Rummy Nose Tetra Essentials: From Basic Care to Breeding

Rummy Nose Tetra
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Last Updated: May 11, 2023 by Flora Gibbins

I’m excited to share some insights about one of my all-time favorite fish, the Rummy Nose Tetra. You might be wondering, what makes this little fish so special? Well, did you know that the Rummy Nose Tetra’s vibrant red nose actually serves as a health indicator for the fish? That’s right – the brighter the red, the healthier the fish!

This unique factoid is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this fascinating species. So, grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and let’s dive into the wonderful world of Rummy Nose Tetras together.

Rummy Nose Tetra Species Overview

  • Common names: Rummy Nose Tetra, Red Nose Tetra
  • Scientific name: Hemigrammus rhodostomus
  • Adult size: Approximately 2 inches (5 cm)
  • Lifespan: Can live up to 5 to 6 years, with proper care
  • Colors and Markings: Silvery body with a vibrant red nose, and a striking black-and-white striped tail
  • Origin: South America, primarily found in the Amazon River Basin

Natural Habitat and Origin

When it comes to the Rummy Nose Tetra, there’s an interesting fact that many don’t know. There are actually three different species of fish called Rummy Nose Tetra, each with its own unique distribution. Let me share with you where each of these fascinating species hail from.

  • Firstly, there’s Hemigrammus rhodostomus, the true Rummy Nose Tetra, which can be found in Brazil and Venezuela. This species, which we’ll be focusing on in this blog post, makes its home in the lower Amazon basin in Pará State and the Orinoco River. This species was first described by Ahl in 1924.
  • Then there’s Hemigrammus bleheri, which is native to the Rio Negro and Rio Meta basins, first seen and annotated by Heiko Bleher in 1965.
  • Lastly, we have Petitella georgiae — a.k.a. False Rummy Nose Tetra. This species has been found in the upper Amazon basin in Peru, including the Rio Purus, Rio Negro, and Rio Madeira basins. Interestingly, this particular species was first discovered in an aquarium fish import from Peru in the late 1950s in Switzerland by H. Boutiere.

These species are used to slow-moving streams, river tributaries, and floodplain lakes with lush vegetation that provides both shade and a diverse range of food sources.

In the wild, these tetras live in large schools and are truly a sight to behold. The synchronized swimming of a school of Rummy Nose Tetra, their bright red noses leading the way, is nothing short of mesmerizing.

Today, Rummy Nose Tetras are bred on a large scale for the aquarium trade, allowing fish lovers everywhere to bring a little piece of the Amazon into their homes.


Let me tell you, the first time I laid eyes on a Rummy Nose Tetra, I was hooked. They’ve got this sleek, elongated body that shines with a silvery iridescence. But the real showstopper? That’s the head. It’s a fiery red color that stands out like a beacon, hence the name ‘Rummy Nose’. It’s quite the head-turner in any aquarium setup.

Now, just when you think that’s all, take a gander at their tail. It’s like they’ve been styled by a modern artist. Bold black and white stripes that contrast against the silver and red — it’s a truly stunning sight. Their tail is forked, but unlike other tetras, the Rummy Nose’s tail stripes are uniquely perpendicular to the body, which only adds to their eye-catching appeal.

And here’s a fun little observation: Their size doesn’t really do justice to their vibrant personality. Despite adult Rummy Nose Tetras only growing up to about 2 inches, these little fellas pack a lot of character into their small frames.

Behavior and Temperament

If I had to describe these little swimmers in one word, it’d be “congenial”. They’re one of the most friendly and peaceful species you could introduce to your aquarium. They’re not interested in picking fights or causing a ruckus. Instead, they prefer to dart around merrily, minding their own business.

What truly fascinates me about the Rummy Nose Tetra is their schooling behavior. When I say they school, I mean they really school. They stick together like best buddies, navigating the tank in a beautiful, synchronized dance. It’s captivating to watch them swim in unison, their bright red noses leading the way, their striped tails flickering like flags in the water.

However, if you notice your Rummy Nose Tetra not schooling, it might be a sign of stress or that something is off in the tank. They are like a living aquarium water quality indicator.

One thing I’ve learned from keeping these fish is that they’re quite active. They love to explore their surroundings, always on the move. But despite their energy, they’re surprisingly shy. It’s a charming paradox that makes them all the more endearing.

Rummy Nose Tetra Tank Mates

Having the right tank mates can make all the difference in your Rummy Nose Tetras’ quality of life. Let’s explore the types of aquatic buddies they would enjoy sharing their home with.

Compatible Fish Species

Rummy Nose Tetra fish are peaceful and social creatures, so they get along well with other non-aggressive species. Their ideal tank mates include other types of Tetras (like Neon or Cardinal Tetras), Corydoras Catfish, small Plecostomus, Guppies, and Dwarf Gouramis. It’s truly a joy to see these different species coexist harmoniously.

Non-Fish Tank Mates

But it’s not just other fish that can make great companions for the Rummy Nose Tetra. Peaceful invertebrates, like Shrimp and Snails, can also share the tank without any trouble. In my community tank, I’ve seen Amano Shrimp and Rummy Nose Tetras cohabiting quite happily.

Tank Mates to Avoid

On the other hand, larger or aggressive fish are a no-go. Species like Cichlids, larger Catfish, or any predatory fish are definitely out of the question. These could stress or even harm your Rummy Nose Tetra. From my personal experience, it’s always best to keep the peace in the tank.

Keep in mind, while selecting tank mates, that the Rummy Nose Tetra is a schooling fish. They prefer to be in groups of at least six. The more, the merrier — and the safer they’ll feel.

rummy noste tetra school

Rummy Nose Tetra Care

Let’s get started with one of the most critical aspects of owning Rummy Nose Tetra fish: their maintenance. From their feed to their tank needs, making sure your fish have all they require is critical to their health and happiness. Buckle up, because we’re about to take an in-depth look into Rummy Nose Tetra care.

Habitat and Tank Setup

Tank Size

When I first started keeping these fish, the one thing I quickly realized was the importance of space. These guys may be small, but they love room to swim. A tank of at least 20 gallons is recommended for a school of Rummy Nose Tetra. Remember, they’re active swimmers and schoolers, so the more space you can provide, the better.

What to Put in the Tank

If there’s one thing I love about setting up a tank for Rummy Nose Tetra fish, it’s trying to replicate their natural habitat. These fish originate from areas with dense vegetation, so plants are a must.

Aquatic plants like Java ferns, Anubias, or Amazon swords — they all work great. I’ve also found that adding driftwood and rocks not only makes the tank more visually appealing but also provides hiding spots for these somewhat shy fish.

Equipment and Accessories

The key to a healthy tank is a good filtration system. I can’t stress enough how important clean, well-oxygenated water is for this species. An efficient filter will help maintain water quality and provide a gentle current, simulating their natural habitat.

Another piece of equipment I consider vital is a heater. These are tropical fish, so they prefer warmer water temperatures. A stable, well-regulated heating system can go a long way in keeping your fish comfortable and healthy.

Finally, lighting. Rummy Nose Tetras aren’t too picky about it, but I’ve noticed they show off their vibrant colors best in moderate lighting. Plus, it helps the plants in the tank thrive.

Water Parameters

I’ve learned that these fish can be a bit sensitive when it comes to their water environment. Remember, keeping the water parameters consistent is just as important as hitting the right numbers, as udden changes can cause unnecessary stress to your Rummy Nose Tetra.

First off, temperature. As tropical fish, they thrive in warmer water. I keep my tank between 75 to 81 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 27 degrees Celsius). It’s important to maintain a stable temperature, sudden fluctuations can stress them out.

When it comes to pH, Rummy Nose Tetras prefer slightly acidic water. A pH range of 6.0 to 7.0 seems to be their sweet spot. I make it a point to regularly check the pH levels in my tank to ensure they stay within this range.

The hardness of the water is another factor to keep in mind. Rummy Nose Tetras prefer soft to moderately hard water, with a general hardness (GH) of 5 to 12 dGH.

Water quality is also crucial. A high-quality filter helps maintain good water conditions, and regular water changes are a must. I usually change about 25% to 30% of the water in my tank every two weeks.

rummy nose tetra

Diet and Feeding

When it comes to feeding Rummy Nose Tetras, I’ve found that variety is the spice of life. These fish are omnivores, which means they’ll eat both plant-based and meaty foods.

In my tank, I typically feed them a base diet of high-quality flake or micro pellet food. This ensures they’re getting all the essential nutrients they need. But to mix things up, I like to supplement their diet with live or frozen foods like daphnia, brine shrimp, and bloodworms. Watching them chase around the live food really brings out their natural behaviors and it’s quite a sight to behold!

On the veggie side of things, they’ll happily nibble on blanched zucchini or peas. I’ve even noticed them grazing on algae in the tank, which is a great natural food source.

One thing to remember is that Rummy Nose Tetras have small mouths, so whatever food you offer needs to be small enough for them to eat. I usually feed them once or twice a day, only offering as much food as they can consume in about 2-3 minutes. Excess food can lead to water quality issues, so it’s better to err on the side of caution.

Common Diseases and Health Issues

The Rummy Nose Tetra, like any other fish, can be susceptible to certain health issues. Over the years, I’ve come to understand that prevention is key when it comes to keeping these fish healthy.

Ich is a common disease that can affect Rummy Nose Tetra. It presents as small, white spots on the fish’s body and can be treated with over-the-counter medications. If I ever notice any white spots on my fish or any change in their behavior, I start treatment right away. Catching it early is important.

Another issue I’ve come across is fin rot. This usually happens if the water conditions in the tank are poor. Regular water changes and a good filtration system go a long way in preventing this.

Something to keep in mind is that Rummy Nose Tetras, with their vibrant red noses, provide a unique health indicator. If the water quality drops or if they’re not feeling well, their noses will fade in color. I always keep an eye on their coloration – it’s like a built-in health barometer.

The key to dealing with health issues is to observe your fish daily and take immediate action if you notice anything unusual. The sooner you catch a problem, the easier it will be to treat.

Breeding Rummy Nose Tetras

Gender Differences

Breeding Rummy Nose Tetras is an adventure, let me tell you. First things first, identifying the males and females can be a bit tricky. Both genders look remarkably similar. However, I’ve noticed that females tend to be slightly plumper, especially when they’re carrying eggs. The males, on the other hand, are typically slimmer.

The Breeding Process

When it comes to breeding, Rummy Nose Tetras prefer a quiet, dimly lit environment. I usually set up a separate breeding tank with soft, acidic water and plenty of plants or a spawning mop for the female to lay her eggs on.

Once the eggs are laid and fertilized, it’s crucial to remove the adults from the tank as they might snack on the eggs. With the right water conditions and a bit of luck, you should see little fry swimming around in about a week!

Breeding Tips

In my experience, feeding the prospective parents a diet rich in live foods prior to breeding can help condition them and increase the chances of success. And remember, patience is key. Breeding Rummy Nose Tetras can take time and multiple attempts.

Related Species

As we’ve explored, there are three species commonly referred to as Rummy Nose Tetra. We’ve been focusing on the Hemigrammus rhodostomus, the true Rummy Nose Tetra, but let’s take a moment to look at the other two: Hemigrammus bleheri and Petitella georgiae.

  • Hemigrammus bleheri, is quite similar to Hemigrammus rhodostomus in terms of appearance, with the same distinctive red nose and silver body. However, there are slight differences in their tail patterns. Bleheri’s tail is typically more deeply forked, and the black and white bands on their tail extend further into the fin.
  • Then there’s Petitella georgiae, often referred to as the False Rummy Nose Tetra. While they share the characteristic red nose, the coloration doesn’t usually extend as far back on the body as it does in Hemigrammus rhodostomus. Plus, their tail pattern is distinctly different, with a clear diagonal line separating the black and white areas.

Tetra species, in general, are known for their vibrant colors and patterns, and there are several species that sport some striking bits of red on them: Let me share a few of my favorites:

  • Cardinal Tetra (Paracheirodon axelrodi): These stunning fish are often confused with Neon Tetras due to their similar color patterns. However, the red stripe on a Cardinal Tetra extends the full length of the body, unlike in Neons where it’s only half. The contrast between the red and the iridescent blue is truly eye-catching.
  • Bleeding Heart Tetra (Hyphessobrycon erythrostigma): These unique fish are named for the distinctive red spot on their sides that looks like a “bleeding heart”. The rest of their body can range from silvery to greenish, and they also have a touch of red in their eyes.
  • Lemon Tetra (Hyphessobrycon pulchripinnis): This is a beautiful, small fish that gets its name from its lovely, pale yellow, or “lemon” color. But the exciting bit is in the eyes and the edges of their fins. The eyes of the Lemon Tetra have a fiery, almost ruby-red hue that contrasts spectacularly with their soft yellow bodies. Moreover, their dorsal and anal fins have a delicate edging of red, providing a subtle but attractive splash of color.
  • Glowlight Tetra (Hemigrammus erythrozonus): These small, peaceful fish are a favorite among many aquarists. They’re primarily a translucent silver color, but their standout feature is a beautiful iridescent red-orange line that runs along their body from the eye to the base of the tail.

rummy nose tetra school


Are Rummy Nose Tetras good for beginners?

Absolutely! They are hardy and relatively easy to care for, making them a great choice for beginner aquarists. However, it’s essential to ensure the water parameters are stable, as they can be sensitive to changes in water quality.

How many Rummy Nose Tetras can I put in a 10-gallon tank?

While they are small, they are schooling fish and enjoy being in groups. Generally, a good rule of thumb in fishkeeping is the “one inch per gallon” rule. Considering that adult Rummy Nose Tetras reach about 2 inches in length, a 10-gallon tank could theoretically accommodate up to five adults.

But because they are a schooling species, they are happiest and display their best behavior and colors in larger groups. A small school of six to eight is often recommended for these fish, so do consider a tank larger than 10 gallons.

Why is my Rummy Nose Tetra’s nose not red?

As we mentioned earlier, the redness of a Rummy Nose Tetra’s nose can be an indicator of its health and water conditions. If the nose is not as red as usual, it may mean that the fish is stressed or that the water conditions are not optimal. Regular water testing is crucial to ensure the water parameters are within the acceptable range.

Do Rummy Nose Tetras nip fins?

Generally, they are peaceful and not known to be fin nippers. However, like any fish, individual behaviors can vary. Ensuring your tetras are in a suitably sized school and have enough space can help prevent such behaviors.

Can Rummy Nose Tetra live with Bettas?

While every fish has its personality, generally, Rummy Nose Tetras are peaceful and can coexist with bettas. However, bettas can sometimes be aggressive or territorial, so it’s important to monitor their behavior and have a backup plan in case things don’t work out.

Are Rummy Nose Tetras Right for Your Aquarium?

So, here we are at the end of our deep dive into the world of this particular tetra species. We’ve explored the ins and outs of Rummy Nose Tetra care, their behavior, and their unique traits. But the question remains, are they the right choice for your aquarium?

In my personal experience, Rummy Nose Tetras have been a joy to keep. Their vibrant red noses and unique behavior add a lively touch to any aquarium. They’re peaceful, hardy, and generally low maintenance, which makes them an excellent choice for both novice and seasoned aquarists.

In the end, it’s about creating a happy, healthy environment for your aquatic pets. If you can provide that, then I say go for it! These tetras could be the splash of color and activity your aquarium needs. Happy fishkeeping!

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