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.

Although peaceful, as with other Tetras of similar shape, they may nip at the fins of long-finned or slow-moving fish. These Tetras do well in planted aquariums or a biotope setup. These fish's ideal tank mates include most Livebearers, Danios, Rasboras, other Tetras, and peaceful bottom dwellers such as Corydoras or smaller Loricariids. You can also keep these with the majority of commonly available Gouramis and dwarf Cichlids. However, they 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.

Quick Facts
Scientific NameHemigrammus ocellifer
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℃

Photos of the Head and Taillight Tetra

Head-and-taillight Tetra
Head-and-taillight Tetra

Natural Habitat

Head-and-tail-light Tetras originate from parts of Suriname, Guyana, French Guiana, Peru and Brazil in the Amazon Basin in South America. They inhabit slow-moving rivers, streams, tributaries and floodplain lakes, usually towards the lower river and coastal regions. These areas are often covered with thick vegetation.

What to feed the Head and Taillight Tetra

The Head-and-tail-light Tetra is straightforward to feed. It will readily accept pretty much anything offered. To gain optimum condition and colours, offer them regular meals of small live and frozen foods such as brine shrimp, bloodworm and daphnia, alongside high-quality dried flakes and granules.

How to sex the Head and Taillight Tetra

You can sex the Head-and-tail-light Tetra by examining their swim bladder, which is somewhat visible through these fish' transparent skin. The swim bladder narrows to a point in males but is rounded in females. Adult females are also slightly more extensive and more heavy-bodied than males that are smaller and slimmer.

How to breed the Head and Taillight Tetra

The Head-and-tail-light Tetra is quite easily bred, although a separate breeding tank will need to be set up if you would like to increase the fry yield.

The tank will need to be dimly lit and contain bundles of fine-leaved plants such as java moss. Spawning mops will also work just as well. These mediums will give your fish somewhere to deposit their sticky eggs. It is also advisable to cover the bottom of the tank with some 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 Head and Tail Light Tetras in a group, with half a dozen individuals of each sex being ideal. It would be best if you then conditioned them with plenty of live and frozen foods, then spawning should not bestow too many issues.

Alternatively, you can spawn these fish in pairs. Under this method, the fish are conditioned in female and male groups in separate tanks with a high-quality diet of frozen and live foods. The temperature is raised by a few degrees higher than usual in the main aquarium and somewhat acidic water.

Once the females are visibly full of eggs, and the males present their best colours, select the healthiest female and the best-coloured male and place them into the breeding tank. The couple should spawn the following morning.

In either situation, the adults will consume the eggs if given a chance, so it would be best to remove them as soon as you notice them. The eggs will typically hatch in around 24 to 36 hours, and the fry will become free swimming 3 to 4 days after that.

It would be better to feed the fry with infusoria type foods for the first few days until they are big enough to accept baby brine shrimp and microworms. Unfortunately, the eggs and the fry are sensitive to light in the initial stages, so it would be better if you kept the lights dim or maybe even off.

Other Tetras of interest

African Moon Tetra(Bathyaethiops caudomaculatus)
African Red Eyed Tetra(Arnoldichthys spilopterus)
Black Darter Tetra(Poecilocharax weitzmani)
Black Line Tetra(Hyphessobrycon scholzei)
Black Neon Tetra(Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi)
Black Phantom Tetra(Hyphessobrycon megalopterus)
View all Tetras
Date Added: 23/06/2021 12:50:57 - Updated: 22/11/2021 17:44:43