Fish Description

Bleeding Heart Tetra Hyphessobrycon erythrostigma

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Every tetra fish has its unique features, which makes them different from each other. Even when having a big fish family of around 700 known tetras, they have small differences that make them exclusive. Similarly, the bleeding heart tetra also as the name suggests has a unique feature. Bleeding heart tetra has a marking colored blushing red near its gills. This looks like the fish has a bleeding heart.

The bleeding heart tetra (Hyphessobrycon erythrostigma) has other different names such as Spotfin Tetra and Tetra Perez.

The colors of the bleeding heart tetra range from beige-orange to silvery lavender. Their colors brighten when they feel the most secure. The bleeding hearts are also the type of schooling fish and therefore kept with small groups of their kind.

You will know more about the bleeding heart tetra in detail in this article. Keep reading to gain more insights about the origin, care and tank environment one must know if you are planning to keep them as a pet.

Origin, Habitat in the Wild and Distribution

Bleeding Heart Tetra are very common aquarium fish nowadays since they are unique and easy to handle. Fowler first described them in 1943. Originally, found in the densely populated streams and banks of the Upper Amazon. The bleeding tetra also has a habitat on river basins in South America and Columbia.

Bleeding hearts prefer water areas that are deeper and shallower. You can find them mainly in slow-moving streams. These tetras are a fan of overhanging plants, in the form of fallen branches and roots, along with aquatic vegetation and submerged wood.

Since IUCN Red List has not listed the bleeding heart tetras, they are primarily collected from the wild. However, today, they are commercially bred and are exported to many countries around the globe.

About Bleeding Heart Tetra

If you want to keep bleeding heart tetra as a pet then they will surely be the major attraction for your aquarium. The researchers identify the tetra fish as active schooling fish and bleeding hearts are one of them. Meaning they swim in a group creating a spectacular view in your tank.

Bleeding heart tetras are species of tropical freshwater fish and are the most suitable fish even for beginner aquarists. A person with basic knowledge about fish keeping can easily pet them in their aquarium happily.

The fish has a blooming red spot on their gill, which recognizes as its heart.

Let us get into more details about the bleeding heart tetras including their appearance, lifespan, availability, etc.


The tetra family fish are of various shapes and sizes. They all have unique features. As mentioned earlier, the bleeding heart tetra’s most exclusive feature is its bright red patch on the side that looks like a bleeding heart. And this is where the fish got its name “Bleeding heart tetra.”

Bleeding heart tetras are bigger in size in comparison to other tetras. The size of the bleeding heart tetra can be 3.5 inches in length. However, this is the maximum size of tetra that are wild-caught. The tetras that are commercially bred get up to 2.75 inches in size. Bleeding heart tetra has a splendid body shape.

The body of bleeding heart tetra is very deep and the color range can be from beige-orange to silvery lavender. The fish pops up its color when they get proper food and a healthy environment.


The bleeding heart tetra resides on the densely vegetated tropical freshwater rivers and streams. You can find them around South America and Brazil in the Amazon River and the Rio Negro.

The bleeding heart tetra is not on the red list, so, you can find them in the wild. They are widely bred in the aquarium as well. Therefore, bleeding heart is readily available at reasonable prices in various pet stores and online stores as well.

Life Span

The lifespan of a bleeding heart tetra is about 3 to 5 years in captivity. However, it is not quite sure about their lifespan in the wild. They also can live for more than 5 years in the wild.


The bleeding heart tetra is widely available across America and Europe. The fish can cost up to $4.29 in the USA. Likewise, it costs £5.40 across various regions of the UK. As the fish needs to kept in a group of at least 6, you will be spending at least $25.

Fish Keeping Difficulty

Bleeding hearts are mostly very peaceful in nature. These tetras are not that aggressive as other tetras so a beginner keeper can manage them in a community tank. However, the male fish can get territorial and when this happens; fin nipping can become a problem.

You can mix them with other tetra fish like glowlight tetra, neon tetra, cardinal tetra in your community tank. However, do not keep them with fish with long fish such as betta, goldfish. These fish are sometimes territorial bullying and nipping fins ko small and long-tail fish. Even though bleeding hearts are mostly peaceful, they also tend to harass other tank mates at times.

Bleeding hearts do not adapt well to the continuous changes occurring in the tank. It can make them stress. Hence, the tank water should be changed and cleaned frequently.

Sexual Difference

The bleeding heart tetra has a splendid body shape. The female bleeding heart tetras are more full-bodied and have a shorter, rounded fin. The females have body length ranging from 29.0 mm to 53.3 mm.

Female Bleeding Heart Tetra can be differentiated looking at its dorsal and anal fin. The male has longer extended dorsal and anal fins as compared to the female. The dorsal fin elongates into a type of sickle, arching to the length of the base of the tail.

The male bleeding heart tetra is also identified by having more color and elaborate fins. The male body has a length ranging from 29.1 mm to 60.6 mm.

The dorsal fins of both male and female bleeding heart tetras are in black, pink, purple and white colors.

Bleeding Heart Tetra Fish Care

Just like we humans require fresh air to breadth, fish also need a clean environment to thrive. So, if you wish for a good and healthy life of your fish maintain your aquarium water on a regular basis. Just like any other pets, fish also need proper care, grooming and checking up on any minor changes in their environment.

An aquarium tank is a small space for fish to live in. They cannot freely travel or move as in the wild. There can be various changes in the water of the tank after sometimes. Since the fish live in a completely different habitat than in the tank, it will become our responsibility to provide them their basic needs. As they are also living beings, the owner must be able to notice any inconveniences for the fish and should take action immediately.

Bleeding heart tetras being freshwater tetras are not difficult to care and maintain like other fish. In fact, they are very easy to care for any other kind of pets but it does not mean that they are low-maintenance fish.

Tank Size

Bleeding heart tetras, unlike most other smaller tetras, are demanding at times. The bleeding hearts are active swimmers. They need somewhat open areas in order to help them swim freely. Hence, the required size of the tank for bleeding hearts is at least 24 inches long with 15 or more gallons of water.

To get the best of bleeding heart they require biotop tank, the tank that resembles their natural habitat. The bleeding tetras are jumpers so their owners should secure the lid of the tank carefully. They like to swim mostly in the bottom and middle of the tank. They can also get easily spooked.


The tetra family is a fan of dim lightings and bleeding heart tetras do not differ. The bleedings heart when kept in dim lighting, their colors brighten and saturates making the aquarium very attractive.

The bleeding hearts love the aquarium when decorated with dry leaves in the bottom of the tank. The decoration of leaves leads to a difference in the lightings inside the tank. Hence, the decorations directly affect the lighting inside the tank.

Decorations and Substrate

Heart tetra bleeding favors a cover of the plant and darker gravel.

For the substrate, you can use river sand with some driftwood and twisted roots. Additionally, you may also add some dried leaves to the sand, which will stain the water a light brown, and replace the leaves every few weeks.

Fish Diet

The bleeding heart tetras are very easy to feed. They can eat anything that is commonly available prepared food.

A wide range of commercial fish products, including quality flakes, frozen or congelation-dried foods can be the diet of the bleeding heart tetra. You can also add small live foods to its diet including bloodworms and brine shrimp and spirulina-bearing herbivore species.

Maintain Water Quality

A filter is a good addition to ensuring water quality. They need soft, peat-filtered water. The water in the tank requires cleaning every week. Change about 20% of the tank water every week to maintain the chemistry of the water.

Even though bleeding heart tetras adapts the varying water parameters due to its changes in habitat, there are major things that one must consider when you keep them as pets. Mixing of different foods is very important for overall health, behavior, and color.


Bleeding heart tetras are freshwater fish. So, the temperature of the tank needs to be around 22 °C (72 °F) – 26 °C (79 °F). The keepers can obtain this by using aquarium heaters such as Tetra HT Submersible. These heaters are automatic, meaning you adjust temperature and the heater will do its job to maintain the water temperature that you have set.

pH and Hardness

The bleeding tetra fish, like most tetras, need soft, acid water, pH 6.5 to 6.8, with plenty of plants. This is different from the bleeding heart captured from the wild. The pH level should be within the range of 5.6 to 7.2.

The hardness of the water in the tank for bleeding heart tetra should be in the range of 3 to 12 dGH.


An aquarium tank is a closed environment. The fish in the tank usually excrete in the water. Due to this, pollution and harmful toxins develop within the tank.

In order to maintain the good health of the bleeding heart tetra, you must add a good quality filter in your tank. As the water in a tank age, beneficial bacteria housed in filter media helps in Aquarium nitrogen Cycle, breaking down harmful chemicals to less harmful ones i.e. Ammonia to nitrites and nitrites to nitrate. This will improve your water quality however, to remove nitrate you will need to replace your aquarium water by 10% fresh water every other day.

Aquarium water maintenance

We, humans, need fresh air to breathe and stay healthy. Likewise, fish needs a clean and pollution-free environment to flourish. Hence, in order for your fish to live a healthy life, you must maintain the aquarium water on a daily basis.

The owner must not ignore all the telltale signs stating that the aquarium needs cleaning or the water becomes dirty or even the fish becoming sick. The fish are supposed to swim freely in the wild streams and it takes an extra effort to keep them comfortable in the small space such as in the aquarium tank. Hence, you need to research and understand beforehand how difficult it to care for the fish then only pet one.

Fish Tank Mates

Bleeding heart tetras are peaceful and cooperative tetras. They are the schooling tetras and mostly shine when kept in groups of six. When kept with other varieties of tetras, they get to stand out as they have larger bodies in comparison to others.

Some of the smaller sized fish for the companion of bleeding heart tetras are Danios, cherry barbs, Rasboras, and some bottom dwellers such as some loaches or cories.

However, the bleeding heart tetras do not prefer larger size fish, as they can get aggressive and territorial. Not only that, the bleeding hearts cannot cope with the less active fish such as dwarf cichlids, different types of tetras, fast movements can cause them a lot of stress.

Fish Diseases

No matter how much immunity any fish has, a dirty tank could affect any fish. The bleeding heart tetra will be able to catch any kinds of tropical diseases. Since the fish will be in the confined container, the owner must keep an eye on their immunity and even the slight changes in the tank environment.

The fish farms nowadays are home to most of the bleeding heart tetras. However, before reaching any pet stores and in your aquarium, the breeders keep them in different community tanks. Therefore, you must check and make sure that you can identify any signs of illness and treat the affected fish only.

Bleeding heart tetras are very hardy and they are the least likely to catch any diseases. Nevertheless, there is no guarantee that the diseases will not outbreak. Some of the most common diseases that the bleeding heart can face are skin flukes, parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.), ichthyobodo infection, parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.), bacterial infections (general), and bacterial disease.


It is very often that people want to keep fish as a pet and they do not understand the responsibilities that come with it. This article hopefully, provides you the basic guide for beginners to be able to keep these tetras as a pet. Bleeding Heart Tetras are very interesting fish to keep for their beautiful colors and active behavior.

Anyone can successfully keep bleeding heart tetras as pet fish by paying a bit more attention to it. The aquarium can gain more attraction with the help of bleeding heart tetras as they are unique and active.

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