Tiger Teddy Fish (Neoheterandria Elegans) – Species Profile & Facts

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If you’re a fan of small fish, this is your lucky day because today we’re going really small.

We will be discussing the tiger teddy fish, which is as cute as it is rare, for reasons which we will dive into shortly.

Without further ado, let’s get into it!

What is a Tiger Teddy Fish?

The tiger teddy fish belongs to the Poeciliidae family, the same as guppies, platies, mollies, and swordtails.

The fish is rather rare in the aquarium trade and in the wild, as its habitat is limited to Colombia in the Truando River.

Unlike other Poeciliidae, though, the tiger teddy fish combines its cute appearance with a rather voracious temperament.

This allows the fish to really showcase its name’s duality. Tiger teddy fish are micro predators who, although generally peaceful, can get aggressive at times.

The fish’s appearance is typical for a livebearer. If you didn’t know, you could mistake this fish for a standard platy if it weren’t for the size difference and bland colors.

The tiger teddy fish has an aquadynamic body with a round caudal fin and a meaty abdomen.

These fish are generally brown, although the shades may vary slightly, with subtle vertical stripes across the body. These are more visible towards the tail.

Females are particularly aggressive, which is atypical among livebearers, where it’s males who usually occupy that spot.

In tiger teddy fish, though, females are both larger and more territorial than males. This makes the species more difficult to keep in community setups, aside from the fish’s micro-size which also plays a role in this sense.

Tiger Teddy Fish Requirements

Fortunately, the tiger teddy fish doesn’t have any strict environmental requirements other than water quality.

This is a more sensitive species that demand clean and healthy waters to thrive.

– Tank Size & Setup

These fish are great for heavily planted nano tanks, as they don’t need a lot of space. A 10-gallon piece should be more than enough for a group of tiger teddy fish.

The fish aren’t particularly territorial between themselves, but there can be tensions between males and females.

That’s because of the males’ never-ending quest to spread their genes which can often stress the females. So, it’s better to have a slightly larger tank, so I recommend the 10-gallon one.

Even so, tiger teddy fish don’t need space as much as they need live plants and a well-decorated habitat.

Plants are key to keeping the fish safe and comfortable in case of sexual tensions. Females may also compete with each other for food and hierarchical dominance.

After all, tiger teddy fish are predators, so they have plenty of aggression to show should the situation demand it.

The lush ecosystem will mimic the fish’s natural habitat and keep tensions low.

– Water Requirements

Aim for water temperatures of 75-82 °F and a pH of 7.0-7.8. This species prefers warmer and more stable waters than your typical livebearer.

Guppies can go as low as 72 °F, but the tiger teddy fish can’t. At least not for long. It’s best to keep the fish’s environmental temperature close to 80 F to keep your tiger teddies comfy and happy.

Water quality is essential with these ones. The tiger teddy fish is particularly sensitive to poor water conditions, as they get immediately stressed by ammonia and nitrites.

You need to clean their habitat regularly to prevent health problems which is where the tank’s size also plays a critical role.

Bigger tanks are always easier to clean than smaller ones because there’s more room for water to circulate.

You can’t go for extra-large tanks, though, because you will simply waste the space. Tiger teddy fish aren’t fond of community setups for reasons which we will discuss shortly.

– Feeding and Diet

The tiger teddy fish is a versatile predator that feeds on micro-worms, baby brine shrimp, cyclops, daphnia, and whatever floating life food they can scout in their habitat.

They can also consume flakes and micropellets, so long as they’re small enough for them to eat with ease.

If you’re going for flakes, crush them so your tiger teddies can consume them more easily. Prioritize live food over anything else and only offer occasional veggie treats.

While tiger teddies rank as omnivorous fish, they’re not that fond of plant-based meals and prefer live food instead.

Do Tiger Teddy Fish Need a Heater?

Yes, they do. A heater is absolutely necessary for these fish, given their sensitivity to sudden or large temperature swings.

Just be mindful of the heater’s location, especially since you won’t have too much room to work with. You don’t want to create hot and cold pockets, which could stress your fish.

Instead, aim for an even heat distribution to create a balanced ecosystem with stable temperatures throughout.

The heater should also be set at a reasonable temperature and away from the fish’s dwelling grounds to prevent burns.

Do Tiger Teddy Fish Need a Filter?

The tiger teddy fish need a filter even more than they do a heater. These fish are notorious for their extra sensitivity regarding poor water conditions.

Heavily planted aquariums require constant cleaning, especially in a nano setup with not much room for proper water circulation.

The filter is a key addition in this sense, as it improves water oxygenation, removes floating particles, and eliminates food leftovers and fish residues. The filter’s type and placement are critical when discussing fish safety and effectiveness.

Nano fish like the tiger teddy can get easily sucked into the filtration system, so you need to secure the equipment to prevent that.

A piece of cloth or a sponge over the filter’s intake should solve the problem. The material will both prevent the fish from getting in and control the filter’s power to prevent excessive water movement.

Also, place the filter’s intake and output strategically in areas outside of your fish’s main dwelling zones.

How Much do Tiger Teddy Fish Cost?

You will generally pay around $15 for a pair of tiger teddies, although the price varies depending on the seller and the fish’s size, age, and quality.

Always choose your pair carefully, given that these fish will breed with ease in the right setup.

You want the parents to be healthy and with good genes so that you can produce an equally sustainable generation over time.

Unfortunately, you might need to search the market a bit, given that the tiger teddy fish is rather rare in the aquarium trade.

What is the Lifespan of Tiger Teddy Fish?

The tiger teddy fish won’t live longer than 1.5 years in general, although some can reach 2 years in captivity.

The fish’s lifespan depends on its environmental conditions, diet, and overall quality of care. Keeping them in a stress-free environment is vital in this sense.

How Big do Tiger Teddy Fish Get?

The tiger teddy fish will only grow up to 1 inch, and this is only true for females. Males won’t get past 0.75 inches for the most part.

This fact alone makes the tiger teddy unfit for community tanks since most of their tankmates will take them as food.

Are Tiger Teddy Fish Aggressive?

Only between themselves. Tiger teddies sometimes showcase some hierarchical tensions, but they don’t have any means to get aggressive toward any tankmates.

Their size and lack of any meaningful defensive or offensive abilities prevent them from doing that.

Instead, the fish will flee and hide to protect themselves, which is why they need to live in a heavily planted setup for a plus of safety and comfort.

Tiger Teddy Fish Tank Mates

Stay away from community tanks. This species isn’t community-compatible due to its small size.

The tiger teddy fish is smaller than some fish’s fry, which paints a target on their back, no matter the tankmates you might associate them with.

Shrimp and snails could’ve been decent companions if the tiger teddy wouldn’t have required pristine water conditions and constant tank cleaning and maintenance.

It’s better to keep these fish in same-species environments and let live plants be their most trustworthy tankmates.

Are Tiger Teddy Fish Good for Beginners?

Yes, I think these fish are great for beginners for 2 reasons: they don’t need too much specialized care and they breed with ease.

So, even if you mess things up and one or 2 of your fish die, at least they breed with ease, so you always have spare tiger teddies to go around.

As a general rule, the tiger teddy fish needs only 3 things:

  1. A good live food-based diet
  2. A lush ecosystem with plenty of live plants
  3. A clean habitat with even cleaner waters (add a filter, perform regular tank maintenance, go for weekly 20% water changes)

These are standard requirements for all fish, not just tiger teddies.

How to Tell if Tiger Teddy Fish is Male or Female?

The size difference is the clearest indicator. Females are always larger than males and with bulkier abdomens. They are also the more aggressive ones of the bunch.

The fish’s dimorphism becomes even clearer during the breeding season when you will be able to notice the male’s gonopodium.

The females will also develop rounder bellies which is typical for livebearers during this time. Finally, you can tell who’s who by observing your fish’s interactions.

The males are the smaller and more intrusive ones who are constantly chasing the larger females around.

They are the ones who perform the mating dance, poking the female and stressing it out with their testosterone-infused behavior.

How do Tiger Teddy Fish Breed?

The breeding process is pretty much standard, typical to any Poeciliidae. The male will initiate the mating dance by chasing the female around until she decides to give in.

It’s not like females have a choice anyway, given the males’ relentlessness. This is where the multitude of plants come in, allowing the females some breathing space when dealing with overactive tiger males.

Once the mating is complete, the female will incubate the eggs for approximately 20-25 days, depending on the environmental conditions, primarily temperature.

The incubation period tends to be shorter in warmer waters. After the incubation period is over, the female will give birth to consecutive batches of live fry, typically 2-5 fry per session every several days.

This birthing behavior is atypical for livebearers like guppies, mollies, or swordtails, who produce all of their young at once. That’s because the tiger teddy fish is a superfetative livebearer.

Superfetation refers to the fish’s eggs being fertilized in batches instead of all at once.

So, one batch is fertilized and takes several days to incubate. After the fry hatch, another batch is being fertilized and introduced into the womb to repeat the process.

This means that the tiger teddy female can take up to 2-4 weeks to deliver all of the fry.


While tiger teddy fish aren’t as popular as other livebearers, I think they still deserve their spot in the aquarium trade.

They’re not overly demanding and will breed with ease, but their size prevents them from adjusting to a community setup with ease.

Also, keep these things in mind before deciding whether tiger teddy fish are for you or not.

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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