The Ruby Tetra, also known as Axelrodia riesei, is a true aquarium gem. With a bit of research, attention, and time you will soon learn that it’s easy to raise Ruby Tetras in your tank.

Here, you’ll read facts on Tetra biostatistics, nutrition, and tank compatibility.

Read on, and you’ll even find out about the basics of breeding your Ruby Tetras to ensure that these petite beauties populate your tank for years to come.

What Are Tetras and How Do You Care for Them?

The term Tetra refers to the small freshwater fish from the Characidae family. They are usually small fish that can be cared for in freshwater and heavily planted aquascapes. Tetras come in various bright colors and are usually the tank’s resident blue, yellow, silver, and red-colored fish.

The average adult Tetra can grow from 1.5-2.5 inches long. Experts classify them as being an active schooling type of fish.

– Let’s Zoom in on the Ruby Tetra!

The Ruby Tetra is tiny compared to other Tetra fish. The average adult Ruby Tetra size ranges from 0.6-0.8 inches —just about half of other Tetra fish! When cared for, these fish can live quite long and happy lives in your aquarium. The Ruby Tetra lifespan is known to range from 5 to 10 years.

Ruby Tetras thrive in freshwater tanks. They are happiest in schools of 6 to 10, and they do not require too many bright lights to remain healthy.

Though Ruby Tetras are quite delicate and challenging to take care of, once you have mastered their essential nutrition and environment requirements, you should find that they are a real gem to have in your aquarium. They are, in a nutshell, the perfect companion fish for any other playful and non-predatory aquarium inhabitants.

Because of their small size and coloration, we often mistake Ruby Tetra fish for another type of schooling fish, the Rasboras. Experienced fishkeepers can tell these two types of fish apart by taking a good look at the fish’s head shape and markings.

Ruby Tetras usually have a pointed head and a horizontal streak on the body; some also have black markings on their caudal fins.

– Where Do Ruby Tetras Originate?

Ruby Tetras are scientifically known as Axelrodia riesei. It is classified under Actinopterygii or part of the group of ray-finned fishes. The Ruby Tetra, like others in its class, has a pair of fins made from delicate bones. These fins branch outwards in a fan-like pattern, helping the fish to swim gracefully in freshwater bodies.

Moreover, the Ruby Tetra also has a dorsal fin. This lone fin found on the top side of the fish’s body allows it to slice through water quickly. This is especially helpful when the Ruby Tetra is trying to escape from a predator or seek shelter.

You will find Ruby Tetra fish in its natural habitat in Southern America, specifically in the upper Meta River basin. It is a part of the Oronoco system and is in Colombia. The Ruby Tetra is a blackwater species. Wild Ruby Tetra fish have a deep red or orange color.

However, Ruby Tetras that are bred in captivity are known to lose this deep coloration in favor of paler shades.

– The Basics of Ruby Tetra Behavior

Ruby Tetras have a peculiar combination of being highly active fish yet are shy or peaceful as well. They do not excel in competing for food with other fishes, especially larger or faster than them.

Hence, during feeding time, you might notice that they are timider than their tank-mates or that they wait in the shelter of plants before coming out to take their share of food.

Between feeding hours, you can observe their schooling and shoaling patterns.

– The Best Diet to Help Your Ruby Tetra Thrive

Like most Tetras, the Ruby Tetra is generally easy to feed. They readily accept dry food, frozen food, and small live food. Besides these general guidelines, however, what else can you provide to boost the health of your newly acquired Ruby Tetras?

Here are a couple of tips from our experts on how to create a balanced and healthy diet for your Ruby Tetras:

  • Vary the Food You Give Your Ruby Tetra

Ruby Tetras that are bred and raised in captivity might be paler compared to their wild-born cousins. However, by tweaking their environment and diet, you can help your Ruby Tetras achieve a darker shade of red.

One step towards achieving that dark ruby color is varying the diet you provide for your Ruby Tetras. Give them a mix of high-quality dry flakes and pellets, live or frozen brine shrimp and microworms, and even meals consisting of the occasional sludge worms and bloodworms.

  • Give Them Frozen Cyclops as a Treat

The occasional addition of frozen Cyclops to your Ruby Tetras’ diet will help enhance their coloration. This will also help you keep their diet varied enough, thus aiding in providing them with different minerals and nutrients necessary for their overall wellbeing.

  • Cut Up Bigger Food into Bite-size Pieces

While this might seem commonsensical for most experienced fishkeepers, some novice aquarists still make the mistake of feeding their Ruby Tetras big pieces of food.

Doing so results in mouth irritation and heightened levels of stress that may eventually lead to illness. You should cut up live and large food items such as sludge worms, bloodworms, and earthworms into pieces that easily fit into your Ruby Tetras’ mouths.

  • Establish a Feeding Routine

Ruby Tetras can be fed only twice a day, with a few flakes or pieces of live food allocated for each fish. However, you might want to provide them thrice a day, especially during their breeding season.

Establish a feeding routine for your Ruby Tetras and stick to it. Furthermore, be mindful that each of your fishes eats their fair share; taking note of the fishes that don’t eat or do not have much of an appetite can help you take proactive measures against illnesses later on.

The Best Tank Mates for Your Ruby Tetra

Being the playful and peaceful schoolers that they are, Ruby Tetras make for the perfect prey for larger fish like Pike Cichlids and Arowana. That said, you should ensure that your tank’s inhabitants are non-carnivorous and non-aggressive.

Other small freshwater fish like dwarf cichlids, pencil fish, and even peaceful Corydoras catfish or Bristlenose catfish won’t mind the newcomers and be the perfect tank mates for your Ruby Tetras.

The Basics of Breeding Your Ruby Tetras

Once you have a good grasp of how to care for your Ruby Tetras, you might begin thinking of how and when to breed them. After all, who wouldn’t want more of these lovely jewels to inhabit their tanks?

Breeding Ruby Tetra fish demand more attention to detail and time than their daily maintenance, but the reward of successfully having a pair mate and lay eggs is more than worth it. Read on to learn tried and tested tips from our experts on how best to breed your Ruby Tetras.

– Choose a Healthy Mating Pair

When choosing a mating pair, keep in mind that the males are smaller than the females. Healthy males have a bright and intense coloration, while healthy females are visibly rounder and heavier when approaching breeding season.

– Prepare a Separate Tank for Breeding

The conditions of the breeding tank are crucial in the success of your Ruby Tetras’ breeding attempts. Keep the water slightly acidic, warm, and soft. Aside from that, place many plants in the breeding tank to provide the breeding pair with enough shelter. Prepare enough food for the breeding pair as well.

– Leave the Breeding Pair in a Completely Dark Tank for a Day or Two

Cover the breeding tank with a cloth to prevent light from getting in during the initial stage of the breeding process. After a day or two, gradually let light in by removing the cloth cover little by little every day. It should encourage the pair to breed and lay eggs.

– Monitor the Tank for Eggs

The eggs of Ruby Tetras are pretty sticky. Expect to see them stuck on plants or the sides of the breeding tank. Remove the breeding pair from the tank as soon as the female has finished laying her eggs. This will prevent the couple from eating the eggs.

– Care for the Ruby Tetra Fry

The eggs should hatch between 24 to 36 hours after being laid. At this stage, they will feed on nutritional sac found in their eggs. You may begin introducing fish fry food when you notice that the young Ruby Tetras actively swim in their tank.

After three to four weeks, the fish fry should be accepting bigger pieces of food and should be preparing to be rehomed in a larger tank.

The Ideal Tank Stats for Your Ruby Tetra

As mentioned in a previous section, Ruby Tetras are delicate and can be challenging to care for if you don’t know where to start. That is why it is crucial to plan your tank setup or evaluate whether or not your current aquarium can provide a suitable environment for raising healthy, happy Ruby Tetras.

Here are some aquarium factors you should consider before introducing Ruby Tetras to their new home:

– Water pH Level

Ruby Tetras do not generally take too well with harder water. You want your tank’s water pH level to range ideally from 4.0 to 6.5 only.

– Temperature

The waters in the upper Meta River basin, where Ruby Tetras were originally most abundant, are known for being quite warm. Thus, it would make sense that your tank should mimic the same temperature for your Ruby Tetras to settle in quickly.

Keep your tank’s water temperature from 70 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit or 21 to 27 degrees Celsius.

– Light Level

In their natural habitat, Ruby Tetras are shielded from harsh light by fallen leaves and other debris. You can imitate those conditions by introducing your Ruby Tetras in dim or moderately lit tanks with lots of shelter and light filtration plants.

– Noise Level

Since Ruby Tetras are peaceful fish, it would be best to keep them in quiet places in tanks. External environment noises could startle your Ruby Tetras and make them fussy. It is best to keep them in an isolated and noise-free place, especially while they are still adjusting to their new tank.

Calibrating your tank’s temperature, exposure to light and noise, and the water pH level will ensure a smoother transition for your Ruby Tetras. They will also be less likely to suffer from shock and find it easier to settle down in their new tank.

The Tropical Planted Tank and Your Ruby Tetra

Ruby Tetras perform best in densely planted tanks that feature driftwood. Below are some examples of plants you might want to include when you set up your tank for your Ruby Tetra.

– Anubias

The Anubias is an aquarium plant that is hardy and easy to grow. It has broad leaves that provide small fish, like the Ruby Tetras, shade from bright lights, and a place to hide or rest. Anubias is best situated in the middle or foreground of your tank as it can grow quite tall. It is also best paired with tanks that have a pH water level of 6.5-7.8.

– Cryptocoryne wendtii

The Cryptocoryne wendtii is quite popular among novice aquarists because of its low maintenance requirements. Plus, it thrives in tanks with a pH water level of 6.0-8.0 and loves low-light conditions.

Its leaves make great shelters for Ruby Tetras. Cryptocoryne wendtii comes in various colors, which makes it a delight to pair with deep reds of your new Ruby Tetras.

Note that while all of these plants prefer relatively hard water pH levels, they can still be compatible with Ruby Tetras. You can do this by keeping your tank pH level at only 6.0 to 6.5, thus satisfying both the pH level for your Ruby Tetras and the plants that will make up the majority of their environment.

Taking the time and effort to choose suitable plants for your Ruby Tetras will make their care and maintenance so much easier later on. Be sure to consider the examples above to include in your Ruby Tetra tank setups.

Taking Advantage of Tannins for your Ruby Tetras

If you decide to keep a dedicated tank for Ruby Tetras, then you would also do well to take advantage of Tannins.

Tannins come from tannic acid. This, in turn, enters the water through debris like driftwood, leaf litter, and other decorative natural objects. Tannins stain the water a dark yellow or brown, hence the term: blackwater effect.

Ruby Tetras hail from waters that are soft and neutral to slightly acidic. Adding Tannins or Tannin sources to your tank allows for subtle changes in the water condition that benefit your Ruby Tetras. You can introduce Tannins into your tank by adding driftwood or by changing the leaf litter every once in a while.

Tips for Ruby Tetra Nano Tank Setups

Though Ruby Tetras are often members of community tanks, some aquarists prefer keeping only one species of Tetra per tank. This is especially true for Nano Tank keepers.

Ruby Tetras are perfect for nano tank setups, firstly because of their size and secondly because they can be kept in small groups. You can, for example, have several tanks that focus on one color or one type of Tetra each.

Setting up a nano tank for your Ruby Tetra should be easy. You just have to pay attention to water temperature, acidity level, and the volume of plants coinhabiting the tank.

Remember that Ruby Tetras thrive in moderate to densely planted tanks as they not only need fauna to regulate oxygen and temperature, but they also love hiding behind or under leaves, roots, and stems when possible.

Wrapping up What You Learned About Ruby Tetras

Here’s a summary of the Ruby Tetra basics:

  • Ruby Tetras are freshwater fish hailing from Southern America. In their natural habitat, they thrive in blackwater conditions.
  • Ruby Tetras are delicate fish with a peaceful nature; their best tank mates include dwarf cichlids, pencil fish, and peaceful catfish.
  • Breeding your Ruby Tetras takes care and forethought. Invest enough time and effort, and you’ll soon be rewarded with new Ruby Tetra fry for your tanks.
  • You have to monitor the following tank statistics when caring for your Ruby Tetras: water pH level, water softness, and light level.
  • Ruby Tetras are not picky eaters; you can feed them a mix of commercial, fresh, frozen, and live food.

As you can see, there’s a lot more to Ruby Tetras than initially meets the eye. Care for these tiny but terrific fish, and your aquariums will be graced with gem-like pops of color and life.

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