Tetra-Red Eye

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The red eye tetra adds a touch of glamour to a freshwater community aquarium. Its metallic look, dynamic energy, and signature red eye with its pop of colour combine to create an elegant display when kept in a school of six or more. This fish is also a good choice as a beginner fish. Water conditions fluctuate wildly in its natural habitat, so this fish can tolerate a wide range of differences and changes. The red eye tetra is a relatively larger tetra and should ideally be housed in a 75L or larger aquarium.

Species Overview

COMMON NAMES: Yellow-banded moenkhausia, yellowback moenkhausia, yellowhead tetra, lamp eye tetra

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Moenkhausia sanctaefilomenae




Family Characidae
Origin Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Peru
Social Peaceful
Tank Level Mid-dweller
Minimum Tank Size 75L
Diet Omnivore
Breeding Egglayer
Care Easy
pH 5.5 to 8.5
Hardness Up to 25 dGH
Temperature 23 to 28 C

Origin and Distribution

Redeye tetras are found in South America in Paraguay, eastern Bolivia, eastern Peru, and western Brazil. In the wild, they inhabit clear rivers but can sometimes be found living in the thick vegetation of the murky Amazon. Aquarium specimens are now bred extensively in Asia.

Colours and Markings

If you have ever seen a school of these tetras with their bright silver body accented by a black tail and red eyes, it is obvious how they got their name. This peaceful medium-sized tetra is readily available and suitable for most community aquariums. 


Red eye tetras are very peaceful; they are best kept in schools of six or more and will claim the mid-portion of the aquarium. Although they are easygoing, some owners report that they occasionally nip at the fins of slow-moving, long-finned fish. Red eye tetras are very active in the middle section of the tank and may disturb less active top-dwelling fish. In addition, other tetras may pick on them at times, so keep an eye on the community.

These tetras do well in a community tank. Good tankmates are other tetras, rainbowfish, barbs, danios and the larger rasboras. Most peaceful bottom dwellers will also make good tankmates.

Habitat and Care

Red eye tetras tolerate a range of water conditions, from hard alkaline to soft acidic water. In nature, these fish come from regions with dense forests that let little light through, so keep their tank dimly lit; use dark substrate and plant cover along the sides and back of the aquarium.

These fish do not prefer fast-moving currents, so make sure to angle the filters to avoid disturbing them. Their ideal aquarium includes live plants, driftwood, and rocks to recreate their natural habitat and offer spaces to hide. Since this is a relatively large tetra, they require a 75L tank or larger. For these tetras, at least 25 to 50 percent of the water should be replaced every other week.

Red eye Tetra Diet and Feeding

Red eye tetras are omnivores, meaning they will eat a variety of foods. In the wild, they feed on worms, crustaceans, and insects. In captivity, you can feed them fine flake food, small granules, live or frozen brine shrimp, daphnia, tubifex, and frozen or freeze-dried bloodworms. Offer a variety of food, including live foods, to ensure good health. 

Vegetables should be offered regularly to bring out their best colours and appearance. Spinach is a great choice for this fish. This tetra prefers to eat multiple times a day. Offer only what they can consume in three minutes or less with multiple feedings per day.

Gender Differences

Sexual differences are not overtly apparent in most tetras. Generally, the female will have a larger more rounded abdomen than the male. A female's belly fills with eggs when it is sexually mature. Males get very colourful when ready to mate. Select the brightly coloured males for breeding.

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