Firehead tetra (Hemigrammus bleheri)


True to their name, firehead tetras are characterised by a red head. The rest of their body is silvery to translucent and they have black and white zebra-like tail fins. Hemigrammus bleheri are also known as Bleher’s rummy nose tetras after the man who discovered them, Heiko Bleher.

The fish are native to the northern part of South America and are particularly found in blackwater rivers in Colombia and Brazil, for example in the Rio Meta and Rio Negro. Kept correctly, they can grow to 6 cm in length and live to be 9 years old. They belong to the characin family and the males are generally thinner than the females.

Aquarium and water

Aquariums for these tetras should have a volume of at least 112 litres. To create an appropriate habitat, the water temperature should be between 23°C and 26°C. Hemigrammus bleheri are happiest in water that is slightly acidic (pH value: approx. 6.0 – 7.0) and soft to medium-hard (GH value: approx. 2 – 10°dGH).

Keeping conditions

Hemigrammus bleheri should be kept in a shoal with lots of members of the same species. Due to their peaceful nature, they are extremely suitable for community tanks and particularly like sharing their home with other tetra species like red neons. They also mix well with catfish and dwarf cichlids. Firehead tetras tend to favour the middle region of the aquarium.

Planting and decoration

Firehead tetras feel most comfortable in a loosely planted aquarium with vegetation around the edges that provides them with a safe haven. The rest of the aquarium can be diversely decorated with roots or other types of aquarium wood. As firehead tetras live in a shoal, they still need plenty of space to swim around. You should use a dark substrate and bogwood to try and replicate the conditions in blackwater rivers. You can naturally also use Tetra ToruMin to assist you. This creates water that is identical to naturally occurring tropical water.


Firehead tetras can be fed normal flake food, such as TetraMin, as well as extra-fine granules, such as Tetra Micro Granules. If you wish to give your firehead tetras a special treat, you can also feed them Tetra Delica Bloodworms – a natural food for some welcome variety.