Bleeding Heart Tetra Care: Complete Guide for Beginners

Learn about Bleeding Heart Tetra (Hyphessobrycon Erythrostigma) and how to care for them in your aquarium. In this guide, we will cover all the necessary aspects of keeping these unique freshwater fish. Preparation is essential for ensuring a happy and healthy environment for your new Bleeding Heart Tetra, so let’s dive in and learn together.

bleeding heart tetra

Bleeding Heart Tetra Species Profile and Identification

Bleeding Heart Tetras are colorful characin fish that are native to South America, specifically the Amazon Basin. They belong to the Hyphessobrycon genus and are scientifically named Hyphessobrycon erythrostigma.

Here are some key distinguishing features of these beautiful tetras:

  • Size: Adult Bleeding Heart Tetras typically range from 2.5 to 3 inches (6 to 8 cm) in length.
  • Lifespan: With a good care routine, these fish can live 3 to 5 years, or even longer.
  • Color: Their bodies showcase shades of silver, but they get their name from their unique red blotch in the middle of their bodies that resemble a bleeding heart.
  • Fins: These fish possess a small adipose fin, as well as dark black markings on their anal fins.
  • Sexual dimorphism: Although difficult to notice, females tend to have rounder bodies and their red coloration is often duller compared to males.

In order to properly care for this species, it’s essential to be able to identify them and understand their unique traits. Additionally, knowing their native habitat can guide you in creating a suitable environment in your own aquarium. Here’s a brief overview of their natural habitat:

  • Region: They can be found in the Amazon Basin in South America, predominantly in slow-moving rivers, streams, and tributaries.
  • Water conditions: These fish prefer softer, mildly acidic water (pH of 6.0 to 7.0). They thrive in temperatures between 72 and 82°F (22 and 28°C).

Overall, the Bleeding Heart Tetra’s distinctive appearance and intriguing native habitat make them an attractive choice for aquarists looking to add some South American charm to their tanks.

bleeding heart tetra infographic

Bleeding Heart Tetra Supplies

When setting up your Bleeding Heart Tetra aquarium, you’ll need to gather several supplies to ensure a healthy and thriving environment. Let’s look at the essential items you’ll need:

  • Tank: A minimum tank size of 20 gallons (76 liters) is recommended, though a larger tank is always better. Keep in mind that these fish need to be in a school, so more space is needed for them to thrive.
  • Filter: A high-quality filtration system is crucial to maintain water quality and remove waste and toxins. It’s a good idea to choose a filter with adjustable flow, as Bleeding Heart Tetras prefer calm waters.
  • Heater: This species requires warmer water temperatures, around 72-82°F (22-28°C). A reliable, adjustable heater is necessary to keep water at the right temperature.
  • Substrate: Soft, dark substrate is preferred by Bleeding Heart Tetras, helping them feel more secure and encouraging their natural coloration. You can choose between sand or fine gravel.
  • Plants:Floating and rooted plants are essential for your fish to have hiding spots, which can help them feel more secure. Examples of suitable plants are Java Fern, Anubias, and Amazon Sword.
  • Decorations: These tetras enjoy a well-decorated tank with hiding spots and caves. You can use driftwood, rocks, and artificial decorations to create a visually appealing environment that meets their needs.
  • Lighting: Moderate lighting will help create a comfortable environment for your fish, promoting their natural behavior and coloration. A timer can be useful to establish a consistent day and night cycle.
  • Water testing kit: Maintaining proper water parameters is essential for the health of your fish. Invest in a reliable water testing kit to monitor pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels.

By gathering these essential supplies, you will create an ideal environment for your Bleeding Heart Tetras to thrive in. Remember, a well-thought-out setup can lead to happier, healthier fish and a more enjoyable fish-keeping experience for you.

Bleeding Heart Tetra Tank Setup

When setting up a tank for your Bleeding Heart Tetra, it’s essential to choose the right tank size and provide a suitable environment. A minimum tank size of 20 gallons is recommended for a small group, as these fish are social and thrive when kept with other members of their species.

In order to create a comfortable environment, aim for:

  • moderately planted tank with ample swimming space
  • A mixture of broad-leaved and finer-leaved plants to provide hiding spots and mimic their natural habitat
  • soft substrate, such as sand, to protect their delicate barbels
  • Providing floating plants to diffuse light and offer shelter
  • Adding hiding spots like driftwood, rocks, and caves for a more natural feel

It is also crucial to establish the ideal tank conditions before introducing your Bleeding Heart Tetras. This process, known as cycling, involves cultivating a colony of beneficial bacteria to break down waste and maintain water quality. Cycling can take around 4-6 weeks.

While setting up the tank, consider the following equipment:

  1. Heater: To maintain a stable temperature between 72-82°F (22-28°C)
  2. Filter: To keep water clean and oxygenated, opt for a good-quality filter with low-to-moderate flow
  3. Thermometer: To monitor the water temperature and ensure it remains consistent
  4. Lighting: Moderate lighting is preferred, as they come from dimly-lit environments
  5. Testing Kits: For monitoring water parameters to maintain optimal conditions

A well-planned and set up tank is crucial for your Bleeding Heart Tetras’ health and happiness. Invest time in creating the right environment for them to thrive and enjoy watching your Bleeding Heart Tetras flourish.

Bleeding Heart Tetra Water Requirements

For your Bleeding Heart Tetras to thrive, it’s crucial to provide them with the appropriate water conditions. Having a well-maintained water environment will keep your fish healthy and stress-free.

bleeding heart tetra

First and foremost, maintain a water temperature between 72-82°F (22-28°C). Bleeding Heart Tetras are tropical fish, and a stable temperature within this range is essential for their well-being.

Keep in mind the following water parameters:

  • pH level: 6.0-7.5 (slightly acidic to neutral)
  • Hardness: 4-15 dGH (soft to moderately hard)
  • Ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels: As close to 0 ppm as possible, never more than 20 ppm for nitrate

To achieve these parameters:

  1. Use a heater to maintain the optimal water temperature and an aquarium thermometer to monitor it.
  2. Regularly test the water quality with an aquarium test kit.
  3. Perform 25-30% water changes weekly to maintain water quality.
  4. Mimic their natural blackwater habitat by using tannin-rich supplements like Indian almond leaves, which also help lower pH and hardness.
  5. If required, use water conditioners and buffering agents to adjust the water parameters.

Lastly, it’s important to have a gentle water flow in your Bleeding Heart Tetra tank, as these fish are not strong swimmers. A filter with adjustable flow or air stone with a gentle output can help create the ideal current for your fish. Remember, maintaining stable water conditions in your aquarium will keep your Bleeding Heart Tetras healthy and happy.

Bleeding Heart Tetra Diet and Feeding

Bleeding Heart Tetras are omnivorous, which means they have a varied diet consisting of both plant and animal matter. To ensure a healthy, balanced diet, follow these guidelines:

  • Feed a high-quality flake or pellet diet: Choose a well-regarded brand of flake or pellet fish food as the base of their diet. This should make up the largest portion of their meals.
  • Provide live or frozen food: In addition to the flake or pellet base, supplement their diet with live or frozen food such as daphnia, brine shrimp, or bloodworms. This will provide necessary protein and help maintain their overall health.
  • Incorporate plant matter: Bleeding Heart Tetras also require plant-based food in their diet, such as spirulina or blanched vegetables like spinach and cucumber. Algae wafers can also be an option for this purpose.
  • Don’t overfeed: Overfeeding can lead to poor water quality and health issues for your fish. Feed them 2-3 times a day, providing only what they can consume in 2-3 minutes.

A proper feeding schedule will look like this:

Time Food Type
Morning Flake or pellet food
Afternoon Live or frozen food (such as brine shrimp)
Evening Flake or pellet food, plus plant matter

Following these guidelines for Bleeding Heart Tetra diet and feeding will ensure your fish have a well-rounded, nutritious diet and will promote optimal growth and a healthy immune system.

Bleeding Heart Tetra Care Schedule

A proper care schedule is essential for keeping your Bleeding Heart Tetra happy and healthy. With a well-maintained care routine, you’ll ensure that your fish thrive in their environment and live a long, fulfilling life.

  • Daily Tasks: Every day, you should feed your Bleeding Heart Tetras at least twice, providing them with a nutritious and varied diet. It’s also important to check the water temperature and quality to ensure that it remains within the recommended ranges.
  • Weekly Tasks: On a weekly basis, you should clean the aquarium glass to remove any algae buildup. Additionally, assess water parameters such as pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels to maintain a healthy and stable environment for your fish.
  • Monthly Tasks: At least once a month, you should replace approximately 25% of the tank water with clean, treated water that matches the temperature and water parameters of the existing tank water. This will help to keep the tank fresh and prevent the buildup of harmful contaminants.
  • Ongoing Maintenance: Throughout your fish-keeping journey, you may need to replace aquarium equipment such as filters, heaters, and lighting as they wear out or become less efficient. Be sure to monitor the health of your fish closely, checking for signs of illness or stress, and be prepared to quarantine or treat any fish exhibiting such symptoms.

Regular maintenance is crucial for providing your Bleeding Heart Tetras with the environment they need to stay healthy and happy. By sticking to a consistent care schedule, you can ensure that your aquarium remains a safe and enjoyable home for these fascinating fish.

Bleeding Heart Tetra Health Problems

Just like any other fish, Bleeding Heart Tetras can be prone to health problems if their living conditions are not optimal. However, with proper care, most of these issues can be avoided or minimized. Some common health problems you need to look out for include:

  • Ich: Also known as white spot disease, Ich is a parasite that causes small, white dots on a fish’s body and fins. To prevent Ich, maintain proper water quality and temperature, and quarantine any new fish before adding them to the tank. If Ich is suspected, treat with a specific Ich medication according to the package instructions.
  • Fin rot: This is a bacterial infection that causes a fish’s fins to become ragged and discolored. Prevent fin rot by maintaining good water quality and performing regular tank maintenance. If fin rot is present, treat with a medication designed for bacterial infections.
  • Fungal infections: Fungi can cause various health problems in fish, including cotton-like growths on their bodies or mouths. Prevent fungal infections by keeping the tank clean and maintaining proper water temperature and quality. Treat fungal infections with a fungal medication according to package instructions.
  • Internal parasites: Bleeding Heart Tetras can be susceptible to internal parasites, which may cause weight loss, bloating, or other symptoms. Prevent internal parasites by feeding a high-quality diet and quarantining new fish. If internal parasites are suspected, consult a veterinarian for a specific diagnosis and treatment plan.

Regular care and monitoring are essential to keep your Bleeding Heart Tetras healthy and happy. Be proactive in identifying and treating any health problems to ensure the wellbeing of your fish.

Bleeding Heart Tetra Tank Mates

When it comes to selecting tank mates for your Bleeding Heart Tetras, it’s essential to choose peaceful and non-aggressive species that can thrive in a community tank. Moreover, go for the ones that require similar water parameters, ensuring a healthy and stress-free environment for all.

Below are some ideal tank mates for your Bleeding Heart Tetras:

  • Other Tetras: Neon Tetras, Cardinal Tetras, Rummy Nose Tetras, and Ember Tetras can be great companions for Bleeding Heart Tetras. These species have similar requirements and contribute to a lively yet peaceful aquarium atmosphere.
  • Corydoras Catfish: These bottom-dwelling fish help keep the tank clean as they feed on leftover food and debris. They are peaceful, making them an excellent match for your Bleeding Heart Tetras.
  • Small Rasboras: Harlequin Rasboras, Lambchop Rasboras, and Chili Rasboras can coexist smoothly with Bleeding Heart Tetras, as they are peaceful fish occupying different parts of the tank.
  • Dwarf Gouramis: These colorful and peaceful fish can add more character to your tank without disturbing the harmony, making them another great tank mate choice.
  • Livebearers: Platy, Molly, and Swordtail are livebearer fish species that can thrive in community tanks alongside your Bleeding Heart Tetra. Their calm nature and compatibility regarding water parameters make them suitable tank mates.

Remember to maintain a balance in the number of fish in your tank to avoid overcrowding, which can lead to stress and health issues. Also, monitor the behavior of your fish regularly to ensure compatibility and healthy coexistence.

Bleeding Heart Tetra Breeding

Breeding Bleeding Heart Tetras can be a challenging yet rewarding experience for aquarium hobbyists. To increase your chances of success, it is essential to follow a specific set of guidelines and provide the proper conditions for these unique fish.

  • Set up a separate breeding tank: Start by setting up a 10 to 20-gallon breeding tank with soft, acidic water (pH 6.0-6.5) and a temperature between 76-80°F (24-27°C). A sponge filter, some floating plants, and a spawning mop or mesh for the eggs will also assist in providing an appropriate environment.
  • Condition the fish: Boost the health and breeding potential of your fish by feeding a high-quality diet, including live and frozen food such as brine shrimp and daphnia. Infrequent water changes can also help stimulate breeding behavior, as it simulates their natural rainy season.
  • Choose healthy, mature fish: Introduce a group of 6-8 mature Bleeding Heart Tetras (1 or 2 males, the rest females) into the breeding tank. Males are generally slimmer with a more intense red spot on their side, while females display a rounder and fuller body shape.
  • Monitor the breeding process: The fish may take a few days to acclimate to the breeding tank before they start mating. Once they begin, the male will chase the female, and the female will deposit eggs on the moss or substrate, which the male will subsequently fertilize.
  • Care for the eggs and fry: After the breeding process is complete, remove the adult fish from the tank. Keep a close eye on the eggs, as they should hatch in two to three days. Once they become free-swimming fry, provide them with a suitable diet such as infusoria or freshly hatched brine shrimp.

By adhering to these guidelines and providing optimal conditions, you can successfully breed Bleeding Heart Tetras and experience the rewarding process of nurturing vibrant new life in your aquarium.


Proper care and attention to the specific needs of Bleeding Heart Tetras will ensure a thriving, happy, and healthy aquarium environment for these beautiful fish. As a beginner, following this guide will give you a strong foundation in creating the perfect living space for your Bleeding Heart Tetras.

Please feel free to leave a comment below sharing your experiences or any questions you may have about these fascinating fish, and enjoy embarking on this exciting aquarium journey!

Fish Care Guides   Tetra Fish   Updated: June 8, 2023
avatar Hello, my name is Fabian, and I am the Chief Editor at Aquarium Nexus. I have over 20 years of experience in keeping and breeding fish. The aquarium hobby brings me immense joy, and I take great pleasure in sharing my experiences with others.

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