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Colombian Tetra

Welcome to the fascinating world of the Colombian Tetra, a dazzling freshwater fish that has captivated the hearts of aquarists worldwide. Known for their vibrant colors and dynamic presence, these tetras are a popular choice for both novice and experienced fish keepers. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore various aspects of the Colombian Tetra, from its natural profile to its care in home aquariums.

Colombian Tetra Quick Facts

Feature Detail
Scientific Name Hyphessobrycon colombianus
Common Names Colombian Tetra, Blue-Red Colombian Tetra
Family Characidae
Adult Size Up to 2.5 inches (6.4 cm)
Lifespan 3-5 years
Diet Omnivorous (prefers a varied diet including flakes, live, and frozen foods)
Water Parameters Temperature: 72°F – 82°F (22°C – 28°C)
pH: 6.0 – 7.0
Water Hardness: Soft to Medium
Tank Size Minimum 20 gallons
Behavior Schooling, Peaceful
Compatibility Compatible with most peaceful, similarly sized fish

Colombian Tetra Profile

The Colombian Tetra, scientifically known as Hyphessobrycon colombianus, is native to the Acandi River Basin in Colombia. They are a part of the Characidae family, commonly known for their schooling nature and peaceful temperament. Growing up to 2.5 inches in length, Colombian Tetras exhibit a striking blue and red coloration, making them a standout feature in any aquarium.

Colombian Tetra Coloring

One of the most striking features of the Colombian Tetra is its vibrant color palette. The body of this fish displays a shimmering blue hue, while their fins are adorned with a vivid red. This distinct coloring can become more pronounced under optimal aquarium conditions and with proper nutrition, adding a spectacular display of color to your aquatic environment.

Colombian Tetra Habitat

The Colombian Tetra naturally inhabits soft, slightly acidic waters in Colombia’s rivers. These environments are rich in vegetation and feature a mix of shaded areas and open swimming spaces, providing these active fish with ideal conditions for feeding and shelter.

Colombian Tetra Aquarium Setup

Lets take a detailed look at the aquarium setup for Colombian Tetras:

Aquarium Size and Water Conditions

Minimum Tank Size: At least 20 gallons to provide ample swimming space.
Water Temperature: Maintaining a range of 72°F to 82°F (22°C to 28°C).
Water pH and Hardness: Soft, slightly acidic water (pH around 6.0 to 7.0) is ideal.
Filtration and Aeration: Recommendations for filters and air pumps to maintain water quality and oxygen levels.

Aquarium Layout and Design

Substrate Choice: Suggestions for substrates that mimic the riverbeds of their natural habitat.
Plants: A selection of live plants that thrive in similar conditions, providing oxygen and hiding places.
Driftwood and Rocks: Adding driftwood and rocks to create a more natural environment and additional hiding spots.
Lighting: Appropriate lighting levels to simulate natural light cycles and promote plant growth.

Diet and Feeding

Dietary Requirements: Information on their omnivorous diet, including recommended foods.
Feeding Schedule: Guidelines on how often and how much to feed them.

Health and Maintenance

Regular Maintenance: Advice on routine tank cleaning, water changes, and filter maintenance.
Health Monitoring: Signs to watch for in Colombian Tetras that indicate health issues.
Disease Prevention: Tips on preventing common fish diseases in the aquarium.

Colombian Tetra Breeding

Breeding Colombian Tetras can be a rewarding experience. These fish are egg scatterers, and the breeding process begins with setting up a separate breeding tank with soft, acidic water. Spawning typically occurs during the early morning hours, where females scatter their eggs among plants. After spawning, parents should be removed to prevent them from eating the eggs. The fry usually hatch within 24-36 hours and require fine, specialized food for growth.

Breeding Environment

To initiate the breeding process, it’s essential to create an environment conducive to spawning. This involves setting up a separate breeding tank. Here are some key considerations:

  • Tank Size: A smaller tank, around 10-20 gallons, is usually sufficient for breeding.
  • Water Conditions: The water should be soft and slightly acidic with a pH of about 6.0-6.5. The temperature should be slightly warmer than their regular tank, around 78°F to 80°F.
  • Tank Setup: The breeding tank should have dim lighting and be densely planted with fine-leaved plants or spawning mops. These provide places for the fish to scatter their eggs.

Spawning Process

Colombian Tetras are egg scatterers, and they don’t exhibit parental care. Here’s how the spawning usually takes place:

  • Initiating Spawning: Often, a significant water change with slightly cooler water can trigger spawning.
  • Spawning Behavior: During spawning, the female scatters her eggs among the plants or spawning substrate, and the male fertilizes them. This process can last for several hours.
  • Egg Care: After spawning, it’s recommended to remove the adults from the breeding tank to prevent them from eating the eggs.

Colombian Tetra Compatibility

When it comes to community tanks, Colombian Tetras are generally peaceful and compatible with other similarly sized and tempered fish. Ideal tank mates include other tetra species, small barbs, danios, silver hatchet, zebra danio, and dwarf cichlids. Avoid housing them with larger, aggressive fish that may see them as prey. Always consider the temperament and size of potential tank mates to ensure a harmonious aquarium.

Colombian Tetra Diet and Feeding

In their natural habitat, Colombian Tetras are omnivores. They typically feed on small insects, larvae, plant matter, and occasionally algae. This varied diet contributes to their overall health and striking coloration.

In an aquarium setting, it’s important to replicate this varied diet as closely as possible. A combination of the following foods can ensure they receive all the necessary nutrients:

  • High-Quality Flake or Pellet Food: These should form the base of the Colombian Tetra’s diet. Choose products specifically designed for tropical freshwater fish that are high in protein and essential nutrients.
  • Live Foods: Live foods like brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms are excellent for providing protein and encouraging natural foraging behavior. They can be fed as treats a few times a week.
  • Frozen Foods: Frozen varieties of the above-mentioned live foods can also be used. Thaw them before feeding to avoid digestive issues.
  • Vegetable Matter: Though not a primary component of their diet, including some vegetable matter like spirulina flakes or blanched vegetables (e.g., spinach, zucchini) can provide essential vitamins and minerals.

Feed Colombian Tetras small amounts 2-3 times a day. Only give them as much food as they can consume in a few minutes. Overfeeding can lead to water quality issues and health problems.

Colombian Tetra Diseases

Colombian Tetras are prone to common freshwater fish diseases like Ichthyophthirius (Ich), fin rot, and fungal infections. Maintaining clean water, a balanced diet, and proper tank conditions is crucial to prevent these illnesses and ensure the health of these vibrant, active fish.


The Colombian Tetra is undoubtedly a jewel in the freshwater aquarium hobby. With their vibrant colors, peaceful nature, and relative ease of care, they make an excellent choice for both beginners and seasoned aquarists. By understanding their needs and providing the right environment, you can enjoy the dynamic beauty and charm of these splendid fish in your own aquarium.