Please visit our Sponsors
FAQs on Hyphessobrycon Tetras: Flame, Von Rio...

Related Articles: Cardinal Tetras; A School of Beauty, Part II,  by Alesia Benedict, Characid Fishes

Related FAQs:  Cardinal Tetras, Characid/Tetra Fishes,

Flame tetra
Problem: flame tetra's bottom lip is quivering.  2/4/12

<Probably means he's breathing heavily. Fish gulp water in, and expel "used" water through their gill covers. So the more the mouth moves, as if panting, the faster the fish is breathing. Typically this means they're stressed -- could be social behaviour like bullying, but also water quality issues, excessively high temperature, or sudden changes in pH.>
Looks like he wants to go belly up, but fighting it off a little. Letting himself get blown around by the light flow of the water filter circulation.
Tank specs:
10 gallon, (should have bought a 20 or 50) had a Betta for 2 years in it added fish:
2 cory's
4 flame tetras (1 died over night, two going strong, one looks like he's struggling)
I do partial water changes ever 2-3 weeks, trying to do a month.
<Sounds all okay. Yes, a 20 gallon is the best side for starting a basic community tank (10 gallons being a bit too small for community tanks to be easily done). But Flame tetras aren't big fish, and you should be able to keep them in a 10 gallon tank without serious problems.>
I recently moved, the tank was empty for 2 days, then I added the Betta plus bought the flame tetras (4) then two weeks later added the Cory's.
Whats do you think is the problem, what fish should I get, why is my Betta always hiding now, will he be ok?
<On the Betta front, chances are he's been nipped a few times. Virtually all Hyphessobrycon species can be nippy, especially if not kept in sufficient numbers (i.e., at least 6, and really 10 or more is best). Some are worse offenders than others, but few will turn their noses up at a nice bit of Betta finnage! Bettas very rarely do well in community tanks.>
Thanks a lot!
<On the Flame Tetra front, a few issues to check. First, check water quality. You must have zero ammonia and nitrite. All tetras are acutely sensitive to poor water quality, as well as low oxygen levels and extremes of temperature (this species is adaptable, 22-28 C, but don't expose it to sudden changes in temperature). Next, what's the water chemistry? These are soft water fish and won't do well in hard water, though hard water shouldn't kill them overnight if already adapted to hard water by your retailer. If the retailer kept them in soft water though, and you've placed them in hard water, this could explain the fatalities. Likewise, sudden changes in pH can have the same effect. Finally, they're social fish.
Groups of 4 are a non-runner frankly, and while they don't die overnight from being lonely, if you keep too few, the dominant fish will bully the weaker ones, and this in turn can indeed cause deaths and visible stress.
If water quality is excellent (0 ammonia and nitrite) and water chemistry is correct (2-15 degrees dH, pH 6-7.5) I'd be tempted to get another 4 more specimens, and see what happens. With luck, the struggling one will have been socially stressed, and by adding more specimens, things will settle down. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Flame tetra  2/4/12

thanks for your reply. I'm taking a sample of my water to the pet store for sampling.
I also have a heater in the tank, and the water temp is fairly consistent.
Could you recommend a few fish for me that could live peacefully with my Betta?
<Honestly, there's not much! The best bets are Corydoras catfish, but these will need a reasonably big tank, at least 10 gallons, so they're not viable for "nano" tanks of the sort often used with Bettas. A good all-rounder would be the Bronze Catfish, a group of 5 specimens plus a Betta working adequately well in 10 gallons. Most everything else will either nip the Bettas (even peaceful fish like Neons!) or will be viewed as a threat (small Gouramis) or else will be eaten (if small enough). Corydoras catfish are peaceful and stay at the bottom, so mostly, Bettas ignore them. African Dwarf Frogs can work too, for the same reason. Shrimps sometimes work, but some Bettas will eat them.>
Thanks a lot!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Tetras, sel.... not pairs...  -- 07/18/07 Hi guys! I recently bought a Von Rio Tetra (Flame/Fire Tetra) and a neon tetra, oh and an Otocinclus fish. I want to learn more about the Otocinclus but there's nothing on the web about them, and was wondering if you could help me with all the knowledge you guys have. Oh and I bought one of each with the tetras and found that they needed to be in a pair. Are they fine with each other and the community fish or do I need to get another one of each? And also can they mate with each other like Platies? Thank you so much! Derek <Hello Derek. First of all, you can't keep "a" tetra in most cases. These are schooling fish. Both Hyphessobrycon flammeus (the flame tetra) and Paracheirodon innesi (the neon tetra) are schooling tetras that should be kept in groups of 6 or more *of each species* i.e., 6 flame tetras plus 6 neon tetras would be the *minimum* number you could keep and expect them to last long and be happy. I don't know who told you they want to be in pairs, but that's rubbish. Tetras do not normally hybridise and being difficult to breed this isn't really an issue. Platies hybridise because the fish in the trade sold as Platies are all hybrids already of a single pair of closely related species. Now, as for the catfish, you're probably drawing a blank on your web searches because you're spelling the name wrong. Try "Otocinclus" instead. Several species are traded and retailers make no attempt to identify them. But they're all very similar. Otocinclus spp. are schooling fish that should be kept in groups of at least 4 specimens. They are herbivores, and green algae *must* be a major part of their diet. If your tank doesn't have enough green algae (and it probably won't) you need to add substitutes such as algae pellets, algae flake, or strips of Sushi Nori held in a "lettuce clip" (you buy these in aquarium shops, they're like plastic bulldog clips but with a sucker and used to feed catfish, tangs, cichlids, and other herbivorous fishes). Supplement this with sliced vegetables such as cucumber and courgette, plus small amounts of small invertebrates such as frozen bloodworm. Otocinclus spp. are delicate, and many aquarists have no joy keeping them. They need very clean, highly oxygenated water. Nitrite and ammonia must be 0 and nitrate as low as possible. The water temperature should be moderate, no more than 25C/77F. Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale>

Diseased Flame Tetra  6/20/06 WWM Crew, <Hello - this is Jorie> First, I would like to thank you for such an amazing website. <Bob's the best - we all agree!> I have read many of your extensive FAQs and find them to be invaluable. <Me too!> Unfortunately, I found this flame tetra on his side on the bottom of my 50g tank two days ago.  I moved him to a QT tank and added aquarium salt and QuickCure (Formalin + Malachite Green). <QuickCure is a *very* harsh medication - what prompted you to use this? To the best of my knowledge, it is an anti-parasitic medication, and based on your attached picture and description, I don't see where you are concerned about parasites.  let's start at the beginning - what behavioral/physical symptoms have you noticed with your flame tetra and how long have these symptoms been going on?>   He is able to swim freely but he spends most of his time on the bottom of the tank.  He seems to prefer lying on the "front side" (see attached picture), but sometimes struggles, and succeeds, to sit upright.  For a sick fish, he's really active.  He's lost a lot of his color, has a kink in his spine near the end of his tail, and is missing some fin.  The "back side" seems to have a few red spots but this may just be residual color.  He is refusing food.  All other fish in the main tank seem to be healthy. <I'm glad you isolated this fish.  Could be a couple of things.  The crooked spine could be indicative of piscine tuberculosis - for which there is no known cure as far as I know.  Also, the fish could be suffering from a swim/air bladder problem, which could be bacterial in nature.> I'm wondering if this is tuberculosis. <Could be - see above.>   Should I try tetracycline or erythromycin? <First off, I'd suggest getting the QuickCure out of the water.  Do water changes and put in fresh carbon or other filter media.  Then, I would recommend using a broad spectrum antibiotic, such as tetracycline or erythromycin, or even Maracyn I or II.  At the very least, an antibiotic such as this will prevent secondary infections in the torn fins; best case scenario, it may in fact alleviate the primary problem of a swim bladder disease (if it is indeed that).   Something else?  Can antibiotics put in the water (as opposed to medicated food) help with internal infections? <You are very astute in pointing out that internal ingestion of the medication is the best way to deal with internal infections.  However, many fish refuse to eat medicated food like this.  There are a couple of brands out there - one is called "Pepso", and the other I am aware of can be found at www.floridaguppiesplus.com.  If you don't have the medicated food on hand, the powdered antibiotics in the water are your second best option.  Based on the fact that I can't give you a 100% certain diagnosis and we are simply trying a broad spectrum antibiotic, I'd say you're OK to just use medication in the water.> I haven't been QTing fish when I get them, but I will in the future.   <Yes - most of us have learned this lesson the hard way.> Aren't there a lot of diseases that are often unnoticeable for a long time, though (such as TB)?  Is 2-4 weeks really a long enough QT period? <I tend to keep my fish in QT for around a month and have found this to be sufficient.  This is typically long enough to allow a close observation of the fish to see if any parasites, diseases, etc. are present.> Main Tank Parameters: pH: 7.0 Ammonia: 0ppm Nitrate: 0ppm Nitrate: 10ppm <All good> Main Tank Inhabitants: 1 other flame tetra 1 neon tetra 2 lemon tetras 2 blue tetras a few snails that materialized out of nowhere (no additions of plants for 3-4 months before appearance).  They are flat on one side, any ideas on what they are? <Do you mean a flat spiral? If so, possibly Ramshorn snails?> The tank has been running for 6-7 months. <Good - seems as though your tank is cycled and everything has been going well.  Again, I'm very glad you took the affected fish out of the main system.  Do keep up with your water changes on the main tank, just in case something was introduced prior to your moving the fish in question.  With regard to the QT, as mentioned above, I'd recommend removing the QuickCure and medicating with a broad spectrum antibiotic.  If you still can't get the fish to eat, you could soak food in Kent's Garlic Extreme (or even McCormick's pure garlic oil), which can stimulate interest in feeding.  Aside from that, I'm curious to know when you first saw the affected fish acting different, and what, more specifically, you noticed.  This might help in a proper diagnosis - right now, it seems as though there's a lot of different issues happening at the same time.> Thank you so much! Jonathan <I hope I've helped.  Jorie>

Diseased Flame Tetra PART 2  6/21/06 Jorie, Thank you so much for your reply! <You're welcome.> Bad news.  This evening I noticed that both of my blue tetras in the main tank were ill.  One of them is darting around in circle like patterns.  It seems like he can't stop moving.  The other one is behaving more like the sick flame tetra... he has trouble controlling his swimming and spends a lot of time on his side or in other awkward positions, although he is quite able to move around.  Both may have one or two very small red spots on their bodies but otherwise look fine.   I've quarantined them together separately from the flame tetra.  Neither show any interest in food.  I was concerned that perhaps the flame had been sick for a while and I had simply failed to notice it.  The blues were acting normally, however, when I wrote to you yesterday morning, so it seems that onset of acute symptoms occurs suddenly with whatever is affecting my fish. <In reviewing the info. from your previous post, I believe these fish, which were likely wild caught, were infected with something when you purchased them.  Also, in looking again at the picture you provided previously, it seems as though there is some spinal deformity present, which supports our previous diagnosis of fish TB.  Unfortunately, the damage is likely done even before symptoms present themselves.  Basically, your best bet is to take the "wait and see" approach, and in the meantime, keep your tank as clean as possible.  Here's a helpful article I found on fish TB:  http://www.aquarticles.com/articles/management/Keefer_FishTB.html.  I know you have learned your lesson, but for others out there as well, I do want to re-emphasize the importance of quarantining newly acquired fish...> As per your advice, I discontinued the QuickCure and started tetracycline.  So, currently, the flame tetra and the two blues are being treated with aquarium salt (at 1tbsp/2.5gal) and tetracycline (at Mardel's prescribed rate). <This is probably all you can do.> All the other fish in the main tank (now down to 2 lemon tetras, 1 flame tetra, and 1 neon tetra) seem to be doing fine.  I'm wondering if I should quarantine them, too?  Perhaps I should treat them with the tetracycline as a prophylactic?  Break down the main tank? <I'm not a fan of medicating w/o good cause, especially when talking about antibiotics.  Just like people, fish can develop resistance to antibiotics, so it is best to save the medication for when you are fairly certain it's needed.  If indeed these fish have TB, in all honesty, there isn't much you can do.  If you want to be super-precautious, you could break down the main tank, bleach it out and start from scratch, but that usually is a last resort, for many obvious reasons!  You may also want to look into a UV sterilizer - there's conflicting information about the usefulness of this device, but I can say from personal experience when I was combating a mysterious Rainbowfish disease, it seemed to help (in conjunction with other more traditional remedies/preventions such as good husbandry, etc.)> Ramshorn looks like a reasonable ID for the snails I asked about -- I'll have to wait for them to get a little bigger to be sure. Thanks, Jonathan <Sorry I don't have better news for you.  Do as you are doing and keep a watchful eye on everyone.  If you have a good relationship with the fish store you purchased these fish from, I'd suggest calling and asking if they've had problems with the batch of fish...can't guarantee you'll get an honest answer, but you might, especially if you know the folks...Jorie> Diseased Flame Tetra - Necropsy  6/21/06 Jorie, More bad news.  This morning I found that the blue tetra that was having trouble staying upright has died.  The other one that is swimming rapidly in  strange patterns is still doing so. <Oh, I'm sorry.  And, it doesn't sound good for the other one.> I'm interested in performing an autopsy of sorts on the fish that died to see if there are growths on the internal organs which might confirm TB. Do you have any links to information on technique for doing this? Fortunately, I don't get the opportunity to do this very often, and I've found that it is hard to avoid damaging the insides beyond analysis.  I assume that there is a proper way to do this. <Some helpful sites: http://aquanic.org/real/necropsy/intro_fish.html http://www.koivet.com/handouts/akcanecropsy.doc http://ag.ansc.purdue.edu/courses/aq448/diseases/necropsy.htm Can't say as though I've done this myself, so I really can't offer you any more specific advice! If you have a good veterinarian, you may want to ask if he or she will assist you, or in the alternative, provide you with another contact person who may be able to help.  Best of luck, and sorry for your loss.> Thanks again, Jonathan <Jorie>

Single Flame Tetra  2/8/06
I'm having trouble deciding what kind of fish to buy to  stock my tank. Here are the specs to my aquarium: 10 gallon tank Light hood Whisper 20 Power Filter Tahitian Moon Sand (black) Mini Easter Island figure <A long or short ear?> 3 medium fake plants 8 small fake plants Bubble wall Thermometer Right now I have 2 Corydoras paleatus (had another 2 but they died) and 3 panda Corys. I bought 5 flame tetras a couple months ago and all but 1 died. I was planning on buying more flame tetras but the pet stores never had them in stock since then. What other kinds of fish would be compatible with my single flame tetra and my Corydoras? <Some other S. American Characoids/tetras, small barbs, Danios, Rasboras... many other choices> I'm afraid that another type of community fish would pick on my flame tetra since there would only be one of him. I really like flame tetras because of their color but since they pet stores hardly ever have them in stock, I'm thinking about trying other types of fish. Wayne <Look to other Hyphessobrycon species... perhaps some Bleeding Hearts... will likely school/associate with the Flame. Bob Fenner>

Sick Von Rio tetras?  9/13/05 Howdy WWM Crew,     I stumbled (serendipitously) onto your site when I was looking for aquarium plant advice.     My 16 gallon bow front tank houses 8 Von Rio Tetras, a few live plants, and a small number of snails that slipped in with the plants.  Together with weekly 20% water changes, filtration is performed by a Whisper 30 filter (I'm also thinking of adding some peat filtration.) The temperature is 80 F.     The tetras eat well, aren't breathing hard, appear to swim normally, and have become much redder & more iridescent since I got them 2 months ago.  However, the edge of the dorsal fin on all of my fishes is milky looking (not fuzzy or spotty and the fin is not jagged. The fishes came this way.)  The milkiness doesn't appear to be spreading over the rest of their bodies, but I am very worried.  Does this sound like a bacterial/fungal disease? <Mmm, no>   Also, pictures of these fish on the web show 2 dark stripes on the body- mine don't :| . Thank you from a new fishkeeper, Anne <A geographical variation in this species... I would not be concerned re the lack of barring, the white on their dorsals. Bob Fenner>

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: