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At first glance, the Silver Tip Tetra is a fairly dull, grey fish. Nothing to get excited about. However, keep the Silver Tips in large enough numbers and its beauty becomes obvious. A school of Silver Tip Tetras measuring 30, 40, or 50 fish, moving back and forth across the aquarium looks simply stunning.
I currently keep a school of almost 150 Silver Tip Tetras, and the effect of moving from one end of the aquarium to the other is simply mesmerizing. The more Silver Tip Tetras you have in your school the better!
Silver Tip Tetra Overview
The Silver Tip Tetra, which has the scientific name Hasemania nana, is a small, schooling member of the tetra family which originates from the São Francisco Basin in Brazil.
Silver Tip Tetras are peaceful fish that fit well into a community setup. To appreciate the Silver Tip fully, they need to be kept in a good-sized school. The small silver coloration on the very tips of the tetras’ tail fins, which gives the Silver Tips their name, glistens in the light as the school swims from one side of the aquarium to the other.
These little fish are hardy, providing their basic needs are met, and you could expect your Silver Tips to live for 3 to 4 years in the aquarium.
|Common Name:||Silver Tip Tetra|
|Scientific Name:||Hasemania nana|
|Adult Size:||2 inches (5cm)|
|Life Expectancy:||3-4 years|
|Minimum Tank Size:||20 Gallons|
|Breeding Method:||Egg Scatterer|
|Temperature:||75°F – 82°F|
|pH:||6.0 – 8.0|
Silver Tip Tetra Origins
Silver Tip Tetras Natural Habitat
Silver Tip Tetras naturally inhabit the Rio São Francisco in Brazil. The Rio São Francisco is the longest river that runs its entire length in Brazil and is the 4th longest river in South America.
Silver Tips prefer to live in the tributaries and creeks that run off the main river. These sections of the river have an abundance of tree roots and branches which have fallen in. The river bed has lots of leaves which have fallen into the water and there is plenty of vegetation, both growing in the water and coming from trees and plants above.
Studies show that Silver Tip Tetras like to live in both clear water and blackwater (dark water stained by tannins in wood and leaves) and can be found in both in their natural habitat.
Tank Setup For Silver Tip Tetras
Silver Tip Tetras are schooling fish that like a bit of space to swim. As a minimum, they should be kept in a tank that is 2ft (60cm) long, but 3ft (90cm) is better. The larger the group, the more impressive they will look, but equally, the larger tank they will require.
A Silver Tip Tetra aquarium should be set up so there is both ample cover, to make the fish feel secure, and also free swimming space for schooling. Ideally, there should be plenty of aquarium-safe wood or roots with lots of live plants growing. Planting along the back and sides of the aquarium, but leaving the middle area free for schooling is probably the ideal setup.
The aquarium should ideally have a sandy substrate with an ample covering of catappa leaves or similar. Catappa leaves will add a brown tinge to the water by leaching tannins unless the aquarium filter includes some activated carbon to remove the tannins.
This brown water, coupled with subdued lighting, is probably close to what their natural waterways would look like.
If you are setting up a new aquarium for your Silver Tip Tetras and you are not sure how much substrate you will need, have a look at this article I wrote titled How MUch Substrate Does My Aquarium Need?
The aquarium temperature should be set somewhere between 75°F and 82°F. Filtration should be good, but flow should not be excessive.
Silver Tip Tetra Tankmates
Silver Tip Tetras are compatible with almost any community-safe fish. Below I have listed some of my favorites.
Congo Tetras are massively underrated in the aquarium hobby. The rainbow colors on the male Congo Tetras will complement the Silver Tip Tetras beautifully.
Congo Tetras hang around in the mid-water like the Silver Tips, but instead of darting around in large schools, the Congos move around more slowly, swimming gracefully with their long, flowing fins. We have an article on the Congo Tetra HERE if you are looking for more information about them.
Pearl Gouramis actually show very similar body coloration to the Silver Tip Tetras. Pearl Gourami are predominantly a top dwelling species of fish, so occupy a different area of the tank to the Silver Tips.
You can keep a single Pearl Gourami as a centerpiece fish with a small group of Silver Tip Tetras, or go for a group of Pearls if your tank is larger. Like Silver Tips, Pearl Gourami are super peaceful and the two species will get on perfectly.
I have a Pearl Gourami Care guide if you would like more details.
Almost any member of the Corydoras family will get on well in the Silver Tip Tetra community tank. Pygmy Corydoras and Silver Tip Tetras originate from very similar environments, and both species would like their tank set up in a very similar way.
If you are going for a small group of Silver Tips in a 20 gallon, Pygmy Corydoras stay small enough that you could have a small group of them in the 20 gallons as well. For more information on Pygmy Corydoras, click HERE
Another fish that will compliment your Silver Tip Tetras brilliantly is an Angelfish. A 40 gallon with a single Angelfish and 50 Silver Tips will never fail to impress. Just be aware, don’t add baby Silver Tips to an aquarium with an adult Angelfish, as the Angelfish will eat very small tetras without any problems.
What To Feed Silver Tip Tetras
Silver Tip Tetras are omnivores. This means they need a diet based on both meat and plant matter.
In the wild, Silver Tip Tetras would eat waterborne creatures such as daphnia, worms, small crustaceans, baby fish, and small bits of algae or decaying plant matter.
In captivity, we should try to mimic this variety in their diet as closely as possible. Silver Tip Tetras should be fed a good mix of tropical fish flakes, small fish pellets, and a selection of live or frozen foods. I have had good luck feeding my Silver Tip Tetras Bug Bites, like these ones on Amazon.com
Giving your Silver Tip Tetras 3 or 4 small feedings a day is better than one large feeding. If you are feeding your Silver Tips 3 times a day, try to make 2 of those feedings a dried food and the third feeding something either live or frozen. Cyclops, brine shrimp, and bloodworms will all be relished by your Silver Tips.
Remember, Silver Tip Tetras want to feed in the mid-water. They rarely want to eat from the surface or the substrate. Any food should be slow sinking and small enough they can fit it in their mouths.
Only add a little food to the aquarium. Wait a minute or two for the fish to eat the food, then add a little bit more. Repeat until the fish lose interest in the food you are feeding.
The short video below shows Silver Tip Tetras feeding
Breeding Silver Tip Tetras
There is no easy way to sex Silver Tip Tetras. Both males and females look identical at first glance. However, there are slight differences between the sexes once the fish mature. Males are slightly thinner than females. Female Silver Tips are plumper, especially when approaching spawning.
Silver Tip Tetras are relatively easy to spawn. However, if you plan to actively raise some Silver Tip Tetra fry, consider starting a separate spawning tank as Silver Tip Tetras will happily eat the eggs before they develop into fry, and then the fry themselves if they do manage to develop.
Silver Tip Tetras are egg scatterers. The female releases the eggs and the male will fertilize them as they fall through the water.
To breed Silver Tip tetras, condition the potential breeders with live or frozen foods for a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, prepare a spawning tank that is set to a couple of degrees warmer than the main tank.
Furnish the spawning tank with a large clump of Java Moss or some mesh suspended off the bottom of the tank. The mesh should be wide enough that the eggs can pass through, but the fish can not. Ensure the fish can’t swim past the mesh either.
After conditioning the Silver Tips for a couple of weeks, select the fattest female and most colorful male. Place them both in the spawning tank and leave overnight. In the morning the pair should spawn. After spawning, remove both fish as they will happily eat any and every egg they see. Eggs are light sensitive so keep the spawning tank lit dimly until the fry are free swimming.
After 24 to 36 hours the eggs will hatch. 3 to 4 days later the fry will become free-swimming. At this point, the fry should be fed microscopic food like infusoria. Once large enough, feed newly hatched brine shrimp or microworms.
General Information About Silver Tip Tetras
Although a hardy fish, ensure you keep the same maintenance routine as with other fish. Regular water changes will help keep nitrate levels low. Regularly cleaning the filter and making sure the intakes are clear of leaves and other debris.
When silver Tips are kept in very small groups, maybe just 3 or 4 fish, they sometimes show aggression to one another in the form of chasing or fin nipping. The larger the group, the less aggression is shown.
Almost all Silver Tip Tetras available in the hobby today are captive bred. When purchasing new stock, consider quarantining your new fish for at least one week, although two is better, just to reduce the chances of bringing pests or diseases into your aquarium.
Frequently Asked Silver Tip Tetra Questions:
Are Silver Tip Tetras Fin Nippers?
Silver Tip Tetras that are kept in small groups can show aggression and a tendency to fin nip. Keeping them in a larger group, or school will stop any fin nipping.
Are Silver Tip Tetras Hardy?
Silver Tip Tetras are hardy, providing their basic needs are met. Silver Tip Tetras require clean aquarium water, a good quality balanced diet, and some cover in the aquarium-like live plants to make them feel secure.
Why are my Silver Tip Tetras Chasing Each Other?
Silver Tip Tetra kept in small groups will often show aggression in the form of chasing or fin nipping each other. To solve the problem, simply add more Silver Tips. When Silver Tips are kept in larger groups they show little to no aggression to one another or other fish.
A large Group of Silver Tip Tetras schooling around an aquarium is genuinely impressive. If your budget and tank allow it, get a group of 50 or 60 Silver Tips. place them in a planted aquarium, feed them well and enjoy a tank that will never fail to impress either you or those who come to your home.