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Serpae Tetra (Hyphessobrycon eques)

Welcome to our detailed exploration of the Serpae Tetra, a popular freshwater fish known for its vibrant color and dynamic presence in aquariums. This article aims to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the Serpae Tetra, covering its profile, coloring, aquarium setup, breeding practices, dietary needs, and compatibility with other fish.

Serpae Tetra Facts

Fact Detail
Scientific Name Hyphessobrycon eques
Common Names Serpae Tetra, Red Minor Tetra, Jewel Tetra, Callistus Tetra
Native Habitat Amazon Basin
Size Up to 5 cm (2 inches)
Lifespan 5-7 years
Diet Omnivorous
Water Temperature 72-79°F (22-26°C)
pH Range 5.0-7.8
Minimum Tank Size 20 gallons
Behavior Schooling, peaceful but may nip fins

Serpae Tetra Profile

The Serpae Tetra (Hyphessobrycon eques), also known as the Red Minor Tetra or Jewel Tetra, is a small, brightly colored freshwater fish native to the Amazon Basin. It is a member of the Characidae family and is known for its hardiness and ease of care, making it an ideal choice for both novice and experienced aquarists. They are typically around 2 inches and live up to 5-7 years in captivity. 

Serpae Tetra Coloring

This species is admired for its striking red coloration, which ranges from a deep, fiery red to a more subdued orange-red hue. The intense color is complemented by a distinctive black spot near the gill cover and subtle fin markings. The vibrancy of their color can be a good indicator of their health and well-being.

Red Minor Tetra Habitat

The Serpae Tetra fish originates from the Amazon River Basin in South America. They inhabit slow-moving or stagnant waters, typically found in densely vegetated areas like streams and floodplains. These environments are characterized by soft, acidic water with a rich presence of detritus and organic matter, providing ample hiding spots and a natural food source for these adaptable fish.

Serpae Tetra Aquarium Setup

Creating an ideal habitat for Red Minor Tetra is crucial for their health and well-being. This section will guide you through various aspects of setting up an appropriate aquarium environment for these vibrant fish.

  • Tank Size and Water Volume

Start with a minimum tank size of 20 gallons. Serpae Tetras are active swimmers and appreciate space to roam. Larger tanks also help maintain stable water conditions, which is essential for the health of these fish.

  • Water Parameters

Serpae Tetras require soft to moderately hard water, with a pH range of 5.0 to 7.8. The ideal water temperature should be maintained between 72-79°F (22-26°C). Regular water changes and a good filtration system are important to keep the water clean and well-oxygenated.

  • Lighting and Decoration

Moderate lighting is recommended to replicate their natural habitat and to showcase their vibrant colors. Decorations should include a mix of aquatic plants, rocks, and driftwood to provide hiding spaces and maintain a natural environment. Plants not only enhance the aesthetic appeal but also contribute to the water quality and provide shelter for the fish.

  • Substrate and Plant Life

A dark-colored substrate can help in bringing out the bright colors of the Red Serpae Tetras. Opt for fine sand or smooth gravel. Include a variety of live plants like Java Fern, Anubias, and Amazon Sword to mimic their natural habitat. Plants also help in maintaining the water quality and provide the fish with areas to explore and hide.

  • Maintenance and Water Quality

Regular maintenance is key to a healthy aquarium. This includes periodic water changes (typically 25-30% every two weeks), checking the filter, and monitoring water parameters with a test kit. Consistent water quality is vital for the health of Callistus Tetras.

Serpae Tetra Breeding

Breeding Serpae Tetras can be an interesting and rewarding challenge for aquarium hobbyists. Understanding and creating the right environment for breeding and knowing about their spawning process is crucial for success.

Preparing the Breeding Environment

To encourage breeding, set up a dedicated breeding tank. This tank should be about 10-20 gallons, with a sponge filter to provide gentle filtration without endangering the eggs. The water should be soft, with a slightly lowered pH around 6.0-6.5, and a temperature slightly higher than the main tank, around 80°F (27°C). Dim lighting and the addition of fine-leaved plants or a spawning mop will provide suitable places for the fish to deposit their eggs.

Conditioning the Breeders

Before introducing them to the breeding tank, condition the prospective parent fish with high-quality, varied diets including live and frozen foods. This conditioning period boosts their health and increases the likelihood of a successful spawn. Select healthy, mature fish – usually around 9 months to 1 year old – for breeding.

The Spawning Process

Red Minor Tetras are egg scatterers, meaning they do not care for their eggs post-spawning. The female will scatter her eggs among the plants and substrate, while the male fertilizes them. It’s common for Serpae Tetras to spawn in the early morning. Once spawning is complete, it is crucial to remove the adult fish to prevent them from eating the eggs.

Egg and Fry Care

The eggs typically hatch in about 24-48 hours. The fry will be free-swimming a few days after hatching. Initially, feed them infusoria or commercially available fry food until they are large enough to eat baby brine shrimp or microworms. Consistent water quality is critical at this stage, so regular, gentle water changes and careful monitoring are essential.

Serpae Tetra Diet & Feeding

Serpae Tetras are omnivores and not particularly fussy eaters. A balanced diet should include high-quality flake food, frozen or live brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms. Regular feeding in small amounts, rather than large meals, helps maintain water quality and mimics their natural feeding habits.

Red Minor Tetra Compatibility

When it comes to tank mates, Red Serpae Tetra are generally peaceful but can be fin nippers, especially if kept in small groups. It is best to house them with fish that are not slow-moving or have long fins. Ideal companions include other robust and fast-swimming tetras, barbs, danios, platies, mollies, swordtail, and some types of catfish.

Serpae Tetra Fish Common Diseases

Jewel Tetras are susceptible to common freshwater fish diseases like Ich (White Spot Disease), fin rot, and fungal infections. These issues often stem from poor water quality or stress. Ich appears as small white spots, fin rot causes the fins to fray, and fungal infections manifest as cotton-like growths. Prompt treatment with appropriate medications and improving tank conditions are crucial for recovery.


In summary, the Serpae Tetra is a delightful and colorful addition to any freshwater aquarium. Their ease of care, vibrant coloring, and dynamic behavior make them a favorite among aquarists. By providing them with a suitable environment, a balanced diet, and compatible tank mates, you can ensure these beautiful fish thrive and bring life to your aquarium.