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FAQs on the Silver Tip Tetras

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

Related FAQs:  Cardinal Tetras, Characid/Tetra Fishes,

Silver Tip Tetra Breeding      7/21/15
Hi Crew,
I just want to say first that you have an amazing website with a treasure trove of information. The best I have come across yet.
<Thanks for the kind words, Steve.>
Currently I have 10 of these beauties (3 males, 7 females) in a 40 gallon breeder tank, planted. But reading through your section on STT's I didn't find any information on breeding. I have read some things on other websites (a separate tank with subdued lighting, conditioning with live or frozen foods, slightly elevated temperatures (low to mid 80's), and slightly acidic ph) and I was wondering if my 10gal tank with a sponge filter would be good for a spawning tank.
<Yes. Keep the tank clean (I wouldn't even bother with a substrate) and instead add one or two spawning mops (whether artificial, clumps of Java moss, or simply pots with Myriophyllum or Cabomba planted in them).>
I know they eat eggs, but could I use one tank to spawn multiple pairs?
<Normally tetras are removed to the spawning tank one pair at a time. I'm sure you could put multiple pairs in a largish sort of tank, but then your challenge will be remove eggs before the other fish find them. Since you don't normally feed fish in spawning tanks, they can get hungry. Really depends on how serious you are about rearing lots of fry. If you're happy
with just a few to top up your school, then by all means experiment with "group spawning" in the breeding tank.>
Any information would be super helpful.
<Condition well beforehand! You want the female to be obviously swollen with eggs before you move the pair. Water chemistry shouldn't be too hard (though unlike a lot of South American tetras, this species doesn't absolutely have to have very soft water to spawn). Anything between 1-10 degrees dKH, pH 6.0-7.0 is fine. But water quality needs to be good without a turbulent flow of water (an air-powered sponge filter would be ideal) and yes, lighting should be subdued (ambient room lighting is fine, even better if the tank is further shaded with floating plants). Sometimes adding peat or blackwater extract helps gets things moving along. Check for eggs at least daily, and remove when seen (a floating breeding trap can be a useful refuge for these until such time as the spawning tank is vacated, if you're using the same tank for rearing the fry). As is usual with tetras, the fry are pretty small. In all likelihood, you'll be using infusoria the first few days, and Microworms or brine shrimp nauplii thereafter and it'd be at least a good couple of weeks before you can start to switch to Liquifry and
similar. That said, some of the new fish fry foods are very good, and if you wanted to experiment, in a mature rearing tank with lots of algae you might be pleasantly surprised. This is one of that select group of egg-scatterers that occasionally breeds successfully in quiet community tanks, by which I mean people have occasionally seen baby Silvertips hiding
among the plants in those sorts of tanks. So the fry can't be too fussy!>
<Do hunt down a copy of "Fish Breeding" by Chris Andrews. An oldish sort of book, but consequently availably for pennies on Amazon, and filled with useful ideas on spawning numerous species of fish. While Silvertips aren't in there, three other tetras are, and the key steps are all much of a muchness. Good luck. Cheers, Neale.>

Something not right with Congos and Silvertips  6/19/12
I'm afraid I'm still learning the hard way… Cannot believe I did this…and yet I did.  No quarantine tank and now there's a problem.
Went ahead and added two more Congos and a dozen Silvertips to the mix.  All adapted well, peaceful and active for almost a week now.  The Congo's seem more settled with just a few more in their group - not darting around nearly as much as they were.
Also got a few more clumps of Corkscrew Val - my LFS person suggested that the plants might fare better in a lower temp than 80, so I lowered by 1 degree/day to 78.  I thought this temp change would not affect the fish negatively.  Maybe it did.
<Unlikely; 77 F/25 C is optimal for both these species.>
Four days ago, I noticed what looks like a white pimple on the center of lower "lip" of one of the female Congos, which was one of the original group of Congos.  This is definitely not Ich and not Lernaea - I've had experience with both and this is different. 
<This is something you see quite often when fish are newly introduced. I think it's physical damage more than anything else. Bumping into the glass or hood of the tank perhaps. Treat for Finrot, but otherwise observe and don't panic.>
The rest of the fish is clear and perfect.  No problem eating and is as active as the rest of the group.  No flashing or any other symptom.  At first, I thought it was possibly from banging into something in the tank, but it is perfectly round, and instead of fading like a bruise or injury, the spot became more raised, more pronounced and well-defined, though not larger - more like a whitehead pimple coming to a head.  Two days ago, I noticed the "pimple" seemed to erupt and a few white, filmy trails followed, then disappeared (uh-oh), then the wound seemed to heal.  I thought we were out of the woods.
This morning, I noticed a new spot on the same fish, on one side of its upper lip (white dot on mouth in picture attached), similar to the original pimple, when it first appeared - this one seems less uniform. more ragged.  I also noticed the exact same (new stage) of the pimple on two of the Silvertips - on both, at the center of the lower "lip", so now I think it's definitely more than a bruise or injury, since the Silvertips are not bumping into anything in the tank.  The rest of the Congos are perfect, as are the Emperors. 
Note:  I've actually cut back from feeding twice daily to once daily.   However, I've also caught my 8-yr old feeding the fish outside of feeding times a few times, so there might be uneaten food lying around that I haven't been aware of.  I've done a little educating about overfeeding and I don't think it will be a problem anymore.
As far as the white pimples, I'm concerned about treating for a possible parasite, fungus, or bacteria.  Do you know what this is, or might be?  How would you treat it? 
<See above.>
If treating with meds, would raising the temp help or hurt in this case?
<I would not do anything to move the temperature beyond 25 C/77 F.>
I've attached a few pictures - my camera's not great, so they're not really clear.  I think you can get a good idea though.  The affected Silvertip is the one at the bottom of the picture.
I am concerned about treating a 45 gallon planted tank.  I have a 10 gallon tank that I can set up as a hospital tank, but there would still be the problem of the 45 gallon tank being infected, and all the remaining fish being susceptible to whatever this is.
One more thing - This morning when the timer lights go on (7AM) and the time I usually feed them, all 4 male Congos' fins and the tops of their heads looked bloody.  I've never seen this before and I was alarmed at first, when it looked like they might be injured or sick.  But it was just the males and all 4 had the exact same odd coloration - just the dorsal fins, the anal fins and the tops of their heads.  I checked the water quality and it was fine, except the pH was 8.  It's usually around 7.8.  That's the only change from the normal parameters.  I can't think this was normal or some kind of mating coloration, but it was uniform with all four and then disappeared within 15 minutes or so.  But it definitely seemed bloody and not like a normal coloration.  After they ate, their coloration went back to normal.  Coincidence?
<Congo Tetras can, do change their colours with mood, so if they are otherwise normal -- don't worry! This is a stunning species with colours difficult to describe, and very changeable and oh, so dependent on ambient lighting conditions and mood.>
Have been reading up on the Congos and much of the available info says they do best in softer lighting.  How do I provide enough light for a planted tank and also provide the Congos less intense lighting?
<Allow leaves to grow across the surface. Add floating plants if you can.>
Thanks again for all your help.
Peacefully fishkeeping,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Thank you!  Re: Something not right with Congos and Silvertips  6/19/12
Phew! I can stop feeling like a nervous new mother now. 
BTW - How's that beautiful niece of yours?  Are you a new uncle again as yet?
<She's just fine; thanks for asking. Nope, not been made an "uncle" again, yet.>
Thank you so, so much.
<Welcome, Neale.>

Question about Silvertip Tetras and Panda catfish, comp.    3/14/12
I looked through your forum and Googled my question and nothing came up about it, so I thought I'd try writing to you guys. We have a 10 gallon tank with 5 Silvertips, 1 Zebra Danio and two, small Panda catfish. As you probably are well aware of, the Silvertips can be very resourceful, mischievous little fish which can be a double-edge sword. What's happened is that whenever we now feed the catfish their small sinking food pellets, there is a male ST that will try to nip the other fish and steal their food, and now the more shy Panda won't eat. It also looks like there might be some little "nip marks" on that particular Panda's tail, so now it's become kind of a hassle/ordeal. Is there something I can do to prevent this from happening--this situation only comes when there's food around, the rest of the time everyone gets along fine, but my main concern is about that particular Panda (who incidentally has been hiding a lot more lately which is unusual for it). I was thinking maybe there's some kind of a net/barrier thing that I could put in the tank to keep everyone separated while I'm feeding them? I'm really not quite sure what to do about this… what initially started off as "cute" behavior has quickly become pesky, and very high maintenance!
Thanks in advance for any advice you may have for me!
<Hello Hallie. For a start, your aquarium is too small for these species, so that's one reason you're seeing problems. The second reason may well be that the Silvertips are not socialising properly; as you say, they're nippy fish at times, and like all schooling fish, they can behave aberrantly when they aren't kept in adequate numbers. There's no way to teach nippy fish not to be nippy, and yes, Corydoras often fall victim because they're too stupid to learn to avoid trouble. In an adequately large aquarium for this/these species, you could keep sensible numbers of both. Say, ten Silvertips and at least 5-6 Corydoras (any fewer just isn't fair on these sociable, schooling catfish). In a biggish tank, 25-30 gallons, you could add enough bogwood and plants to provide shelter for the Corydoras, and the Silvertips would have enough space to avoid (not notice!) the catfish and direct their energy towards one another. What you're tying to do is, fundamentally, keep the wrong numbers of fish in an environment that's too small for them, so no surprises at all, they're behaving aberrantly. Don't think of fish as "cute" or "mischievous" but for what they are, animals, not miniature people, and structure their environment around what it is that they're programmed by evolution to do. Silvertips are hierarchical schooling fish that have a need to assert their status in a pecking order. Keep too few of them, and that "need" has to go somewhere, and more often than not, the behaviour is expressed as bullying among their own kind or nipping at other fishes. Understand that, and you won't have these sorts of problems. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Question about Silvertip Tetras and Panda catfish   3/14/12

Thanks for responding to my question, and yes, I think you're right, we probably do a larger tank, but unfortunately, we don't really have the room for it where we're living now. A larger tank will probably be on the horizon for us, and then we'll add more, and as you said, these problems will be avoided.
Thanks again!
<Real good. Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Silvertip tetra color change  10/5/08
I have a 30g planted tank with 6 Corys 1 German blue ram and 6 silvertip tetras.
<Hmm... do understand Blue Rams (Mikrogeophagus ramirezi) do not live long at the 23-25 C that your Corydoras and Silvertip tetras (Hasemania nana) need for optimal long term health. Mikrogeophagus ramirezi need 28-30 C to survive any length of time, and failure on this count is one of the reasons for their abysmal survival record in community tanks. It's a shame so many shops sell them as "community fish" -- they're not.>
Everyone seems happy and there is no bullying except the occasional exchange between the tetras, but no is damage done. They just seem to be that way.
<Consider adding some more tetras; often tetras are hierarchical, and the bigger the group, the less bullying occurs.>
My question is about the coloration change three of the tetras have gone through. I've had them about a month and a half and three of them have turned a reddish color. They still have the same lines and fins, but the bodies have turned quite reddish. I'm thinking it might be a breeding thing, or just sex differentiation, but I haven't found this described online anywhere.
<There is some variation in colour, but complicating things is that there's also a "copper" Silvertip tetra Hasemania melanura. It has a distinctly coppery colour compared to the typically golden sheen of Hasemania nana. It's entirely possible you have a mixed batch containing both species. One problem with the reliance on common names by some retailers and hobbyists -- if in doubt go with Latin names.>
No emergency, I'm just kind of curious and wondering if I should prepare for babies or something.
<Unlikely in a community tank.>
Thank you,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Death of our white-tipped tetra - overfed?   3/14/07 Hi, <Hello there> Thanks for such an informative and interesting site. <Welcome> Me and my boyfriend are reasonably new to the fish keeping game and sadly we've just experienced our first fish death. I'm really writing for some advice so that hopefully we can avoid any too many more in the future. <Sounds good> We have a 112 litre tank (just under 30 US gallons according to the online converter). We've had the tank since January and we cycled it for 3 weeks before adding fish (we have a very good LFS who wouldn't let us buy fish until we provided them with a water sample from our cycled tank!!!). <Good for them, you, the planet> Water parameters were fine when we tested on Saturday (nitrite and ammonia 0, nitrate 12mg/L, ph  8). <Yikes... this last is quite high... particularly for small S. American Tetras...> Sorry - not sure how parts per gallon work but 12mg/L is reasonably low. <Parts per million and milligrams per liter are equivalents... the same... Think about this... there are a million milligrams or water...> The tank is filtered, heated (around 76 F) and planted (grasses, a couple of broad leaf plants and some floating plants). We have: 3 bamboo shrimp 5 white-tipped tetras (was six) 4 Corys 1 whip-tail catfish 2 thick-lipped gouramis (male/female pair) <Sounds very nice... but do watch those Gouramis> Yesterday I did a 20% water change (tap water with dechlorinator added - roughly same temperature as tank water). Everyone seemed fine. A few hours later we feed them frozen bloodworm. We tend to do this once a  week - usually at the weekend when we can watch them going nuts over them! Again, everyone seemed fine. We first noticed things weren't right a few hours later when the male Gourami charged at one of the tetras (I know gouramis can be territorial but this was a major shock as we have the most chilled out and friendly Gourami). <At times...> On closer inspection I think it was because the tetra was behaving oddly - floating at the top of the tank and spasming. The Gourami didn't do him any damage, I think he was just curious. The tetra couldn't swim against the flow of the water and when he did try to swim he was spasming quite violently. He was looking swollen but other than that not a mark on him. He found a quiet place behind the filter and stayed there for an hour or so. Then he seemed to perk up a bit and went for a little swim. He was gasping for air though. He then went and sat at the bottom of the tank and after a few hours he died.   We scooped him out and my boyfriend gave him a close inspection - not a mark on him. The tetra looked very swollen so perhaps we overfed him. He was absolutely fine in the morning and acting as normal so it was a very sudden deterioration. We didn't feed any more bloodworm than normal but he was our smallest tetra by quite a margin and so perhaps he ate more than his share?? Does this sound possible? <Is, yes> I've read that bloodworm can be hard to digest - is this a big problem? <Can be for small fishes, yes> The other tetras didn't look swollen at all and were swimming around fine. We've had the tetras since the end of January and the last addition to the tank, the Corys, we have had for 3 weeks now. Could it be an infection and would you advise any action? <Not likely an infection... I would not "treat" here... more likely to cause harm than help> I can't help thinking we've overfed him, which makes me really sad. He looked swollen and uncomfortable and it all happened so quickly that I'm sure it must  have been something that day - the food or the water change. <These could both contribute...> Much appreciate any guidance you can give. Sorry for the mix of volume units - I'm British but thought you'd appreciate US measures where I could do them. Thanks Naomi <No worries... A third possibility is that this one fish had a sort of genetic/developmental disorder... Fishes aren't "quite developed" even at good size... Bob Fenner>

Blind in a cave, characin comp.  - 04/14/2006 Hi, <Hello> This is a wonderful site. <Thanks.> I have been in the  aquarium hobby for a while, and I figured I should introduce my younger sister to the wonderful world of fish keeping! <Good for both of you!> She has her heart set on Blind Cave Tetras (I think they are the ugliest fish out there! lol) and Silver Tip Tetras. Could she keep 6 of each in a 10 gal. aquarium? <This would be pushing it. Both species can be a little aggressive. I'm sure you'll make your sister aware of the importance of water quality/conditions for her pets but, specific to your question, I'd prefer to see her go with no more than three, or four, of each in this size of tank.> I would give her plenty of  plants from my tanks. <The Silver Tips would probably appreciate this. The Blind Caves won't really care.> She also wants to add driftwood, etc. <Keep in mind that decorations, plants and substrate affect the effective volume of the tank. Once you've set up your "10-gallon" tank the way that's pleasing to the eye, the effective volume left for your fish can be reduced by, perhaps, one quarter. In other words, your ten-gallon tank may be reduced, practically speaking, to about eight gallons. Maybe less. Something to keep in mind. ;)> I will also  give her a heater and filter, as well as a light. (It's her birthday) Is this an okay setup? Is there anything special we should know about them? <You'll be fine. Wish your sister a "Happy Birthday" from all of us at WWM.> Thanks in advance, Anthony <Tom> Thanks, I'll tell her to keep 3 of each! Thanks Again, Anthony <Any time, Anthony, and good luck. Tom>

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