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Rummy Nose Tetra Care: Housing, Diet & Common Diseases

Lindsey Stanton Profile Picture

By Lindsey Stanton

Rummy Nose Tetras in tank

The rummy nose tetra is one of many types of tetra fish. These are some very beautiful tropical fish that love to be kept in schools. Now, these are some pretty hardy and resilient fish. Sure, they require the right tank setup and water conditions, but other than that, caring for these small fish is not a big undertaking. Let’s get to it and talk about rummy nose tetra care, everything and anything you need to know about keeping this fish in a home aquarium. starfish divider ah

Rummy Nose Tetra Profile

Origins South America
Water Tropical Freshwater
Type Schooling Fish
Fish Size 2.5 inches long
Care Difficulty Level 5/10
Tank size 20 Gallons+
Plants Planted Tank Recommended
Need A Filter? Yes (external filter)
pH Level 5.5–7.0
Substrate Fine substrate required
Ideal Temperature 72–80 degrees Fahrenheit
Diet Omnivore

Origins, Appearance, & Behavior

rummy nose tetra
Image Credit: Grigorev Mikhail, Shutterstock

The rummy nose tetra is native to South America where they live in various parts of the Amazon river. There are actually three species of the rummy nose tetra, which include the brilliant, the true, and the false rummy nose tetra.

These are tropical warm water fish as well as shoaling or schooling fish, ones which should be kept in schools of at least 6 to 10 fish. The rummy nose tetra tends to swim in the middle of the water column along with its school. They are fairly quick and active swimmers, especially when kept in large schools. These fish do enjoy fairly heavily planted tanks and often like to hide under or within vegetation.

The rummy nose tetra is a very small fish, usually not growing to more than 2.5 inches long, although the common runny nose tetra (aka Brilliant runny nose tetra) may only grow to 2 inches in length. These fish feature interesting colors and patterns, often having plain silver bodies with silver-brown backs, whitetails with black stripes, and a red face. They have a torpedo-shaped body with all fins but the caudal (tail) fin is clear.

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The 7 Rummy Nose Tetra Housing Requirements

Ok, so now that we have done a quick overview of this little fish, let’s take a look at the variety of housing requirements you will have to provide for them

1. Tank Size

The first thing to consider here is the size of tank you will need for your rummy nose tetra school. As mentioned before, these fish should be kept in schools of 6 to 10, as they do find comfort and safety in numbers. Most are going to tell you that a small school of these fish will do fine in a tank of about 20 gallons.

The rule of thumb is a gallon of water for each inch of fish, and seeing as tetra fish are about 2 inches long, you will need 2 gallons for each tetra, at the very least. Therefore, you could fit a school of 10 rummy nose tetras into a 20-gallon tank. However, if you want to provide them with the best life possible, you might want to provide each tetra with 1.5 to 2 gallons of tank space.

Therefore, for the best life possible, a 30- to 40-gallon tank for a school of 10 rummy nose tetras would be more than sufficient.

tank with dwarf hairgrass
Image Credit: Capix Denan, Shutterstock

2. Water Conditions

The rummy nose tetra does require some pretty strict water conditions, although they can be quite hardy. When it comes to ammonia and nitrates, these need to be kept at a minimum, or if possible, there should be none at all. All fish are susceptible to ammonia. They can and will die from even low ammonia and nitrate levels, so be sure to keep this under control.

Next, in terms of the pH level of the water, this should be kept slightly acidic or neutral at the most. A pH level between 5.5 and 7.0 is acceptable for the rummy nose tetra. This is also a soft water fish and the dGH for their water should not exceed 10 dGH.

Both in terms of water hardness and acidity, you may need to make some adjustments or use water conditioners to achieve the appropriate level.

3. Filtration

Rummy nose tetras are quite sensitive to ammonia and nitrates, but they also don’t like super high flow rates or tons of water movement. This means that you do need a pretty decent aquarium filter that can engage inefficient mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration, with bio and mechanical filtration being the most important ones, especially for ammonia removal.

It is recommended to get an external canister filter for the rummy nose tetra. Just be careful so that you don’t create too much water movement, as they will not enjoy this.

Close up of a hand disassembling a fish tank waterfall filter to clean it
Image Credit: Ladanifer, Shutterstock

4. Heating

The rummy nose tetra needs the water to be between 72 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, as they are warm water tropical fish. So, unless you live in an environment where it is constantly over 72 degrees, you will need to get a smaller heater for the rummy nose tetra tank.

A small 100-watt heater, give or take a few watts, should be more than enough to maintain the right tank temperature. Keep in mind that you will also need an aquarium thermometer in order to monitor the water temperature.

5. Lighting

The rummy nose tetra lives in the Amazon, where it can be sunny, very much so. That said, this fish usually lives in fairly heavily vegetated waters, ones often covered by trees and foliage from above. A normal aquarium light, a simple LED or fluorescent light will do just fine for the rummy nose tetra.

Yes, you do need to provide them with 8 to 12 hours of good light per day, but it doesn’t have to be anything special.

image of the glass aquarium tank with water plants and has a bright LED lamp on top
Image Credit: BLUR LIFE 1975, Shutterstock

6. Plants

As mentioned above, the rummy nose tetra does enjoy having a lot of vegetation in its tank. They enjoy having a variety of rooted plants, plants like the amazon sword for one. Anything with lots of leaves and foliage, as well as large and broad leaves, will do fine.

Just remember that rummy nose tetras need fine-grain substrates, such as sand or fine gravel, so whatever plants you get should be able to survive in those substrates, although plants tied to rocks and driftwood will do fine as well.

The most important thing here is that you provide the rummy nose tetra with lots of vegetation to hide under and swim through.

7. Substrate

The rummy nose tetra requires a fairly fine substrate. You can go for a darker substrate to make their red faces pop, although the color of the substrate is up to you. It is important to go for a fine grain substrate in case the tetras want to forage at the bottom, so they won’t injure themselves with jagged stones. Therefore, a fine and smooth gravel substrate is the number one option here, followed by sand.

aquarist preparing substrate in aquarium
Image Credit: rodimov, Shutterstock

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How Long Do Rummy Nose Tetras Live?

If you take proper care of the rummy nose tetra, which means great filtration, no stress, living in a large tank along with a good school, being fed right, and living in the most ideal of water conditions, it can live for up to 5 years.

The average lifespan of the rummy nose tetra kept in captivity is between 3 to 5 years, with a median lifespan of 4 years. However, on occasion, some have been known to live for up to 7 years, albeit rarely.

Rummy Nose Tetra Size – How Big Do They Get?

Your average rummy nose tetra is going to top out at around 2 inches in length. Some specimens, specifically the true and false rummy nose tetras can grow to 2.5 inches in length. However, for the purpose of today’s article, we are talking about the brilliant rummy nose tetra, also known as the common rummy nose tetra, and these top out at 2 inches.

What Do Rummy Nose Tetras Eat?

fish food flakes for tropical fish
Image Credit: Roger Utting, Shutterstock

The rummy nose tetra is an omnivore and not a very picky eater. They will generally eat just about anything they can fit into their mouths. This includes small insects and insect larvae, very small crustaceans, plant debris, and fish eggs as well.

When it comes to feeding them in an aquarium, you do want to provide them with a fairly varied diet. Their main source of nourishment should come from high-quality tropical fish flakes, preferably ones made specifically for tetra fish. You can also go for tropical fish pellets, but flakes are best. This should be offset with some occasional treats, such as live, frozen, or freeze-dried daphnia, blood worms, and brine shrimp.

Something to keep in mind here is that the freeze-drying process kills parasites, which makes freeze-dried treats much safer than live or regularly frozen treats. You may also provide them with some blanched green veggies.

Small pieces of blanched spinach, lettuce, zucchini, and shelled peas all make for decent treats. What is nice is that the rummy nose tetra, as long as it is well fed, should not try to eat your aquarium plants.

How Often Do You Feed Rummy Nose Tetras?

In terms of how much to feed your rummy nose tetra, feed it twice per day and no more than it can eat in about 2 minutes. You do want to avoid overfeeding these little guys as they are susceptible to constipation and other complications caused by eating too much.

Best Tank Mates for Rummy Nose Tetra

Keep in mind that these are very small and peaceful fish that generally never show aggression, they are schooling fish, they like heavily planted tanks, and they generally stick to the middle of the water column as well as closer to the bottom too.

The most important thing to keep in mind here is that all rummy nose tetra tank mates should be peaceful and non-aggressive, or else they will bully the tetras and potentially eat them too. It is essential that rummy nose tetra tank mates are peaceful.

Let’s quickly take a look at some of the best tank makes for the rummy nose tetra;

  • Danios
  • Other tetras
  • Mollies
  • Cory catfish
  • Dwarf gourami
  • Harlequin rasbora
  • Cherry barbs
  • Small loaches
  • Hatchetfish
  • Guppies
  • Various snails
  • Various shrimp
Image Credit: Przemek Iciak, Shutterstock

The 2 Common Rummy Nose Tetra Diseases

There are a number of common diseases that affect rummy nose tetras, so let’s take a quick look at each one. The two most common diseases which affect the rummy nose tetra include ich and dropsy.

1. Ich

Ich is also known as white spot disease, a very common problem in freshwater fish, and it is caused by small protozoans living in the water. The small parasites that cause ich are present in virtually every aquarium out there. However, there is selective immunity among fishes, so not all breeds are affected.

How To Tell If Your Rummy Nose Tetra Has Ich?

You can tell if your rummy nose tetra has ich if it displays white blister-like bumps on their skin, particularly on their fins. These white bumps may look fuzzy or hairy. You may also notice a lack of appetite, erratic behavior, and reclusiveness, and the rummy nose tetra rubbing itself on decorations and plants.

Fish that are generally unhealthy, stressed out, and have weak immune systems, are susceptible to this disease. Yes, this parasite or protozoan is present in every tank, but it’s only the unhealthy fish that are susceptible to it.

How To Avoid & Treat Ich

Therefore, the best way to avoid and to treat ich is by ensuring that your rummy nose tetras live in the right water conditions, that they have lots of space complete with good filtration, that they are not stressed out, and they need to be fed right too.

If this does not do the trick, adding salt to the water and raising the water temperature a bit may help.

If all else fails, you will want to purchase anti-itch chemicals and medicinal treatments. Quarantining any infected fish is definitely recommended as well.

White spot disease in goldfish_Zay Nyi Nyi_shutterstock
Credit: Zay Nyi Nyi, Shutterstock

2. Dropsy

Dropsy is a fish disease, one which is also quite common in freshwater fish. It is caused or characterized by the buildup of fluid in the body cavity, thus creating fat and bloated appearance.

How To Tell If Your Rummy Nose Tetra Has Dropsy?

You may also notice skin lesions, a lack of appetite, bulging eyes, a red and swollen anus, a curved spine, clamped find, lethargy, and erratic behavior. This disease will cause death if left untreated.

Just like ich, dropsy is actually caused by a bacteria commonly found in virtually all aquariums, and just like with ich, it won’t make your fish sick unless the fish are already stressed out and in poor health.

How To Avoid & Prevent Dropsy

Therefore, the best way to prevent dropsy and to treat it is by ensuring that your rummy nose tetras are in optimal health with minimal stress. Any form of stress or bad health caused by a number of factors (usually poor feeding, poor care, and improper water conditions) can cause dropsy to take hold. You will want to quarantine sick fish to prevent dropsy from spreading.

To treat dropsy, add 1 tablespoon of salt for each gallon of water, keep the tank as clean as can be, perform regular water changes, and feed them high-quality food. If this does not work to relieve symptoms within a day or two, you will want to provide the rummy nose tetras with medicine specifically made to cure dropsy.

female betta with dropsy desease
Image Credit: Thassaphong Jarung, Shutterstock

How Can You Tell if a Rummy Nose Tetra is Male or Female?

It’s important to note that rummy nose tetras are in fact one of the hardest fish species to sex, mainly because both males and females do look very similar. One of the only differences between the two sexes is that females are generally just a little bit larger than males, meaning that they are a little bit longer and generally a bit fuller-bodied as well.

If you happen to have a school of them, if you notice that the abdominal sections of some of the fish are bulging, chances are that it is a pregnant female. Of course, if you see fish laying eggs, then these are obviously female. Besides that, and not counting a costly professional consultation, there is no real way to tell the difference between male and female rummy nose tetras.

Why Are My Rummy Nose Tetras Dying?

There is a variety of reasons why your rummy nose tetras or any other aquarium fish could be dying. Take a look below for a list of possible reasons.

  • If the water temperature is exceedingly high or low, it can eventually kill any aquarium fish.
  • If the pH level or acidity of the water is either below or above the acceptable parameters, this could be to blame.
  • If your filtration system is not up to the task, there may be large quantities of ammonia, nitrates, heavy metals, and other contaminants present in the water.
  • Rummy nose tetras require a certain diet, and if you don’t meet their dietary requirements, it can eventually lead to death.
  • There are various bacteria and parasites that are present in aquarium water, and if your fish are already stressed out, they become susceptible to these bacteria, ones that cause a litany of infections and health issues.
  • You may have other fish in the tank that are bullying or outright killing other fish.

Are Rummy Nose Tetras Fin Nippers?

two rummy nose tetras
Image Credit: Grigorev Mikhail, Shutterstock

Yes, rummy nose tetras can be fin nippers, particularly when other long-finned fish are involved. Therefore, it is best to try to not house rummy nose tetras with any fish that have long fins or fins sensitive to damage.

How Many Rummy Nose Tetras in a 30 Gallon Tank?

Rummy nose tetras grow to roughly 2.5 inches in length. The general rule of thumb is that each inch of fish needs a gallon of water. Therefore, a 2.5-inch rummy nose tetra would need 2.5 gallons of water. According to this math, this would mean that you could technically fit up to 12 of these fish into a 30-gallon tank.

On the other hand, these fish are active swimmers, and the one-gallon-per-inch rule is a bare minimum.

If you want to keep your rummy nose tetras as comfortable as can be, you may want to up that to 1.5 gallons per inch of fish. This would mean that a 30-gallon tank could hold exactly eight rummy nose tetras very comfortably.

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There you have it, folks, everything you need to know about rummy nose tetra care, from housing and tank conditions to feeding and common diseases too. These are some fairly easy-to-care-for fish, as long as you stick to the guidelines of course!  

Featured Image Credit: DMITRII STARTCEV, Shutterstock

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