Max Size: 5cm

Head and Taillight Tetra (Hemigrammus ocellifer)

Head-and-tail light Tetras are some of the best Tetras for the general community aquarium. These fish are lively, somewhat colourful and peaceful. The Head-and-tail-light Tetra is very adaptable and will flourish in most aquariums providing they are kept in groups of six or more individuals. These Tetras are a shoaling species by nature; therefore, they will fare much better when in the company of their own kind, and they look far more effective. These Tetras are relatively hardy, making them ideal for the beginner aquarist as well as the experienced aquarist.

It is possible for them to nip at the fins of long-finned or slow-moving fish, despite their peaceful nature as with other Tetras of similar shape. Plant-filled aquariums or biotope setups are ideal for these Tetras. The best tank mates for these fish are Livebearers, Danios, Rasboras, and other Tetras, as well as peaceful bottom dwellers such as Corydoras and smaller Loricariids. It is also possible to keep them with a majority of Gouramis and Dwarf Cichlids that are commonly available. However, these Tetras will not be safe with larger species that may see them as food, such as Angel Fish.

The Head-and-tail-light Tetras have two unique markings, one near the head right behind the eye and one next to the base of the caudal fin that seems to flash as they swim and turn in the aquarium catching the light at the right angle. They also present a dark lateral line that runs across half of their body, and the background colouration of these fish is reflective silver.


Head-and-taillight Tetra
Head-and-taillight Tetra
Quick Facts
Scientific NameHemigrammus ocellifer
Year Described1882
Other NamesBeacon Fish, Beacon Tetra
OriginsBrazil, Guyana, Peru, Suriname
Aquarium LevelMiddle - Top
Best kept asGroups 6+
Lifespan3 - 5 years
Water Parameters
Water TypeFreshwater
PH5.5 - 7.5
GH5 - 20
75 - 82℉
23.9 - 27.8℃


In the home aquarium, the Head and Taillight Tetra will readily accept most good quality dried foods such as granules, flakes and sinking pellets. These modern food products have been developed to provide all adequate nutrition to maintain your fish's health and dietary requirements.

Providing additional foodstuffs such as live, frozen, and freeze-dried meals such as bloodworm, daphnia, and tubifex once or twice a week will provide additional benefits to your fish's health and well-being but is not a must for this fish.

It should be noted that bloodworms should only be given as an occasional treat and should not be used as the staple diet as they are difficult for fish to digest and can potentially cause blockages.

This fish is an omnivore in the wild, meaning it will consume some vegetable matter. Although most modern fish foods take this into account and include them in their products, you can still supplement your fish's diet with blanched vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, and zucchini. Ensure you do not overfeed your fish and remove any leftovers the following day.

Sexual Dimorphism

Head-and-tail-light Tetra can be sexed by examining their swim bladders, which are visible through their transparent skin. Male swim bladders are narrow, whereas female swim bladders are rounded. Compared to males, who are smaller and slimmer, adult females are a little more extensive and heavier-bodied.

Other Tetras of interest

Adonis Tetra(Lepidarchus adonis)
African Moon Tetra(Bathyaethiops caudomaculatus)
African Red Eyed Tetra(Arnoldichthys spilopterus)
Arowana Tetra(Gnathocharax steindachneri)
Black Darter Tetra(Poecilocharax weitzmani)
Black Line Tetra(Hyphessobrycon scholzei)
View all Tetras
Date Added: 23/06/2021 12:50:57 - Updated: 10/10/2022 14:43:44