Rummy Nose Tetra – Tankmates, Size, And Care Guides!

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The Rummy Nose tetra is a gorgeous fish that can do well in community tanks with other non-aggressive species. Thanks to their small size, these attractive fish are suitable for life in a small tank.

But are Rummy Nose tetras a good fit for a beginner? Do these fish need to live in a tank with a heater? And do Rummy Nose tetras make a good choice for a kids’ home breeding project?

Read this guide to learn about all you need to know about the Rummy Nose tetra’s care needs and more!

Rummy Nose Tetra – At A Glance

Scientific Name

Hemigrammus bleheri

Common Name (species)

Rummy Nose tetra, Firehead Tetra, Red Nose tetra, Brilliant Rummy Nose tetra




South America



Care Level

Suitable for beginners


5 to 6 years


Peaceful, community fish

Tank Level

Swims in the middle to top areas of the water column

Minimum Tank Size

20-gallon tank or larger

Temperature Range

75° to 84° F

Water Hardness

2 to 6 dKH

pH Range

6.2 to 7.0 (Slightly acidic)

Filtration/Flow Rate

Gentle to moderate

Water type



Egg-layer, challenging to breed in captivity


Peaceful community fish

OK, for Planted Tanks?


Natural Habitat

Rummy Nose tetras come from tropical and subtropical South America, typically streams and rivers in the Rio Meta and Rio Negro River Basins or Petitella Georgia in the Upper Amazon Basin in Peru, Rio Negro, Rio Purus, and Rio Madeira River Basins.

These days, the Rummy Nose tetras you see for sale in your local fish store are captive-bred in Europe and Southeast Asia.


Firehead Tetras grow to around 2 inches long when fully mature.


These beautiful little fish generally live for between 5 and 6 years in a captive environment.

Rummy Nose Tetra Types

If you’re considering adding some Rummy Nose tetras to your community tank, you should know that there are three very distinct but similar varieties of this tetra species.

Rummy Nose Tetra

True Species (Hemigrammus rhodostomus)

Hemigrammus rhodostomus is the true Rummy Nose tetra that you often find for sale in fish stores advertised as Brilliant Nose tetras or Common Rummy Nose tetras.

These fish can be distinguished from the other varieties by the following features:

  • Their red head color is lighter than Hemigrammus bleheri.
  • They don’t have a dark blotch at the bottom.
  • The line extending laterally from the central caudal fin is thinner than that of a true Rummy Nose.

Brilliant or Common Rummy Nose Tetra (Hemigrammus bleheri)

Hemigrammus bleheri is the most popular species of Rummy Nose tetra, which is sometimes also available as a commercially produced golden color morph.

The following features can distinguish this variant:

  • The red head coloration extends beyond the gill covers and into the fish’s body.
  • There’s a dark blotch at the top of the caudal peduncle.
  • The horizontal stripe extending from the central fin into the fish’s body is virtually invisible.

False Rummy Nose Tetra (Petitella georgiae)

False or Black-Finned Rummy Nose tetras are distinguishable from the other two varieties by the following features:

  • A bright red head
  • A black horizontal line extending to the middle rays of the fish’s caudal peduncle.
  • The fish has black diagonal bars divided by white bands in each caudal fin lobe.
Petitella georgiae
Image Source:

Often, no distinction is made between the different types of Rummy Nose tetras, so look carefully to see what variety you’re buying.

Activity Level/Temperament

Rummy Nose tetras are peaceful, active little fish that must be kept in large groups or schools in the tank.

Like most small fish species, these tetras become stressed if they don’t have company, which leaves the fish open to attack by parasites and common fish diseases. We recommend keeping at least six individual Rummy Nose tetras, although larger groups make for a better display and healthier fish.

Tank Mates For Rummy Nose Tetras

So, Rummy Nose tetras get along well together, but what other fish species make good tank mates for them?

Good Tank Mates For Rummy Nose Tetras

Essentially, all small, schooling, or shoaling fish species make suitable tank mates for your Rummy Nose tetras, such as the following:

  • Corydoras catfish
  • Danios
  • Harlequin rasboras
  • Black widow tetras
  • Lemon tetras
  • Neon tetras

Snails and larger shrimp species are a good fit for Rummy Nose tetras, provided that the shrimp are not small enough to be viewed as a food source.

Poor Tank Mates For Firehead Tetras

A bad choice of companion for Firehead tetras includes large, aggressive fish.

Diet, Food Sources, and Feeding Habits of Rummy Nose Tetras

Assorted different types of food for aquarium fish. Flakes, spirulina, pills, mixture. Navy blue sea background, close up

Rummy Nose tetras need a high-quality omnivore diet to remain healthy and thrive. Note that the vibrancy of the fish’s colors is directly linked to their health. So, the happier your fish are, the brighter their colors will be.

What to Feed Rummy Nose Tetras

In the wild, Rummy Nose tetras feed on insect larvae, tiny insects, and some plant matter.

In the aquarium, these fish do well on a varied, balanced diet of tropical fish flakes or micro pellets supplemented with frozen foods, such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, black worms, mosquito larvae, and the like. Freeze-dried foods are also eagerly accepted.

Although Rummy Nose tetras love live food, I don’t recommend it, as live foods often come with undesirable hitchhikers in the form of parasites and bacteria, which can infect your whole setup.

How Much and How Often to Feed

Rummy Nose tetras should be fed twice daily.

To ensure you have healthy fish, give them only what they will eat in a couple of minutes so that excess food doesn’t accumulate in the substrate and decompose, leading to poor water quality.

Tank Requirements

Minimum Tank Size Requirements

The minimum tank size for Rummy Nose tetras is 10 gallons or larger. However, since these fish are happiest when swimming in large schools and mixing with suitable tank mates, a spacious fish tank is best.

Since Rummy Nose tetras need to live in large schools, a long tank with plenty of swimming space is the best choice. I noticed that my Rummy Nose tetras would jump if startled, so a tank with a lid or cover slide is recommended to prevent accidents.

Tank Setup

Rummy Nose tetras do not do well in an uncycled or immature tank. So, you’ll need to set up your aquarium for 6 to 8 months before adding these fish.


Since Rummy Nose tetras mostly swim in the middle area of the water column like most types of tetra fish, you can use any kind of aquarium gravel, sand, soil, or gravel substitute that’s suitable for freshwater tanks. You can recreate the tetra’s natural environment by mixing small pebbles with sand or fine-gauge gravel.

However, don’t use marine or reef products that contain calcium carbonate. That will increase the water hardness, which won’t suit the tetras.


Rummy Noses prefer tanks with lush planting, and since these fish don’t appreciate bright light levels, use floating plant species to provide dappled shade and dim lighting conditions.

Other than live aquarium plants, you can use whatever decorations you want in a Rummy Nose tank. So, driftwood, twisted roots, rocks, and flat stones all make good choices and work well in a natural-looking habitat.

Fish Tank Plants Decor

When designing your aquascape, remember that these fish are active schoolers that need lots of space to cruise around the water column. So, place your plants and large decorative pieces around the tank perimeter.

Habitat Requirements


Rummy Nose tetras are highly sensitive to water quality and become easily stressed if the water contains ammonia, nitrite, and excessive levels of nitrates.

So, we recommend using a high-quality, efficient HOB or canister filter system to keep the water clean and safe for your fish. A larger tank over 40 gallons might benefit from an additional filter and an air stone to keep the water well-oxygenated.

To recreate the tetras’ natural environment, you might want to add a few dried Indian Almond leaves to the substrate. The leaves leach tannins into the water, providing an antibiotic effect for your fish and staining the water the color of tea, replicating the tetra’s natural habitat.

Water Parameters and Maintenance Tips

Water Temperature

Rummy Nose tetras are tropical fish that need warm water of 75° to 84° F.

Water Hardness and pH Range

Rummys prefer slightly acidic water with a pH level of 6.2 to 7.0. These fish do not tolerate hard water, so you’ll need to maintain a water hardness of 2 to 6 dKH.


Like Neon tetras, Rummy Nose Tetras come from a dark, blackwater environment, where the water is poorly lit and shaded by the overhanging rainforest canopy.

Freshwater aquarium with lights

You want to enjoy your fish and the brilliant display they create, so you can use floating plants to shade the tank and perhaps choose a lighting unit with adjustable mood settings.

Tank Maintenance

Rummy Nose tetras need pristine water, so you need to carry out partial water changes of around 25% weekly. Use an aquarium vacuum cleaner to remove bits of plant debris and uneaten food.

Change your filter media in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines, and rinse it in tank water every few weeks to remove sludge.

Test your aquarium water every week to ensure that the levels of ammonia and nitrite are zero and nitrates are 20 ppm or less.

Setting Up the Aquarium

As previously mentioned, Rummy Nose tetras are sensitive to water conditions, so we recommend adding them to a mature tank to prevent stress and mortality.

Rummy Nose Tetra Health and Disease

Signs of Good Health


Healthy Rummy Nose tetras are lively fish with vibrant red coloration on their heads. The fish should school with their companions, swimming primarily in the upper and middle areas of the water column.

Red Flags

There are a few red flags that can highlight potential health problems in your tetras, including the following:

  • Poor appetite
  • Inactivity
  • Not shoaling with tank mates
  • Swellings, red patches on the skin, and ulcers
  • Rubbing or flicking against the substrate or solid surfaces in the tank

Common Rummy Nose Tetra Health Issues and Treatment

Health Issue

Symptoms or Causes

Suggested Action

Ich (White Spot Disease)

White Spot disease or Ich, is a common disease that affects tropical and coldwater fish.

This parasitic infection irritates the fish’s skin, causing the fish to flick against objects in the aquarium. As the disease progresses, a scattering of white spots appears on the skin, the gill covers, and the fins.

Increase the water temperature to 82o F for a few days, and treat the water with over-the-counter Ich medication.

Skin and gill flukes

Flukes are parasites that you can often see with your naked eye, protruding from the skin or gills.

Treat the whole tank with OTC anti-parasitic medication.

Fungal infections

White cotton-like growths.

Quarantine infected fish; treat the water with OTC antifungal medication.

Bacterial infections

Ulcers, sores, and red skin patches.

Quarantine infected fish; treat the tank with OTC antibacterial treatment.

Health Issue

Symptoms or Causes

Ich is a very common disease that’s caused by an aquatic protozoan parasite. 
Fish infected with Ich develop a sprinkling of tiny white spots on their fins, gill covers, and bodies. They also flash against the gravel and other solid objects in the aquarium.

Suggested Action

Raise the water temperature to 82o F for three days. Use an OTC  White Spot Disease medication to treat the tank.

Health Issue


Symptoms or Causes

Flukes is the term used to describe various types of external fish parasites. These macroparasites can often be seen with the naked eye attached to the fish’s skin or gills.

Suggested Action

Treat the fish tank with an OTC antiparasitic medication.

Health Issue

Fungal infections

Symptoms or Causes

White fluffy growths on the fish’s body, mouth, and head.

Suggested Action

Quarantine infected fish, and treat with an antifungal medication.

Health Issue

Bacterial infections

Symptoms or Causes

Sores and ulcers on the body and head, ragged, bloody fins.

Suggested Action

Treat the tank with OTC antibacterial treatment.

Breeding and Reproduction of Rummy Noses Tetra

In theory, you can breed Rummy Nose tetras if you have a large group of fish between four and 12 months of age and keep them in a large, densely planted spawning tank.

Increase the water temperature to around 84°F, and offer the fish a protein-rich diet containing lots of live food to bring them into spawning condition.

Female Rummy Nose tetras deposit several large eggs into a folded leaf, where they’re fertilized by a male. The fry usually hatches after around 24 hours but remains fairly static for the first week, growing very slowly.

Feed the fry with drops of infusoria until they can manage to take baby brine shrimp.

Challenging Breeders

Unfortunately, breeding Rummy Nose tetras is not as straightforward as it sounds for home hobbyists, and most attempts fail for several reasons.

Rummy nose tetra

Differentiating The Sexes

First of all, it’s almost impossible to tell male and female Rummy Nose tetras apart on appearance alone!

Females might be slightly rounder in shape than males during the spawning season, but your best bet is to buy a large group of fish so that you have a good chance of getting a good mixture of the two genders.

Poor Water Conditions

Even if the gender balance is okay, spawning might fail if the tetras have been exposed to toxins such as ammonia or if they’ve been kept in hard water conditions. High levels of calcium in the water can cause sterility in Rummy Nose tetras, so it’s crucial you know the conditions the juvenile fish have been kept in before embarking on a breeding project.

Delicate Fry

Rummy Nose tetra fry is extremely fragile and slow growing. That means you must pamper the fry for the first month or so and sometimes for as long as three months until they’re big enough to eat adult foods.

The fry cannot tolerate fluctuations in the water chemistry, temperature, or parameters, and any instability in the environment will typically result in mass die-offs.

What Is The Price Of Rummy Nose Tetras?

Rummy Nose tetras are widely available in pet and fish stores for a few dollars per fish.

cost switch

Rummy Nose Tetra: Equipment and Supply List

Here’s what you’ll need to set up a modest planted tank to house a school of ten Rummy Nose tetras and a few other suitable community fish and other livestock.

  • 30-gallon aquarium, stand, lid, and adjustable light unit
  • HOB or canister filter
  • Heater and temperature gauge
  • Airstone, air pump, and tubing
  • Substrate
  • Live plants
  • Tank decorations
  • Water dechlorinator
  • Indian Almond leaves
  • Tropical omnivore fish flakes
  • A selection of frozen meaty foods


Here are the answers to a few of your questions about keeping Rummy Nose tetras.

Q: How many Rummy Nose tetras should I keep together?

A: Ideally, you should keep up to 12 Rummy Nose tetras together. These peaceful fish are fascinating to watch when swimming in a large group, and they’re happier in numbers. So, the more tetras you have, the better.

Q: How many Rummy Nose Tetras are in a school?

School of rummy nose tetra

A: The minimum number of Rummy Nose tetras for a school is six.

Q: How many Rummy Nose tetras can I keep in a 30-gallon tank?

A: Since Rummy Nose tetras are small, nano fish, you can fit between 20 and 25 of these little beauties in a 30-gallon tank.

Final Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed our guide to the beautiful Rummy Nose tetra. If you did, please remember to share the article!

Rummy Nose tetras are small, schooling fishes that do best and make an eye-catching display when kept in large groups. These fish make excellent additions to a community aquarium, getting along well with other small, peaceful species, snails, and invertebrates. Rummy Noses are a good choice for a beginner since they are straightforward and rewarding to care for.

Did you successfully breed Rummy Nose tetras in your home tank? Tell us about your fish in the comments box below.

Alison Page has been an avid fish keeper for over 35 years and has owned many different species of freshwater tropical fish including bettas. Currently Alison has two large freshwater tanks. The first tank has two huge fancy goldfish who are almost ten years old and still looking as good as ever. In the other, she has a happy community of tiger barbs, green tiger barbs, corydoras catfish, platys, and mollies.

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