The serape tetra, also known as the red minor tetra or blood tetra, is a colorful fish native to the slow-moving waters of the amazon river in South America and has an average lifespan of about 7 years.
These brightly colored fish are great for beginner and experienced aquarists alike. They are typically inexpensive, can be kept in a smaller aquarium, and are a very hardy fish.
One thing to make note of is that these fish tend to have a twitchy spastic style of swimming. Unlike many other species of fish, they tend to move in short bursts as opposed to smoothly swimming for long distances. This type of behavior is normal, but can sometimes be alarming to beginner aquarium hobbyists, who are not familiar with these types of fish.
Tank Set Up
When it comes to tank set up, keep in mind that tetras do best in well-established aquariums, so you want to make sure the tank is fully cycled, and the water parameters are stable before adding them to the aquarium.
Serpae tetras need a minimum tank size of 10 gallons, although personally I would recommend at least a 20-gallon tank.
They do best in soft, neutral to slightly acidic water with a pH of between 6-7.5 and temperatures between 72°-79°, so you may or may not need a heater for them.
Serpae tetras do best in a more dimly lit environment and thrive in blackwater aquariums. A well planted aquarium with driftwood, floating plants, and a darker sandier substrate is best if trying to mimic their natural environment.
Serpae tetras are a schooling fish, so you will need to keep a minimum of 5 in the tank, although they tend to act less aggressive when kept in larger numbers of 15 or more.
These tetras are known to be extreme fin nippers, so you will want to keep this in mind if you decide to keep them in a community tank. This type of behavior is typically seen most while the tetras are establishing a pecking order, so it is best not to keep them with other fish that may have long delicate fins.
Some examples these fish typically do well with are other species of tetras, corydoras, plecos, platies, or swordtails.
When it comes to diet, serape tetras are far from picky eaters. These fish do well with a diet consisting of a high-quality pellet food, along with frozen or live foods such as bloodworms, tubifex worms, and brine shrimp.
Serpae tetras are an egg laying species that are relatively easy to breed. As these fish are known to eat their eggs, you would want to set up a separate tank for breeding.
For your breeding tank you will want to set up a small very dimly lit aquarium, with dark substrate, low flow filtration, and provide either a spawning mop, or plants such as java moss. The water in this tank should be kept at warmer temperatures of between 78°-80°
When choosing your mating fish, it is easiest to tell the difference between male and female when they are ready to spawn. Males are much more brightly colored than their female counterparts, females are also typically larger with a rounder body, whiles males are more slender, and the dorsal fin on males will be black, while females’ dorsal fin will be more pale in color.
To condition your spawning pair, you will want to feed them a variety of foods, preferably live or frozen. As these fish are known to eat their eggs, once they have laid them, you will want to remove them from the tank. Keep in mind these eggs will be very sensitive to light, so if you have a light on your breeding tank, you will want to keep it off.
Eggs should hatch within 1-2 days and fry can be fed fry food, or baby brine shrimp once they are free swimming.