The Bleeding Heart Tetra, also known as Punto Rojo or Red Tipped Tetra, is a very easy to keep tropical fish, as it is very hardy, so it is one of the most suitable fish species for beginner aquarists.
They distinguish themselves by the red spot on their sides, commonly known as a “heart,” which gives the species its popular name “bleeding heart” tetra. Being schooling fish, they are very active and will surely turn out to be your aquarium’s main attraction.
Its original habitat is the Amazon River Basin and other river basins in South America and Columbia, but they are very easily bred in aquariums as well.
The Bleeding Heart Tetra’s usual life span is between 3-5 years and it reaches up to 3 inches in length. Females are usually more full bodied and males have a larger dorsal fin.
Tank requirements and region
The minimum tank for a small school of Bleeding Heart Tetras (4-6 fish) is about 20 gallons. Water should be kept around 72-80° Fahrenheit and pH should be slightly alkaline, between 6.5-7.0.
They will usually swim through the bottom to middle areas of the aquarium, so if you see your fish swimming towards the surface, this means they do not have enough oxygen and you should take care of that matter immediately.
Bleeding Heart Tetras only display their best colors when feeling secure, so make sure water parameters stay the same. Also, provide a lot of plants and hiding places, subtle lighting and dark gravel to make them feel more at ease.
Feeding your Bleeding Heart Tetra
Food for this fish species is pretty easy to find, as they accept any food usually given to tropical fish: live food, flakes, freeze-dried, or frozen food. If you plan to give them flakes or crisps as their main diet, try to offer them extra protein occasionally by giving them frozen or live foods.
Also, as they are opportunistic feeders and usually eat vegetable material in the wild, you could give them chopped lettuce leaves as an occasional treat. They should be fed several times during a day, but never give them more than they can eat in 3 minutes.
These fish can catch any usual tropical fish disease; keep an eye on their immunity and water conditions. A dirty tank could effect even the most enduring fish.
Despite being raised in fish farms nowadays, your Bleeding Heart Tetra can still be kept in various community tanks before reaching you, so make sure you quarantine every new fish to be able to spot any signs of illness and treat the affected fish only.
The Bleeding Heart Tetra is a schooling fish, which means it is necessary to keep 4-6 fish to make them feel at ease and secure in your aquarium.
If kept alone, it can be prone to fin nipping because of stress and it is also very likely to die or behave aggressively towards their surroundings or neighboring fish.
They are shy fish, though, but very peaceful once they settle in your aquarium, especially if they are kept in a larger school.
First of all, make sure you keep an established school of tetras, as their best behavior and distinctive color patterns can only be seen in small to large groups.
Other tetra varieties could be the best tank mates for your Bleeding Hearts and would also help them stand out, as most of the tetras have slim bodies, unlike the Bleeding Heart Tetra, which has a larger, flatter body.
Also, you can choose tetras of different colors to add variety to your aquarium.
Smaller or same-sized fish would make great companions for your tetras, as they will not be intimidated or harassed by them. Danios, cherry barbs, Rasboros, and some bottom dwellers such as some loaches or cories are usually peaceful fish that could live happily alongside Bleeding Heart tetras.
Try to avoid placing less active species, like dwarf cichlids, as a tetras fast movements can cause them a lot of stress.
Also, larger fish, especially cichlids that are particularly aggressive and territorial, could find your tetras to be a tasty meal and chase them around.
Breeding your Bleeding Heart Tetra
Bleeding Heart Tetras may be bred in the community tank, but it is always best to do this in a breeding tank, as special water parameters are required for successful breeding.
Water should be slightly acidic to encourage optimal breeding habits. Also, to speed up the process, you should increase the temperature by a few degrees, but make sure it is still comfortable for your other fish.
After the eggs are laid, the parents should be removed from the tank to avoid the fry being eaten.
If you cannot afford a breeding tank, you can still breed them in the community tank, but make sure you provide plenty of plants for the fry to hide from the bigger fish.
Bleeding Heart Tetras are very interesting fish to keep for their beautiful colors and active behavior.
By paying a bit more attention, even beginner aquarists may successfully keep these interesting fish, despite that they are not as hardy as other fish, like guppies or Mollies.