, but this seems to be the established norm.

This size is small enough to comfortably fit in smaller tanks, making them an ideal choice for aquarists with limited space (or who prefer a more intimate environment).


The average lifespan of the bleeding heart tetra is about 3-5 years in captivity.

In some instances, this fish has been known to live up to 10 years or longer. This can be very rare, though, and usually occurs only under optimal conditions.

Note: As always, you can extend the life of your bleeding heart tetra by providing them with proper care and a great habitat.

Sexual Dimorphism

Females are more full-bodied, while males have longer and more pointed fins. Males also develop reddish-orange coloration on the lower portion of their bodies.


Bleeding heart tetras are found mostly in rivers in the upper Amazon basin.

They live among dense vegetation and driftwood to help provide shelter from predators and improve their chances of survival when food is scarce. These fish roam in groups, and tend to stick together rather than roam separately.

Caring for Bleeding Heart Tetra

It’s very important to keep the water quality in good condition. One great way to do this is by regularly performing partial water changes.

Aim for a 25 percent change every week or two, using dechlorinated tap water that’s similar in pH balance as the current tank water. Keep ammonia and nitrate levels low with an easy-to-use test kit.

Be sure also to clean the substrate once every few weeks. Change out any decorations or items you have inside your aquarium at least once a month also.


Bleeding heart tetras are omnivores that eat live and frozen foods.

Their ideal diet consists of protein-rich snacks such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, mosquito larvae, and more. You can try various kinds of freeze-dried food if you’re looking for something different, too (but make sure they sink to the bottom).

Frozen foods are our go-to recommendation for bleeding heart tetra care because we think it provides them with needed enrichment and variety in their diet (although flake or pellet food is perfectly fine).

How Often & How Much to Feed Them

Bleeding heart tetras should be fed once or twice a day, depending on the quality of food you’re providing.

It can be tempting to feed your fish as much as they want. However, overfeeding is one of the most common reasons why these freshwater fish don’t live very long!

To avoid feeding these fish too much or too little, do some research on recommended feeding amounts before you commit.

Possible Diseases

The bleeding heart tetra is not immune to disease. In fact, they may suffer from some of the same ailments that other freshwater species do (such as Ich).

There’s no guarantee that you won’t have issues with your fish in this regard, but there are things you can do to reduce their risk of getting sick. First and foremost: perform weekly water changes! Additionally, monitor ammonia levels and keep everything clean.

The biggest disease to look out for is simply stress. Because the bleeding heart tetra prefers warm, acidic water, any drastic changes (even a slight shift in temperature) could potentially lead to illness and death.

Tank Setup

The best tank setups for bleeding heart tetra are warm and well-planted.

You can create a natural habitat with live plants, driftwood, and other decor that resembles their native habitat in the Amazon River Basin. The fish do best when they have plenty of places to hide during the day (using floating plants is ideal).

We recommend having an open swimming area so your fish can also get exercise. Too many plants or hiding spots can make them feel claustrophobic, leading to stress and illness.

As far as lighting goes, you don’t need anything special because bleeding heart tetras are used to living around various light conditions in their natural environment. So they will do fine under standard aquarium lighting.

Aquarium Size

You’ll need a minimum tank size of 20 gallons to keep bleeding heart tetras. However, we recommend a tank size of 25 gallons to give them plenty of room to swim without feeling cramped.

If you plan on keeping a large group, go bigger to provide ample space for each fish. Remember that these are shoaling fish and will become stressed if they don’t have their buddies around them.

Note: It’s better to err on the side of caution when it comes to tank size and go larger instead of smaller if you have a large group. These fish are prone to stress, disease, and death due to overcrowding.

Water Conditions

Bleeding heart tetras are found in shallow streams and lakes with low currents. The water is usually on the acidic side, which these fish prefer over alkaline waters.

The pH level of the tank should be between 6.0 and 6.5 for optimal health, but don’t worry about getting a precise reading from your test kit (we know many aquarists who do this). It’s far more important to keep consistency than it is to obsess over numbers!

You should also aim for slightly softer water with a hardness rating of 8-12 dH.


The ideal pH for bleeding heart tetra is 6.0-6.5, which means these fish are quite adaptable to a wide range of levels in their environment.

Keep an eye on your water tests and make sure you’re consistent about maintaining the desired level if you have this species in your aquarium.


The optimal water temperature for bleeding heart tetra is between 22 and 28°C (or 72 to 77 °F).

Note: Maintaining the right water temperature is absolutely crucial if you want these fish to thrive. If your tank doesn’t fall within this range, then don’t buy them!


Bleeding heart tetras require hard water with a hardness rating of 8-12 dH.


One important factor to consider when it comes to bleeding heart tetra care is the quality of your filtration system. These fish are not particularly messy, but they will produce some waste over time (and we don’t want that in our tank).

So if you plan on keeping a large school, you’ll need a strong filter that can keep up with all those hungry mouths! Not only does this help keep water conditions stable for your bleeding hearts, but it also helps other inhabitants in their tank who might be sensitive to ammonia.

Aquarium Plants

Plants are an important part of bleeding heart tetra care. They not only serve as a food source but also help the fish feel comfortable and secure in their environment.

Most aquarists end up using floating plants for this species to try and replicate their natural habitat. Floating plants can help these fish feel safe by giving them shelter and a place to hide.

Behavior and Compatibility

The bleeding heart tetra is a very energetic fish that spends most of its time in the middle and upper part of the water column. It does not spend much time near the bottom or on vegetation, but it has been known to rest on driftwood occasionally.

These fish play well with other types of freshwater species without any issues (as long as they aren’t aggressive). They do well with a number of peaceful varieties, such as German blue rams, guppies, cory catfish, snails, and crabs.

Bleeding heart tetras are shoaling fish, meaning you should keep them in groups for their sake and yours. A group makes these shy creatures feel more confident when exploring your tank because they have each others’ support!

How Many to Keep Together

The bleeding heart tetra is best kept in groups of six or more. A group this size will create a lot of activity and excitement for you to observe!

It’s important to be aware that these fish are shoaling species, which means they need other members of their species around in order to feel comfortable enough to exhibit normal behavior. If you keep them alone, it could lead to stress and health problems.


The bleeding heart tetra is a gentle fish that gets along with most other non-aggressive species. They prefer to stick with others of their kind and can exhibit signs of stress if kept alone.

Aggression towards other fish is not an issue for bleeding heart tetras either. They’re too busy minding their own business to care what others are doing!

Tank Mates

When choosing bleeding heart tetra tank mates, you have a lot of options. These fish are considered peaceful and won’t cause any trouble, even if they accidentally nip or bite another fish by accident.

You should always keep groups of these together so that they feel safe in the tank (around 6 or more). This will help to stave off stress and make them happier overall.

Suitable companions for bleeding heart tetras are going to be other types of their own kind; this is what they naturally prefer, after all! You can also consider:

  • Cory catfish (these little guys love to interact with these)
  • Neon Tetras
  • Lemon Tetra
  • German Blue Ram


Breeding bleeding heart tetras is a difficult process that can take quite some time. You’ll need to set up separate breeding tanks and use temperature cycling techniques to prepare them for spawning.

There are many different methods out there, so we highly recommend doing your research and finding the one that works for you. If you don’t want to put in all this extra work, then it might be best to skip the attempt altogether.

Are Bleeding Heart Tetra Fish a Good Choice For Your Tank?

The bleeding heart tetra is an attractive and elegant freshwater fish with an interesting name. They’re quite stunning to look at and can add some color to your tank!

These are peaceful fish that don’t want any trouble, so they tend to stick with others of their kind. This makes them fairly easy fish to care for as long as you’re aware of their basic requirements when it comes to water parameters, diet, and tank size.

If you feel like this species is right for you, we highly recommend getting some!


The bleeding heart tetra is a beautiful, peaceful fish that adds some color and life to your tank. They are also easy to care for, making them great for beginners or anyone who doesn’t want the hassle of managing an elaborate aquarium.

These fish don’t need a lot of room, either! Many freshwater species require large tanks since they can get aggressive when kept in groups. This isn’t the case with this particular species because they stay small no matter how many you keep together, to a certain extent.


The bleeding heart tetra is a pretty hardy fish, but it can suffer from the same health issues that other freshwater species do. Hailing from tropical waters, these fish are not as accustomed to cooler temperatures or low oxygen levels as cold water and bottom-feeder fish.

To avoid health issues in your bleeding heart tetra, it’s important to maintain good tank conditions.

Don’t allow ammonia and nitrate levels to get too high (a built-in filtration system with a regular cleaning schedule will help you keep these numbers low). Also, be wary of copper additives! Copper is poisonous for most aquarium life, so you’ll need to make sure that any medications added don’t contain this substance.


The bleeding heart tetra is one of our favorite freshwater fish. We’ve been a fan for years and still can’t get enough!

We hope this guide has convinced you to consider getting some for your own tank as well. These are fairly low-maintenance fish that will be great additions to almost any aquarium setup.

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