Silvertip Tetra Handbook: From Appearance to Aquarium Care

silvertip tetra - Hasemania nana
Japanese Fighting Fish is reader-supported. When you purchase through one of our links we may earn an affiliate commission (at no extra cost to you).

Last Updated: September 4, 2023 by Flora Gibbins

Have you ever gazed upon a school of fish, shimmering and darting through the water, and felt a sense of awe and wonder? Well, let me tell you about the Silvertip Tetra, a small but striking fish that is sure to capture your attention and make a fantastic addition to your aquarium.

What sets this species apart from the rest is their unique ability to change colors in response to their mood or surroundings. One moment, they might be a subtle silver, and the next, they could be displaying vibrant shades of orange and gold. As an aquarium enthusiast myself, I find this feature absolutely fascinating!

In this blog post, we’ll dive deeper into the world of the Silvertip Tetra and learn all about their characteristics, care, and suitability for your tank. So, let’s embark on this colorful underwater journey together!

Silvertip Tetra Facts and Overview

  • Common Names: Silvertip Tetra, Silver Tip Tetra, White Tip Tetra,
  • Scientific Name: Hasemania nana
  • Adult Size: Approximately 2 inches (5 cm) in length
  • Lifespan: 3 to 5 years in captivity, with proper care
  • Colors and Markings: Silver body with a yellow-orange hue, prominent white or silver tips on the dorsal and anal fins, and a bright orange tail
  • Origin: Native to the fast-flowing rivers and streams of Brazil’s São Francisco River basin

Origin and Distribution

You know, one of the things I absolutely love about aquarium fish is learning about where they come from. So, let me tell you the story behind our energetic little friends, the Silvertip Tetras. These captivating fish come from the São Francisco River basin in Brazil, where they live in fast-flowing rivers and streams. Just imagine them swimming around in the wild, surrounded by dense vegetation and a lively underwater world!

Isn’t it amazing to think that these fish have made their way from the lush Brazilian river landscape to our home aquariums? They were first introduced to aquarium hobbyists in the mid-20th century, and it’s no surprise that their popularity has only grown since then. I mean, who wouldn’t be drawn to these vibrant, playful fish?

They’re not only a lively addition to any community tank but are also relatively easy to care for – making them perfect for beginners and experienced hobbyists alike.


Now, let’s talk about what makes the Silvertip Tetra (not to be confused with the Silver Tetra or Ctenobrycon spilurus) such a visual treat in your aquarium. I can’t help but be mesmerized by their striking colors and markings. These small fish typically grow to around 2 inches (5 cm) in length, making them a perfect fit for various tank sizes. They boast a sleek, torpedo-shaped body that allows them to dart gracefully through the water, which I find absolutely fascinating to watch.

But, it’s their remarkable colors and markings that truly set them apart from other species. The base color of the Silvertip Tetra is a beautiful silver that can take on a yellow-orange hue depending on their mood or environment. And, as their name suggests, the tips of their dorsal and anal fins display a stunning white or silver color, making them stand out even more. To top it all off, their tail fin features a vibrant orange that contrasts brilliantly with the rest of their body — so fab!

From my experience, it’s worth noting that the intensity of their colors can vary depending on factors such as diet, water quality, and stress levels, which we’ll cover later in this blog post.

Behavior and Temperament

One of the reasons I’m so fond of Silvertip Tetras is that they’re fun and entertaining to watch. These energetic little fish are known for their playful swimming patterns and their ability to zip around the tank, adding a sense of excitement and movement to your underwater world.

Silvertip Tetras are schooling fish, which means they feel most secure and content when kept in a group of at least six or more. In my experience, the more Silvertip Tetras you have in your aquarium, the more fascinating their behavior becomes, as they interact with one another and form tight-knit social structures. Their schooling nature not only provides a captivating display for you to enjoy but also helps to reduce stress and promote overall well-being among the fish.

They are generally peaceful but can be slightly assertive when interacting with other fish. I should mention that Silvertip Tetras are a bit more aggressive than some other small tetra species, and can sometimes be a bit nippy towards long-finned species. It’s always best to choose tank mates with similar temperaments and activity levels to ensure a harmonious community tank.

silvertip tetra

Silvertip Tetra Tank Mates

One of the things I find most exciting about setting up a community aquarium is choosing the perfect tank mates for my fish. When it comes to Silvertip Tetras, there are several options to consider. In this section, we’ll explore compatible fish species, non-fish tank mates, and those that are best to avoid, so you can create a harmonious and diverse environment for your aquatic pets.

Compatible Fish Species

In my experience, Silvertip Tetras get along well with other similarly sized, non-aggressive fish. Some of my personal favorite tank mates for these energetic little swimmers include:

By choosing a mix of compatible fish species, you can create a beautifully diverse and dynamic community tank that never ceases to amaze.

Non-Fish Tank Mates

If you’re looking to add a little variety to your aquarium, Silvertip Tetras can also coexist peacefully with certain non-fish tank mates. In my aquarium, I’ve had great success with:

  • Dwarf shrimp (e.g., Cherry Shrimp and Amano Shrimp)
  • Snails (e.g., Nerite Snails and Mystery Snails)

These invertebrates not only add visual interest to your tank but can also help with algae control and overall tank cleanliness.

Tank Mates to Avoid

As I mentioned earlier, Silvertip Tetras can sometimes be a bit nippy towards long-finned species. From my experience, it’s best to avoid housing them with fish like Angelfish or Bettas, as their long fins can be tempting targets for Silvertip Tetras. Additionally, avoid keeping them with larger, aggressive fish that might view them as prey.

Silvertip Tetra Care

Let’s now talk about the most important aspects of caring for Silvertip Tetras and providing them with the right environment, water conditions, and nutrition, which are all essential for their health and well-being. These are fishkeeping details to really pay attention to and practice.

Tank Setup

Creating the ideal tank setup for your Silvertip Tetras is crucial for their overall health and happiness. In this section, we’ll discuss the recommended tank size, what to put in the tank, and the equipment and accessories you’ll need to keep your Silvertip Tetras comfortable and content.

Tank Size

While Silvertip Tetras are small fish, they’re also quite active, so it’s important to provide them with enough space to swim and explore. I recommend a minimum tank size of 20 gallons for this fish, but a larger tank is always better, especially if you plan on keeping a school of these energetic swimmers.

What to Put in the Tank

To replicate their natural habitat and make your Silvertip Tetras feel at home, consider adding the following elements to your tank:

  • Dense vegetation: Live or artificial plants provide shelter and hiding spots for your fish. In my experience, plants like Java Fern, Anubias, and Amazon Swords work well.
  • Hiding spots: Incorporate rocks, driftwood, or caves to offer additional cover and create a more visually interesting environment.
  • Substrate: A fine-grained or sandy substrate is ideal, as it resembles the riverbeds they inhabit in the wild.

Equipment and Accessories

To maintain optimal water conditions and a healthy environment for your Silvertip Tetras, you’ll need the following equipment and accessories:

  • Filter: A high-quality filter is essential to keep the water clean and free of harmful substances. Make sure the filter is suitable for the size of your tank and can handle the bioload of your fish.
  • Heater: Silvertip Tetras prefer warmer water, so a heater is necessary to maintain a stable temperature. I suggest keeping the temperature between 72-79°F (22-26°C).
  • Lighting: Moderate lighting will help your fish feel comfortable and encourage plant growth if you have live plants.
  • Thermometer and water testing kit: Regularly monitoring the water temperature and parameters is crucial for the well-being of your Silvertip Tetras. A reliable thermometer and a water testing kit will help you ensure that the water conditions remain stable and safe.

Water Parameters

Maintaining the appropriate water parameters is crucial for the health and well-being of your Silvertip Tetras. In this section, we’ll go over the essential water parameters you need to keep an eye on to ensure your fish thrive in their aquatic home. Trust me, as an aquarist, I can’t stress enough how important it is to monitor these parameters regularly.

  • Temperature: Silvertip Tetras prefer warm water, so it’s essential to keep the temperature within the range of 72-79°F (22-26°C). In my own tank, I find that keeping the temperature around 76°F (24°C) works well for these little swimmers.
  • pH: These fish do best in slightly acidic to neutral water conditions. Aim for a pH level between 6.0 and 7.5. In my experience, keeping the pH stable is more important than hitting the exact number, so be sure to monitor any fluctuations carefully.
  • Hardness: Silvertip Tetras can adapt to a range of water hardness levels. However, they tend to thrive in softer water with a general hardness (GH) between 4 and 12 dGH.
  • Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate: Like all fish, Silvertip Tetras are sensitive to ammonia and nitrite, which can be toxic even at low levels. It’s essential to keep these parameters at 0 ppm. Nitrate levels should also be kept low, ideally below 20 ppm. Regular water changes and a well-maintained filter go a long way in keeping these levels in check.

Make it a habit to test the water parameters regularly using a reliable water testing kit. This way, you can detect any issues early and address them before they become problematic for your fish. From my own experience, staying on top of water quality is key to ensuring a healthy and thriving aquarium environment for your Silvertip Tetras.

Diet and Feeding

One of the secrets to keeping your Silvertip Tetras healthy and displaying their vibrant colors is providing them with a nutritious and varied diet. As an omnivorous species, these fish require a mix of both plant-based and protein-rich foods. In this section, we’ll explore the types of food you can offer your Silvertip Tetras and provide some feeding tips I’ve found helpful in my own aquarium.

  • Commercial fish food: High-quality flake or pellet food forms the foundation of a well-balanced diet for Silvertip Tetras. Look for a product that contains a mix of protein, carbohydrates, and essential vitamins and minerals. Personally, I like to switch between flakes and pellets to provide variety in their diet.
  • Live and frozen foods: Supplementing your fish’s diet with live or frozen foods, such as brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms, is a great way to provide additional protein and encourage their natural hunting instincts. My Silvertip Tetras absolutely love chasing after live brine shrimp in the tank!
  • Vegetable matter: Silvertip Tetras also benefit from the occasional addition of plant-based foods, such as blanched spinach or spirulina flakes. These provide essential nutrients that help support their overall health.

Regarding feeding frequency, I recommend feeding your Silvertip Tetras small amounts of food 2-3 times per day. Only offer as much as they can consume within a couple of minutes to prevent overfeeding and potential water quality issues.

Hasemania nana - silvertip tetra
Juan R. Lascorz, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Common Health Issues and Diseases

Like any fish, Silvertip Tetras can be susceptible to various health issues and diseases. However, by maintaining proper water quality, a balanced diet, and a stress-free environment, you can minimize the risk of illness in your aquarium. In this section, we’ll go over some common health problems that may affect Silvertip Tetras and discuss what you can do to prevent and treat them.

Ich (White Spot Disease)

Ich is a common parasitic infection that causes small, white spots to appear on your fish’s body, fins, and gills. It’s highly contagious and can quickly spread through your aquarium. To prevent Ich, maintain stable water parameters and avoid sudden temperature fluctuations. If you notice signs of Ich in your tank, gradually raise the water temperature to 86°F (30°C) over several days and consider using a commercial Ich treatment.

Fin Rot

This bacterial infection causes the fins of your fish to become ragged and discolored. Fin Rot can be triggered by poor water quality or injuries from nipping. To prevent Fin Rot, keep the water clean and monitor your fish for aggressive behavior. If you notice signs of Fin Rot, improving water quality and using a broad-spectrum antibiotic can help treat the infection.

Swim Bladder Disease

This condition affects your fish’s buoyancy, causing them to have difficulty swimming, staying upright, or reaching the surface. Overfeeding, constipation, or a sudden change in water temperature can contribute to swim bladder problems. To prevent this issue, feed your fish a balanced diet and maintain consistent water parameters. If you suspect swim bladder disease, try fasting your fish for a day and then offering them a blanched, deshelled pea to help with digestion.

Parasites and Fungal Infections

Silvertip Tetras can also be affected by various parasites and fungal infections. Quarantining new fish and plants before adding them to your aquarium is a crucial preventive measure. If you notice any signs of illness, consult your local aquarium store or an aquatic veterinarian for advice on appropriate treatments.

Breeding Silvertip Tetras

Breeding Silvertip Tetras can be a rewarding experience, allowing you to observe the entire life cycle of these fascinating little fish. In this section, we’ll discuss how to differentiate between the sexes, the breeding process, and some helpful tips to ensure successful breeding.

Gender Differences

While Silvertip Tetras are not as sexually dimorphic as some other fish species, there are still a few subtle differences to help you distinguish between males and females. Males are generally smaller, slimmer, and more brightly colored than females. On the other hand, females tend to have a rounder, fuller body, particularly when carrying eggs.

The Breeding Process

  1. To encourage Silvertip Tetras to breed, you’ll need to set up a separate breeding tank with the following conditions:
    • Tank size: A 10-15 gallon tank is suitable for a breeding pair or small group.
    • Water parameters: Maintain slightly acidic water with a pH of around 6.5 and a temperature of 78-80°F (25-27°C).
    • Tank setup: Provide plenty of hiding spots and dense vegetation, such as Java Moss or spawning mops, for the female to lay her eggs.
  2. To trigger spawning, increase the water temperature by a few degrees and introduce live or frozen foods into their diet.
  3. When the female is ready to spawn, she will lay her eggs among the plants or spawning mops, and the male will fertilize them.
  4. Silvertip Tetras are known to be egg scatterers and may eat their eggs or fry, so it’s important to remove the adult fish from the breeding tank once spawning is complete.

Breeding Tips

  • Select healthy, well-conditioned fish for breeding to increase the chances of successful spawning and healthy fry.
  • Keep the breeding tank dimly lit, as Silvertip Tetras are more likely to breed in low-light conditions.
  • Monitor the breeding tank closely for signs of eggs or fry. Once you spot them, maintain optimal water conditions and feed the fry with infusoria or other suitable fry foods, such as crushed flakes or newly hatched brine shrimp.

Related Species

Silvertip Tetras are just one of the many beautiful and captivating species within the Tetra family. If you’re interested in expanding your collection or exploring other Tetras with similar care requirements and characteristics, here are a few related species to consider:

  • Neon Tetra (Paracheirodon innesi): One of the most popular and iconic aquarium fish, Neon Tetras are known for their iridescent blue and red stripes. They are peaceful, schooling fish that thrive in a well-planted tank.
  • Cardinal Tetra (Paracheirodon axelrodi): Similar in appearance to Neon Tetras, Cardinal Tetras have more vibrant and extensive red and blue coloration. They are also peaceful, schooling fish that prefer densely planted tanks.
  • Black Skirt Tetra (Gymnocorymbus ternetzi): With their striking black and silver coloration, Black Skirt Tetras are an eye-catching addition to any community tank. They are hardy and adaptable, making them a great choice for beginner aquarists.
  • Rummy-Nose Tetra (Hemigrammus rhodostomus): Known for their distinct red noses and black and white striped tails, Rummy-Nose Tetras are an active and engaging species. They do well in a well-planted tank with stable water parameters.
  • Ember Tetra (Hyphessobrycon amandae): These tiny, fiery orange Tetras are great fish for nano tanks and planted aquariums. They are peaceful and enjoy the company of their own kind in a densely planted environment.

FAQ’s on Silvertip Tetras

Can Silvertip Tetras jump out of the tank?

Like many other small fish, Silvertip Tetras can be prone to jumping, especially when they feel threatened or stressed. To prevent this, ensure your tank has a secure lid or cover to protect your fish and maintain a stress-free environment by providing hiding spots and maintaining stable water parameters.

Do Silvertip Tetras change color?

Silvertip Tetras may change color in response to stress, illness, or changes in their environment. If you notice a significant color change in your fish, first check the water parameters to ensure they are within the appropriate range. If the issue persists, consult a veterinarian or aquarium expert for advice on potential causes and treatments.

How can I enhance the coloration of my Silvertip Tetras?

Providing a varied and nutritious diet that includes live or frozen foods can help bring out the vibrant colors of your Silvertip Tetras. Additionally, keeping them in a well-planted tank with a dark substrate and background can make their colors appear more vivid.

How fast do Silvertip Tetras grow?

Silvertip Tetras grow relatively quickly when provided with optimal care, a nutritious diet, and a suitable environment. With proper care, juvenile Silvertip Tetras can reach their adult size of 1.5 to 2 inches (3.8 to 5 cm) within 4-6 months.

Are Silvertip Tetras Right for Your Aquarium?

Ultimately, deciding whether Silvertip Tetras are the right choice for your aquarium depends on your preferences, experience, and the environment you can provide. These lively and colorful fish can be a delightful addition to a community tank, bringing energy and movement to your aquatic display.

As you’ve learned throughout this guide, Silvertip Tetras are relatively hardy and adaptable, making them suitable for both beginner and experienced aquarists.  So embrace the challenge and reward of caring for Silvertip Tetras, and you’ll soon discover the joy and satisfaction that come with creating a thriving aquatic habitat for these enchanting fish.

Good luck, and happy fishkeeping!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *