Serpae Tetra Care Guide: Needs, Diet, Tank Mates & Breeding

Serpae Tetra
Dr. Mollie Newton
Published by Dr. Mollie Newton PHD| Senior Editor
Last updated: July 16, 2024
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Thinking about adding some **excitement** to your aquarium? **Meet** the Serpae Tetra! Known for their **bright red bodies** and **bold black markings**, these lively fish, also called Hyphessobrycon eques, are a **favorite** among fish enthusiasts. Their **social nature** and **playful schooling** make them an **excellent addition**. They’re low-maintenance, which is great for both newbies and experienced hobbyists. Picture these **colorful tetras** darting around, bringing a **splash of fun** to your tank. **Learn** how to create the perfect home for these **vibrant fish**.

Quick Summary

  • Serpae Tetras are suitable for both beginners and experienced aquarists due to their hardiness and ease of care
  • Serpae Tetras thrive when kept in larger groups, exhibiting natural behavior and vibrant colors more prominently.
  • Serpae Tetra males tend to be smaller and more slender than females, with more intense colors and longer fins.

Species Overview

The serpae tetra, also known as jewel tetra or red minor tetra, scientifically known as Hyphessobrycon eques, is a popular species among beginner fish keepers. Native to South America and belonging to the Characidae family, these vibrant red-colored fish are relatively easy to care for. The serpae or jewel tetra can be found in pet stores and are often sought after due to their striking appearance.

The serpae tetra species have an average lifespan of around 3-5 years. However, several factors can influence their longevity, such as water quality, diet, and tank conditions. It is important to provide them with a suitable natural environment that includes plenty of hiding spots and plants like Java moss.

These tetras thrive when kept in larger groups, as they are social creatures that enjoy the company of their own kind. In larger numbers, they exhibit more natural behavior and display their vibrant colors more prominently. Their active nature and schooling behavior make them a lively addition to any aquarium.

The Serpae tetra fish readily accept a variety of foods. They are omnivorous and will consume both flake food and live or frozen options such as brine shrimp or bloodworms. Providing a balanced diet will help maintain their health and enhance their coloration.


Serpae Tetra Body

The serpae tetra is a small-sized fish with an elongated body, making it quite distinctive in nature. One of the most striking features of the serpae tetra is its bright red color, which adds a vibrant splash to any aquarium environment. Hence, its nickname red minor tetra. Along with its red hue, this species also boasts distinctive markings and fin characteristics that make it easily recognizable.

There are a few key differences to note. Males tend to be slightly smaller and more slender than females. Males may display more intense colors and develop longer fins compared to their female counterparts.

Care and Lifespan

The serpae tetra has an average life expectancy of up to 5 years if properly cared for. To ensure their health and safety, it is crucial to maintain a well-balanced aquarium environment. Regular monitoring of water conditions is necessary as these fish are sensitive to changes.

Serpae tetra fish have a lifespan of up to 5 years when properly cared for. To ensure their well-being, they need a clean tank with suitable water conditions, including a temperature of 75-82°F and proper filtration. Regular monitoring of pH levels (6.0-7.0) and ammonia/nitrate levels is crucial.

Keeping Serpae Tetra Healthy

A varied diet of high-quality flake or pellet food, supplemented with live or frozen foods like brine shrimp or bloodworms, is recommended. When choosing tankmates, it’s important to consider their compatibility, as serpae tetra fish can be nippy towards certain other fish. Additionally, proper quarantine procedures should be followed to prevent the spread of common diseases.


By providing the right care and maintaining optimal conditions, you can ensure that your serpae tetras live and thrive in your aquarium for several years. Remember to monitor their behavior, health, and overall well-being regularly to catch any issues early on.

Tank Requirements

Serpae tetra fish have specific tank requirements that need to be met in order to ensure their well-being and happiness. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Tank Size: Serpae tetras require a minimum tank size of 20 gallons. This allows them enough space to swim and explore comfortably.
  • Swimming and Exploration: These tetras are active swimmers and enjoy exploring their environment. It is important to provide them with ample open swimming space in the middle of the tank.
  • Densely Planted Tanks: Serpae tetra species prefer tanks that are densely planted, as it replicates their natural habitat. The presence of live plants not only adds visual appeal but also provides hiding spots for these fish.
  • Hiding Spots: In addition to plants, it is essential to include decorations and hiding places in the tank setup. This allows your serpae tetra to retreat when they feel the need for security or privacy.

By meeting these requirements, you can create an ideal environment for your serpae tetra, ensuring they thrive in your aquarium setup.

Water Requirements

right water conditions is crucial for the health and well-being of your serpae tetra…

Providing the right water conditions is crucial for the health and well-being of your serpae tetra. Here are some important considerations when it comes to their water requirements:

  • Temperature: Serpae tetras thrive in a temperature range between 72°F – 78°F (22°C – 26°C). Maintaining a stable and appropriate temperature is essential for their overall health.
  • pH Level: These tetras prefer slightly acidic water with a pH range of 6.0 – 7.0. Monitoring and adjusting the pH level accordingly will help create an optimal environment for them.
  • Water Hardness: It’s important to ensure suitable water hardness for serpae tetras. While they can adapt to various levels, maintaining moderate hardness is recommended.

Regularly monitoring and maintaining good water quality is essential for the well-being of your serpae tetra. Here are some additional tips to consider:

Water Changes

Regularly changing a portion of the aquarium water helps remove toxins and maintain optimal water conditions. Aim for weekly or bi-weekly partial water changes, replacing about 20% of the tank volume each time.

Filtration System

A reliable filtration system plays a vital role in maintaining clean and healthy water conditions. Ensure that your aquarium has an efficient filter that provides adequate mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration.

Tank Cycling

Before introducing your serpae tetra, it’s crucial to cycle your aquarium properly. This process establishes beneficial bacteria colonies that help break down harmful substances in the tank over time.

To enhance the habitat of your serpae tetra, you can also consider adding suitable low-light aquarium plants such as Java Moss or Anubias Nana. These plants provide shelter while contributing to better overall water quality by absorbing excess nutrients.

Serpae Tetra Tankmates

Temperament and Tank Mates

Serpae tetras are known for their nipping behavior towards long-finned fish. To ensure their well-being, it is best to keep them in schools of at least six individuals. When choosing serpae tetra tank mates for your serpae tetra, it is important to proceed with caution to avoid aggression issues.

Serpae Tetra Tank mates

Here are some compatible tank mates for serpae tetras:

  • Bottom-dwelling catfish: These peaceful fish make excellent companions for serpae tetras.
  • Cardinal tetras: These vibrant freshwater fish coexist harmoniously with serpae tetras.
  • Danios: Active and social, danios are a great addition to the tank alongside serpae tetras.
  • Bolivian ram cichlids: Known for their peaceful nature, these cichlids can create a tranquil environment.
  • Bristlenose plecos: These algae-eating plecos not only help maintain the tank but also get along well with serpae tetras.

Tankmates To Avoid

However, it is advisable to avoid adding larger fish or freshwater snails as potential tank mates. Slow fish susceptible to fin nipping or aggressive species should also be avoided.

  • Angelfish: Avoid adding angelfish as tank mates for serpae tetras as they may view the tetras as potential prey and may exhibit aggressive behavior towards them.
  • Betta fish: It is advisable to avoid adding betta fish as tank mates for serpae tetras as they are known to be aggressive and may attack the tetras, causing harm or stress.
  • Cichlids: Avoid adding cichlids as tank mates for serpae tetras as they can be highly territorial and may engage in aggressive behavior towards the tetras.
  • Gouramis: It is best to avoid adding gouramis as tank mates for serpae tetras as they can be aggressive and may cause harm or stress to the tetras.
  • Tiger barbs: Avoid adding tiger barbs as tank mates for serpae tetras as they are notorious fin nippers and may target the tetras’ fins, causing damage and stress.

By selecting suitable tank mates and ensuring a well-populated school of at least six adult serpae tetras, you can create a harmonious and engaging environment in your aquarium. Remember to consider the temperament and compatibility of all freshwater fish when planning your tank setup.

Diet and Feeding

The serpae tetra has a carnivorous diet, primarily feeding on small insects and worms. In its native habitat, it also consumes plant matter and insect larvae. To ensure their nutritional needs are met, it is important to provide them with a varied diet.

Feeding the serpae tetra involves offering high-quality flake or pellet food as their main source of nutrition. However, supplementing their diet with live foods such as brine shrimp or bloodworms can be a good idea to add variety and enrich their feeding experience.

When to feed serpae tetras

To maintain optimal health, it is recommended to feed the serpae tetra multiple times throughout the day. This frequent feeding schedule mimics their natural feeding behavior in the wild. Using feeding rings can help prevent food from scattering across the aquarium and ensure that all fish have an opportunity to eat.

When selecting flake or pellet food for your serpae tetra, opt for options that offer a balanced nutritional profile. Look for high-quality flakes that contain essential vitamins and minerals necessary for their well-being.

In addition to regular feedings, providing occasional rich snacks like freeze-dried or frozen foods can be beneficial. These treats can help mimic the serpae tetra’s natural diet while providing additional nutrients.


Serpae Tetra Breeding

Breeding serpae tetras is relatively easy, but it requires careful consideration of pairing or group composition. These schooling fish thrive in a well-established habitat with plenty of vegetation and hiding places. To successfully breed serpae tetras, you’ll need to create the right breeding environment and provide optimal conditions.

Serpae tetras are egg-scattering species that require separate breeding tanks. Females lay adhesive eggs on plants or substrate surfaces, while males fertilize them. Here are the steps to breed serpae tetra:

To successfully breed serpae tetras, follow these step-by-step instructions:

Set up a breeding tank

First, set up a breeding tank specifically for the tetras. This tank should have appropriate lighting, filtration, and suitable water parameters. It is crucial to maintain a temperature between 75-80°F (24-27°C) for optimal breeding conditions.

Next, provide shelter and vegetation in the tank. Add plenty of hiding places, such as caves or dense vegetation, to mimic the tetras’ natural habitat. These hiding spots encourage parental instincts and increase the chances of fry survival.

Introduce one male tetra with two or three females into the breeding tank. The presence of multiple females helps reduce aggression towards a single female and promotes a more successful breeding process.

Stimulate Spawning Behavior

To stimulate spawning behavior, slightly increase the water temperature in the tank. This temperature change will encourage the tetras to engage in mating behavior. Observe the courtship rituals that the male tetras display. During courtship, males will exhibit vibrant colors and engage in elaborate swimming displays to attract the females.

Once the courtship is successful, the female tetras will deposit adhesive eggs on plants or substrate surfaces, while the males simultaneously fertilize them. After the spawning process is complete, it is essential to remove the adult fish from the breeding tank. This step prevents them from consuming the eggs or fry.

The incubation period for the eggs is typically 24-48 hours, depending on the water temperature. Keep a close eye on the eggs during this time. Once the eggs hatch, feed the fry small live foods like brine shrimp or commercially available liquid fry food. Continue feeding them until they are large enough to consume regular fish food.


Are Serpae Tetras hardy fish?

Yes, Serpae Tetras are considered hardy fish, making them suitable for both beginners and experienced aquarists. They can adapt to a range of water conditions and are relatively resilient, helping them thrive in various aquarium setups.

What size tank do serpae tetras require?

Serpae Tetras can thrive in a tank as small as 20 gallons, but it’s recommended to provide them with more space. A 30-gallon tank or larger is ideal for a small group of serpae tetras, as it allows them to exhibit their natural schooling behavior and provides better water quality.

Do serpae tetras need a heater?

Yes, serpae tetras do require a heater in their tank. They are tropical fish native to warmer regions, so maintaining a consistent water temperature between 72-78°F (22-26°C) is essential for their well-being and overall health.

Why are my serpae tetras fighting?

Serpae tetras have a somewhat aggressive nature, especially within their own species or with fish that resemble their coloration. Fighting among them can occur due to competition for territory, establishing a hierarchy, or stress related to inadequate hiding spots. Providing ample hiding places and keeping them in a group can help minimize aggression.

How many Serpae Tetras should be kept together?

Serpae Tetras are social and thrive when kept in groups of at least 6-8 individuals. In larger groups, their natural schooling behavior becomes more evident, and they feel more secure, reducing stress and aggression. It’s essential to maintain an appropriate tank size and provide suitable companions to promote a harmonious environment.

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