Maximum size : 4 cm

Gold Tetra - Hemigrammus rodwayi : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

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The Gold Tetra (Hemigrammus rodwayi) is a stunning and peaceful fish that can make a beautiful addition to your aquarium. These tetras are hardy and relatively easy to care for, but they are not as commonly available as some of the more popular and colourful tetra species. If you're lucky enough to find them, though, they are definitely worth considering for your community or planted tank.

One of the most fascinating things about the Gold Tetra is its unique skin layer that defends it against trematode parasites. This gives the fish its distinctive golden colour as if it's been dusted with gold. However, it also makes this species more susceptible to skin parasites and diseases than many other Tetras, so it's not recommended for beginners. In addition to their beautiful appearance, Gold Tetras also have excellent hearing and can quickly detect any disturbances in the water. Overall, these Tetras are a fantastic choice for any aquarium enthusiast looking to add a touch of elegance to their tank.

Gold Tetras are well-suited for inclusion within a harmonious community aquarium, coexisting harmoniously alongside other congenial and tranquil fish species. This particular fish species readily form cohesive schools, often demonstrating schooling behaviour with its congeners such as the Rosy Tetra, Black Widow Tetra, White Skirt Tetra, and the Bleeding Heart Tetra.

This serene and gregarious species thrives when maintained in schools of 6 or more individuals within a 15 to 20-gallon aquarium. To cultivate a conducive environment, the incorporation of driftwood and floating vegetation is recommended, serving to create subdued lighting that promotes their sense of ease. While not strictly dependent on aquatic plants for interior décor, strategically planting along the tank perimeters, particularly the sides and rear, ensures ample open water space for unhindered swimming in the foreground. The inclusion of intricately shaped roots or driftwood decorations not only enhances aesthetics but also provides valuable hiding spots, fostering a sense of security for these fish.

The Golden Tetra (Hemigrammus rodwayi) displays a distinctive colouration pattern characterized by a red upper and lower tail fin, accentuated by a central black arrowhead-shaped marking. Its dorsal and anal fins are adorned with a golden hue that tapers into a white tip, while the diminutive and pliable-rayed dorsal fin exhibits a vibrant red tone.

The chromatic attributes of this species exhibit notable variations dependent on whether it is derived from captive breeding or procured from its natural habitat. In instances of wild-caught individuals, the golden colouring emerges as a result of the secretion of 'guanine', which serves to safeguard the skin from potential parasites. Contrarily, in captive environments devoid of such parasitic pressures, the protective guanine secretion may not occur, leading to the manifestation of a silver colouration in captive-bred specimens.

Gold Tetra Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

Male and female Gold Tetras can be differentiated based on their physical characteristics. The female is larger, duller in colour, and has a more rounded belly. On the other hand, the male's anal fin is distinguished by a white leading edge and has a greater amount of red pigmentation compared to the female.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameHemigrammus rodwayi
Year Described1909
Other NamesGolden Tetra, Brass Tetra
OriginsGuyana , Suriname , Peru , Brazil
Max Size4 cm
Aquarium LevelAll Levels
DifficultyIntermediate - Advanced
Best kept asGroups 6+
Diet & FeedingOmnivore
ReproductionEgg Depositor
LifespanUp to 5 Years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
pH 5.5 - 7.5
GH 1 - 15
Ideal Temperature
75 - 82
23 - 27

Natural Habitat

The Gold Tetras are fascinating little fish that originate from a vast area of South America, including Brazil, Peru, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana. They thrive in a variety of aquatic environments, including slow-moving rivers, tributaries, coastal creeks, and floodplain lakes. In some cases, they even inhabit mildly brackish waters. These habitats are typically characterized by warm, tropical climates, and abundant vegetation, providing the perfect environment for these beautiful fish to thrive.


Breeding Gold Tetras in captivity has been successful, although there is a common issue where the young lose their gold pigmentation. To breed these fish, a group of 12 consisting of six males and six females should be gathered and fed with small live nourishments, allowing nature to take its course and spawning to occur. The female will lay her eggs on plants or moss in the breeding tank, which should be softly lit and have a sheet of mesh at the bottom or clumps of plants, moss, or spawning mops to collect the eggs.

A breeding tank that is separate from the main tank should be used to increase the fry's yield. The water in the breeding tank should be soft and acidic, and the temperature should be raised slightly. A small air-driven sponge filter can provide sufficient filtration, and the water can be filtered through aquarium-safe peat. Once a successful spawn has been accomplished, the parents should be removed to prevent the fry from being consumed. 

Eggs will hatch around 24 to 36 hours later, and the fry will become free-swimming 3 to 4 days after that. Infusoria-type nourishments should be fed to the fry for the first few days until they are big enough to accept microworms, nauplii, or brine shrimp. It is crucial to provide the fry with an environment that is as dark as possible during the early stages, as they are sensitive to light.

Diet & feeding

To maintain a balanced diet, Gold Tetras can consume various types of food. However, it is important to offer them high-quality flake food as a staple diet every day. As a treat, you can provide them with frozen or live foods like bloodworms or brine shrimp. It is crucial to be mindful of the amount of food provided during feeding time. Offer only what the fish can consume in a few minutes and remove any excess food. These fish tend to overeat if given the chance, so careful monitoring during feeding time is necessary to avoid any complications.

Other Tetras of interest