7 Interesting Ideas For Bleeding Heart Tetra Tank Mates

In this post, we’ll share a few Bleeding Heart Tetra Tank Mates that will be sure to create an awesome community tank as well as a few care tips and some fish to avoid.

Names have power:

Even if you don’t know something or someone, knowing their name will cause you to unconsciously form an opinion about them. It’s usually wrong because names can often be misleading.

For example;

You might think that a Bleeding Heart Tetra will welcome any fish in its tank with open arms (or fins), you will be wrong. Though it does have a beautiful name, and it’s a pretty and peaceful fish, a Bleeding Heart Tetra can be a bit discerning about its tank mates.

The Bleeding Heart Tetra

The name comes from a blotch of red color on the sides, just behind the gills, approximately where the heart is supposed to be.

How big do Bleeding Heart Tetras get?

Bleeding heart tetras will be 2″ when fully grown. The males of the species also have an impressive dorsal and anal fin, compared to the relatively round fins of the females. Both sexes have a black and white spot on the dorsal fin and a silvery sheen at the base.

It’s a schooling fish that feels comfortable in a group of at least 6-8 of its kind in a 20-gallon tank. Keeping individual bleeding hearts can cause them to stress out and start nipping at other tank mates though they are usually peaceful if they are in a school, and the tank has their preferred décor.

Which includes;

things like plants (including some floating ones), a few hiding places, dark gravel, and subtle lighting.

This mimics their natural habitat of densely green little creeks and river beds of the Upper Amazon. They are mostly found in Peru and Colombia. The subtle lighting helps make up for the tanned water of their natural habitat.

The Bleeding heart is a hardy fish in general but doesn’t respond well to sudden changes in the water parameters. It swims all around the tank but prefers to dwell in the middle.

Are Bleeding Heart Tetras fin nippers?

At times the Bleeding Heart tetra can be a fin nipper. Its nipping behavior is usually contained when it’s’s in a school, but it’s still a good idea to not stock your bleeding heart with long-finned fish, or you may have to deal with some bleeding fins instead.

Quick Care Tips

  • Care level: Beginner to intermediate
  • Size: 2″” average (wild ones can grow up to 3.5″”)
  • Ideal tank size: 20 Gallons (15 Gallons is fine for a school of six and dependent upon the total bioload)
  • Temperature range: 72 – 80 °F
  • PH range: 6.0 – 7.0 (Prefers acidic, around 6.5)
  • Hardness range: Soft to medium-hard water (4 – 12 GH)

Despite the occasional fin nipping, Bleeding Heart Tetras are amicable enough tank mates.

They prefer flake food, but it’s a good idea to throw in some live and frozen food there a few times a week. It’s a good practice to feed them multiple times a day, but never more than they can finish up in three minutes. And keep an eye on the leftover food, unless you want your bottom feeders to become so obese and lazy that people mistake them for tank decorations.

Equipment You Might Need For Your Bleeding Heart Tetra

  1. Aqua Clear – Fish Tank Filter
  2. NICREW Classic LED Aquarium Light
  3. Fluval M Aquarium Heater
  4. Python Pro-Clean Gravel Washer and Siphon Kit
  5. Marina Algae Magnet Cleaner
  6. API Freshwater Master Test Kit


Our Top Bleeding Heart Tetra Tank Mates

Many fish and a few invertebrates tend to make good neighbors for Bleeding Heart Tetras in a community tank.

Here’s just a few good fish that can live your Bleeding Heart Tetra

1. Lemon Tetra

Lemon Tetra

Lemon tetra is a bleeding heart’s fresh-looking cousin that prefers soft to moderately hard water and planted aquariums.

  • Care level: Beginner
  • Size: Normally 1.5 inches (2-inch max)
  • Ideal tank size: At least 15 gallons
  • Temperature range: 72 – 82 °F
  • PH range: 5.5 to 8.0

Lemon Tetra is usually transparent in color, but when it feels secure and happy, it shows a beautiful lemon-like color. It’s a very tough, Brazilian fish and, in the wild, inhabits the shallow waters near the river bank or streams.

For a 15 to 20 gallon tank, a school of six will do. But if you have a larger tank, keeping a dozen of them is good for them. They are relatively shy, and a boisterous fish looking for some “organic lemonade” might scare them into hiding. If your lemon tetras are mostly near the bottom, that means they are scared. When they are happy and comfortable, you will find the school swimming in the middle or near the top.

They are omnivore, so a good quality flake food is an excellent main course. As for treats, they will enjoy live worms and frozen food. You can also feed them boiled zucchini to conclude a well-rounded diet.

2. Dwarf Neon Rainbow

Dwarf Neon Rainbow
Another small and hardy fish for your planted aquarium with Bleeding Heart Tetra as a centerpiece fish are dwarf neon rainbow.

  • Care level: Intermediate (hardy, but sensitive to water parameter changes)
  • Size: 2 to 2.5 inches
  • Ideal tank size: 20 gallons
  • Temperature range: 72 – 79 °F
  • PH range: 6.5 to 8.0

Dwarf neon rainbow fish mimics most rainbow fish in behavior. They have a grayish body color, but with the right lighting, it shows beautiful hues of blue. A defining characteristic of dwarf neons appearance are brightly colored fins (red for males, yellow for females). Ideally, they should be kept in schools of at least 10. But the male to female ratio should be maintained. For ten dwarf neons, five males and five females; is the best configuration. For odd number groupings, keep more females than males (so there are literally “more fish in the sea”). Then maybe the bleeding hearts can play the match-makers.

They are very peaceful and dwell in the middle and top of the tank mostly. And a good footprint for them would be a 20-inch long tank at least. Their natural habitat is in the other part of the world (near Indonesia) compared to Bleeding Heart Tetras. Still, both fish prefer a nearly identical set of water parameters, and they are both peaceful. Having two different schools might add a lot of beautiful activity to your tank. They are omnivore and very easy to feed.

3. German Blue Ram

German Blue Ram All Grown Up

If you have a large enough tank, bigger than 29 gallons, Blue rams can be vibrant companions to your Bleeding Heart Tetras.

  • Care level: Intermediate to expert
  • Size: 2 inches max
  • Ideal tank size: 29 gallons (some aquarists find 20 gallons to be plenty for the rams)
  • Temperature range: 78 – 85 °F
  • PH range: 4.0 to 7.0

It’s been a relatively delicate fish to have, but its impeccable beauty and vibrant colors might make all the needed care worth it. Despite their tough name “ram,” they don’t go into bumping into other fish, or even the walls of the tank. Blue ram is very sensitive to water parameters, so a decent filtration system and weekly partial water changes are highly recommended.

Their water hardness and pH requirements match well with the bleeding hearts, but you will have to check if the tetras are comfortable with the heating requirements of the ram. They do well in moderately lit tanks with floating plants, so décor wise, both are very compatible. And if there are enough hiding places, you can easily keep a single Blue ram. If not, a pair or two pairs will be nice.

They love to dwell near the bottom of the tank and feed by taking in a mouthful of the substrate. So a sandy substrate will be much better for them than sifting through a mouth full of pebbles. So sinking pallets are a good option for them, occasionally mixed with bloodworms and brine shrimp. And even though they are bottom feeders, the leftovers of Bleeding Heart Tetras might not tempt them.

4. Mosquito Rasbora

Bleeding and mosquito might not sound like a good pairing to have, but Bleeding Heart Tetra and mosquito rasbora work fine together.

  • Care level: Intermediate
  • Size: 1.2 to 1.5 inches
  • Ideal tank size: 10 gallons
  • Temperature range: 73 – 80 °F
  • PH range: 6.0 to 7.0

Mosquito Rasbora is a beautiful little Asian fish that like to live in schools of at least ten and plated tanks. They tend to occupy the middle levels of the tank. Since, in their natural habitat, the water is brown from decomposing organic matter, they prefer dim lighting in their tanks. They come from slow-moving swamps, so a strong current might stress them out.

You can imitate their natural habitat by leaving a few leaves in the tank. They are not very picky diners, but unlike many other fish species, they prefer to live feed more frequently than as a weekly treat. And though it is not highly recommended as a community fish, paring them with “accommodating” Bleeding Heart Tetras usually works out.

5. Kuhli Loaches

Kuhli loach

It adds a decent bit of character to a sand substrate aquarium.

  • Care level: Beginner to Intermediate
  • Size: 4 inches
  • Ideal tank size: 15 gallons minimum
  • Temperature range: 75 – 85 °F
  • PH range: 6.0 to 6.5

Kuhli loaches are hardy, eel-like bottom dwellers from Southeast Asia. They prefer softer water and the company of their species. So it’s a good idea to keep about six of them. They are usually shy introverts and spend most of their time hiding behind or under decorations (which you should provide plenty of). They make amazing Bleeding Heart Tetra tank mates because neither fish stress each other out or invade each other’s dwelling space.

They have elongated, eel-like bodies with the orange or yellow base with large black patches. Aesthetically, they will pop out against a white sandy substrate, but it might not fit well with their shy nature. They are usually more active at night (when they think no one is looking), and it is not uncommon for them to stay hidden out of sight for weeks at a time. The night is also an excellent time to feed them. The prefer sinking food, whether its palates, flakes, wafers or frozen feed. They have small mouths to so make sure the feed is cut or broken into small pieces.

6. Amano Shrimp

Amano shrimp
Amano shrimps are efficient algae eaters and love a heavily planted tank.

  • Care level: Beginner
  • Size: 2 inches max
  • Ideal tank size: 10 gallons minimum
  • Temperature range: 70 – 80 °F
  • PH range: 6.0 to 7.0

Amano shrimps are hardy, soft to moderate water-loving creatures that pair very well with the bleeding hearts, partly because they are large enough to not fit in the tetra’s mouth. They are very popular among aquarists because they are easy to care for and keep algae and food debris in check. They are transparent and keep moving around, making your tank feel like a busy office (where the bosses, Bleeding Heart Tetra is looking down on the busy-body Amano shrimps).

As omnivores, they prefer a variety of fish and will race towards the morsels and pallets when you start feeding them. And since they will eat almost anything off the substrate, make sure you only put in a limited amount, as not to overfeed them. They live in a pecking order, with the largest ones eating before the smaller ones (up-keeping the largeness). Their parameter matching and bottom-dwelling make them ideal for adding a little variety to your Bleeding Heart Tetra tank.

7. Whiptail Catfish

royal whiptail catfish

It’s another bottom-dwelling hardy fish that can be kept alone or in pairs.

  • Care level: Beginner
  • Size: 4 inches average (6 inches maximum)
  • Ideal tank size: 10 gallons for one whiptail (20 gallons for the pair)
  • Temperature range: 68 – 77 °F
  • PH range: 6.5 to 7.5

Whiptail, again, despite the aggressive and dominating name, is a very peaceful fish. This South American fish is usually brown with black patterns, mimicking a camouflage color pattern. It loves a planted tank and plenty of decorations to hide in.

They have a small mouth, and even as an omnivore, they don’t eat smaller tank mates. Instead, they prefer a diet of catfish pellets and algae wafers. And since they feed off the substrate, sand is better for them than gravel.

As bottom dwellers, they don’t mind or disturb middle or top dwelling fish like bleeding hearts tetras. They are a live-and-let-live kind of fish, perfect for a community aquarium where fin-nipping fish are not aggressive enough to come down and bother the peaceful whiptails.

Other Possible Tankmates for Bleeding Heart Tetra

Bleeding Heart Tetras are likely to play well with fish their sizes that don’t have large, flowy fins to nip (so Bettas are out). This means that other possible tank mates are:

  • Danios (smaller ones)
  • Cherry Barbs
  • Cories
  • Other Tetras
  • African giant filter shrimp (seems an odd pairing but works)
  • Some crab species
  • Snails
  • Discus fish (Another centerpiece fish, might have problems accommodating to the right temperature)

Final Thoughts

Bleeding Heart Tetras form a beautiful school of their own. So when finding the tank mates, it’s a smart idea to make sure they aesthetically complement the tetras too. These tetras might take some getting used to, but once they settle down in your tank, they will be the life of a thriving water-scape.

And while Bleeding Heart Tetra is hardy fish, it doesn’t mean they will be happy in an unclean or an overstocked tank. If you are creating a community aquarium with Bleeding Heart Tetra fish, make sure that you calculate the bioload, keep fish that thrive in the water parameters of your tank, and keep the water clean. Having a bleeding heart for the health of your fish and proper knowledge will help you keep your Bleeding Heart Tetras, happy, and healthy.

Interesting Ideas For Bleeding Heart Tetra Tank Mates

Featured Image Credit: Beckie

Jack Dempsey
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