Hyphessobrycon Heterorhabdus is also known as flag tetra because of the pattern on its body that resembles the Brazilian flag. The species is a native of North-East Brazil, living in creeks, ponds, tributaries, and floodplains around the locality. The fish breed is not only pretty, it is peaceful and a popular choice for community fish tanks.

Sounds like the ideal fish for your home-aquarium too, doesn’t it? Well, it certainly is! Nevertheless, Hyphessobrycon Heterorhabdus care in an aquarium might not necessarily be as simple as it seems especially if you are a novice aquarist.

Hence, in this article, we have made sure to cover all the important aspects of Hyphessobrycon Heterorhabdus care. We’ll also go into detail on its diet, compatibility with other tank mates as well as breeding possibilities.

Hyphessobrycon Heterorhabdus At a Glance

The Flag Tetra is typically a docile creature with a long slender silvery-olive body and an even lighter underside. It flaunts three lateral stripes in black, red and yellow across its body which make it stand out among other small fish breeds. Moreover, when they reach the level of sexual maturity, the females can be recognized as being slightly bigger and thicker ventrally.

Being a shoal fish, the Hyphessobrycon Heterorhabdus can be easily housed and taken care of in a community tank with other similar sized fish breeds. However, to ensure optimal care of this species in any aquarium, you first need to grasp the important tidbits.

For this, take a look at the following essential Hyphessobrycon Heterorhabdus stats:

Scientific name Hyphessobrycon Heterorhabdus
Family Characidae
Origin South America: Brazil to be exact
Coloration Elongated body with lateral stripes in black, yellow and red
Strata mid-level dwellers
Sun Catfish Size 1.3 – 1.5 inches
Life Span 3 to 5  years
Temperament Peaceful
Diet Frozen, dry pellets
Tank Size 70 Litres
Temperature 20-25°C
pH 5.5 -7.5
dGH 1-12 degrees – soft to medium hardness

Hyphessobrycon Heterorhabdus Care: The Essentials

Being habitants of the Amazon region, Flag Tetras are accustomed to living in an environment that has ample shade and riparian vegetation along with clear water with some sandy substrate.

Hence, when planning to add a school of Hyphessobrycon Heterorhabdus in your home-aquarium, keep in mind that the following factors are vital for its care:

– Tank Size

Since Flag Tetras prefer to swim around in a school, the first thing you need to make sure is to get them an aquarium that is wider. This will provide them with a good space for swimming which is one of the most crucial elements of Flag Tetra care.

Furthermore, a small fish tank of up to 10 gallons is sufficient enough for this species due to their small size. However, if you want to create a community setup for your pet to thrive in, then, ideally, you should be getting a slightly larger tank. The tank size also depends on how many fish you will be adding in together.

In short, the fish tank size should be such that the docile creatures can conveniently glide around without getting stressed by other fish or aquarium decoration getting in their way.

– Tank Set Up

Unsuitable aquarium conditions can be a big hindrance to Flag Tetra care. This is why you need to set up the fish tank in a way that it promotes an ideal environment for the species to stay healthy and happy.

Here is a list of basic things you’ll need for the aquarium setup:

  • Filter system with a water flow of approximately 4 to 5 times the volume of the Flag Tetra fish tank.
  • Heater for winter months
  • Aquarium Thermometer to ensure an ideal temperate at all times
  • Lighting unit
  • Sandy Substrate
  • Aquarium décor to resemble their natural habitat

Once you have got the above mentioned essentials in hand, begin with adding the substrate to the bottom of the tank. The depth should be no more or less than two inches.

Next, install the filter as well as the heater, without turning them on. Now you need to pour in some tap water and keep the water level a few inches below the fill line.

It’s time to wash off the dirt from your aquarium décor and add them one by one in the tank. You may also want to trim off damaged parts from aquarium plants before placing them inside. In the end, switch on the water filter and heater and let them cycle for at least 10 days before adding the Flag tetras or any of their tank mates in.

– Water Conditions

Overall, Hyphessobrycon Heterorhabdus are not a difficult breed to care for. However, there are certain parameters that you must keep in mind while keeping them in a home aquarium. These revolve mainly around the water conditions inside a Flag Tetra tank.

It is advisable to test the fish tank water before putting the fish inside. Not only should the ammonia and nitrite levels be zero, the nitrates must be under 20ppm.

In addition, it is imperative to ensure the following situation consistently in the tank:

  • Temperature: 20-25°C
  • pH Level: 5.5 to 7
  • Water Hardness: light to moderate

These fish tend to enjoy a gentle current which is why you have to see that filter settings are set to sustain a stable moderate flow throughout the tank environment. Also, you may consider covering the filtration system with mesh to provide additional care in preventing the fish getting sucked into it accidently.

– Aquarium Décor

Apparently, aquarium decoration is thought of as the least important part of the fish tank set up. However, the fact that it tends to differ when housing different kinds of fish cannot be ignored.

To optimize your Hyphessobrycon Heterorhabdus care, you can choose and add the following décor in their tank:

  • Algae Magnet
  • Dried leaves litter
  • River Sand substrate
  • Tangled roots and driftwood
  • Dim lighting

You can also create a biotope tank that replicates “black water” for this species to thrive in. Adding peat to the filtration system to achieve light tea stained water is another way to enhance overall appeal of the aquarium environment.

– Maintenance

As soon as your Flag Tetra aquarium is up and running, you need to stay mindful of maintaining clean and hygienic water conditions for the fish. This can be done by ensuring 20 to 25% water changes every fortnight. Moreover, ridding the tank floor from organic compounds that can lead to water contamination is also necessary.

Apart from this, fish owners should keep a check on when to clean the filter unit. And also trim overgrown or dead plantations. Doing so often tends to get overlooked as an important part of Flag Tetra care.

Tank Mates

Hyphessobrycon Heterorhabdus are extremely suitable for community tanks because of their peaceful nature and preference of swimming in a school. As a matter of fact, the docile fish is most often seen to do better when shoaling as a group of six or more.

The best Hyphessobrycon Heterorhabdus tank mates are other community fish that are similar in size. Larger fish should be completely excluded as they are likely to prey on the tiny tetra.

A few compatible breeds include:

All in all, being in the company of their tank mates provides an added sense of security to the Flag Tetra. It is, therefore, crucial to add a few of their own kind to improve Flag Tetra care in an aquarium.

Just in case you don’t want to add too many fish in the aquarium, you can get small snails and other invertebrates as Flag Tetra tank mates. These will serve as cleaning crew and eat up algae and leftover food in the tank, thus, preventing contamination.

Breeding: Can it be Done?

Let’s be real. Flag Tetra fish care may be easy, but breeding them in captivity is not as simple. The species is oviparous and its breeding can only be possible in a separate aquarium holding at least 30 liters of water.

Moreover, the breeding tank should be dimly lit with ideal water conditions as mentioned above. Also, make sure to add fine leaves plants such as Java Moss and adequately feed the fish live food before they begin the egg-scattering process. Hyphessobrycon Heterorhabdus breeding can be carried out between a single pair or as part of a small school where two females may mate with one male.

Furthermore, it is important to remove the parent fish from the aquarium after spawning as they will otherwise eat their own eggs. If not this, then make sure to spread a mesh that allows the eggs to fall through but prevents the fish from getting to them. Within 36 hours, you will find the fry hatching and thus marking the start of yet another Flag Tetra care cycle.

Diet: What They Like

The fish is omnivorous and loves to devour small invertebrates, mosquito larvae, daphnia, and bloodworms. It is likely to survive on a of tiny crustaceans, plant material and dried foods in the wild, but prefers a varied menu when being taken care of in an aquarium set up.

Nevertheless, you only have to feed the fish once or twice a day, as overfeeding can make them sick and also result in uneaten food polluting the substrate.


In this article, we have made sure to discuss all important facts about Hyphessobrycon Heterorhabdus in detail. This is bound to help you if you are looking for Flag Tetra care in a fish tank, its breeding possibilities, tank mates and its diet.

Here is a quick summary of all the points that have been covered above:

  • Flag Tetra is a small community fish that primarily hails from South America. Interestingly, the pattern and colors on the species long slender body resembles the Brazilian flag.
  • These fish inhabit central water columns and are found in ponds, streams and river tributaries. Their natural habitat, thus, comprises slow-moving waters with dense forest canopies and a dimly lit environment.
  • For optimal Flag Tetra care in an aquarium setting, you must make sure that the tank size is adequate for swimming space. Other important water conditions include a temperature of 20-25°C, pH of 5.5 to 7, and soft to medium water hardness.
  • When selecting tank mates for the Flag Tetra, it is important to keep in mind that the fish thrive best in schools, with at least six more of their same kind. Their ideal tank mates are similar sized docile fish like other Tetras, mollies, dwarf cichlids, etc.
  • Breeding of the Flag Tetra can be done in captivity. However, a separate tank will be required for the spawning process which can be done with a single pair or small group of male and female Flag Tetra.
  • It is vital to remove the adult Flag Tetra from the breeding tank after spawning as they will otherwise eat the eggs and newly hatched fry.
  • Although Hyphessobrycon Heterorhabdus diet can consist of pellets, frozen and dry food, their top preference is small live creatures dropped into the fish tank.

All in all, taking good care of your Flag Tetra in captivity comprises ensuring ideal water conditions and a good quality diet. The species spends most of its time shoaling across the water and flitting through plants, thus, making it a treat to watch in community tanks.

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