Max Size: 8cm

African Red Eyed Tetra (Arnoldichthys spilopterus)

African Red-eyed Tetras are a peaceful, hardy and highly active species that makes an excellent member of the West African themed community aquarium. These Tetras are a schooling species in nature; therefore, you should keep them in a group of at least ten individuals. Keeping these fish in more significant numbers will result in a more engaging, natural-looking display.

African Red-eyed Tetras are rare in the wild and are not usually available to fish keeping enthusiasts.

Ideal tankmates for African Red-eyed Tetras should be of similar size and temperament; these can include other Tetras from the same family, Catfish and robust African Dwarf Cichlids, to name a few. It would be best to avoid housing these Tetras with shy species, species with intricate fins or very small fish.

The ideal aquarium for these Tetras would contain driftwood roots and branches, smooth stones and aquatic plants; however, you must make sure you leave plenty of open swimming space for these active species. Filtering over peat would help mimic their natural waters, which are often stained brown from the tannins released by decaying organic matter. Adding a few dried leaves will also help to achieve this result. These fish are quite sensitive to poor water quality and will not do well if maintenance and water changes are not performed regularly.

Unlike many Characins, African Red-eyed Tetras have very large scales giving them a slightly barb-like appearance. In addition, these Tetras have a silvery body; however, they develop a very noticeable iridescent blue, green and yellow colouration as they mature. These fish also display black and yellow colouring in their dorsal fin and have a yellowish-gold hue on their upper eye.

Quick Facts
Scientific NameArnoldichthys spilopterus
Other NamesAfrican Red Eye Tetra, Large Scaled African Characin, Red Eyed Characin, Niger Tetra, Arnold's Red Eyed Characin, Arnold's Tetra
Aquarium LevelMiddle - Top
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asGroups 8+
Lifespan5 - 8 years
Water Parameters
Water TypeFreshwater
PH6.0 - 7.5
GH5 - 20
KH4 - 8
TDS18 - 268
73 - 82℉
22.8 - 27.8℃


African Red Eyed Tetra

Natural Habitat

African Red-eyed Tetras are endemic to the Ogun and lower Niger river systems in Nigeria in Africa. They inhabit tannin-stained streams and rivers. African Red-eyed Tetras are currently classified as endangered by the ICUN due to their limited range, losses to the aquarium trade, and continuous habitat degradation.


In the home aquarium, African Red-eyed Tetras will accept high quality dried foods such as flakes and pellets of a small enough size. However, you should also provide them with daily meals of small live and frozen foods such as brine shrimp, Moina, daphnia and grindal worms, or you can feed them with freeze-dried foods such as tubifex or bloodworms.

Sexual Dimorphism

It is straightforward to distinguish the male from the female African Red-eyed Tetra. Males are much more colourful than females, are usually slimmer and possess dark stripes in their curved anal fin. In contrast, females are more rounded in the body, are slightly duller and have a black tip on their straight anal fin.


Generally, African Red-eyed Tetras are not a tricky species to spawn; however, it's rarely attempted for some reason.

You will need to set up a separate breeding tank if you would like to increase the yield of the fry. The tank should be dimly lit and contain bunches of fine-leaved plants such as java moss. Spawning mops are also suitable and work very well. These mediums will give the fish somewhere to scatter their eggs. Alternatively, you could cover the tank's base with some kind of mesh. This mesh should have large enough holes so the eggs can fall through it but small enough so that the parents cannot reach them.

You can spawn these Tetras in a group of half a dozen individuals containing both males and females. However, spawning should not bestow too many problems if you condition them with plenty of live and frozen foods. Alternatively, you can spawn them in pairs. Under this process, the fish are conditioned in female and male groups in separate tanks with a high-quality diet of frozen and live foods. The temperature needs to be raised by a few degrees higher than usual in the main tank and somewhat acidic water.

When the females are gravid and the males present their best colours, pick the healthiest female and the best-coloured male and place them in the breeding tank. The couple should spawn the following day. In both situations, the adults will consume the eggs if given a chance, so make sure you remove them as soon as you notice any.

The eggs will hatch in around 24 to 36 hours, and the fry will become free swimming about a week after that. Once the fry has consumed their yolk sac, you should then feed them with infusoria type foods for the first couple of weeks until they are big enough to accept baby brine shrimp and microworm.

Other Tetras of interest

African Moon Tetra(Bathyaethiops caudomaculatus)
Black Darter Tetra(Poecilocharax weitzmani)
Black Line Tetra(Hyphessobrycon scholzei)
Black Neon Tetra(Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi)
Black Phantom Tetra(Hyphessobrycon megalopterus)
Black Widow Tetra(Gymnocorymbus ternetzi)
View all Tetras
Date Added: 07/12/2021 14:20:59 - Updated: 07/12/2021 17:07:15