Maximum size : 5 cm

Broken Line Tetra - Hemigrammus ulreyi : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

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The Broken Line Tetra (Hemigrammus ulreyi) may be relatively rare in the hobby, but it is undoubtedly a gem that is sure to enhance any aquarium it inhabits. These peaceful and active schooling fish are an excellent addition to any general community tank. However, their shy nature suggests that they are best kept with peaceful fish of similar size, as they do not fare well against more boisterous or larger tankmates. Therefore, keeping them with South American species such as Hyphessobrycon or Hemigrammus, Pencil Fish, Apistogramma Dwarf Cichlids, smaller Loricariids, and Corydoras is ideal. In a more general community, you can also combine them with Barbs, smaller Rasboras, Anabantoids, and West African Dwarf Cichlids. Thanks to their schooling nature, Broken Line Tetras thrive in groups of at least six individuals, becoming more striking when kept this way.

These Tetras do well in densely planted aquariums or biotope aquariums. A biotope aquarium can be set up with river sand as the substrate, and the tank can be decorated with driftwood roots or branches. To mimic their natural habitat, you can also add dried leaves to stain the water with tannins or use RO water that has been peat filtered. Subdued lighting is preferred by this species, making it a perfect candidate for aquascapes with dim lighting.

Broken Line Tetras are pretty distinctive, with a prominent black and yellow band running from their eye to the base of the caudal fin on their flanks. As the bands approach the pelvic fins, they break, naming the species. In addition, the dorsal fin is marked with yellow and black, while the anal fin is edged in white, adding to its overall elegance.

Overall, the Broken Line Tetra may be rare, but it's worth the effort to obtain and care for these beautiful, peaceful, and active fish that are sure to mesmerize and add a touch of South American charm to your aquarium.

Broken Line Tetra Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

In terms of distinguishing between male and female Broken Line Tetras, it is a relatively straightforward process. Typically, mature females tend to be slightly larger than their male counterparts and have more robust, plumper bellies.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameHemigrammus ulreyi
Year Described1895
Other NamesUlrey 's Tetra
Max Size5 cm
Aquarium LevelMiddle - Top
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asGroups 6+
Diet & FeedingOmnivore
LifespanUp to 5 Years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
pH 6.0 - 7.5
GH 5 - 12
Ideal Temperature
74 - 80
23 - 26

Natural Habitat

The Broken Line Tetra is an intriguing species that can be found only in the Rio Paraguay Basin of Brazil, South America. These fish are generally found in calm, slow-moving rivers and tributaries that have some riparian vegetation. They have adapted to these unique environments and display remarkable behaviours and physical features that set them apart from other Tetra species. Unfortunately, like many freshwater fish, their habitat is under threat due to human activities such as deforestation, water pollution, and other environmental factors.


Breeding Broken Line Tetras can be quite a challenge, but it can be done successfully with some effort and patience. If you aim to raise a higher yield of fry, a separate breeding aquarium with soft water is recommended. You can encourage breeding by gradually increasing the temperature and performing partial water changes, adding fine-leaved plants or Java moss to give the fish somewhere to scatter their eggs. Removing the parents immediately after spawning stops is recommended, as they will likely consume the eggs. Some breeders prefer to use a fine mesh to protect the eggs and fry from the adult fish.

After the eggs are scattered, keeping the tank in darkness is best, as bright light may damage the eggs and fry. The eggs will usually hatch within 24 to 36 hours, and the young will initially feed on their yolk sacs. Once the fry becomes free-swimming around 3 to 4 days later, you can provide them with microscopic foods such as infusoria and Paramecium. You can then offer them microworms, baby brine shrimp, and crushed flakes as they grow.

Diet & feeding

Broken Line Tetras are omnivorous and have a voracious appetite, making them easy to feed. They will accept a variety of food, including live and frozen options such as daphnia, brine shrimp, and bloodworms, as well as high-quality dried food like flakes and granules. To maintain their optimal health and colouration, it is advisable to provide frequent feedings of varied foods.

Other Tetras of interest