Firehead tetra (Hemigrammus bleheri)

You have a small aquarium and looking for attractive, easy to keep fish? Firehead tetra (Hemigrammus bleheri) is a small fish from the Characidae family, growing to about 6 cm. In the wild it can be spotted in the waters of the Rio Negro and Rio Vaupes rivers in South America. You can have a stock of these fish in a tank as small as 80 litres. The water for firehead tetra should have a temperature of 23 to 28oC, a hardness of 5-12 dGH and a slightly acidic to neutral pH. Firehead tetra (Hemigrammus bleheri) are black-water fish. Therefore it is necessary to add humic compounds and tannins to water. To do this, place a peat filter in the bucket filter. If you do not use this type of filter, you can use a ready-made liquid products such as: Tropical Querex, Tropical Torfin Complex or Tropical Ketapang Extract.

Firehead tetra (Hemigrammus bleheri) is social and active fish. You should keep at least 6-7 individuals in the aquarium. It is an ideal fish for a general tank, to which you can introduce calm species from South America. It has a silvery body with a characteristic, intense red colour on its head, eyes and gills. The tail fin shows horizontal, alternating white and black stripes. Sexual dimorphism is poorly marked. The females have more prominent bellies and are more round than the males.

How to prepare an aquarium for firehead tetra?

It is best that the aquarium substrate is dark. For this purpose you can use fine gravel or special plant aquarium substrates. In the latter case, by following the manufacturer’s instructions, you will make it easier for yourself to care for your water plants. There should be plenty of plants, but remember to leave space for the fish to swim. Floating plants are also a good idea as they will disperse the lightning. Use roots, lignites and small stones as decorations. On the bottom you can place oak, beech or ketapang leaves and alder cones in the tank.

What to feed firehead tetras with?

Firehead tetras eat live and frozen food, e.g. Artemia salina, daphnia, black mosquito larvae or a glassworms. They are happy to accept small granulated foods, e.g. America size S and Vitality&Color Granules which will satisfy their nutritional demands. They extremely varied composition provides ingredients of both animal and vegetable origin, as well as enhances the coloration of fish thanks to the addition of astaxanthin and the presence of natural carotenoids contained in the raw materials e.g. red pepper. In addition, they stimulate the immune system thanks to health promoting ingredients such as beta-glucan.

Species that are often mistaken for firehead tetra

Rummy-nose tetra (Hemigrammus rhodostomus) and false rummy-nose tetra (Petitella georgiae) are often mistaken for firehead tetras. A good eye, however, will quickly catch the subtle differences. The colours of rummy-nose tetra are not as intense as in firehead tetra. Out of all three, it is the rummy-nose tetra that is the least brightly coloured. The red on his head has a smaller range and does not reach beyond the gill covers, just like in false rummy-nose tetra. All three species have a characteristic tail fin pattern – white and black stripes arranged alternately. In false rummy-nose ttera, the middle black strip running along the spine can reach up to half the body.

Ph.D.Eng Aleksandra Kwaśniak-Płacheta

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