Bleeding heart tetra Care Guide: Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases, Breeding & More

Updated: October 27, 2022

The Bleeding Heart Tetra is a beautiful little freshwater fish that is perfect for beginners. They are easy to care for, peaceful, and can be kept in a wide variety of tanks.

This guide will teach you everything you need to know about Bleeding Heart Tetra care. You’ll learn about their diet, size, lifespan, and more!

Species overview

The bleeding heart tetra (scientific name: Hyphessobrycon erythrostigma) is a freshwater fish that’s native to the Amazon basin in South America.

They are found in slow-moving waters with a lot of vegetation. This is something that’s common among many tetra species, as they tend to prefer these types of habitats.

Bleeding heart tetras are a peaceful fish that are often kept in community tanks. They are compatible with a wide variety of other fish, which makes them a popular choice for many aquarium enthusiasts.

These fish get their name from the bright red coloration on their body, which resembles a bleeding heart. This is one of the main reasons why they are so popular, as their bright color really makes them stand out in any aquarium.


Bleeding heart tetra

The Bleeding heart tetra (Hyphessobrycon erythrostigma) is a freshwater fish that’s easily recognizable thanks to its unique coloration.

The body of this fish is a deep blue color. This shade gradually gets lighter towards the belly area and fins. The fins themselves are transparent with a bright red hue along the edges.

The most notable feature of this fish is the red mark in the shape of a heart right on their sides. This is where they get their name from.

The eyes of the Bleeding heart tetra are red as well which makes for a very striking appearance.

This species grows to be about 2.5 inches (6.4 cm) long on average.


The typical Bleeding heart tetra lifespan is 5 to 8 years. As with most fish, there are a number of things that can impact their life expectancy.

For instance, if they’re kept in subpar water conditions then their lifespan will be shortened.

Additionally, if they’re constantly stressed out then that will also lead to a shorter life. So, it’s important to try and create a stress-free environment for them.


These fish only grow to be about 2.5 inches in length, which makes them a good choice for smaller tanks.


Tank Size

The recommended tank size for a school of bleeding heart tetras is 30 gallons. If you want to keep a smaller school you can get away with a 20 gallon tank but we don’t recommend going any smaller than that.

As with most fish, the more space you can give them the better. If you have the room, a 40 to 50 gallon tank would be ideal. This will give you some extra room to add more fish or plants to your tank.

Water Parameters

The bleeding heart tetra is a freshwater fish that’s native to the Orinoco and Amazon river basins in South America.

In the wild, they inhabit slow-moving waters with plenty of vegetation.

When it comes to keeping bleeding heart tetras in captivity, it’s important to recreate these water conditions as closely as possible.

The table below outlines the preferred water parameters for bleeding heart tetras.

  • Water temperature: 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit
  • pH levels: 6.0 to 7.0
  • Water hardness: 2 to 12 dGH
  • Alkalinity Levels: 4-8 dKH

What To Put In Their Tank

When it comes to setting up an aquarium for Bleeding heart tetras the key is to keep things simple.

These fish come from slow-moving rivers and streams in South America. As a result, they’re used to a lot of vegetation and not a lot of rocks or driftwood.

You can use a gravel substrate if you want, but we prefer a sandy bottom. This replicates their natural habitat a little better and also makes it easier for them to find food.

Speaking of food, these fish are mostly carnivores. They will accept some plant matter, but their diet should be mostly meaty foods.

You can supplement their diet with live foods, frozen foods, or pellets. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s high in protein.

As for plants, you can include whatever you want. Just remember that Bleeding heart tetras prefer dimly lit tanks. So, if you go with live plants make sure they’re species that can grow in low light conditions.

Common Diseases

The bleeding heart tetra is a relatively hardy fish, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get sick. There are a few diseases that these fish are prone to, and it’s important to be aware of them.

The most common disease that affects bleeding heart tetras is ich. This is a parasitic infection that will cause white spots to form on the body of your fish.

If left untreated, ich can be fatal. However, it is relatively easy to treat if you catch it early.

Other potential diseases include fin rot, hole in the head, and velvet. These are all relatively common in freshwater fish, and bleeding heart tetras are no exception.

As with ich, these diseases are all treatable if you catch them early. The best way to prevent your fish from getting sick is to maintain a clean and stable tank.

Unfiltered or un cycled tanks are a breeding ground for disease, so it’s important to have a good filtration system in place. Regular water changes are also crucial for keeping your tank clean and your fish healthy.

Behavior & Temperament

The Bleeding heart tetra is a peaceful fish that does well in a community tank. It is an active fish that loves to swim, so it does best in a tank with plenty of swimming space.

While it is a peaceful fish, it is also a bit shy. It does best in a tank with plenty of hiding places, and it may take a little while for the fish to come out of its shell.

The Bleeding heart tetra is a school fish, so it does best when kept in groups. It is a social fish that loves to interact with other fish.

The Bleeding heart tetra is a hardy fish that is easy to care for. It is a good choice for beginner aquarists.

Tank Mates

When it comes to compatible tank mates, bleeding heart tetras are relatively easy to please.

These little guys are schooling fish, so they do best in groups of at least six. This social behavior means that they’re generally pretty peaceful.

Bleeding heart tetras are also shy, so it’s important to choose tank mates that won’t bully them.

Some compatible species include:

  • Neon Tetras
  • Cardinal Tetras
  • Black Neon Tetras
  • White Cloud Mountain Minnows
  • Rummynose Tetras
  • Serpae Tetras
  • Ember Tetras
  • Flame Tetras


The easiest way to identify a male and female is by their coloration. The males are much brighter and have longer fins.

To get started, you’ll need a breeding tank that’s at least 10 gallons. The water should be soft with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. You can use an air stone to provide some gentle aeration.

Then, add some plants. They don’t need to be real, but live plants will help to increase the chances of spawning.

Finally, add a few pieces of driftwood to the tank. Driftwood is important because it gives the female somewhere to lay her eggs.

When everything is ready, add two females for every male. The male to female ratio isn’t as important as it is with other species, but you don’t want too many males in the tank. They can be quite territorial.

Feed the fish a variety of live, frozen, and flake foods. Once they’re well-fed, begin making daily water changes of about 20 percent. That should trigger spawning.

The female will lay her eggs on the driftwood or plants. After she does that, the male will fertilize them. Then, it’s just a waiting game.

The eggs will hatch in about three days. When they do, remove the adults from the tank. They will eat the fry given the chance.

The fry are extremely small, so they need very small food. You can feed them newly hatched brine shrimp or other live foods. As they grow, you can start to introduce crushed flake food.


The Bleeding Heart Tetra is a beautiful freshwater fish that is perfect for any tank. They are peaceful and get along well with other fish, making them a great addition to any community tank.

They are also very easy to care for, which is always a bonus. Overall, we think the Bleeding Heart Tetra is a fantastic fish for any level of fish keeper.