Care Guide for Silver Tip Tetras — Fun and Interactive Schooling Fish
Silver tip tetras are one of our favorite schooling fish. Beginners love them because they are hardy and energetic, and if you have a big enough group, they will follow your finger as you trace it along the outside of the aquarium glass. Plus, their sunshine colors look dazzling in a lushly planted tank. Find out how to keep this fun, little fish both happy and healthy in your home aquarium.
What are Silver Tip Tetras?
Hasemania nana is a 2-inch (5 cm) schooling fish that hails from the rivers and streams of Brazil. What sets it apart from your typical South American nano tetra is its high activity level. During mealtimes, you will see them swarm together in a feeding frenzy reminiscent of their larger neighbor, the piranha. Their bold, outgoing nature is one of the many reasons they are among the most popular fish sold at Aquarium Co-Op.
Adult males deepen into a coppery-orange color, whereas adult females and juveniles have a translucent, lemon-yellow hue. Their common name comes from the white tips on their fins, and their forked tail has a short, black stripe in the middle. Most silver tip tetras in the aquarium trade are captive-bred at fish farms, and they have developed an albino version for sale as well.
Coppery-gold male with white tips on his fins
How to Set Up an Aquarium for Silvertip Tetras
Unlike some South American fish, silver tip tetras live in a wide variety of environments and can easily tolerate 74-82°F (23-28°C), pH levels of 6–8, and soft to hard water. We always recommend keeping them with lots of live aquarium plants so you can see glints of golden yellow darting through the green and red leaves. Having tall background plants and decorations that block line of sight can also help give females a break from the males.
How many silvertip tetras should be kept together? This schooling species is very lively and social, so we would not recommend only keeping a few or else they may show interest in fin nipping other fish. A group should consist of at least 8–10 silver tip tetras in a 20-gallon aquarium or larger, which will give them more space to zoom around the tank. If you get a bigger group of 20 in a 55-gallon aquarium, they will shoal together in a visually pleasing manner, and you will get more of that hand-following interaction that is so entertaining. Sometimes you may notice some minor squabbling among themselves, but this is typical tetra behavior that happens as they establish their hierarchy.
What fish can live with silver tip tetras? As an active community fish, they do best with similar-sized, speedy fish that won’t get outcompeted during mealtime. Therefore, do not mix them with slow, delicate, or long-finned fish — like betta fish — that can’t handle their boisterous personalities . They will also happily eat any dwarf shrimp or baby fish they come across. In our experience, they do well with many types of barbs, zebra danios, platies, mollies, and dwarf gouramis. We have also paired them with bottom dwellers like corydoras, plecos, kribensis, and dwarf cichlids like apistogrammas.
Silver tip tetra with a cherry barb
What Do Silver Tip Tetras Eat?
As mentioned before, this omnivore eagerly eats everything put in front of it. The key is to offer a buffet of different fish foods that provide all the essential nutrients they need and yet are small enough to fit in their mouths. For prepared foods, we like to feed flake foods, nano pellets, and freeze-dried foods like tubifex worms. If you make a trip to the fish store, don’t forget to grab some frozen daphnia, cyclops, or rotifers for extra variety. As extra enrichment, offer them live baby brine shrimp and daphnia, and watch their natural hunting instincts in action.
How to Breed Silver Tip Tetras
As an egg scatterer, they are not particularly hard to spawn, but the parents are prone to eating their own eggs and offspring. However, many hobbyists have accidentally spawned a few fry here and there in a colony setting just by having a seasoned tank with lots of mulm, feeding lots of food, and planting dense foliage like water sprite, java moss, and Pogostemon stellatus ‘octopus.’
To increase the survival rate, use a mature 10-gallon tank with lots of aquarium plants, mulm, and microfauna. Cover the ground completely with a plastic craft mesh, and place some spawning mops and java moss underneath it. The hope is that the mesh will allow the eggs to fall through the mesh while preventing the parents from reaching them. Also, the young may be light-sensitive, so keep the lights completely off, and consider adding some catappa leaves under the mesh to tint the water and grow biofilm for the fry to eat.
Feed the adults well until the females become swollen with eggs, and then add one male and one female to the breeding tank. If you cannot easily sex them, add a group of at least six adults so that you have a higher chance of having both sexes. The adults should spawn quickly, so remove them within a day or two and wait for the eggs to hatch within 1–1.5 days. The newborns should become free-swimming 3–4 days later, so feed them multiple small meals of live vinegar eels, infusoria, and powdered foods every day. Do small water changes to keep the water quality high, and graduate the fry to live baby brine shrimp as soon as possible to make sure they grow up strong and healthy.
Male (in the foreground) and female (in the background) silver tip tetras
A school of silver tip tetras is an amazing statement piece that everyone should try at least once. Most fish stores can get them, and they ship well from our preferred online vendors. If you’re curious what other tetras made it to our top 10 list, check out our article about our favorites.