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Main Index > Detailed Fish Profiles > The Tetras > Rummy-nose tetra
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This page will give a completely detailed profile of the selected fish, from A to Z. The profiled fish will be chosen randomly by Badman, and will come from the complete genre of tropical fish. New profiles are added on a regular basis. If you would like to submit a profile for the site please contact me. Don't forget to let us know you experiences with this fish by filling out the

South America


rummy nose

Hemigrammus rhodostomus


    A pretty and very peaceful tetra that spends its time actively schooling with others of the same species. Fits into almost any community tank, so long as the water conditions are high quality and some hiding places (at least either plastic or live plants).

Quick stats:

    Listed tank sizes are the minimum
    Size: 2 inches (5 cm)
    Tank: 30 inches
    Strata: Middle
    PH: 6.0 to 7.5
    Hardness: Soft to neutral
    Temperature: 74°F to 82°F (23-29°C)


    Order: Cypriniformes
    Suborder: Characoidei
    Family: Characidae
    Genera: Hemigrammus

Common name:

    Rummy-nose tetra

Image gallery:
    Additional species photographs


    Badmans' Forum


    Lower Amazon region, around Aripiranga and Paraguay.

General Body Form:
    Torpedo shaped, elongate body.

    This is a distinctive looking little tetra with black and white "checkerboard" markings on its tail and a bright red nose, for which it is named. The red nose is actually the best indication of the fish's health and well-being--when it is feeling ill at ease or not in tiptop shape (for example, when first introduced to the tank), this red will fade to a dull pink, barely distinguishable from its unremarkable gray body color.

    The rummy-nose tetra is an excellent fish for the community tank once it is adjusted to its surroundings, but this initial adaptive phase can be a bit longer than for some fish. In the meantime, it tends to be sensitive to water quality, so test this frequently. It does not take well to addition of salt and many chemical additives, and pH fluctuations can kill it. It must be kept with at least 3 members of its own species, or else it will sulk in the corner and show signs of stress. Healthy species will adapt eventually to a well-planted tank and school actively in and out of every corner of the aquarium, their noses glowing brightly.

    A planted South American Riverbank setup.

    This is a delicate fish and is very hard to breed. Provide a large tank with lots of plants and very soft water. Several pairs should be placed together. After a long period of acclimation and conditioning they may spawn. A small number of eggs are produced which will hatch in about thirty hours.

Your comments:


Please remember that the following comments are personal experiences and may or may not apply to your setup. Use them as guide to help better understand your fish, like us all individuals will behave differently under different circumstances.


From: Craig B
This peaceful and pretty species is more sensitive to higher nitrite (N03) levels than others. I recently had 4 out of 5 penguins suddenly die off for no apparent reasons prompting me to test the water and all was good but my N03 level was at 40ish. A fast water change has so far kept number 5 alive.
From: Norma
I have 8 of these in my 15 gallon planted tank along with 10 neons, a betta and about 7 species of cories. I LOVE them. There are actually 3 different species of these and the ones most of us get are not "true" rummy nose, but the blehni (sp) variety, which are actually more colorful, and I think prettier, than the true species. I had heard that since most are wild caught, they often have parasites, and sure enough mine developed ich. I was able to clear it up easily with Ich Attack, which is an organic treatment containing naphthoquinone that's safe to use. It's always good to quarantine any new fish and this was certainly true with them. They are doing great and their noses are deep red. I also love their black and white zebra striped tails. Beautiful little fish.
From: Dan
I find that while these can be kept as a trio in a small tank, they do MUCH better as a larger group in a longer tank. With a 4 foot or longer tank, and at least a dozen specimens, their health and schooling is much better. I also find the brightness of the white coloration on their rear fins is a better long term indicator. They are very sensitive to medications, but I have had no losses otherwise. My tank is a planted 75g community tank, and I have 26 of these. I've also found that low, but non-zero nitrite levels (under 0.25ppm) will cause the white in their tails to turn yellowish, so you can use that as a water quality indicator.
From: Dina
The guy at the fish store told me about an odd characteristic of this species: they "faint" under extreme stress. In fact a couple of them did as he was scooping them out of the tank: their noses went pale, they seemed to lose muscle control, and they went drifting around the tank with their heads down. Don't try this at home! Fortunately they recovered within a few minutes. The pale nose seems to be a good indicator of any kind of stress, not just poor water quality. They also go pale at night, and mature individuals have redder noses than juveniles. Mine have done beautifully since day one in a 55g planted tank with angelfish, diamond tetras, and cardinal tetras.
From: Kitt
Rummy-nosed are spectacular fish to observe in a well-planted aquarium. They are a bit delicate and are not for the beginner. They work well with bloodfin tetras including schooling with them regularly.
From: Guy
We acquired 10 of these little darlings to add to our 200 litre tank last week. We have a wide ranging community tank which now totals 68 fish (including glowlight and cardinal tetra as well as some larger species such as Torpedo Barbs (my fav) and 4 Gouramis. We were concerned given their description of being very delicate. They have settled in beautifully however and shoal happily through the plants towards the bottom of the tank. Their noses are as bright as can be and they are feeding well. A fantastic little addition to a community tank if your conditions are up to it.
From: Stephanie
Rummy's are a great schooling fish to keep with other temperamental species (I have them in with Discus and Rams). I have yet to lose any. The biggest key to these guys is finding an amazing supplier and keeping your water quality impeccable. I'm luck enough to have perfect tap water for sensitive fish. My best suggestion is to find a great place to buy them from, and not settle for anything less than the best specimens you can possibly find!!!
From: Vij
Initially I bought 4 for my 20 gallon tank but unfortunately 2 of them died the same night I thought that the remaining 2 would also die but they recovered remarkably now they swim around the whole tank with their bright red noses held high, they eat almost anything I give them. Partial water changes is the key to keep them healthy, I change 30% of the water weekly. I am planning to buy 2 more since they are to be kept in a school of at least 3.
From: Nick
These are truly amazing fish! Perfect for the community tank, they should be kept in schools of at least 6 to show off their brightly colored noses. I have 14 in a 55 gallon. They are an excellent monitor of water quality. As soon as the water gets below par, their noses turn a much duller color, and I know something's up. I'd recommend this fish to anybody, they are beautiful when adapted.
From: Mike in AZ
So far this is the best schooling fish I have kept. I had 9 in a 75gallon that looked great, but now have 25 in there and it is an awesome sight. I these fish are indeed very delicate, and having losses when buying new ones is something I expect now. They can be kept in hard water with a high pH, but the secret is a very slow acclimation. I've found that if I slowly drip water from the tank into a bucket with the fish for over 4 hours I have about a 95% survival rate. My tap pH is about 7.8 and hardness around 300-340. On a batch I got and only acclimated for 2 hours, I lost 8 out of 10, but with the next batch (from the same batch the LFS had in the same tank) I didn't lose any after a 4.5 hour acclimation. I've also discovered that if I do weekly water change of 50-60% on the 75 they survive and have great color, but if I try to go 9-10 days between WCs I usually start losing a few.
From: Mark
These are great fishes once they are used to the fish tank. The hardest part in keeping these fishes are the first two weeks. If you pass the 2nd week, your rummy noses should be fine. However, NEVER buy just one rummy nose and dump it in your tank, at least buy 3 or more of it's kind, it's survival rate will be higher. And also never buy this fish if your tank is still under cycling, or under the new tank syndrome.
From: MJH
Great little fish. I had two in a 12 gallon tank. Their noses wern't red, but when I added them in a 75 gallon tank and added six more to their numbers their noses are now blood red.





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