Hemigrammus bleheri

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Firehead etra, Brilliant rummy nose tetra

Hemigrammus bleheri is a very popular aquarium fish, also called Firehead tetra. This beautiful characoid with a bright red nose and black and white striped tail fin, and peaceful temper can be a good tankmate. In Nature it occurs only to blackwater habitats. Hemigrammus bleheri’s distribution are the Rio Negro basin and Rio Atabapo.

Submitted by
Natasha Khardina
Approved by
Flavio Lima
-0.9847240, -62.1745605
Geographical region
South America
Drainage Basin
Amazon basin
River catchment
Rio Negro
Water body type
Water body name
Nameless affluent
Water body part
Water body course
Middle course
Water body: tributary of
Tributary name
Type locality
Rio Jufaris, upper Rio Negro basin, Brazil
Conservation status/IUCN Red List
Not Evaluated (NE)


Water Chemistry

Water information

Water type
Fresh water
Water color
Black water
Water transparency
Concentration of sediments
Water temperature
26 °C
Water flow/curent

Chemical parameters

3-10 mg/l
1-4 mg/l
Dissolved Oxygen


Standard length
4.5 cm
Water volume (min. aquarium)
60 l
Social behaviour
Group fish
Behaviour description

In Nature Hemigrammus bleheri lives in large aggregations. To support this natural behaviour in the planted aquarium, when kept biotope correct, this species should be able to form small shoal, preferably larger group of 10 or more specimens. Upon rather soft lighting, if well acclimatized, together with Paracheirodon innesi this species will offer a breathtaking show of brilliant colours.

Aggression grade
Day active
Sexual dimorphism

As many other characoids, the mature females of Hemigrammus bleheri are noticeably rounder in the body than males. In case of excessive stress, besides showing signs of discomfort, Hemigrammus bleheri loses its color, becoming gray.

Nutrition in Nature

In its natural biotope it feeds mainly on insects, larvae and small crustaceans. In its diet a discrete proportion of the vegetable component is also present.


Breeding tank set-up

For breeding it is needed a separate tank of minimum 60-75L, big enough to raise any numbers of fry. The tank should be dimly lit and contain some fine leaved plants such as java moss or spawning mops, where the fish can deposit their adhesive eggs. The base of the tank should be covered with some kind of mesh large enough to allow the eggs to fall through it, but small enough prevent the adults from reaching them.

Nutrition parents

High quality diet of frozen and live foods.

Mating type
Spawning behaviour

It can be spawned in pairs (1) and in a group (2).

1. Group of males and group of females are conditioned in separated tanks at the temperature a few degrees higher (30°C) then in the main tank (25°C), with pH below 7. When the females are noticeably full of eggs and the males are displaying their best colours, transfer the fattest female and best-coloured male into the spawning tank. Normally the pair should spawn the following morning.

2. By spawning in a group, condition with 6 males and 6 females with plenty of live and frozen foods. By choosing this option the spawning should not present any problems.

Once the eggs have been laid, the adults should be moved to another tank to allow the eggs to hatch and the fry to develop without being preyed on. The eggs will hatch in 24-36 hours, with the fry becoming free swimming a 3-4 days later.

Breeding habits
Hatching period
24-32 hours
Number of eggs in average
Parental care
Fry number
Nutrition fry

For the growth of the young it is necessary to administer an infusoria–type food for the first few days, until they are large enough to shrimp nauplii, microworm and other micronized food.

Notes on reproduction

Hemigrammus bleheri reaches the sexual maturity at some nine months, although in the aquarium their lifespan is 3 – 5 years. In the aquarium the reproduction is quite difficult. The breeding couple must be separated from the group for the time necessary to lay eggs. The fertilized eggs will be deposited on the bottom, the parents will eventually feed on the eggs, if they manage to find them on the substrate.

In the early stages of life the eggs and fry are light sensitive so the tank should be kept as dimly lit as possible, thefore it is recomended to leave the eggs in total darkness for 35 hours.

Comment by the expert

Today Hemigrammus bleheri is among the most asked for aquarium fishes and possibly the best shoaling fish, a very active and beautiful fish when kept in large groups. Manaus exports nearly 3 million each year throughout the world, it is after the Cardinal Tetra Paracherodon axelrodi the most sold South America fish species, and one of the most sold around the world. In many places they are successful in breeding it, like in Malaysia, Indonesia, Czech Republic, Russia and elsewhere.