Rummy Nose Tetra Fact Sheet

This fact sheet is about the Rummy Nose Tetra, Hemigrammus rhodostomus, which comes from the Lower Amazon basin and Orinoco Rivers not about False Rummy Nose Tetras, Hemigrammus bleheri from the Rio Negro and Rio Meta river basins or Petitella georgiae from the Upper Amazon basin in Peru, Rio Purus, Rio Negro and Rio Madeira river basins. My experience in keeping this beautiful fish is mainly with Hemigrammus rhodostomus, not with the other two species, but much of the information about Hemigrammus rhodostomus, also applies to the others.

The Rummy Nose Tetra grows to about two inches (five cm) long. The life span is about six years.

Water Conditions

My own experience with the Rummy Nose Tetra is not the same as much of the published information, and this fact sheet is based on my own observation. Note that I have never bred this fish so I will have to use published information for the breeding section.

The Rummy Nose Tetra is a hardy fish suitable for a mixed tank of small fish. I suggest a temperature of 24 degrees C (75 degrees F) and a neutral pH for a mixed tank. This is quite different from the natural water conditions for this fish, but the adult fish seem to be able to adapt to them. In the rivers that it comes from, the water temperature is higher than this and more acid, as well as very soft. If the fish are ever going to be used for breeding, they should be kept in water similar to their natural conditions all their life. High levels of Calcium ions may induce permanent sterility in the Rummy Nose Tetra.

In my experience it is a hardy fish.


The Rummy Nose Tetra is a schooling fish and at least four should be kept together. Suitable companions include all the other tetras, all the Danios, most of the Corydoras catfish, most of the barbs, and other small to medium size peaceful fish. Unsuitable fish for sharing a tank with the Rummy Nose Tetra include most of the cichlids and other fish large, aggressive, predatory, or requiring quite different conditions.

Suitable fish to keep with Rummy Nose Tetras include Harlequin Rasboras, Lemon Tetras, Black Widow Tetras, Cardinal Tetras, Emperor Tetras, Head and Tail Light Tetras, Glass Bloodfin Tetras, Glowlight Tetras, Guppies, Endlers Guppies, Neon Tetras, Peppered Catfish, Siamese Fighting Fish, White Cloud Mountain Minnows and Zebra Danios. Note that not all these common companions are compatible with each other.


By nature the Rummy Nose Tetra is mainly a mid water feeder. They will also eat off the bottom and will learn to eat from the top of the water. Rummy Nose Tetras will eat normal fish foods. In the wild they are omnivores with a preference for live food. The best food for them is probably live blood worms (Various species of the Chironomus genus, the aquatic larvae of a non biting midge.) Mosquito larvae (wrigglers) are also a good food, but some of the other fish may be better at catching them than the Rummy Nose Tetra.

Frozen Bloodworms are a good food and more generally available than live food.


The Rummy Nose Tetra is considered a difficult fish to breed. A high level of Calcium ions may induce sterility in this fish, so they need to be kept in water similar to their natural conditions all their life. This means many of the Rummy Nose Tetras you can buy are unsuitable for breeding.

Breeding conditions are: extremely soft water which is very low in Calcium with a pH of about 6.5, and for the actual spawning a temperature of about 33 degrees C (91 degrees F), and low lighting. Filtering over peat moss or using a black water conditioner will help.

The Rummy Nose Tetra lays eggs attached to fine leaved plants; Java Moss is one suitable plant. The fish may only lay a few eggs at a time, and often lays at night. It is not an avid egg eater, but most people remove the parents after spawning.

The eggs take about three days to hatch. Total darkness is not necessary, but the light level should be low. The eggs are very vulnerable to fungus and an aquarium antifungal medication should be used. A high level of tannic acid (from peat) will help.

Raising the Fry

Baby Rummy Nose Tetras are one of the slowest growing of all common aquarium fish. They may need to eat infusoria for three weeks before growing big enough to take anything larger. This can be supplemented with fry food of the finest types. The fry are very susceptible to diseases, and care needs to be taken with the cleanliness of the nursery tank.

It may take as long as six months for the babies to grow large enough to eat food as big as adult Daphnia.

Breeding this fish is for people who relish a challenge.