Rummy Nose Tetra – Species Profile & Facts

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Are you looking for colorful shoaling fish to stock in your freshwater tank? Well, you’re lucky because there are tons of options to choose from.

Today, we’ll look at one of the most interesting and popular ones— the colorful Rummy Nose Tetra!

Is this fish the right choice for you? Keep reading to find out! I’ll cover everything you need to know about this tiny Tetra species.

Curious about Rummy Noses’ setup and care requirements, average lifespan, ideal tankmates, or average price?

You’ll find everything down below! But first, here’s a short introduction to this species—

What is a Rummy Nose Tetra?

The Rummy Nose Tetra (scientific name “Hemigrammus rhodostomus”) is a small tropical freshwater fish from the family Characidae.

This species originates in South America, where it inhabits rivers with soft, acidic water. This fish is now widely bred in captivity for the aquarium trade.

The Rummy Nose grows to 2.0-2.5 inches long and has a thin, elongated, plain silver body. It has a small, forked tail covered in black and white horizontal stripes.

And, of course, the most important detail— it has a bright red face. As you might’ve guessed, the deep and vivid red color on its head is how this Tetra got its name.

Besides its endearing appearance, the Rummy Nose Tetra makes an excellent community fish. You only need a little space to keep a small group of Tetras.

Rummy Noses are also quite hardy and adaptable to various water parameters. Last but not least, these tiny fish are peaceful, friendly, and non-territorial.

Rummy Nose Tetra Requirements

Like all fish, Rummy Nose Tetras have unique requirements to stay healthy and happy.

Getting familiar with these requirements is important before purchasing new Tetras for your community or species-only tank.

There are three main areas to focus on— the tank setup, maintaining proper water parameters, and feeding your fish properly.

We’ll take a look at all of these below.

– Tank Size & Setup

The tank setup takes most planning and work, but you’ll only do this once. Starting with the tank itself, you must ensure your fish have enough room to swim around comfortably.

Fortunately, Tetras aren’t space-demanding.

Each fish needs roughly two gallons worth of aquarium space. Since Tetras are shoaling fish, you need to buy a group of at least six, but more is even better!

If you’re short on space, you can house six Tetras in a small 12-gallon aquarium. A small-medium 20-gallon tank lets you keep ten Tetras.

Next, let’s discuss the tank setup. This includes everything you add to the aquarium— the substrate, décor, and equipment.

Starting from the bottom of the tank, the substrate is quintessential for creating a homely, natural-looking aquarium for your fish.

It doesn’t matter what you choose, as long as you don’t have a bare-bottom aquarium. Tetras are middle-level swimmers, so they’ll spend most of their time away from the aquarium floor.

Thus, you don’t need a special substrate for them. You can pick gravel, soil, sand, or anything that makes your aquarium look good.

Next, we have aquarium plants. Live plants are multifunctional decorative elements. They look nice; they purify the water, and, most importantly, they provide shelter for your fish.

Tetras are timid fish and need plenty of hiding spaces in the middle of the water column. Tall-growing aquarium plants will provide just that.

Any plant is good as long as it grows up into the middle level of the tank. There are plenty of options to choose from.

Note that if you’re using a gravel or sand substrate, you should select free-floating plants. These substrates aren’t ideal for root feeders.

If you go for planted species, a soil substrate is most suitable. Other decorative elements aren’t necessary for Tetras.

But you might include some to beautify your display. Decorations like driftwood or rocks look natural and double as anchors for free-floating plants.

Finally, there’s the equipment. This is the less fancy but very important part. You need these gadgets to maintain a clean, safe environment for your Tetras.

The most important thing is a filter to eliminate fish waste and harmful chemicals in the water. You have plenty of options, but a hang-on-back filter with a decent GPH output will do for a small aquarium.

You’ll also need a heater to maintain a suitable and constant water temperature. Tetras are tropical fish, so they need water in the high 70s or low 80s. Lastly, you’ll need a light fixture and a UV lightbulb.

Tetras and live aquarium plants need light exposure throughout the day to stay healthy.

– Water Requirements

Water requirements refer to levels of various water values like temperature, acidity, hardness, flow, and more.

You set and maintain these values using aquarium equipment (filters, heaters, powerheads, etc.) and water conditioners.

Water requirements differ between fish species based on a fish’s natural environment in the wild. Maintaining the water values within the ideal range for a given species allows the fish to thrive and be their healthiest.

Here are the ideal ranges for Rummy Nose Tetras:

  • Temperature: 75-84°F
  • Acidity: 5-7.0 pH (slightly acidic to neutral)
  • Hardness: 2-10 dGH (very soft to moderately hard)
  • Ammonia: 0 ppm
  • Nitrites: 0 ppm
  • Nitrates: <20 ppm
  • Flow: Slow to moderate

For things like water pH, hardness, ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates, you’ll need to use water testing strips to read the values. As for water temperature, a simple aquarium thermometer will do.

Water flow is hard to measure, but don’t worry too much about it. A regular filter creates enough water flow for Rummy Nose Tetras.

– Feeding & Diet

You need to feed your Tetras a balanced and species-appropriate diet. Luckily, these fish are omnivorous.

They can eat pretty much any meaty and vegetable foods. In the wild, they consume small insects, larvae, zooplankton, and bits of plant debris.

You can cover all their nutritional needs with a combination of commercial fish foods like flakes and pellets.

Most of their diet should consist of high-quality tropical flakes, tropical granules, shrimp pellets, and green pellets.

Healthy occasional snacks include live or frozen daphnia, brine shrimp, and bloodworms. These foods are also rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals.

You can also feed your Tetras finely chopped blanched foods like spinach, green peas, lettuce, squash, zucchini, and cucumber. These foods provide plenty of fiber and promote healthy digestion.

The ideal feeding frequency for adult Tetras is twice a day. Feed your fish as much as they can consume within two minutes.

Most weekly meals should consist of specially-formulated commercial foods. Up to two meals per week can consist of live or frozen foods and vegetables.

Do Rummy Nose Tetras Need a Heater?

There’s no doubt that Rummy Nose Tetras need a heater to live in optimal aquarium conditions. Rummy Nose Tetras are tropical fish, so they require higher temperatures year-round.

The ideal temperature range for this fish is 75-84°F. In comparison, the average room temperature is 68–72°F.

Besides the differences between aquarium and room temperature, heaters also help you in another major way.

Heaters not only maintain high temperatures, but they also keep the water temperature stable. This is important because fish are highly sensitive to rapid temperature fluctuations.

Sharp changes in water temperature can shock and stress the fish, leading to health problems or even sudden death.

And if you have a small tank (20 gallons and under), the low water volume leads to rapid and wild temperature changes. An aquarium heater can help you avoid this problem.

Do Rummy Nose Tetras Need a Filter?

Yes, all fish need a filter. Without one, you’d get a rapid rise in toxic waste by-products like ammonia and nitrites.

Fish have a very low tolerance to these compounds. An ammonia concentration as low as 2 ppm can cause sudden fish death.

But even levels of 0.5 ppm can be mildly toxic. Besides health benefits for your fish, filters also bring aesthetic benefits to your aquarium. A filter combines biological, chemical, and physical filtration media.

Biological media minimizes toxic compounds in the water. Physical media removes a large chunk of debris from the tank, prolonging the time between aquarium cleanings.

Chemical media removes odors and staining chemicals in the tank, keeping the water crystal clear.

How Much Do Rummy Nose Tetras Cost?

Rummy Nose Tetras are quite cheap. The average price for one fish is $2-$4 in most local pet stores.

For a group of six, this adds up to roughly $12-$24. You may find it even cheaper, for as low as $1.0-$1.50 apiece. Prices usually run lower when buying in bulk (five fish and up).

Note that several varieties are sold in stores, all colloquially called “Rummy Nose Tetras.” There are slight price differences between those. Hemigrammus rhodostomus is known as the True Rummy Nose Tetra and is a bit rarer.

You’ll more often find other species, such as Hemigrammus bleheri (the Common Rummy Nose Tetra) or Petitella georgiae (the False Rummy Nose Tetra), which are slightly cheaper.

Despite being different species, all these fish look virtually the same and have the same requirements.

What is the Lifespan of Rummy Nose Tetras?

In captivity, a Rummy Nose Tetra lives 5-6 years on average. Their lifespan is considerably shorter in the wild, where living conditions are less favorable. Up to six years is quite impressive for such a small fish.

But these are just averages. With diligent care and good health, a Rummy Nose Tetra could live even longer— up to 8-10 years!

A Tetra’s lifespan is mostly in your control. Factors like water quality, a healthy diet, and low-stress levels greatly affect the fish’s longevity.

A clean aquarium, proper water parameters, and good nutrition work in your Tetras’ favor.

How Big do Rummy Nose Tetra Get?

Rummy Nose Tetras only take up a little space. These fish grow up to 2.0-2.5 inches at most. True Rummy Nose Tetras and False Rummy Nose Tetras are on the larger side, reaching 2.5 inches when fully grown.

The Common Rummy Nose Tetra is even smaller. This fish only grows up to 2 inches at most.

The average specimen could be even tinier, measuring under 2 inches. In each Rummy Nose species, females are slightly larger than males.

Are Rummy Nose Tetras Aggressive?

Rummy Nose Tetras are anything but aggressive. This fish is among the best choices for community aquariums precisely because of its peaceful nature.

Rummy Nose Tetras are sociable shoaling fish that keep to their own group, never pestering other tankmates.

Rummy Nose Tetras are also timid and conflict-avoidant. Maybe that’s why they’re so red in the face all the time?

When threatened, the usual response for Tetras is to flee and hide, so don’t expect them to put up a fight with feisty tankmates.

Even in-group aggression between male fish stops at just chasing behavior. As long as there’s enough swimming space, even that is unlikely to be a problem.

If you ever have troublemakers in the community tank, Rummy Noses are the least likely culprits.

Rummy Nose Tetra Tank Mates

Rummy Nose Tetras are tiny and shy. They feel threatened easily, so you need to pick tankmates that won’t stress them out.

Avoid large fish that could prey on the Tetras. Most importantly, stay away from boisterous or aggressive fish.

From the start, rule out feisty or territorial fish like Tiger Barbs, Bettas, Red Tail Sharks, and Cichlids. Opt for some of the following aquarium pets instead.

These all make compatible tankmates for gentle Tetras:

  • Other peaceful Tetras (Cardinal, Diamond, Flame, Glowlight, and Neon Tetras)
  • Danios (Giant, Pearl, Rosy, Zebra, and Glowlight Danios)
  • Mollies (Common, Dwarf, and Sailfin Mollies)
  • Rasboras (Harlequin, Scissortail, Phoenix, Chili, and Strawberry Rasboras)
  • Peaceful Barbs (Gold, Five-Banded, Green-Stripe, Rosy, and Cherry Barbs)
  • Gouramis (Pearl, Honey, Dwarf, Sparkling, Samurai, and Kissing Gouramis)
  • Cory Catfish (Three-Stripe, Panda, Emerald, Skunk, and Pepper Corys)
  • Small Loaches (Kuhli, Hillstream, Yoyo, and Zebra Loaches)
  • Snails (Rabbit, Mystery, Nerite, and Trumpet Snails)
  • Shrimps (Ghost, Bamboo, Amano, Cherry, and Bee Shrimps)

As you can see, there are plenty of colorful options available. These are just some of the many species you can add to your community tank.

Any fish with a similar size and temperament to your Tetras will work equally well.

Are Rummy Nose Tetras Good for Beginners?

Rummy Nose Tetras are best suited for moderately-experienced aquarists. These tiny fish have an impressive lifespan when they receive proper care.

However, Rummy Nose Tetras are quite sensitive to improper environmental conditions and require more attention than other tropical fish.

There’s a more difficult learning curve when keeping Tetras compared to other fish like Guppies, for example.

You must be extra careful about maintaining proper water parameters, aquarium hygiene, and a good feeding schedule. Otherwise, these Tetras are likely to get sick.

It’s not all bad, though. Even beginners can keep healthy Rummy Nose Tetras. There’s a wealth of easily-accessible information online.

Proper documentation goes a long way to familiarize yourself with a new fish species. Besides, these fishes still have many qualities that make them beginner-friendly.

Rummy Nose Tetras adapt to a wide range of water temperatures, pH, and hardness values.

They’re small, so they don’t need a large aquarium either. Since Tetras are peaceful, these fish are unlikely to cause trouble; that’s one less thing to worry about.

How to Tell if Rummy Nose Tetra is Male or Female?

Sexing fish (distinguishing males and females) is a handy skill when creating a shoal or pairing your fish for breeding. However, sexing Rummy Noses isn’t that easy.

Rummy Nose Tetras aren’t a sexually-dimorphic species. So, males and females look virtually the same. The only telling characteristic is body size and shape.

Rummy Nose males have elongated and slender bodies. Females, on the other hand, have more rounded bellies. Females also grow slightly larger than males. These characteristics are only sometimes reliable, though.

You can only tell which fish are larger once the Tetras are fully grown. Female tetras don’t have a noticeable belly when they aren’t carrying eggs.

How do Rummy Nose Tetra Breed?

Regarding breeding, there are two types of fish— livebearers and egg-layers. Rummy Noses are the latter.

When breeding, the female finds refuge near aquarium plants with large leaves. After finding a spot, the female Tetra rolls over. The male fish seeks out the female and fertilizes the eggs.

Soon afterward, the female Tetra lays the fertilized eggs among the plants. Typically, female Rummy Nose Tetras lay 5-8 fairly large eggs every time they breed.

Healthy fertilized eggs hatch in 24 hours. The newborn Tetras start swimming roughly 6-7 days after hatching.

Note that Rummy Noses need very specific conditions when breeding. Besides aquarium plants, these fish also require higher water temperatures (up to 84°F) and good water quality.

Compared to other freshwater species, Tetras don’t breed in large numbers. There’s less of a risk of overpopulating your tank.


Rummy Nose Tetras are colorful little tropical freshwater fish. They grow up to 2.5 inches at most and don’t need a lot of room to be happy.

You can easily fit up to 10 Rummy Noses in a medium-small 20-gallon tank. Rummy Noses are also quite affordable; they cost $2-$4 on average in most local pet stores.

These fishes are shy, peaceful, and can adapt to a wide range of water parameters. These qualities make them excellent community fish.

They’ll get along with most other Tetras, Danios, Mollies, Rasboras, peaceful Barbs, Gouramis, Corydoras, small Loaches, and more!

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.
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