Red-crowned tetra

The home of these peaceful schooling fish is Colombia and Brazil. They live there in the black water of the Rio Meta or Rio Negro. The attractive ornamental fish are well suited for beginners. With good care and optimal keeping conditions, redheaded tetras can reach a maximum age of about 9-10 years.

What distinguishes from?

Lerdsuwa, Brilliant rummy nose, CC BY-SA 3.0

The red headed tetra is a very swimming-joyful fish which needs sufficient free swimming space. Depending on the size of the aquarium, the fish should be kept in groups of at least eight to ten specimens. The naturally peaceful red-crowned tetra can be easily socialized with other peaceful fish. However, these should not be much larger, as the presence of larger fish such as angelfish, red-capped tetras, for example, will cause concern. They then become easily jumpy. The most suitable fish are other tetras such as the red neon or armoured catfish.

The appearance of red-capped characins

The fish have a narrow, elongated and laterally compressed body. The intensely red coloured head and the black and white striped caudal fin are particularly striking. The basic colouration is silvery to slightly transparent. The dorsal, pectoral, ventral and anal fins are transparent, without any further markings. The caudal fin on the other hand has a distinctive black and white pattern: a black stripe in the middle and another black stripe at the top and bottom of the fin edges.

© Tom Karsten Alexander

Gender differences

The red headed tetra reaches a size of about 6 cm. In young specimens the sexes are hardly distinguishable. From a size of 5 cm, the slimmer males can be distinguished from the fuller females.

Water values for red-capped characins

In softer, slightly acidic aquarium water, the red tones of the red-capped tetra are much more prominent. In order for red-crowned characins to thrive well in the aquarium, the following water values should be observed:

  • pH value of 6.0-6.5
  • Total hardness of 2-8°dGH
  • Carbonate hardness from 2-6
  • Temperature from 22-26 °C

Feed and nutrition for redheaded tetras

In its natural environment, red-capped characins prefer to feed on small live food. Although the red-crowned tetra also accepts dry food in the aquarium, it should nevertheless be fed mainly on live food or frozen food.

The ideal aquarium for red-capped characins

The aquarium (ideally a black water aquarium) should hold at least 100 litres of water. A few roots and many plants ensure that the fish feel comfortable. The substrate should be kept dark, then the colours of the fish will also show to better advantage. Red-crowned characins do not like bright light, so some floating plants are an advantage. The fish are also true swimmers, so there must be enough free space in the tank to swim around.

Housing conditions

Red-crowned tetras react extremely sensitively to water heavily contaminated with nitrite or nitrate. This can sometimes even lead to the death of the entire fish population. The nitrate level in the aquarium must not exceed 50 mg/l. Therefore the aquarium water must be changed more often. A partial water change once a week is recommended. In addition, the nitrate values should be checked regularly. Further keeping conditions in short form:

  • Community tank
  • Black water aquarium
  • small groups of 10 copies each
  • Sufficient swimming space
  • varied diet (live and frozen food)

Characteristics of red-capped tetras

A special feature should be mentioned, as it certainly gives pleasure to ornamental fish friends. The red colouration of the head and gills depends on the mood of the red headed tetra. If the fish feels comfortable, the colouring is much more intense.

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