Bleeding Heart Tetra 101: Size, Care, Diet |Updated 2023 |

By: Martin McAdam
Updated: April 4, 2023

Bleeding Heart Tetra (Hyphessobrycon erythrostigma) is named for the crimson markings on its tail and fins. It is a trendy fish amongst aquarium hobbyists, one of the most frequently encountered species of tropical fish in pet stores.

There are several things to consider before buying one, however. This article will tell you what you should know.

The Bleeding Heart Tetra's body is tall and compressed, with a large belly. Its back and sides are covered in small, velvety scales, while the belly is naked (scaleless). The body color of this fish can be red to purple, depending on the variant; the fins are transparent.

Bleeding Heart Tetra: Species Summary

Scientific Name:Hyphessobrycon Erythrostigma
Origin:Upper Amazon river basin
Maximum Size:2 to 3 inches
Lifespan:3 to 5 years
Level Of Care Required:Intermediate to Advanced
Tank Size:20 gallons or larger
pH level:5.5 - 7.0
Hardness level:3° to 12° dH
Temperature:72°F to 80°F (23°C to 28°C)
Feeding/Nutrition:Flake food with spirulina
Social Behaviors:Peaceful fish

The tail and fins of this fish are a deep, iridescent black in coloration. The body is shimmering gold with a hint of brown in some lights.

To add to its beauty, this fish has several almost ethereal blue lines running from the base of the tail up against its lateral line. Another name for this fish is the black phantom tetra.

Bleeding Heart Tetra can and will grow to a maximum of 1.75 inches (4.5 centimeters). They reach about 8-10 cm / 3-4 inches in length as adults.

Bleeding Heart Tetra Species Summary

It's best to assume that all other sources on the web won't be accurate and go with 1.75 inches (4.5 centimeters) until you get your fish, which should give you a rough idea of how big it will get.

Black phantom tetra has some notable differences, however. For instance, while the Bleeding Heart Tetra's body is red or purple, the black phantom's is gold with a brownish tint.

The fins are also transparent in this fish instead of crimson-like in the Bleeding Heart Tetra. So while these species are similar, they're not identical.

Regarding hybrid breeding, It is best to leave this type of breeding up to the experts. It cannot be easy to breed these tetras with any other fish, and there is a good chance that your fry will not survive.

However, there has been some success with breeding Bleeding Heart Tetras and glowlight tetras to produce a hybrid species known as the neon red or scarlet dwarf rainbowfish.

This type of fish is tough to find in stores, but it can be fascinating to watch if you can get your hands on one. Because it has genes from both tetra species, the neon red or scarlet dwarf rainbowfish will be between the two in temperament and appearance.

Bleeding Heart Tetra Appearance

As their name suggests, they have a bright red or deep pink coloration on their lower half dotted with small black spots. The upper half of this fish is clear, although it can be tinged with purple near the dorsal fin. Their eyes are large and orange in color.

This fish has an elongated and compressed body covered with small, velvety scales whose coloration varies from green to brown depending on light and the angle at which it is viewed. This fish has a large, spiny dorsal fin that ends at a point.

Bleeding Heart Tetra Appearance

Their fins are almost transparent except for their big, beautiful tail fin, a deep, blood-red color. Their fins are mostly clear with some iridescent yellowish coloration at their base, while the eyes are bright red.

Like many other tetras, they have small teeth that are particularly well-suited to eating bloodworms, their primary food source in the wild.

Bleeding Heart Tetra Size And Growth Rate

Bleeding Heart Tetra will grow to a maximum size of 3 inches in length. As with other small fish, this species will grow pretty rapidly. You can expect it to reach 2 inches within the first year of its life.

Bleeding Heart Tetra Lifespan In The Captivity

Bleeding Heart Tetra may live for five years or longer if kept in captivity. They are not known to have any lifespan-related health problems.

Like most fish, these tetras will live longer in the wild than captivity. However, much wild fish do manage to survive for several years.

Check Neon Tetra Care Guide: Appearance, Breeding & All

Bleeding Heart Tetra Breeding And Reproduction

Bleeding Heart Tetras are relatively easy to breed, making them great fish for beginning hobbyists who wish to try breeding tropical aquarium fish.

While they do not spawn readily in the tank with other Bleeding Heart Tetras, this species has been bred successfully by introducing one or more pairs into spawning tanks that contain very soft water and dim lighting. They will usually spawn among floating plants if these conditions are met.

The breeding process can be tricky, and there is no guarantee that the eggs will be fertilized. However, if you wish to try this, you should simultaneously introduce both parents into the spawning tank and let them remain there until hatching occurs.

Bleeding Heart Tetra: Breeding Compatibility

Bleeding Heart Tetra species has been successfully bred in captivity; it won't be challenging to purchase a breeding pair from a pet store or reputable breeder. These fish are not picky when it comes to breeding, so you shouldn't have any problems if you wish to breed them in the future.

Weekly 20% water changes with colder water are the best way to induce breeding.

If you have provided your tetra pair with optimal breeding conditions and they are still not interested in spawning, then there may be something wrong. You can try to feed them live food or blood worms to increase their metabolism to induce better reproductive success.

You will also be able to know that your Bleeding Heart Tetra pair is ready to breed by observing them. When a male and a female are ready to mate, they will constantly be quivering and moving around each other.

If the female is not interested in him, she will turn on her side or swim away from him.

Once you have confirmed that your pair is ready to breed, you can condition them with live food or blood worms to help them build up the energy and nutrients they need for such a challenging task. It will also be beneficial to clean their tank very well before placing them together in it.

This will ensure no leftover food particles or waste products in the tank that might contaminate the eggs.

The actual spawning is challenging to observe since it usually occurs after dark. The male will swim on top of the female and release his milt over her eggs; then, she will take it into her mouth for fertilization.

After the two fish have mated, they should be separated immediately to ensure the female is not harmed.

Bleeding Heart Tetra Gestation Period And Pregnancy Symptoms

Bleeding Heart Tetra become sexually mature within 6 months of birth, so they may begin laying eggs after only 4-5 months. A female Bleeding Heart Tetra can produce up to 300 eggs on its own or more than 1,000 when it is mated with a male.

When the fry is ready to emerge from their shells, they will do so within 24 hours, and the female will continue to hold them in her mouth until they are large enough to fend for themselves.

The gestation period of Bleeding Heart Tetras is 10 days at the most. As with many types of fish, this species may eat its own young if it feels threatened or stressed.

Bleeding Heart Tetra Gestation Period And Pregnancy Symptoms

If you wish to ensure the survival of the fry, it is best not to disturb the tank for at least 2 weeks after they have emerged from their shells.

If you already own a breeding pair of Bleeding Heart Tetras, it will be straightforward to determine that your fish are pregnant. First, the female will become plump with eggs, while the male will begin developing nuptial tubercles on his head.

Unlike many other fish species, the Bleeding Heart Tetra does not use a nest to lay its eggs. Instead, they deposit them on plants or crevices in the tank when they are ready to fertilize.

The female will also become very territorial and chase away any other fish that may come too close to her when she is holding her fry. The male will usually serve as a guard outside of the female's territory while she is caring for her young.

Bleeding Heart Tetra Feeding The Fry

Once the fry has been released from their mother's mouth, they can be fed crushed flakes and infusoria. Infusoria is good food for the first week of life, and then you can transition them to crushed flakes.

Commercial foods may also be used, but it is usually best to avoid these because most contain too many fillers and too little protein.

If you do not wish to feed your fry infusoria or crushed flakes, the next best option is brine shrimp. Brine shrimp are available in most pet stores and can be purchased frozen or freeze-dried. They also contain protein and healthy nutrients, allowing the fry to proliferate.

It is essential to realize that Bleeding Heart Tetra fry has tiny stomachs, so they must eat often. At first, you should feed them every 20-30 minutes and then slowly scale back to feeding them once or twice a day.

How They Are Different From Other Tetras

Not many species of Tetra can match this one's striking appearance. The deep red tail fin gives these fish their name and adds an element of beauty that cannot be ignored. Unlike most other tetras, these fish are peaceful and will do well in a community tank.

The "Bleeding Heart" Tetra This beautiful freshwater fish is regarded as one of the most beautiful aquariums. The reason is because of their distinct features.

The first feature that makes them unique is the blushing red spot near the gills and their bright red tail fin, which gives the Tetra its name. So if you're looking for a beautiful fish for your aquarium, why not get a Bleeding Heart Tetra?

Bleeding Heart Tetra Behavior

In general, tetras are a peaceful species of fish. This is because they tend to stick together in groups, making them less likely to be aggressive toward other fish.

That's not to say that they won't pick on other fish; however, it would take more than one Bleeding Heart Tetra to kill another living creature.

Despite their docile nature, Bleeding Heart Tetras can be talkative and active. For example, they often swim to the top of the tank when you feed them, so giving them as much food as they need is essential.

They do not like receiving extra food they don't need because it will just go to waste and pollute the water.

Also, check Green Neon Tetra 101: Fun Facts, Breeding, Care Guide & All

Bleeding Heart Tetra: Social Temperament

Regarding social temperament, Bleeding Heart Tetras are very well with other peaceful species. They can live in a community tank without worrying about being picked on or feeling threatened by another fish.

From what I've experienced, the only downside would probably be that they often disregard feeding times and can thus starve if they don't eat when you feed them.

Bleeding Heart Tetra Social Temperament

If you decide to get a Bleeding Heart Tetra for your tank, remember that they need to be fed often. If they are not eating regularly, it could lead to them dying prematurely. It's also recommended that you keep them with other active fish species because of their hyper nature.

Bleeding Heart Tetra Care Guide

Here, we will share a complete care guide for Bleeding Heart Tetra.

Bleeding Heart Tetra Food & Diet

Bleeding Heart Tetras are omnivores, so you will need to feed them a combination of both meaty foods and healthy vegetables. Feeder fish, bloodworms, or Beefheart are great foods you can provide once or twice a day.

You should also give them some leafy green vegetables from time to time which will help clean up any excess food in their tank, and they're also a great source of vitamins! For example, offer them leftover spinach leaves, lettuce leaves, or even kale if they eat it.

Feeding Bleeding Heart Tetras once or twice a day is a great way to keep their energy levels up and maintain optimal health. Remember that they will not have a massive appetite, so if you have a school of tetras, it's good to feed them as a group instead of individual meals.

Bleeding Heart Tetra: Tank Size

Tetras are a very active species of fish. Because of this, it's recommended to have at least 10 gallons per Bleeding Heart Tetra in your tank. However, if you plan on housing more than 1 Bleeding Heart Tetra together, I suggest increasing the number of gallons per fish accordingly.

Bleeding Heart Tetra: Tank Mates

As I mentioned, Bleeding Heart Tetras can be housed in a community tank with most other peaceful fish species.

Other than the peaceful fish species listed above, Bleeding Heart Tetras can also be housed with other tetras. Just ensure that if you accommodate different breeds of Tetra together, there is a slight difference in size between them, so things don't get too rough.

The friendly Fishes for Bleeding Heart Tetra are given below-

  • White Cloud: This type of fish is also referred to as tropical freshwater fish, white clouds are a very peaceful species that won't pick on tetras.
  • Harlequin Rasbora: Another peaceful fish that will not pick on Bleeding Heart Tetras.
  • Glowlight Tetra: Despite their name, glowlight tetras are very peaceful fish. They will get along with Bleeding Heart Tetras just fine.
  • Ember Tetra: Despite their name, ember tetras are also very peaceful creatures that won't pick on other types of fish in your tank.
  • Cardinal Tetra: These friendly little fishes were my first Tetra. They are very hardy and durable, meaning they can live in almost any environment with virtually any other type of fish.
  • Black Neon Tetra: These little cuties are also very active! Keep them with peaceful species because these tetras can sometimes be pretty skittish.

Tank Region

Despite their name, Bleeding Heart Tetras should be housed in the mid-level region of your aquarium. They do not like swimming around other types of fish that are larger than they are because it makes them feel nervous and stressed.

Tank Decorations

Since Bleeding Heart Tetras are very active swimmers, it's recommended that you furnish your aquarium with plants and decorations that allow for open swimming space.

Tetras like to be able to dart around the tank freely without bumping into large objects, so keep an eye out for decorations like this!

It's also a good idea to place a lot of hiding places inside the tank because these little fish like to rest and relax during the day.


You do not need a heater because tetras are tropical fish. They can live in water temperatures ranging from 72° to 80°Fahrenheit, so keep the temperature at one of these levels.


For optimal water quality, it's recommended to have at least a hang-on back filter that supports biofiltration. There are many different filter types available, so it's really up to you, as the owner, what style you want to have.

If you are on a budget, use one of the many hang-on back sponge filters. If money is not an issue, you can purchase a more "high-tech" filter, so keep this in mind when choosing your fish tank equipment.


The standard aquarium light will work fine for these fish because they are used to dim lighting. You can also opt for fluorescent lighting to give your fish tank an extra glow!


It's recommended that you keep the gravel at around 1-2 inches because Bleeding Heart Tetras like to explore and search for food during the day. If there is not enough gravel in your aquarium, they might become very stressed, leading to stress diseases.

Also, check Rummy Nose Tetra 101: All You Need To Know

Substrate Mural

One way to spruce up your aquarium is to create a "substrate mural" on the back wall. Get an ornament or decoration that will stand up nicely against the glass, like this one, and keep it at the back of the aquarium.

This will not only make your tank look even better, but it's also perfect for open swimming space.

Water pH level

Water with a pH of 5.5 to 7.0 is perfect for your Tetra, so keep the water around these levels. Each different type of fish has its specific pH and temperature preferences, so you must research your tetras before switching out their water.

Water Temperature And Water Hardness

Bleeding Heart Tetras are very hardy so that you can keep the water temperature in your fish tank at around 74° to 80°Fahrenheit. As for the hardness, it's recommended that you maintain a level of 3 to 12 dH to ensure optimal health for your Tetra.


Bleeding Heart Tetras are relatively easy to clean because they are active swimmers! You should only have to vacuum the gravel now and then if you keep up with your water changes.

Water Change

For optimal health, it's recommended that you do at least a 15% water change once per week. If there is excess food in the tank after feeding, do a 20% water change to prevent any excess waste from building up.

This is also good for keeping ammonia levels at an optimal level, so it's recommended that you make multiple changes whenever there are too many leftover food scraps in the tank.

Nitrate and Nitrite levels should always remain at 0 ppm

Check Best Ruby Tetra Guide


Caring for Bleeding Heart Tetras is a relatively easy task (primarily if you use a sponge filter over a more "high-tech" one). Since these fish are very active, they produce a lot of waste, so you should do water changes weekly.

Also, check Silver Tip Tetra Guide

Bleeding Heart Tetra Potential Fish Diseases

  • Velvet/Oodinium (velvet disease): It is caused by parasites. This disease will cause your tetras to lose their color, be more prone to stress, and eventually die if not treated promptly.
  • Parasites cause Hexamitais but are usually pretty easy to treat with medication. This can be fatal if left untreated, so test your levels often and seek treatment as quickly as possible!
  • Internal bacterial infections cause dropsy/Pop-eye (exophthalmia). Symptoms include body swelling, abnormal swimming behavior like holding the head up or laying on its side, bulging eyes, and overall weakness.
  • Fungal Infections: Fungal infections such as cottonmouth (mouth fungus) are readily treatable by simply removing the focus of the disease. For example, if it's in your fish's mouth, you must dab it with a cotton swab dipped in methylene blue several times a day until the problem no longer exists.
  • Ichthyophthirius multifiliis is a saltwater disease that can easily be treated with ich guard.
  • Swim Bladder Disease: If your Tetra looks gasping for air at the top of your fish tank, it may have swim bladder disease.
  • Fin Rot: If you notice your Bleeding Heart Tetras' fins look clamped and ragged, don't panic! Fish fin rot is fairly common, and the best thing to do is treat them with fin rot medication.
  • Eye Cloud: It is a pretty rare disease that can occur when you buy fish that are blind or have cloudy eyes. All you need to do is place salt in your tank, which will usually clear up within 24-48 hours without additional treatment necessary!
  • Acidosis/Lethal: These water parameters are caused by uncycled fish tanks, which can be fatal to tetras. The best prevention is simply getting your water tested often and buying conditioners to remove excess ammonia in their water!

Bleeding Heart Tetra: Treatment And Medications

  • Pimafix (for bacterial infections): Fish Pimafix is an all-natural alternative to Medicated Wonder Shells and contains the same active ingredient, Melaleuca alternifolia.

This product can be used on stressed fish and Koi without adverse effects. It is recommended for use in both coldwater and tropical aquariums.

  • Melafix (for bacterial infections): Fish Melafix helps heal open wounds, cuts, abrasions, and fin damage and is excellent for external parasites like ich and fungus.

This product can be used in conjunction with Pimafix to ensure proper healing. Melafix is all-natural and contains the active ingredient Pimenta Racemosa.

  • Quick Cure (for fungus): Fish Quickcure is an antibiotic made by Jungle that treats various bacterial and fungal diseases in freshwater and saltwater fish. Add one tablet per 10 gallons of aquarium water to be treated.

Repeat this treatment daily for 10 days. Stop treatment if the fish's condition improves before completing the entire course of medication.

  • AAP Spectrogram (for fungus, clamped fins, stress): Fish Spectrogram is an all-natural alternative to Quick Cure. This antibiotic treats fungal and bacterial infections, including fish tuberculosis, fin rot/loss, clamped fins, bloat, and dropsy.

Fish Spectrogram works by destroying gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria as well as a wide variety of fungi. This treatment is safe for coldwater and tropical aquariums but should not be used with invertebrates or crustaceans such as shrimp or crabs.

  • AAP Bettamax (for bacterial infections): Fish Bettamax is an antibiotic made by AAP that treats various bacterial diseases in freshwater aquariums, including columnaris, pop-eye, fin rot/loss, and dropsy.

Bettamax treats these conditions so they do not develop into more severe problems such as fin rot, ulcers, or septicemia that can be fatal.

  • PraziPro (for internal parasites): Fish Praziquantel removes both adult and immature forms of several common internal parasites in freshwater and saltwater fish, including liver flukes, tapeworms, and gill flukes.

This treatment is safe for cold water and tropical aquariums, including ornamental fish such as cichlids, goldfish, Koi, and livebearers.

You may also check the 10 Most Popular Types Of Angelfish: Appearance, Size & All

Advantages Of Having Bleeding Heart Tetra In Your Tank

There are many reasons why people like keeping Bleeding Heart Tetras. The most common reason is that they are beautiful, petite, inexpensive fish with striking coloration. This makes them great for nano tanks and terrariums!

They're also straightforward to care for, making them perfect for beginners looking to get into the hobby. The Advantages of having them are given below-

  • The Bleeding Heart Tetra is a hardy fish that withstand many water conditions.
  • They are also very peaceful, and you don't have to worry about them nipping at each other or their tankmates!
  • If you have never had an aquarium, the Bleeding Heart Tetras are great for beginners because they are so easy to care for!
  • Many pet shops also sell them in schools because of their peaceful nature and because they look fantastic in groups!
  • These fish are also great for the community tank!
  • They are schooling fish, so they will feel more comfortable in a school of 6-8 Bleeding Heart Tetras.
  • These fish have beautiful coloration, which makes them very attractive to look at!
  • They are small, peaceful fish, which makes them great for nano tanks!
  • They don't grow huge at about 2-4 inches, making them perfect for smaller aquariums!
  • You can easily see these fish because they aren't timid and will be out swimming in the open most of the time!
  • Schools of Bleeding Heart Tetras become active and look beautiful when they swim in the tank together!

You may also check Otocinclus Catfish Care Guide: Appearance

Disadvantages Of Having Bleeding Heart Tetra In Your Tank

  • They can be somewhat expensive, but you usually find them much cheaper by buying larger quantities! Also, if you buy them from pet shops, they will often sell them at unbelievable prices, making it worth buying a school or two!
  • Like most schooling fish, the bleeding hearts do much better when kept in groups of 6-8 tetras! This is also why I recommend you get larger batches if you want to buy them!
  • Also, like most fish, Bleeding Heart Tetras can develop health problems if not adequately taken care of, so you should always research the type of fish before getting one!
  • These fish also need many open spaces in their aquarium since they are schooling fish. You need at least a 20-gallon tank or larger if you want to house them and still give them enough space to swim around.
  • Bleeding Heart Tetras can be sensitive fish, so they could die if your water conditions are imperfect! Because of this, you should always know what additives and chemicals are in your tap water!
  • If your Bleeding Heart Tetras are skinny or have been scavenging for food, it could be because they don't have enough algae in their diet! Try adding more plants to the tank; if that doesn't work, consider getting freeze-dried bloodworms as a treat!
  • Tetras also require warmer temperatures since they come from the tropics.
  • Tetras are not very tolerant of other fish and will nip at their fins if the other fish are slow swimmers or if another fish is hanging out in their territory.
  • Tetras are also not very tolerant and must be kept with other peaceful fish who do not nip at fins! If they end up getting into a fight, they might end up killing other fish.

Also, check Panther Grouper Care Guide


The most important thing to remember about Bleeding Heart Tetras is that they are susceptible to water quality, so it's best to monitor your tank daily. By paying close attention, you should be able to prevent any potential problems from arising and maintain happy and healthy fish!

So as you can see, this is a beautiful and peaceful type of fish. If you decide to get a Bleeding Heart Tetra, then make sure to keep it with other temperate fish species and feed it frequently.

That way, you'll have an aquarium full of lively and beautiful creatures! These might be perfect for your tank if you want schooling fish with striking colors!

Disclaimer does not intend to provide veterinary advice. We go to great lengths to help users better understand their aquatic friends. However, the content on this blog is not a substitute for veterinary guidance. For more information, please read our disclaimer.

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