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Silvertip Tetra Complete Care Guide (2022)

The silvertip tetra is one of the most beautiful species of freshwater fish in the aquarium hobby, boasting a striking golden body complemented by sparkly silvery-white tips on their fins and tail.

Their attractive colors, lively nature, and straightforward care make them a fantastic fish to own, whether you’re a new or veteran fish keeper.

As an experienced aquarist who’s been caring for fish for over a decade (and a big fan of silvertip tetras), I’ll be going over everything you need to know about silvertip tetra care.

Species Overview

Scientific NameHasemania nana
Adult Size1.2 inches
Care DifficultyEasy
TemperamentPeaceful
Lifespan5-8 years
pH6.0-8.0
Water Temperature71°F-81°F
Water Hardness2-15dGH

History and Background

The silvertip tetra (Hasemania nana), also known as the copper tetra, is a peaceful shoaling fish that belongs to the characidae family.

While it isn’t as popular as some other tetra species like the neon tetra and buenos aires tetra, it is equally as striking in appearance. These tiny fish boast a gorgeous golden body with shimmery white tips on their fins and tail fin, hence the name “silvertip”.

Origin

Silvertip tetras are native to the São Francisco basin in Brazil, but they can also be found in other areas of South America.

Natural Habitat

The wild habitat of the silver tip tetra is primarily creeks, as well as small streams and tributaries that are far away from the main river channels. They live in large schools in either black or white waters.

Unique Features

Like other species in the characidae family, the silver tip tetra has a torpedo-shaped body. However, compared to most other tetra species, they don’t have an adipose fin behind their dorsal fin.

Colors

Hasemania Nana
Hasemania Nana

Silvertip tetra fish are a bright golden yellow color, though males tend to have a more coppery undertone to their scales. Their fins and tail are yellow with white tips, giving them an almost sparkling effect.

Patterns

The silver tip tetra has a faint black line that runs along the middle of their body, as well as a light silvery pattern around their eyes.

How Big Do Silver Tipped Tetras Get?

Silvertip tetras are very small freshwater fish that only reach around 1.2 inches in length. Females are normally a little larger than males.

Silvertip Tetra Male Vs Female

There are a few differences between male and female silvertip tetra fish. Male adult fish tend to be a deeper copper color, with semi-transparent bodies.

Females, on the other hand, are not as colorful and are a light yellow-silver color. They are also typically bigger and wider, with rounder bellies.

Are Silver Tip Tetras Fin Nippers?

Yes, silvertip tetras are fin nippers and are known for being bullies towards small fish with long fins like guppies and bettas.

How Many Silvertip Tetras Should Be Kept Together?

Silvertip tetras are shoaling fish, so they should be kept in groups of at least 6. Keeping these fish in large groups will make them much more active and can help reduce aggression.

Silvertip Tetra Tank Mates

Silvertip Tetras
Silvertip Tetras

The best tank mates for silver tips include other similar sized tetras, rasboras, dwarf cichlids, dwarf gourami, mollies and some species of snails like the bumblebee snail. Peaceful bottom dwellers like corydoras catfish and clown plecos are also suitable tank mates for a silvertip tetra community tank. Avoid larger species of fish that may see the tetra as food, like an angel fish.

TIP

Avoid long fin fish as silvertips can be quite nippy and boisterous towards slower moving species.

Can Silver Tip Tetra Live With Bettas?

As a rule, silvertip tetras do not make ideal tank mates for betta fish as they can be hostile towards fish with long fins.

While some aquarists have successfully kept silvertip tetras and bettas together, I personally wouldn’t risk it.

Tank Size

Despite their small size, silvertip tetras are very active fish and need a good amount of swimming space. For a school of 6, I’d advise a minimum tank size of 20 gallons or about three gallons of water per fish.

However, larger is always better when it comes to tetras due to their lively nature.

If you’re struggling to pick a good aquarium for your silvertip tetras, we have a separate guide on the best 20-gallon aquariums to help you get started!

Water Parameters

Ideal silvertip tetra water parameters are similar to other species of tetra, but there are a few slight differences, which I’ll be covering below!

Water Temperature

The silvertip tetra’s natural habitat is warm as they are native to the São Francisco basin in Brazil and other areas within South America. You should try and replicate this for both wild-caught and captive-bred specimens.

Ideally, the temperature of your tank water should fall within the range of 71 to 81 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you live in a cool climate, make sure you invest in a good-quality aquarium heater.

pH

Aquarium Water Bubbles
Aquarium Water Bubbles

The silvertip tetra is a relatively hardy fish that can adapt to both acidic and alkaline water, ranging from a pH of 6.0 to 8.0.

Water Hardness

Silver tips prefer soft aquarium water with a low hardness, like most other tetra fish species. Aim to keep your aquarium water with a hardness of between 2 to 15 dGH.

Acidity

Silvertip tetras can accept mildly acidic to slightly alkaline water, but they do best in a neutral pH (around 7.0).

Plants

Live aquatic plants or synthetic aquarium plants help create a natural environment for your silvertip tetra freshwater tank, as well as provide your fish with places to hide. Amazon swords, java moss, java fern, and anubias are some good aquarium plants for this tetra fish.

NOTE

Make sure you use an aquarium light, plant fertilizer, and a nutritious substrate to avoid dead plants. Fish poop can also act as fertilizer for your plants!

Filter

Aquarium Filter
Aquarium Filter

Use a strong aquarium filter for your silvertip tetra freshwater tank to maintain good water quality. Aquarium filters and media also provide beneficial bacteria with a place to colonize, which helps you keep ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels at a safe level.

The silvertip tetra lives in the Sao Francisco basin and South America where the waters are fast moving, so make sure your filter has an adjustable flow rate so you can mimic this.

Substrate

You can use any substrate for silver tips in your tank setup, including fine gravel, fine sand substrate, soil, and planting substrate.

Lighting

Silvertip tetras prefer fairly low lighting, so you should avoid using an overly powerful light in your tank setup. Aquarium lights that allow you to change the brightness and intensity of the bulbs are ideal.

TIP

You can add floating aquatic plants like duckweed, salvinia, and frogbit to help reduce bright light in your aquarium water.

What to Feed Silvertip Tetras

Like most other fish species in the tetra family, silvertip tetras are omnivores. They consume insects, invertebrates, and plant deritis in the wild. You should provide them with a high-quality diet filled with nutrient-dense foods to keep them healthy.

Some great food options for silvertips include premium freshwater fish flakes and frozen or live foods like daphnia, brine shrimp, bloodworms, and mosquito larvae which are nutrient dense foods that encourage growth. You can also feed them the occasional green vegetable such as zucchini, broccoli, and spinach.

When to Feed Silvertip Tetras

It’s best that silvertip tetras and most other freshwater species of fish are fed twice a day: once in the morning and once in the evening.

How Much to Feed Silvertip Tetras

Silvertip tetra feeding

Silvertips will overeat if given the chance, so it’s important to only feed your fish as much as they can eat within a couple of minutes. After this time, remove any leftover food with a net.

Silvertip Tetra Lifespan – How Long Do Silvertip Tetras Live?

With great care, silvertip tetras can live for between 5 to 8 years. Good water quality, a balanced diet, a large tank, and appropriate tank mates can all help you keep your fish healthy and happy.

Common Health Problems

Although relatively hardy freshwater fish, the silver tip tetra can be prone to a few health issues, especially in poor living conditions. Some of these diseases include ich, fin rot, velvet disease, fungal infections and neon tetra disease.

Neon tetra disease in particular can be fatal. Despite its name, it can affect all species of fish, and can spread extremely quickly in community aquariums. It’s caused by a mycobacterium that flourishes in dirty, warm water with low oxygen and pH levels.

Poor care and high stress levels can increase the risk of your silvertip tetras developing neon tetra disease. Symptoms include lethargy, loss in color, a lumpy body (due to cysts forming in the muscles), bent spine, difficulty swimming, and secondary infections like bloating.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for neon tetra disease. The only way to “treat” this condition is by removing all affected fish from your primary tank to prevent the spread to other species. A lot of species will eat dead fish, so this is a vital step to reduce further casualties.

Breeding

Breeding the silver tip tetra is a fairly easy process as they will usually breed without intervention. Silver tips make a great breeding project for beginner aquarists as there is little work involved to successfully trigger spawning.

Can You Breed Silvertip Tetras?

Yes, you can breed the silver tip tetra. These fish are egg scatterers, so the female will tend to lay eggs all over the tank, usually beneath plants.

How to Breed Silvertip Tetra

Silvertip tetras spawning, Hasemania nana

As long as you have at least one male and female adult tetra of the same species, you can simply leave your fish to breed freely. However, if you want to increase your chances of success and ensure the survival of the fry, there are a few things you can do to move the process along.

First, move at least 3 breeding pairs from your primary tank to a separate breeding tank – ideally, it should be at least 15 gallons in volume with no tank mates. Make sure the water temperature of the breeding tank is around 82 to 86 ºF with a pH of 6.0.

Silvertip Tetra Breeding Diet

Feed your silvertip tetras frozen or live foods that are high in protein, such as brine shrimp and bloodworms. This will help prepare them for spawning.

Once the pairs are ready to mate, the male silvertip tetra fish will look brighter in color, and females will have swollen bellies. After spawning, the females will deposit the eggs around the aquarium, prompting the males to fertilize them externally.

Transfer Eggs After Breeding

Remove all the adult silvertips after fertilization has taken place so the eggs don’t get eaten, since silvertip tetras don’t have parental instincts. In approximately 1.5 days, the eggs will hatch. You don’t need to feed the silvertip tetra fry straight away as they will consume the egg sac.

NOTE


As the eggs and fry are light-sensitive in their early stages of life, the tank should be dimly lit.

When the silver tip tetra fry become free-swimming (usually the first few days after hatching), you can offer them baby brine shrimp and infusoria. Once the fry are large enough that they won’t get eaten by your adult silvertips, you can move them from the breeding tank to your main aquarium.

If you need help raising tetra fry, here’s my complete care guide for neon tetra fry.

Is the Silvertip Tetra for You?

If you’re looking for an active, peaceful shoaling fish that’s brightly colored and fun to watch, the silver tip tetra is the right fish for you. They are fairly hardy and can adapt to a wide range of water parameters, making them a good choice for beginner fishkeepers.

Due to their lively nature, you should provide them with at least a 20-gallon tank. They are a shoaling fish species, so keep them in at least groups of 6 in a species-only aquarium or community tank with tank mates like dwarf cichlids, mollies, and corydoras catfish.

As long as you keep on top of your tank maintenance and give your silvertip tetras the best care possible, they should be with you for at least 5 years.

Final Thoughts

I hope this guide helped you learn more about silver tip tetra care and, hopefully, encouraged you to add a school to your freshwater aquarium.

They are stunning little fish that can really light up your tank and add a splash of color.

What do you like the most about the silver tip tetra? Be sure to let me know on our social platforms, and share this post with your friends!

If you’re looking for other fish care guides and aquarium product reviews, take a look at our other great articles here. We also have articles about bucktoothed tetras, diamond tetras, and emperor tetras.

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Mollie Newton
Mollie Newton
Founder of PetMeTwice. I love all types of animals from fish to fluff-balls! I also enjoy writing short stories and helping train animals 🤩