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Rummynose Tetra Care & Info

There are many tetra species out there, all equally spectacular. One of our personal favorites, though, is the rummy nose tetra. This species’ red face and silver body make for a pretty dramatic display, while its friendly nature makes it suitable for the most peaceful community aquariums.

Find out everything you need to know about keeping rummy nose tetras in your own aquarium!

Name (common, scientific)Rummynose tetra, Hemigrammus rhodostomus
Minimum tank size20 gallons (long)
Minimum group size8
Temperature75-80 °F
Difficulty levelEasy

Rummynose Tetra Description

The rummy nose tetra is a typical small, schooling tetra species that reaches a maximum size of up to 2”. It’s appreciated by aquarists for its colors, as it features a silverish body but bright red face.

Rummy noses are one of the many popular aquarium fish species naturally found in the Amazon basin. Here, they inhabit blackwater rivers, which are so named for their very dark waters. This coloration is natural and caused by tannins released by decaying organic matter, which has the added effect of making the water soft and acidic.

As also mentioned in our article on our 5 favorite tetra species, the rummy nose tetra isn’t the only red-nosed, silver-bodied schooling fish out there. Hemigrammus bleheri is also usually labeled rummy nose and actually very popular, even though it’s not the ‘true’ rummy nose. Petitella georgiae, the false rummy nose, is less common but still the occasional source of confusion.

If you suspect you might have bought the ‘wrong’ species, don’t despair. There isn’t that much actual difference between the three in care nor behavior.

Rummynose tetra, Hemigrammus rhodostomus

Rummynose Tetra Aquarium

As with all aquarium fish, the best way to really make sure your rummy nose tetras thrive is to imitate their natural habitat as much as you can. Although this species is a popular choice for any type of peaceful community set-up due to its friendly nature, it really does best in a (biotope) tank that resembles the black waters it’s naturally found in.

Rummy nose tetras will do just fine in a heavily planted clearwater set-up, but for a little extra you can opt to generously use leaf litter in the tank. This can consist of anything aquarium-safe if you’re not looking to imitate a specific biotope, although the easiest type of leaf litter to find in the aquarium hobby will be Indian almond leaves. Additionally, try using fine branches, driftwood, oak/beech leaves, alder cones, seed pods, palm fronds and more!

Plants are not common in blackwater habitats but you can still opt to use them in your tank to provide extra cover. Since the lighting will be dim, try floating plants or low-light species like Anubias.

Keep in mind that rummy nose tetras are schooling fish and more is always better (if your aquarium can accommodate it). A good minimum number for a group is 8, but you’ll love the sight of a group of 20 or more rummy noses. This is a popular species to keep with larger cichlids like discus fish and angelfish, since it’s just a little too big to be eaten. Additionally, rummy nose tetras can be kept with other small schooling fish or peaceful catfish from the Amazon region.

Caring for Rummynose Tetras

Rummy nose tetras are sometimes called the “mine canaries” of the fishkeeping hobby. Why? Well, they’re quite a sensitive species. As with many fish their colors will become washed out if water quality drops, which means a school of pale-faced rummy noses is a tell-tale sign that it’s time to keep a closer eye on your water values. The aquarium should always be fully cycled with zero ammonia or nitrites and you should be doing regular water changes to keep the nitrates down. pH should be below neutral.

Feed your rummy nose tetras a regular small staple food for tropical fish. Don’t forget to switch things up once in a while with frozen or even live foods, though!

Want to set up your own (rummy nose tetra) aquarium? A biotope-correct blackwater set-up, maybe? If the task at hand seems a bit too daunting or time-consuming, we can help you out. At FantaSEA Aquariums we get our hands wet so you don’t have to: just contact us here with your ideas and we’ll design, set up & maintain your tank for you.

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Marijke Puts

Hey! I'm Marijke, FantaSEA's resident blog writer. I'm a full-time pop science author, part-time PADI diver and snorkeler, and have been keeping fish since I was a kid. When I'm not writing fish care guides, you can usually find me underwater or trying to figure out how to fit more tanks into my house.

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