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Maximum size : 6 cm

Lipstick Tetra - Moenkhausia cosmops : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

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Lipstick Tetras (Moenkhausia cosmops) are a fascinating species known for their peaceful nature and lively temperament. Moreover, these Tetras are incredibly resilient and require no specific water conditions, making them an excellent choice for beginner aquarists. Lipstick Tetras are schooling fish in their natural habitat, so it's advisable to keep them in a group of at least six individuals, though larger schools are preferable. The more extensive the group, the more natural their behaviour. 

When choosing tankmates for Lipstick Tetras, opt for peaceful species like other Tetras, pencilfish, smaller Cichlids, Barbs, Corydoras Catfish, and most Loaches. You can also combine these Tetras with smaller Rasboras, Minnows, Gouramis, and Pelvicachromis, but avoid larger, aggressive species that may outcompete them for food or prey on them. The ideal aquarium setup for Lipstick Tetras is a biotope arrangement with a sandy substrate and a few wooden branches, and twisted roots. Adding dried leaves to the aquarium will help give the water a brownish tinge from the tannins released in their natural habitat, giving the aquarium a more authentic feel. Although aquatic plants are not typical in their natural habitat, you can plant them if you prefer.

Lipstick Tetras have transparent bodies with shimmery greyish-green scales, bright blue eyes on the lower half, bright green eyes on the upper half with a vivid golden tinge, a red upper lip, and a transparent opercle that reveals the pinkish-red colour of the gill filaments. They also have a dark, broad blotch on their caudal peduncle and caudal-fin base, with slight yellow hue fins.

Lipstick Tetra Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

Differentiating between male and female Lipstick Tetras can be a challenging task due to the minimal physical differences between them. Typically, males are smaller in size than females and possess more vibrant and striking colours. In addition, males have a straighter body shape, whereas females have a plumper and rounder stomachs. Conversely, females tend to be less colourful and duller in comparison to their male counterparts.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameMoenkhausia cosmops
Year Described2007
Other NamesLipstick Moenkhausia, Red Lipped Tetra
OriginsParaguay Brazil
Max Size6 cm
Aquarium LevelMiddle - Top
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asGroups 6+
LifespanUp to 5 Years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
PH6.0 - 7.5
GH2 - 15
TDS30 - 150
75 - 79
23 - 26

Natural Habitat

The Lipstick Tetra is a captivating species that originates from the upper Rio Sepotuba, a tributary of the mighty Paraguay River, as well as the Juruena River and the Tapajós in Brazil, South America. These Tetras thrive in backwater streams and tributaries with a moderate current and sandy bottoms. They are often found sheltered among decaying, submerged trees and vegetation, creating a picturesque scene in their natural habitat.

 Tapajós - Brazil
Brazil Flag


Lipstick Tetras are fascinating egg-scattering free spawners that do not offer any parental care. Although these fish can reproduce in a community aquarium, setting up a separate breeding tank would undoubtedly increase fry production. For optimal breeding conditions, the breeding tank should have low light levels, established water, and plenty of plants, including spawning mops.

To encourage reproduction, conditioning breeding pairs with live or frozen food such as bloodworms or mosquito larvae is advisable. During spawning, females will become more active, and males will bump into them. Females will scatter their eggs among the plants, while males follow to fertilize them. Females can lay several hundred eggs during a single spawning. Removing the adults from the breeding tank once spawning has occurred is essential to prevent them from consuming the eggs. Tetra eggs and fry are light-sensitive, so keeping the tank dark is recommended. 

Eggs hatch in 24 to 48 hours, and the fry will become free-swimming three to four days after that. After the first week, lighting can be gradually increased. Newly hatched fry will first feed on their yolk sacs, and after that, you can provide them with infusoria or rotifers moving on to baby brine shrimp and crushed flakes as they grow.

Diet & feeding

Lipstick Tetras are known to have an omnivorous diet and are not very fussy eaters. While they will accept high-quality dried foods like flakes, pellets, and granules, providing them with a varied diet that includes live and frozen foods is highly recommended. Foods such as blackworm, bloodworm, daphnia, and brine shrimp are ideal as they promote optimal colouration and overall health in these Tetras.

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