Aquaria/Bleeding heart tetra

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The bleeding heart tetra, Hyphessobrycon erythrostigma, is a peaceful midlevel-dwelling community fish in the aquarium. It grows to 64 mm long and lives about five years. It requires warm water (78°F or 26°C). This fish, like most tetras, needs soft, acid water, pH 6.5-6.8, with plenty of plants. This fish is somewhat susceptible to velvet disease and Ichthyophthirius multifiliis. It is sensitive to water conditions and requires frequent partial water changes.

Bleeding hearts are generally peaceful fish, but fin nipping may become a problem, as males can be territorial. They are best kept in a small school (six or more) and not with fish with larger fins such as angelfish and bettas. They do well in a variety of community tanks, and like most tetras, do best in groups and with bushy plants. They are a suitable tankmate for corydoras and other bottom-dwelling species. With a few exceptions they are peaceful when surrounded by their own kind, like tiger barbs. They are also mischievous, nipping at others' tails and entering their territory looking for food.

The female is more full-bodied and the male has a larger dorsal fin. The male is distinguished by longer extended dorsal and anal fins. The dorsal fin is elongated into a sickle shape that arches to the length of the tail base. The female has a shorter, rounded fin. Breeding is hard but not impossible. They have been bred in captivity and are egg layers.

This tetra has a splendid body shape and, after a month or two in captivity, the colors get very beautiful, especially when fed (two or three days a week) with frozen brine shrimp. The dorsal fin of the males can become long and flowing. Both sexes have the eye-catching, blood-red spot at the heart area. Both also have the black and white patch on the dorsal fin.

The bleeding heart tetra is readily available. It can be obtained from most fish and pet stores, as well as on line