Bleeding Heart Tetra: A Comprehensive Guide

Bleeding Heart Tetra Hyphessobrycon erythrostigma

Table of Contents

Bleeding Heart Tetra: A Comprehensive Guide

The Bleeding Heart Tetra (Hyphessobrycon erythrostigma) is a captivating freshwater fish renowned for its striking appearance. Its most distinguishing feature, from which it derives its name, is the vivid “bleeding heart” shape adorning its silvery body. This striking heart-shaped mark, adorned with a vibrant crimson hue, is positioned just behind the gills, making it the focal point of its appearance. The body of the Bleeding Heart Tetra is sleek and streamlined, with translucent fins that shimmer elegantly in the water. The dorsal fin boasts a distinctive black spot, further enhancing its unique charm. In addition to their radiant heart-shaped patch, these tetras showcase a delicate iridescent sheen that glimmers in various shades of silver and blue when they move, creating a mesmerizing visual display in any well-maintained aquarium. With their graceful and eye-catching presence, Bleeding Heart Tetras are a popular choice among aquarists seeking to add a touch of natural beauty to their aquatic ecosystems.

AppearanceDistinctive “bleeding heart” shape, red patch behind gills.
Lifespan3 to 5 years in well-maintained aquariums.
Size2.5 to 3 inches (6.4 to 7.6 cm) when fully grown.
Male vs. FemaleMales are smaller and more colorful.
Tank SizeMinimum of 20 gallons for a school of Bleeding Heart Tetras.
Water ParametersTemperature: 72°F to 78°F (22°C to 26°C), pH: 6.0 to 7.0.
Behavior & TemperamentPeaceful, prefer to be kept in a group of six or more, schooling behavior.
Tank MatesCompatible with other peaceful community fish like Neon Tetras, Corydoras Catfish, Guppies, and Dwarf Gouramis.
BreedingMaintain a ratio of 2 females to 1 male, increase water temperature to around 80°F (27°C).
Common DiseasesIch (White Spot Disease), Fin Rot, Fungus.
Food & DietHigh-quality flake food, freeze-dried/live foods (brine shrimp, daphnia, bloodworms).

Bleeding Heart Tetra Appearance

Bleeding Heart Tetra Hyphessobrycon erythrostigma
Source: Animal World

Bleeding Heart Tetras are renowned for their striking appearance. Their unique features set them apart from other tetra species.


  • Bleeding Heart Tetra Size: These tetras typically reach a size of 2.5 to 3 inches (6.4 to 7.6 cm) when fully grown.


  • They get their name from the distinct “bleeding heart” shape on their silvery body, with a vibrant red patch just behind their gills.

Male vs. Female

  • Distinguishing between males and females can be challenging, but males are often smaller and more colorful than females.

Bleeding Heart Tetra Lifespan

Bleeding Heart Tetras can live for several years when provided with the proper care. On average, they have a lifespan of 3 to 5 years in well-maintained aquariums.

Bleeding Heart Tetra Care

Proper care is essential to ensure the health and well-being of your Bleeding Heart Tetras. Here’s what you need to consider:

Tank Size

  • Bleeding Heart Tetra Tank Size: A minimum tank size of 20 gallons is recommended to provide ample space for a small school of these tetras.

Water Parameters

  • Bleeding Heart Tetra Water Parameters: Maintain a water temperature between 72°F to 78°F (22°C to 26°C), with a pH level of 6.0 to 7.0.

What To Put In Their Tank

  • When decorating their tank, consider adding plants and driftwood to mimic their natural habitat. The presence of hiding spots will help reduce stress.

Bleeding Heart Tetra Behavior & Temperament

Bleeding Heart Tetras (Hyphessobrycon erythrostigma) are generally known for their peaceful and sociable nature, making them suitable for community aquariums. However, like any fish species, individual personalities and environmental factors can influence their behavior, occasionally leading to aggression. In this section, we’ll explore the potential causes of aggression in Bleeding Heart Tetras and how to manage it.

Causes of Aggression

  1. Territorial Disputes: Bleeding Heart Tetras may become territorial, especially during breeding. Males may become more assertive and competitive for the attention of females, resulting in brief displays of aggression.
  2. Overcrowding: A crowded tank can lead to competition for space and resources, which may trigger aggression as fish jostle for their share of the territory.
  3. Inadequate Hiding Spots: Without sufficient hiding places or vegetation in the aquarium, Bleeding Heart Tetras may become stressed and exhibit aggressive behavior as they struggle to find refuge.
  4. Mating Season: During the breeding season, males may become more territorial and aggressive towards each other as they vie for the attention of females.
  5. Mismatched Tank Mates: If housed with aggressive or fin-nipping species, Bleeding Heart Tetras can become victims of aggression themselves, leading them to retaliate in self-defense.

Managing Aggressive Behavior

To ensure a harmonious aquarium environment and minimize aggressive behavior among Bleeding Heart Tetras, consider the following strategies:

  1. Tank Size and Layout: Provide a spacious tank with hiding spots and vegetation. These features allow fish to establish territories and seek refuge when needed.
  2. Group Size: Maintain a group of at least six Bleeding Heart Tetras. Larger groups tend to distribute aggression more evenly, reducing the stress on individual fish.
  3. Compatible Tank Mates: Choose tank mates that are known for their peaceful nature and are similar in size to Bleeding Heart Tetras. Compatible tank mates include Neon Tetras, Corydoras Catfish, and peaceful Gourami species.
  4. Balanced Gender Ratio: When breeding, ensure a proper ratio of females to males to reduce male-male aggression.
  5. Feed Well: A well-fed fish is often a less aggressive fish. Provide a balanced diet to satisfy their nutritional needs.
  6. Monitor and Remove Aggressive Individuals: If a particular Bleeding Heart Tetra displays consistent aggression and disrupts the harmony of the tank, consider isolating or rehoming it to prevent harm to other tank inhabitants.
  7. Observe Breeding Behavior: During the breeding season, closely observe your Tetras for signs of aggression. If aggression becomes excessive, consider separating the breeding pair to reduce stress on the rest of the school.

Bleeding Heart Tetra Tank Mates

Choosing compatible tank mates is essential for the well-being of your Bleeding Heart Tetras. Suitable tank mates include other peaceful community fish such as:

Bleeding Heart Tetra Breeding Guide

Breeding Bleeding Heart Tetras can be a rewarding experience for aquarium enthusiasts. These tetras are known to be prolific breeders when provided with the right conditions and environment. Here’s a more detailed guide on how to successfully breed them:

1. Tank Setup for Breeding

To begin the breeding process, it’s essential to prepare a separate breeding tank. This tank should have the following conditions:

  • Tank Size: A smaller tank, around 10 to 20 gallons, is suitable for breeding pairs.
  • Water Parameters: Maintain the same water temperature and pH levels as in their regular tank (72°F to 78°F, pH 6.0 to 7.0).
  • Substrate: Use fine-leaved plants or a mesh breeding mat as a substrate for the eggs to adhere to.
  • Lighting: Keep the lighting dim to reduce stress on the breeding pair.

2. Selecting Breeding Pairs

To encourage breeding, you’ll need to identify a suitable breeding pair among your Bleeding Heart Tetras. It’s recommended to maintain a ratio of two females to one male in the breeding tank. You can distinguish males from females by observing their size and coloration. Males are generally smaller and more vibrant in color.

3. Stimulating Breeding Behavior

Once you’ve selected the breeding pair and placed them in the breeding tank, provide them with optimal conditions to stimulate breeding behavior:

  • Temperature Increase: Gradually increase the water temperature in the breeding tank to around 80°F (27°C). This temperature change mimics the conditions of their natural breeding season.
  • Quality Diet: Ensure the breeding pair is well-fed with a varied diet, including live or frozen foods like brine shrimp and bloodworms.

4. Breeding Behavior

Bleeding Heart Tetras are egg-scattering breeders, meaning they scatter their adhesive eggs among fine-leaved plants or the mesh breeding mat. You’ll notice the following breeding behaviors:

  • The male will court the female, displaying vibrant colors and fin extensions.
  • The female will lay adhesive eggs on the chosen substrate.
  • Once the eggs are laid, the breeding pair should be removed from the breeding tank to prevent them from consuming the eggs.

5. Caring for the Eggs and Fry

After the eggs are laid, it’s essential to provide proper care for the developing fry:

  • Egg Incubation: The eggs will hatch within 24 to 48 hours, depending on the water temperature.
  • Feeding Fry: Initially, the fry will feed on their yolk sacs. Once they are free-swimming, offer them infusoria or finely crushed flake food.
  • Water Quality: Maintain excellent water quality in the breeding tank to ensure the fry’s health and growth.

6. Gradual Transition

As the fry grow, you can gradually transition them to a larger tank with standard water parameters. Continue providing them with a balanced diet suitable for their size and age.

By following these steps and providing the right conditions, you can successfully breed Bleeding Heart Tetras in your aquarium. Breeding these beautiful fish can be a rewarding experience and contribute to the overall health of your aquarium community.

Common Possible Diseases

Like all fish, Bleeding Heart Tetras are susceptible to diseases. Keep an eye out for the following common ailments:

  • Ich (White Spot Disease): Recognizable by white cysts on the fish’s body and fins.
  • Fin Rot: Characterized by the deterioration of the fish’s fins.
  • Fungus: Appears as cotton-like growth on the fish’s body.

Maintaining good water quality, a balanced diet, and quarantine procedures for new fish can help prevent these issues.

Bleeding Heart Tetra Food & Diet: Providing Optimal Nutrition

Proper nutrition is paramount for the health and vitality of your Bleeding Heart Tetras (Hyphessobrycon erythrostigma). These peaceful, freshwater fish thrive when offered a varied and balanced diet that mimics their natural feeding habits. In this section, we will explore the dietary needs of Bleeding Heart Tetras and offer tips on providing them with the best nutrition.

Natural Diet in the Wild

In their natural habitat, Bleeding Heart Tetras primarily feed on small invertebrates, zooplankton, algae, and plant matter. Their diet is diverse, consisting of both animal and plant-based foods.

Recommended Diet for Captive Bleeding Heart Tetras

To ensure the health and longevity of your Bleeding Heart Tetras in captivity, it’s crucial to replicate their natural diet as closely as possible. Here are some dietary recommendations:

  1. High-Quality Flake Food: Start with a high-quality flake food as the primary staple of their diet. Look for flakes formulated for tropical community fish.
  2. Live and Frozen Foods: Supplement their diet with live or frozen foods. Bleeding Heart Tetras eagerly consume brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms. These foods provide essential protein and nutrients, enhancing their color and overall health.
  3. Vegetable Matter: Don’t forget to include some plant-based foods in their diet. Offer blanched vegetables like spinach, zucchini, or cucumber slices, which provide fiber and micronutrients.
  4. Occasional Treats: Treat your Tetras with occasional live or freeze-dried foods like mosquito larvae or Tubifex worms for added variety. These treats can be offered once or twice a week.
  5. Frequency and Portion Control: Feed your Bleeding Heart Tetras small portions multiple times a day rather than a single large meal. This replicates their natural feeding pattern and reduces the risk of overfeeding, which can lead to water quality issues.

Tips for Feeding Bleeding Heart Tetras

  • Observe Feeding Habits: Pay attention to how your Tetras feed. They are known for their mid-water feeding behavior. Adjust the amount of food offered to ensure it’s consumed within a few minutes, removing any uneaten food to maintain water quality.
  • Variety is Key: Offer a diverse range of foods to provide a well-rounded diet. This diversity helps prevent nutritional deficiencies and encourages natural behaviors.
  • Supplements: Consider adding vitamin and mineral supplements to their diet to ensure they receive all necessary nutrients, especially if you primarily feed them flake food.
  • Avoid Overfeeding: Overfeeding is a common mistake in aquarium care. Excess food can lead to water quality issues and health problems. Always feed according to the needs of your Tetras.
  • Fresh and Clean Water: Good nutrition goes hand in hand with water quality. Ensure your aquarium’s water parameters are stable and conducive to healthy eating habits.


In conclusion, the Bleeding Heart Tetra is a captivating and peaceful freshwater fish species that can thrive with proper care and attention. Understanding their appearance, lifespan, care requirements, and breeding habits is essential for creating a healthy and harmonious aquarium environment. By following the guidelines provided in this comprehensive guide, you can ensure the well-being of your Bleeding Heart Tetras and enjoy their beauty for years to come.

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Lee Johnson

Lee Johnson

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I love sharing my knowledge about all things aquarium related. I have been keeping aquariums for over 20 years and cannot imagine a life without an aquarium. 

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