African Red Eyed Tetra
African Red Eyed Tetra

African Red Eyed Tetra

Arnoldichthys spilopterus
SynonymsPetersius spilopterus
DistributionLower Niger and Ogun rivers, Nigeria.
Sexual DimorphismMales have a yellow or orange anal fin with five dark bands. The females have a clear anal fin with a few dark spots.
Maximum Size10cm (3.9”)
Water ParametersWill acclimatise to a wide range of aquarium conditions. pH: 6.0-8.0, dH: 5-20 degrees.
Temperature23-28 deg C (73-82 deg F)
CompatibilityCommunity with no long-finned fish; Specialist community

The African Red Eyed Tetra is a fairly sizeable characin that requires a large tank with plenty of swimming space. Generally peaceable, and sometimes slightly timid, this active species should be maintained in shoals of at least 6 specimens (10+ is much better) due to its shoaling nature. Tankmates should be of similar size and temperament; small or long-finned species must be avoided. Good tankmates could include Pelvicachromis spp. African dwarf cichlids or perhaps some of the smaller Synodontid catfish species. The aquarium should have a dark substrate and background, and ideally will have plenty of driftwood and dense planting. This will help the fish to feel more secure and will show their colours off beautifully. Try to aquascape the tank with most of the décor towards the rear of the aquarium, leaving a large open swimming space along the front of the tank. The water should be clean and well-oxygenated, with a moderate flow rate. Quite unlike many characins, the Red Eyed Tetra has very large scales giving it a slightly barb-like appearance.


Will accept all types of food. Try to vary the diet with flakes, algae based flakes, slow-sinking pellets/granules, and frozen foods such as mosquito larvae, vitamin-enriched brineshrimp, Mysis etc.


This egg scattering species has been bred in the home aquarium, although it doesn’t seem to occur with any great regularity (perhaps because African Red Eyed Tetras are only seen sporadically in the trade). Soft water may be necessary to ensure success. When conditioned and ready to spawn, the male will vigorously drive the female over clumps of vegetation, where up to 1000 eggs will be deposited. Depending on water temperature, the eggs should hatch within 24-36 hours and once the yolk sacs have been absorbed, the fry should be offered appropriately sized first foods such as infusoria or powdered baby fish food. In the community aquarium, many of the eggs will be predated upon, so if you wish to raise a larger number of fry to adulthood, it would be worth setting up a separate breeding aquarium with a mesh divider just above the base. That way the eggs will fall through to safety and the parents can be relocated to the main aquarium once spawning is over.

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