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Red Eye Tetra (Moenkhausia sanctaefilomenae)

Welcome to the fascinating world of the Red Eye Tetra, a popular fish among aquarium enthusiasts. This article will explore various aspects of the Red Eye Tetra, providing valuable insights for both beginners and experienced fish keepers.

Red Eye Tetra Facts

Fact Detail
Scientific Name Moenkhausia sanctaefilomenae
Common Names Red Eye Tetra, Yellow-banded Tetra, Lamp Eye Tetra, Yellowhead tetra
Origin South America
Size Up to 2.75 inches (7 cm)
Lifespan Up to 5 years
Diet Omnivore
Preferred Habitat Freshwater; densely planted aquariums
Water Parameters Temperature: 72-80°F (22-27°C), pH: 5.5-7.5
Behavior Schooling, Peaceful
Breeding Egg scatterer
Compatibility Good for community tanks with similar-sized, peaceful fish

Red Eye Tetra Profile

The Red Eye Tetra (Moenkhausia sanctaefilomenae) is a small, energetic freshwater fish native to South American rivers. Known for its striking appearance and peaceful nature, it is a favorite in community aquariums. This species typically grows up to 2.75 inches in length and can live for up to 5 years with proper care.

Red Eye Tetra Coloring

One of the most distinctive features of the Balloon Red Eye Tetra is its bright red eye, which contrasts beautifully with its silvery body. The body may exhibit a subtle pink or orange hue under proper lighting. This coloring not only makes them a visual delight but also helps in identifying healthy fish.

Red Eye Tetra Habitat

The Red Eye Tetra originates from the clear, slow-moving rivers and streams of South America, particularly in Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. In these environments, they inhabit areas rich in vegetation, which provides shelter and feeding grounds. The water in their natural habitat is typically soft and slightly acidic, with a rich diversity of aquatic plants and small invertebrates.

Red Eye Tetra Aquarium Setup

Setting up an ideal aquarium for Lamp Eye Tetras involves consideration of various factors that contribute to their health and happiness. This section will guide you through the process of creating the perfect environment for these vibrant fish.

  • Tank Size and Type

The minimum recommended tank size for Red Eye Tetras is 20 gallons. This space is necessary to accommodate their schooling behavior and active swimming needs. A larger tank not only provides ample swimming space but also helps maintain stable water conditions. Opt for a rectangular tank which offers more swimming space than a tall, narrow one.

  • Water Parameters

Red Eye Tetras thrive in soft, slightly acidic to neutral water. Aim for a temperature range of 72-80°F (22-27°C) and a pH between 5.5 and 7.5. Regular monitoring and maintenance of these parameters are crucial for their well-being. Use a reliable aquarium heater and thermometer to maintain a consistent temperature.

  • Filtration and Aeration

Effective filtration is vital for keeping the water clean and oxygen-rich. A high-quality filter that does not create too much current is ideal, as yellowhead tetra prefer gentle water flow. Ensure that the filter is adequate for your tank’s size and is regularly maintained.

  • Lighting

Red Eye Tetras do not require intense lighting; moderate lighting is sufficient to mimic their natural habitat and highlight their colors. Adjustable LED aquarium lights are a good choice, as they allow you to control the intensity and create a natural day-night cycle.

  • Aquascaping

Replicating a natural river environment is key to a successful Red Eyes Tetra habitat. Include plenty of live plants like Java Fern, Anubias, and Amazon Sword for cover and comfort. Driftwood and smooth rocks can also add to the natural aesthetic. Leave open areas for swimming while ensuring there are plenty of hiding spots.

  • Water Quality and Maintenance

Regular water changes are essential to maintain good water quality. Change about 25-30% of the water every two weeks, ensuring the new water’s temperature and pH match the tank. Avoid overfeeding and promptly remove uneaten food to prevent water pollution.

Red Eye Tetra Breeding

Breeding Redeye Tetras can be a fulfilling experience for aquarium enthusiasts. This section explores the specifics of creating the right environment and understanding the spawning process to successfully breed Red Eye Tetras.

Breeding Environment

To encourage breeding, set up a separate breeding tank. This tank should be about 10-15 gallons, with dim lighting and soft, slightly acidic water (pH around 6.0-6.5). The temperature should be slightly higher than in the main tank, around 78-82°F (26-28°C). Fine-leaved plants or a spawning mop are essential as they provide a place for the fish to lay their eggs. The water level can be reduced to about 6 inches to encourage spawning. Additionally, install a gentle filtration system, like a sponge filter, to keep the water clean without creating a strong current.

Before introducing them to the breeding tank, condition the Lamp Eye Tetra with high-quality foods like live brine shrimp, daphnia, or frozen bloodworms. This conditioning period, lasting about a week or two, helps improve their health and fertility.

Spawning Process

Introduce a small group of Yellow banded tetras into the breeding tank, with a higher ratio of males to females. Spawning usually occurs in the early morning hours. During spawning, males chase females around the tank, encouraging them to release eggs. The eggs are adhesive and will stick to the plants or spawning mop. Red Eye Tetras can lay up to 300 eggs per breeding session.

Post-Spawning Care

After spawning, remove the adult fish from the breeding tank to prevent them from eating the eggs. The eggs will hatch within 24 to 36 hours. Initially, the fry are too small to eat standard fish food. Feed them infusoria or commercially available liquid fry food for the first few days, gradually introducing micro worms or brine shrimp nauplii as they grow.

Red Eye Tetra Diet & Feeding

A balanced diet is key to maintaining the health of Balloon Red Eye Tetras. They are omnivores and do well on a diet of high-quality flake food, supplemented with live or frozen foods such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia. Regular feeding twice a day in small amounts is advisable to avoid overfeeding.

Red Eye Tetra Compatibility

Red Eye Tetras are peaceful fish and do well in a community tank. They are best kept with other peaceful, similarly-sized fish. Avoid housing them with large, aggressive species. Ideal tankmates includes other tetras, platies, rainbowfish, mollies, barbs, pleco, and zebra danios. As schooling fish, they prefer the company of their own kind, and a group of at least six is recommended for their social well-being.

Red Eyes Tetra Common Diseases

Redeye Tetras are susceptible to common freshwater fish diseases like Ichthyophthirius (Ich), fin rot, and fungal infections. Ich manifests as white spots on the body and fins, while fin rot causes the fins to fray and deteriorate. Fungal infections appear as cotton-like growths. Prompt identification and treatment are crucial for recovery. Good tank maintenance reduces disease risk.


In summary, Red Eye Tetras are an excellent choice for both novice and experienced aquarists. Their vibrant coloring, peaceful nature, and relative ease of care make them a delightful addition to any freshwater aquarium. With proper care, these beautiful fish will thrive and bring a dynamic energy to your aquatic setup.