Rummy Nose Tetra – Everything you wanted to know

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The Rummy nose tetra is a beautiful freshwater fish that is easy to keep, breed, and care for. The common name for Rummy nose tetra in the aquarium world is brilliant rummy nose tetra, red nose tetra, and Firehead tetra. It has bright red heads with horizontal stripes of black and white tail, resembling the fire flames. In this article, we are going to cover everything about Rummy nose tetra care.

So, let’s begin!

Species Overview

Scientific NameHemigrammus bleheri (also referred to as H. rhodostomus)
Common NamesFirehead Tetra, Red Nose Tetra, and Brilliant Rummy Nose Tetra
OriginSouth America
Care RequirementsEasy
Lifespan5 – 6 years
Tank LevelTop and middle level
Minimum Tank Size10 gallons
Water Temperature Range75° – 85° F
Water Hardness2 – 6 dKH
pH Range6.2 – 7.0 (slightly acidic)
Filtration/Water FlowSlow to Moderate
Water TypeFreshwater
BreedingEgg Layer
Difficulty to BreedChallenging in captivity
CompatibilityCommunity tanks
OK, for Planted Tanks?Yes

What Are Rummy Nose Tetras?

Rummy nose tetras are popular freshwater fish species, originating from South America. They are particularly found in Rio Negro in Brazil and Rio Vaupes in Columbia. These freshwater aquatic species go by many names, including Fire head tetra, Red nose tetra, and Brilliant rummy nose. They are peaceful fish that are active and playful with their computable tank mates. Hence, make the best aquarium species in the community tank.

Origin and Habitat

In the wild, rummy nose tetras live in the tropical and subtropical regions of South America, especially in the rainforest rivers and streams, such as Rio Negro and Rio Meta river basins or Petitella Georgia from the Upper Amazon basin in Peru, Rio Purus, Rio Negro, and Rio Madeira river basins.

However, nowadays, most rummy nose tetras are captive-bred. The captive-bred species are farmed in South East Asia and Europe and sourced throughout the globe successfully.


The startling difference between other freshwater fish and Rummy nose tetras is their red head that leaves your visitors awestruck.

Rummy Nose Tetra

The body of rummy nose tetras is torpedo-shaped with sheer silver color accentuated with a grayish-green hue. The caudal fin in rummy nose tetra is patterned with black and white horizontal stripes with colorless lobe tips. There is a very thin, indistinguishable black line that runs forward base to base- from the caudal fin towards the dorsal fin.

The deep fiery color in the rummy nose tetra is limited to the head region only, and the vibrancy of colors on your rummy nose tetras speaks volumes of the tank’s water quality, diet, and overall health of the fish.


Rummy nose tetras are divided into three distinct very similar tetra species.

The True Species: Hemigrammus rhodostomus

The Hemigrammus Rhodostomus are the true rummy nose tetras that are often sold as the common rummy nose tetra or the “brilliant nose tetra”. However, you can easily distinguish the following by these factors:

  • The amount of red coloration on the head is a little lighter than H. Bleheri.
  • The dark blotch is absent at the bottom.
  • The line that extends laterally from the central caudal fin is narrower in the true rummy nose tetra.

The Brilliant  or The Common: Hemigrammus bleheri

The most popular species of the rummy nose tetra are H. bleheri. Commercial breeders also produce a golden variant of the rummy nose tetra by selectively breeding, which is available for sale from time to time.

  • The red coloration on the fish’s head extends into the fish’s body, beyond the gill covers.
  • The presence of a dark blotch at the top of the caudal peduncle.
  • The line that extends laterally from the central fin into the fish’s body is almost invisible.

The false Kind Petitella georgiae

The false rummy nose tetras can be distinguished by the other two types on the basis of:

  • Bright redhead
  • The black horizontal line extends to the middle rays of the caudal peduncle.
  • Presence of diagonal black bars in each caudal-fin lobe, divided by white bands

Therefore, this species of rummy nose tetra is often labeled as the black-finned rummy nose.

Average Size and Lifespan

Rummy nose tetras are small freshwater fish. They grow no longer than two inches in length with a life expectancy of around six years with proper maintenance and care.

Care Guide

Rummy noses are popular schooling fish that are considered easy for beginners. However, if you don’t take care of them or maintain their water quality, things can get worse. Therefore, be vigilant in raising a rummy nose, because they take poor water conditions and other parameters very seriously.

Also, rummy noses are much appreciated by the aquarium keepers as they are quite active and very reasonable in many pet stores.

The Rummy Nose Tetra is a hardy fish when well taken care of that will live for almost a decade ranging from five to eight years. These tiny fish grow up to anywhere from one and a half inches to two and a half inches.

Aquarium Setup

In their natural habitat, the rummy nose tetra occupies the middle and top water column with a preference for slow-moving waters. However, they have usually seen feeding and swimming in the middle and bottom as well.

Rummy nose tetras stay happy in a spacious tank where they could swim freely with lots of hiding places and plants.

Tank Size

While they can qualify for a nano tank given their size, they are not the best nano fish. The minimum tank size for rummy noses should be no less than 20 gallonsIt is observed that these fish occupies the middle and top levels of the tank, but oftentimes they can be seen swimming and feeding in the middle and bottom levels. In captivity, experts suggest keeping them in schools of six or moreThese fish species are particularly small, which means around five of these fish easily fit in ten gallons, meaning you can fit 25 rummy noses in a 30-gallon tank.

Water Parameters

Rummy nose tetras admire warm water temperature so much. So, they should always be kept in water temperatures around 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit – with 78 being the most ideal temperature Also, they prefer slightly acidic to neutral water with recommended pH levels of 6.2 to 7. Any changes in the water chemistry of the tetra tank and temperature would adversely affect these tetras. Therefore, be sure to maintain optimal conditions to raise a happy and healthy tetra.

Filtration and Aeration

Rummy noses take their tank condition very seriously. The slightest inconvenience, for example, the traces of ammonia, nitrite, nitrates, and other toxins can shorten their lifespan and activity levels. Therefore, to provide a healthy ecosystem, it is suggested to use a robust filter such as HOB or canister filters to keep your fish tank free of toxins.

For larger aquariums of around 40 gallons or more, I suggest using airstones to increase aeration and water oxygenation, or you can install multiple filters 


Like most fish, rummy nose tetras do not enjoy bright lightsTherefore, if you have a well-planted tank, I suggest using dim light or adjustable L.E.D lights to subtly light your aquarium for plant material.

To darken the tank more, you can get tall floating plants and driftwood and rocks, providing cozy, shady areas for your fish.

Aquatic Plants and Decorations

The number one rule to keep your tetras happy as a daisy is to mimic their natural habitat and see them thriving more than ever. 

Since these fish species are top- to middle-dwelling, it is recommended to get plants that reach such water columns to provide a sense of protection. Also, rummy tetras loathe bright lights. So, to give them ample shade, add floating plants and rooted plants for them to hide and burrow for shade if needed. You can add as much plant material as you want because rummy tetras are not destructive toward aquatic plants. 

For tank decorations, a piece of driftwood and a pile of rocks provide much space to hide and rest. But be sure to not overwhelm the tank with plants and other decorations because rummy noses enjoy a lot of swimming room. Low light plants are recommended for these types of tetras.


Many tetra keepers use a dark substrate to make their radiant rummy noses and out from the crowd. But you can use any high-quality fine sandy substrate or pebble substrate at the bottom of your tank.

Tank Maintenance

No matter how many high-quality filters you use, rummy noses are very sensitive to toxins and poor water conditions. Therefore, it is recommended to do weekly water changes without stressing them much. Also, it is advised to change your filter media every 3 weeks. If you’re planning to breed rummy nose tetra, make sure to test the water quality daily as mild exposure to minerals such as Calcium and other toxins can cause sterility in these tetras.

Community Tank Mates

The good news is rummy noses are a schooling and peaceful fish. Thus, they will mix with other schooling fish, just make sure you have at least 6 to form a group.

The most suitable tank mates in a rummy nose tetra tank are:

  1. Danios of all types
  2. Corydoras Catfish
  3. Barbs
  4. Harlequin Rasboras
  5. Lemon Tetras
  6. Black widow tetras
  7. Cardinal tetras
  8. Peppered catfish
  9. Siamese fighting fish

And all other peaceful, small fish. Mostly dwarf shrimps go well with rummy nose tetras. However, the adult fish might end up eating dwarf shrimp and their fry. Therefore, always opt for tank mates equal to the size of the rummy nose tetra.

Incompatible Tank Mates

The incompatible tank mates are most of the cichlids and other large or aggressive fish that may bully or harm your rummy noses.


Breeding rummy nose tetras is a challenging task, especially in captivity because a minor increase in the calcium levels may cause sterility in these fish.

To breed rummy noses successfully, you need to provide them with soft water with a pH of around 6.5. Also, the levels of Calcium should be close to none in the breeding tank and the temperature range should be around 84 degrees Fahrenheit with low lighting.

Rummy noses are egg layers and they lay their eggs on the fine-leaved plants such as java moss. These fish lay only a few eggs at one time, that too, at night time. I suggest removing the parents into another tank because they may eat eggs. 

After three to four days, the eggs hatch, which are vulnerable to fungus. You can use an anti-fungal medication to avoid this problem. If the medication is not available, you can use natural items like Indian Almond Leaves as their tannic acid is helpful in preventing fungal infections. Check out this video by Bo The Tetra Breeder below for a timelapse of the fry’s development.

How do you raise the Fry?

The baby rummy noses are slow growers among all the popular freshwater fish. Many fish experts make them eat infusoria for at least three weeks before feeding them anything else. The fish fry is very vulnerable to fatal diseases, thus, the quality of tank water should be maintained properly.

It takes around six months for the rummy nose’s baby to munch on adult fish food such as Daphnia.

Food and Diet

Since these fish are omnivorous. They thrive well on a varied diet rich in protein. You can easily feed them premium-quality flake food, pellets, frozen foods, freeze-dried foods, bloodworms, blackworms, and much more.

In the wild, they munch on plant debris and insect larvae. But in captivity, they have a variety of food to feed on such as brine shrimp, fish eggs, green vegetables including, cabbage, lettuce, cucumber, etc, and commercial food as well.

However, don’t forget to add flake food as the base because good flake food will provide nutrients and are easy to feed for these small fish.

How Often Should You Feed Rummy nose?

You can feed these species twice daily. But make sure they finish the food within 2 minutes to prevent food decay and a murky tank.

Rummy noses are sensitive to nutritional deficiencies. Therefore, feeding them with high-quality flake food with lots of protein content is crucial along with occasional treats given on a weekly basis.

Common Health Problems and Diseases

The best part about rummy noses is they hardly get sick and catch diseases if you provide them with excellent water conditions.

However, there are some common health problems and diseases observed in the rummy noses such as:


In this condition, the fluid builds up inside the body of a fish. This is due to bacterial infections, liver dysfunction, or parasitic infections. Either way, proper diagnosis is recommended.

Ich or White spot Disease

The Ich disease is a common health problem in most tropical fish. The signs of these diseases are the presence of small white spots on the body and gills, scraping of the body against sharp, hard objects in the aquarium, loss of appetite, and abnormal hiding or lethargic behavior.

Differences Between Male and Female

The visual differences between the male and female rummy nose species are close to none. However, when the female is full of eggs, the body looks fuller and much more rounder than the male.

Where to get the best quality from?

Since you’ve researched everything about the rummy nose tetras, it’s time to get your hands on this great fish.

You can easily purchase these beautiful fish from online fish stores or in-store from the local breeders. Either way, the cost of rummy nose tetra is very as affordable as low $4 for a single fish, and $25 for a group of six to keep in your home aquarium.

Where to Buy

These tetra fish are easy to find at fish stores. While easy to find, not every fish store is reputable. If you want to go with an online option, I would highly recommend Flip Aquatics. Rob and his team value the care they put into their aquatic animals. It is in my mind, the best place to purchase nano fish and shrimp from. You can use promo code ASDFLIPPROMO at check out for a discount!


How Many Should Be Kept Together?

Rummy nose tetra is a shoaling and schooling fish that enjoys the company of other suitable tank mates in a community tank. The minimum number of fish to be kept in a rummy nose tetra tank should be no less than six.

Are They Aggressive?

No. Rummy noses are peaceful fish, excellent for community aquariums. They never bother their tank mates but can easily be intimidated by other large fish that are territorial and aggressive. Therefore, make sure to avoid large, aggressive fish in your rummy nose tetra tank.

Can Neon Tetras Live With A Rummy Nose?

Yes, neon tetras make awesome tank mates for rummy noses. They are perfectly capable and are considering schooling fish as they will swim together. You shouldn’t have any aggression issues with either fish.

What Fish Can Live With Them?

All the small and peaceful fish can live happily with the rummy nose including:

Danios of all types
Corydoras Catfish
Harlequin Rasboras
Lemon Tetras
Black widow tetras
cardinal tetras
Peppered catfish
Siamese fighting fish

Are They Fin Nippers?

No, rummy noses tetras, unlike some more aggressive tetra species are not fin nippers. They are fine with long-fin fish like Betta Fish and will coexist with large peaceful fish like Discus Fish.

Are They Hard To Keep?

No, rummy nose tetras are beginner-friendly fish that are easy to keep, provided that the water parameters and tank requirements should be met. However, if you’re planning to breed them in captivity, it is quite a challenging task. Rummy nose tetra care regarding their fry can be challenging after breeding.

Final Thoughts

The rummy nose tetra is a beautiful addition to your community aquarium. The most crucial part of raising a happy and healthy rummy nose tetra is to provide them with ample free swimming space and a well-balanced, nutritious diet. Besides, they are a very hardy fish with a lifespan of around six years, if taken good care of. 

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