Maximum size : 8 cm

African Red Eyed Tetra - Arnoldichthys spilopterus : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

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Prepare to be mesmerized by the captivating allure of African Red-eyed Tetras (Arnoldichthys spilopterus), a remarkable species known for its peaceful nature, hardiness, and energetic disposition. These vibrant Tetras are a splendid addition to any West African-themed community aquarium, immersing your aquatic sanctuary in the lively spirit of the region.

In their natural habitat, African Red-eyed Tetras are known to form cohesive schooling groups, displaying their true beauty and social dynamics when kept in a group of at least ten individuals. The larger the school, the more captivating and natural the spectacle becomes. While these Tetras are rare to encounter in the wild, their availability to fishkeeping enthusiasts makes them a prized treasure.

To ensure a harmonious aquatic environment, selecting suitable tankmates for African Red-eyed Tetras is essential. Opt for companions of similar size and temperament, including other Tetras from the same family, robust African Dwarf Cichlids, and compatible Catfish species, among others. However, please exercise caution when choosing tankmates and avoid housing them with shy species, those with delicate fins, or exceptionally small fish. Craft an ideal habitat for these Tetras by incorporating driftwood roots, branches, smooth stones, and aquatic plants while ensuring ample open swimming space to accommodate their energetic nature. To replicate their natural waters, which often exhibit a delightful brown hue from tannins released by decaying organic matter, consider filtering over peat and adding a few dried leaves.

Due to their sensitivity to water quality, regular maintenance and water changes are paramount to the well-being of African Red-eyed Tetras. These striking Tetras possess larger scales, lending them a unique barb-like appearance. Their silvery bodies gradually transform as they mature, showcasing an exquisite iridescent play of blue, green, and yellow hues. Notably, their dorsal fin exhibits contrasting black and yellow colouration, while a beautiful yellowish-gold shade adorns their upper eye, adding an extra touch of splendour.

Prepare to be enraptured by the captivating beauty of African Red-eyed Tetras as they grace your aquarium with their elegance and vibrancy. With their peaceful disposition, dazzling colours, and distinctive features, these remarkable fish are sure to become the focal point of admiration for any discerning aquatic enthusiast.

African Red Eyed Tetra Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

Differentiating between male and female African Red-eyed Tetras is a relatively simple task. Males exhibit a remarkable array of vibrant colours, showcasing a striking contrast to the females. Additionally, males tend to possess a slender physique, further emphasizing their vivid appearance. A notable characteristic to look for is the presence of dark stripes within the curved anal fin of the male. In contrast, females display a rounder body shape, exuding a subtle allure with their slightly subdued colouration. An identifying feature of females is the black tip adorning their straight anal fin, adding an elegant touch to their overall presentation.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameArnoldichthys spilopterus
Year Described1909
Other NamesAfrican Red Eye Tetra, Large Scaled African Characin, Red Eyed Characin, Niger Tetra, Arnold's Red Eyed Characin, Arnold's Tetra
Max Size8 cm
Aquarium LevelMiddle - Top
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asGroups 8+
Diet & FeedingOmnivore
LifespanUp to 5 Years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
pH 6.0 - 7.5
GH 5 - 20
KH 4 - 8
TDS 18 - 268
Ideal Temperature
73 - 82
22.- 27

Natural Habitat

African Red-eyed Tetras are native to the mesmerizing Ogun and lower Niger River systems nestled within the heart of Nigeria in Africa. These exquisite Tetras find solace in the serene embrace of tannin-stained streams and rivers, lending an enchanting ambience to their natural habitat.

It is with a heavy heart that we acknowledge the precarious status of African Red-eyed Tetras. Classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), their survival is under threat due to multiple factors. Their restricted geographical range, coupled with losses incurred through the aquarium trade and the relentless degradation of their habitat, have placed them in a vulnerable position.

As stewards of the aquatic world, it is our responsibility to raise awareness and actively participate in preserving these remarkable Tetras. Through concerted efforts, we can strive to safeguard their existence, ensuring that future generations can continue to marvel at the captivating beauty and intrinsic value of the African Red-eyed Tetras.


Although the spawning of African Red-eyed Tetras is relatively straightforward, it remains an infrequently attempted endeavour for reasons not entirely clear. To increase the production of fry, it is advisable to establish a dedicated breeding tank. This tank should be maintained with subdued lighting and equipped with clusters of fine-leaved plants, such as java moss, which serve as suitable spawning sites. Spawning mops can also be utilized effectively. These options provide the fish with appropriate areas to scatter their eggs. Alternatively, covering the tank's substrate with a mesh material is a viable alternative. The mesh should feature openings large enough for the eggs to fall through, preventing the parents from accessing them.

A group of half a dozen individuals, consisting of both males and females, can be employed for spawning purposes. Adequate conditioning through a diet rich in live and frozen foods significantly facilitates the process. Alternatively, pairs can be selected for spawning. In this scenario, females and males are conditioned separately in their respective tanks, ensuring they receive a high-quality diet comprising live and frozen foods. The main tank's temperature should be elevated a few degrees above the usual range, while the water's acidity should be adjusted accordingly. Once the females exhibit signs of being gravid and the males display their most vibrant colours, carefully select the healthiest female and the male with the most impressive colouration and transfer them to the breeding tank. Spawning should occur the following day. In both spawning methods, it is imperative to promptly remove the adults from the tank once the eggs are noticed, as they will readily consume them if given the opportunity.

The eggs will hatch within approximately 24 to 36 hours, and the fry will become free-swimming approximately one week after absorbing their yolk sacs. During this crucial developmental phase, nourish the fry with infusoria-type foods for a couple of weeks until they reach a size suitable for accepting baby brine shrimp and microworms.

Diet & feeding

Within the confines of a home aquarium, African Red-eyed Tetras exhibit a versatile appetite, readily accepting high-quality dried foods such as appropriately sized flakes and pellets. However, to ensure their optimal nutrition and well-being, it is essential to supplement their diet with regular servings of small live and frozen delicacies. Treat your Tetras to a diverse menu that includes brine shrimp, Moina, daphnia, and grindal worms, providing them with a delectable array of protein-rich offerings. Alternatively, freeze-dried options such as tubifex or bloodworms can be introduced to provide variety and convenience while meeting their nutritional requirements. By incorporating these nourishing options, you ensure that your African Red-eyed Tetras thrive in their aquatic abode, maintaining their vibrant colours and overall health.

Other Tetras of interest