Bucktooth Tetra Stats InfographicFishkeepers are drawn to the Bucktooth Tetra (aka Exodon Paradoxus) species despite its fierce reputation. In truth, the Bucktooth Tetra isn’t at all recommended for beginner hobbyists because its nature and maintenance might be taxing for some.

Seeing the species’ overall popularity, we reached out to ichthyologists and professional aquarists alike to get the essential information about E. Paradoxus. Our article contains all their helpful input and insights into what caring for Bucktooth Tetras entails.


Name: Bucktooth Tetra / Exodon Paradoxus
Temperament: Aggressive
Diet: carnivorous and have lepidophagic (scale-eating) tendencies
Lifespan: 10 years
Max Size: 6 inch, slow-growing fish
Water conditions: Temperature: from 73 to 82 F

pH: 6.1 to 7.4

Tank size: 55 gallon tank

What Does the Exodon Paradoxus Look Like? Notable Physical Characteristics of the Bucktooth Tetra

If you have been a fish enthusiast for long enough, you’ll notice that their scientific names almost always contain little clues about the species. When it comes to the Exodon Paradoxus, things are no different.

Derived from ancient Greek, the term ‘Paradoxus’ describes something marvelous or strange. We’re pretty sure the second adjective applies to Bucktooth Tetras, and we will tell you why.

Bucktooth tetra care tipsThe colors of E. Paradoxus are lustrous and attractive. They have this bright, almost metallic silver with kaleidoscopic hues that catch the eye.

Plus, they have beautiful yellow-orangish dorsal and pelvic fins with reddish tips. The black spots on their body (around the lateral line) and tail base add to the contrast – making them appear extra vivid and multicolored under bright lights.

So, where does the ‘strange’ factor come in? With a name like Bucktooth Tetra, many expect to see razor-like teeth lining the jaws of these fish. But the truth is, the mouths of this species are pretty unremarkable, except for slightly serrated lips. Their dentition is altogether very un-bucktooth-like.

However, their beauty is at odds with their aggressive nature, and therein lies the mystery behind their name. Bucktooth Tetras aren’t designed to look like fish that you would consider to be lepidophage (scale-eating). They have an almost serene appearance, but that belies their hostile character, which makes them paradoxical.

Bucktooth Tetra Care and Ownership: Diet and Other Specifics

Quite a few seasoned fishkeepers have tried and failed to wean Bucktooth Tetras off their scaley-diet. That’s likely why they’re treated with caution, even by advanced-level aquarists.

However, for our readers who have their hearts set on this species, we’ve put together this section to reveal what the species’ care and maintenance routine might look like.

– Diet

Bucktooth Tetras are carnivorous, and their diet mainly consists of insects, shrimps, and smaller fish species. However, what’s surprising is that in the wild, they also tend to display shoaling tendencies.

Whenever they feel the urge to feed on fish scales, their group may swarm around the hapless prey and strike at it from every direction, almost similar to piranhas going after their food. This major reason is why this species doesn’t play well with others in captivity.

Fish parents of Bucktoothed Tetra tend to rely on live or dead feeder fish to keep their hunting urges under control, but there’s no guarantee of success.

The one plus point when it comes to feeding Bucktooth Tetra is that they are not picky eaters. The species will readily accept items like bloodworms, brine shrimp, earthworms, and even flakes.

Also, E. Paradoxus are somewhat violent feeders, and you don’t want them to have any excuse to go after their tankmates.

– Habitat

Being a freshwater species, Bucktooth Tetras appreciate a dark sand substrate, along with decorations like artificial caves, plants, rocks, driftwood – you name it.

You don’t want to overdo the decorations. You just need to ensure there’s enough to allow the fish to zip past plants like Java Fern or hollow driftwood because the species are fast swimmers. Plus, the entire scenery will make for a captivating show for anyone who appreciates underwater life.

Suppose you’re planning to house several E. Paradoxus in one tank, try and create a balanced environment that gives the fish plenty of room to swim in. Too much clutter in the tank might make it difficult for these active swimmers to get around.

– Tank Setup

Bucktooth tetra care guideWe’ve already touched upon how fishkeepers have had trouble keeping E. Paradoxus with tank mates. Experts recommend hobbyists interested in the species that they pair them off with their kind – in groups of no less than 12 Bucktooth Tetras.

If you’re thinking of following the same route, then the first order of business is an adequately sized tank. Since Bucktooth Tetras are fast swimmers and have an energetic personality, they do better in wide and long aquariums.

Aside from that, if you’re planning on housing a dozen Bucktooths in one tank, your tank size should not be smaller than 55 gallons. Thankfully, the species isn’t quite as demanding in terms of water temperature and balance.

The fish do well in water temperatures ranging from 73 to 82 F and require a pH range of about 6.1 to 7.4 to thrive. As to carbonate hardness (KH), the species can tolerate anywhere from 0 to 15 KH – making them quite flexible in this aspect.

As with all species, regular water changes can help promote better health in this species. In fact, some aquarists have noted that their Bucktooth Tetras are even more active after a significant water change.

A good rule of thumb for water change is to change at least 10 percent of the tank’s water every week to avoid problems like bacteria and infections.

– Suitable Tank Mates for Bucktooth Tetra

To say Bucktooth Tetras aren’t community fish is putting it mildly. This species has an aggressive temperament, along with an innate love of eating scales from other fish. All of which means the E.Paradoxus are best housed in a species-specific tank.

However, even when you’re getting your Bucktooth Tetra shoal (generally 12 will suffice if you’re new to the species), make sure you get fish that are identical in size. It’s not uncommon for the bigger Bucktooths to bully and chase after smaller ones until finally killing them from their scale-eating tendencies.

– Health

Speaking of bacteria and health, we have good and bad news. The good news is that there aren’t any Bucktooth Tetra-specific health problems that you should be aware of.

On the other hand, the bad news is that the species is quite susceptible to the usual culprits that can ail freshwater fish species.

Even though Bucktooth Tetras are naturally hale and sturdy, they can still experience problems resulting from fluctuations in water temperature, pH levels, and the build-up of nitrates and ammonia.

For example, inadequate ammonia, nitrate, pH, and carbonate hardness levels can cause stress to this species and eventually lead to death if not corrected.

Fish parents of tetras should also be wary of Neon Tetra Disease (NTD), common among the tetra family of species. NTD is caused by Pleistophora Hyphessobryconis (a type of parasite) that can enter your pet’s body by ingesting infected feed.

Once the parasite attaches itself to the host, it starts eating at it from the inside – causing muscle tissue damage. Symptoms of NTD include discoloration, top or mid-dwellers swimming at the bottom, bloating, fin rot, etc.

What’s worse, there’s no treatment for NTD. All you can do is quarantine the infected fish and hope the others are safe from the infection.

You can, however, take precautions against it by ensuring all water temperature, pH, and KH requirements are achieved. Additionally, regularly changing the water and cleaning the tank is a must too.

Important Bucktooth Tetra Stats for Aquarists

Since we have gone over what caring for A. Paradoxus involves, let’s talk about what watching these fish grow in real-time might be like. This section may especially interest aquarists planning to use a smaller tank and then switch to a larger one as the species grows.

– Bucktooth Tetra Lifespan

Tetras are renowned for their longevity. Experts estimate the species have an average lifespan of 10 years, while others might survive longer. Bucktooth Tetras have a similar lifespan as their tetra counterparts, so you can expect your fishes to be with you for some time.

The problem with lifespan stats is that they are simply generalizations. In actuality, there are plenty of external factors that can affect your finned pet’s life expectancy. For example, everything from water temperature, pH and KH levels, infections, etc., can shorten your pet’s lifespan, so you need to be wary of these factors to avoid losing your new pet.

– Bucktooth Tetra Size

In their natural habitat, Bucktooth Tetra size can reach a whopping length of six inches (15.24 centimeters), which is pretty massive, even according to tetra standards.

The maximum these fish will grow in captivity is about five inches (12.7 centimeters), probably because freshwater species generally don’t reach their potential size in tank habitats.

– Bucktooth Tetra Growth Rate

Bucktooth tetra breedingThe Bucktooth Tetra growth rate is quite fascinating. They are slow-growing fish species, meaning they’ll take at least a couple of years to reach lengths of four to five inches. Interestingly enough, their growth in size is also accompanied by a gain in body mass.

If you’re bringing home E. Paradoxus that are about one inch in size, you’ll have to wait a few years before seeing them reach their full-size potential.

How Does Breeding Bucktooth Tetras in Captivity Work?

Breeding Bucktooth Tetras in captivity isn’t an easy project, but some aquarists have managed it with success.

Bucktooths classify as an egg-scattering species, which means it’s best to allow the fish to spawn in a separate tank. A 15-gallon tank should be adequate for spawning purposes.

You don’t have to do much in terms of decorating it, except for adding some aquarium plants, preferably with fine leaves to catch and hide the eggs. The pH level of water in the spawning tank should range between 6 to 6.5.

You’ll have to select a pair of fish from your collection and transfer them to their new locale.

Once you notice the fish have scattered the eggs, get the parents out of the spawning tank post-haste because they can eat the eggs if given the opportunity.

The hatching time for the eggs ranges from two to three days, and once the fry appears, you can feed them on brine shrimp. It’s best not to expect too many fry to survive the experience because even the young ones of this species are a bit cannibalistic.

Nonetheless, you can try and keep as many fry alive as possible by keeping them well fed. You’ll also need adequately-sized tanks to shift the young fish into once they’re ready.


Bucktooth Tetras are unique and vivid species that naturally attract hobbyists looking to add color to their lives. If you’re set on getting E.Paradoxus for your home aquarium, make sure to give the highlights below a thorough read before making a final decision:

  • Bucktooth tetra fishBucktooth Tetras are an uber-aggressive fish species despite their pearly and colorful appearance.
  • The species are carnivorous and have lepidophagic (scale-eating) tendencies. They’re not afraid of attacking prey bigger than them in size.
  • Bucktooths aren’t picky about what they eat and consume bloodworms, brine shrimp, earthworms, and flakes.
  • It’s best to keep the species well-fed at all times to stop them from going after each other when hunger strikes.
  • They’re mid-level swimmers and thrive in habitats that include a dark sand substrate, driftwood, caves, and plants.
  • They prefer to have plenty of room to swim, and generally, a tank for 25 Bucktooths should be no less than 55-gallons.
  • Bucktooth Tetras are susceptible to stress due to temperature, pH, and KH fluctuations. They are also prone to developing Neon Tetra Disease.
  • Paradoxus is a slow-growing species and can take years before reaching its potential size of four to five inches. The species’ average longevity is 10 years.
  • Breeding Bucktooths in captivity isn’t easy, as the species are egg-scatterers, and parents can eat the eggs given the time.
  • It’s best to keep Bucktooth Tetras in a single-species setting (due to their aggressiveness) with fish of identical size to avoid the fish from bullying each other.
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