Bleeding Heart Tetra: Appearance, Lifespan, Size, Diet, Care, Tank Mates, Breeding & More

The Bleeding Heart Tetra, Punto Rojo, or Red Tipped Tetra, is a popular freshwater fish among aquarists. This fish adds a unique touch to any aquarium with its bold and attractive spots.

This blog post will explore the appearance, lifespan, size, diet, care, tank mates, breeding, and more of the Bleeding Heart Tetra.

Whether you’re a seasoned aquarium enthusiast or just starting, this guide has everything you need to know to keep and enjoy these charming fish easily.

Introduction to Bleeding Heart Tetra

Overview of the species

The Bleeding Heart Tetra is a beautiful freshwater fish known for its unique appearance and peaceful nature. It belongs to the Characidae family and is in South America’s upper Amazon River basin. These tetras are typically found in slow-flowing streams and flooded forest areas, where they inhabit waters rich in tannins and are surrounded by vegetation, driftwood, and roots.

Regarding physical characteristics, Bleeding Heart Tetras have a tetragonal body shape with a broad dorsal fin and a tiny fatty fin. Their bodies are pink to red with a transparent pinkish tone and a distinctive pink line running along the middle. The most noticeable feature of these tetras is the red dot or heart-shaped pattern on their sides, giving them their common name.

They are a hardy species that can tolerate many water parameters, making them suitable for beginner fish keepers. These tetras are best kept in groups of at least six in a spacious aquarium, as they are highly social and enjoy swimming and playing together.

However, they should be housed with peaceful tank mates and provided with a well-maintained tank environment to ensure their health and longevity.

Distinctive features and appearance

The Bleeding Heart Tetra is known for its distinctive features and attractive appearance:

  • The most notable feature of the Bleeding Heart Tetra is the vibrant red spot or “heart” shape near its gills, which gives it its common name.
  • The fish’s body is diamond-shaped, laterally compressed, and tall at its center point.
  • The head tapers down to a pointed snout, and the eyes are red and black.
  • The fish’s body has a rosy silver hue, which can become more vibrant with the right living conditions and diet.
  • The fish has a lengthy anal fin that stretches from the midpoint of the body to the tail, and transparent tail fin, anal fin, and pectoral fins.
  • The dorsal fin is tall and features a splash of red and black.

Overall, the Bleeding Heart Tetra is a beautiful and visually striking fish, with its unique coloration and distinct markings. It adds a splash of color and visual interest to any aquarium.

Lifespan and Size of Bleeding Heart Tetra

Average lifespan in captivity


The average lifespan of the Bleeding Heart Tetra in captivity is typically around 3-5 years, although with proper care and conditions. It’s important to note that various factors, including water parameters, diet, and overall care, can influence the lifespan.

Here are a few key factors to consider for ensuring a healthy lifespan for your Bleeding Heart Tetra:

  • Provide a suitable tank size: A minimum of 20 gallons is recommended to provide enough space for them to swim comfortably.
  • Maintain good water quality: Keep the water temperature between 75°F to 82°F, with pH levels around 6.5 to 6.5.
  • Decorate the tank naturally: Use a sandy substrate, incorporate leafy foreground plants, and add driftwood for a more natural environment.
  • Offer a varied diet: Feed them a balanced diet of high-quality flake or pellet food supplemented with live or frozen foods like brine shrimp and bloodworms.
  • Keep them in a peaceful community: Bleeding Heart Tetras are friendly and do well with other peaceful fish species.
  • Perform regular water changes: Regularly change 25-30% of the water every 2 weeks to maintain optimal water quality.

Following these guidelines and providing proper care can help ensure a long and healthy lifespan for your Bleeding Heart Tetra.

Diet and Feeding Habits

Natural diet in the wild

In their natural habitat, Bleeding Heart Tetras have a varied diet consisting of various foods, including worms, crustaceans, and insects. They also consume plant matter as a secondary source of nutrition. Their diet is dependent on the availability of food in their natural environment.

When keeping Bleeding Heart Tetras in an aquarium, it’s important to replicate their natural diet as closely as possible to ensure their health and well-being. Here are some suitable food options to consider:

  • High-quality commercial fish food: Choose a balanced food that provides essential nutrients for their growth and development.
  • Live or frozen foods: Offer them live or frozen foods such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, or daphnia. These foods mimic their natural diet and can provide additional nutritional benefits.
  • Plant matter: Supplement their diet with some plant matter, such as blanched spinach or lettuce. This will ensure they receive a diverse range of nutrients.

It’s essential to feed Bleeding Heart Tetras several times a day, as they are always hungry. A varied diet will help them reach their full potential and live healthily.

Suitable food options for aquarium care

When it comes to feeding Bleeding Heart Tetras in an aquarium, there are several suitable food options to ensure their health and well-being:

  • High-quality commercial fish food: These tetras readily accept a variety of commercially available fish foods, such as flakes or pellets. Look for options formulated explicitly for tropical freshwater fish.
  • Live and frozen foods: Adding variety to their diet, Bleeding Heart Tetras enjoy live or frozen foods like bloodworms, brine shrimp, or daphnia. These options provide essential nutrients and mimic their natural diet.
  • Fresh vegetables: Incorporating fresh vegetables into their diet is beneficial. Offer blanched spinach, lettuce, or cucumber slices as occasional treats. These can be attached to a clip inside the tank.
  • Supplementary plant matter: Bleeding Heart Tetras will also nibble on algae and consume small plant matter in the aquarium. Maintaining a well-planted tank will provide them with additional grazing options.

It’s essential to feed Bleeding Heart Tetras small quantities of food multiple times a day to match their high metabolic rate. Only offer a sufficient amount of food that can be consumed within a time frame of three minutes.

Regular feeding ensures adequate nutrition and helps maintain their vibrant colors and overall health.

Tank Setup and Care Requirements

Optimal tank size and specifications

  • It is recommended to have a tank size of at least 20 gallons for Bleeding Heart Tetras as a bare minimum.
  • It is advisable to provide a tank with dimensions starting at 31″ x 11″ x 15″ to accommodate a small group of at least six fish.
  • The more space you can provide, your Bleeding Heart Tetras will be better off.
  • A densely planted aquarium with a sandy substrate, driftwood, and a bed of dry leaves mimics their natural habitat and is appreciated by these fish.
  • A low-flow filtration system is ideal for them, as they do not prefer bright lights.
  • Keep the lighting low or use floating plants as cover to provide the ideal environment.
  • Regular water changes and high water quality are crucial for the well-being of the Bleeding Heart Tetras.
  • Providing open space for the fish to swim freely and a dark substrate to bring out their colors can enhance their overall care and enjoyment in the tank.

Water parameters and conditions

Bleeding Heart Tetras are relatively adaptable regarding water parameters and conditions. However, providing them with a tank environment that mimics their natural habitat for optimal health and well-being is essential. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Temperature: The ideal temperature range for Bleeding Heart Tetras is between 75 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit
  • pH Level: These tetras prefer slightly acidic to neutral water with a pH range of 6 to 6.5.
  • Hardness: They thrive best in water with a hardness range between 4-8 dGH.
  • Filtration: A well-sized filtration system is crucial to maintain water quality and remove organic matter. A low flow is recommended, as Bleeding Heart Tetras prefer gentle water movement.
  • Lighting: These fish don’t like bright lights, so keeping the lighting low or using floating plants as cover is advisable.
  • Substrate and Decor: To mimic their natural habitat, provide a tank with a sandy substrate, driftwood, dry leaves, and dense plants. Leaving open swimming space is also essential.

By providing the appropriate water parameters and conditions, you can ensure the health and happiness of your Bleeding Heart Tetras in your aquarium.

Importance of filtration and maintenance

A proper filtration system is crucial for your Bleeding Heart Tetra and the overall health of your aquarium. Here’s why filtration and maintenance are essential:

  • Removing waste and toxins: A good filtration system helps remove uneaten food, fish waste, and other organic debris from the water. This prevents the build-up of harmful ammonia and nitrite, which can be detrimental to the health of your fish.
  • Maintaining water quality: A well-maintained filter ensures the water is clear and pollutant-free. It helps in maintaining optimal water parameters such as pH, temperature, and oxygen levels, which are essential for the health and well-being of your Bleeding Heart Tetra.
  • Promoting oxygenation: Filtration systems usually incorporate an air pump or water flow, which helps oxygenate the water. Increased oxygen levels are essential for your fish’s healthy growth and metabolism.
  • Preventing the growth of harmful bacteria: A properly functioning filter aids in breaking down harmful bacteria and toxins, preventing the risk of diseases and infections in your aquarium.
  • Reducing maintenance workload: Regular filter maintenance is crucial for a clean aquarium and healthy fish. Neglecting it can harm your fish and overall aquarium health. Prioritize filter maintenance for long-term success.

To ensure the effectiveness of your filtration system, it is essential to regularly monitor and clean the filter media and replace worn-out components. This will help maintain a healthy and thriving environment for your Bleeding Heart Tetra.

Suitable Tank Mates for Bleeding Heart Tetra

Peaceful nature and compatibility with other fish

The Bleeding Heart Tetra is known for its peaceful nature and compatibility with other fish in the aquarium. Here are some points to consider:

  • Peaceful temperament: Bleeding Heart Tetras are non-aggressive and generally get along well with other peaceful fish species.
  • Schooling behavior: These tetras are schooling fish and prefer to be kept in groups of at least four to six individuals. When kept in school, they feel more secure and exhibit natural schooling behavior.
  • Tank mates: Bleeding Heart Tetras can be housed with other peaceful community fish species such as Neon tetras, Tiger Pleco, Danios, and Odessa barb. Avoid keeping them with aggressive or fin-nipping fish that may stress or harm them.
  • Considerations: While these tetras are generally compatible with a wide range of fish, it is essential to consider their size, activity level, and water compatibility when choosing tank mates.
  • Bottom-dwelling fish: Bleeding Heart Tetras primarily occupy the middle and bottom areas of the aquarium, making them suitable companions for bottom-dwelling fish like Corydoras catfish or small loaches.

Remember to provide plenty of hiding spots and vegetation in the aquarium to create a natural and comfortable environment for all the fish. Monitoring their behavior and ensuring proper nutrition and water quality will contribute to their overall health and well-being in the community tank.

Considerations for choosing tank mates

When choosing tank mates for Bleeding Heart Tetras, there are a few considerations to keep in mind to ensure compatibility and the well-being of all the fish:

  • Peaceful nature: Bleeding Heart Tetras are calm and friendly with each other, so it is best to choose tank mates that have a similar temperament.
  • Size compatibility: Given their size, keeping them with aquarium fish around their size is essential. Avoid mixing them with larger or smaller fish that may pose a threat or become potential prey.
  • Avoid aggression: Some fish species can exhibit aggressive behavior, which can stress or harm Bleeding Heart Tetras. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid aggressive fish species as tank mates.
  • Water parameter compatibility: Bleeding Heart Tetras prefer similar water conditions to other tropical freshwater fish. Ensure tank mates have similar temperature, pH, and hardness requirements.
  • Similar habitat preferences: Choosing fish species with similar habitat preferences, such as those that come from slow-flowing streams or thrive in planted tanks, can help create a harmonious environment for all the tank mates.

Breeding Bleeding Heart Tetra


The Bleeding Heart Tetra is a fish that lays eggs, and the female releases the eggs into the water. In the wild, their breeding time coincides with floods, and changes in the water’s chemical makeup play a significant role in starting the reproductive cycle.

The male will guide the female to release the eggs without any restrictions, and he will subsequently fertilize them. Most of the eggs will sink to the bottom of the fish tank or remain near a group of plants.

Within a maximum of three days, the eggs will emerge from their shells, and the newly hatched larvae will swim around freely for 48 hours. After this, the parents will desert the eggs.

Moreover, they have a preference for reproducing in waters with acidic conditions. Typically, they are spawned in specific tanks equipped with a bottom component, such as a mesh, to prevent the parents from consuming the eggs until they are relocated elsewhere. The juvenile fish, known as fingerlings, are tiny and require nourishment from paramecium or similar types of infusoria until they reach a size suitable for consuming other food options.

Common Health Issues and Prevention

Common diseases

Bleeding Heart Tetras are generally hardy fish not prone to many diseases. However, they can still be affected by common fish ailments. Here are some common diseases to watch out for when it comes to Bleeding Heart Tetras:

  • Ich: Ich is a parasitic disease that causes white spots on the fish’s body and fins. It can be treated with over-the-counter medications.
  • Fin Rot: Fin Rot is a bacterial infection that causes the fins to deteriorate and become ragged. It can be prevented by maintaining good water quality and treated with antibiotics.

It is essential to monitor the health of your Bleeding Heart Tetras regularly and take appropriate action if any signs of illness are observed. Maintaining good water quality, a proper diet, and a stress-free environment are key to preventing diseases in these fish.

Maintaining water quality and preventing stress

Maintaining water quality is essential for the health and well-being of Bleeding Heart Tetras. Here are some tips to help you maintain optimal water conditions and prevent stress for your fish:

  • Regular water changes: Perform regular water changes to remove accumulated waste and toxins and maintain good water quality. Aim for weekly or bi-weekly water changes of approximately 25-30% of the tank volume.
  • Test water parameters: Use a reliable water test kit to monitor essential parameters such as pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels. Keeping these parameters within appropriate ranges will help ensure a healthy aquarium environment.
  • Proper filtration: Use a suitable system to clean and clear water. Choose a filter that provides adequate mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration to remove debris and maintain water quality.
  • Avoid overstocking: Avoid overcrowding the tank, as it can increase waste production and stress for the fish. Follow appropriate stocking recommendations based on the tank size and the needs of Bleeding Heart Tetras.
  • Provide hiding spots: Create hiding spots with plants, rocks, or driftwood to give the fish a sense of security and reduce stress. Good hiding spots will help mimic their natural habitat and provide places to retreat if they feel threatened.
  • Monitor temperature: Ensure that the water temperature remains stable. Sudden temperature fluctuations can cause stress and compromise the health of the fish.

By following these guidelines and providing a clean and stress-free environment, you can help ensure the well-being and longevity of your Bleeding Heart Tetras.


What is the average lifespan of a Bleeding Heart Tetra?

The average lifespan of a Bleeding Heart Tetra in captivity is between 3-5 years.

How big do Bleeding Heart Tetras grow?

Bleeding Heart Tetras grow to around 2-3 inches long when fully grown.

Are Bleeding Heart Tetras suitable for beginners?

Bleeding Heart Tetras are considered beginner-friendly fish due to their hardy nature and adaptability to various tank conditions.

What should be the ideal tank size for Bleeding Heart Tetras?

A minimum tank size of 20 gallons is recommended to house 4-6 Bleeding Heart Tetras comfortably.

What water parameters are suitable for Bleeding Heart Tetras?

Bleeding Heart Tetras thrive in tropical conditions with a temperature range of 75°F to 82°F.

What should I feed my Bleeding Heart Tetras?

Bleeding Heart Tetras are omnivorous and can be fed a varied diet of high-quality flake, pellets, frozen or live foods, and vegetable matter.

Can Bleeding Heart Tetras be kept with other fish?

Bleeding Heart Tetras are peaceful fish and can be kept with other peaceful community fish that share similar water requirements.

Remember to regularly monitor water parameters, provide proper tank maintenance, and ensure a stress-free environment for the health and happiness of your Bleeding Heart Tetras.


The Bleeding Heart Tetra is a visually stunning and docile fish that brings color and tranquility to any aquarium.

With their fascinating bleeding heart markings and ability to coexist peacefully with other fish, they make an excellent choice for beginner and experienced aquarists.

However, providing them with the appropriate tank conditions and a well-balanced diet is vital to ensure their health and happiness.