Maximum size : 7 cm

Splash Tetra - Copella arnoldi : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

Table of contents


The Splash Tetra (Copella arnoldi) is a serene, captivating species that proves to be easy to keep. Unfortunately, these Tetras are relatively rare and infrequently offered for sale, making them a prized addition to any aquarium. An assembly of the elegantly understated Splash Tetras serves as a splendid enhancement to tranquil, soft water aquariums and paludariums adorned with lush aquatic vegetation. Although their colouring may not boast the flamboyance seen in some species, their distinct appeal lies in their captivating and intricate breeding behaviours, which add a unique dimension to their presence in the aquatic habitat.

 Splash Tetras, being a shoaling species, thrive when kept in substantial groups, with a minimum of six individuals recommended, although a larger assembly of 10 or more is highly preferable. Given their relatively modest adult size, cautious consideration should be given to potential tankmates. They exhibit susceptibility to intimidation by more assertive fish and should not cohabitate with species that might perceive them as prey. Suitable companions may encompass smaller varieties of Dwarf Cichlids, Killifish, Pencilfish, Corydoras Catfish, and other diminutive blackwater Tetras.

A mature aquarium with gentle water movement, thoughtfully adorned with driftwood and an abundant array of aquatic flora, is highly recommended for the optimal care of these tetras. Employing peat filtration can provide notable benefits. Ideally, their habitat should emulate a lowered water level or adopt a paludarium-style arrangement with emergent plants that extend above the water's surface, allowing these tetras to engage in their natural behaviours, particularly during the spawning phase. Given their propensity for jumping, a securely fitted lid, devoid of escape routes for any equipment, is imperative to prevent any potential mishaps.

The Splash Tetra boasts a slender olive-brown body with a whitish belly and a relatively large, upturned mouth featuring sharply pointed teeth. They display a dark spot on their dorsal fin bordered by a whitish-pink hue, accompanied by a dark band from the snout to the eye, extending through to the operculum. Their caudal fin features a strikingly profound fork, with the upper lobe more extensive than the bottom lobe, exhibiting a scarlet flash. The Tetras' adipose fin is notably absent, with their large pelvic fins used during spawning. When maintained under optimal water conditions, the upper half of their iris develops an iridescent orange hue, further enhancing their captivating appearance.

Splash Tetra Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

Discerning between male and female Splash Tetras is a relatively simple task. Typically, the males exhibit larger body proportions and longer, more vibrantly hued fins accented with red and black outlines. Moreover, during the spawning period, males may manifest a conspicuous dark band that extends posteriorly along the body from behind the opercle.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameCopella arnoldi
Year Described1912
Other NamesSplashing Tetra, Spraying Tetra, Jumping Tetra
OriginsGuyana , Suriname , Brazil
Max Size7 cm
Aquarium LevelMiddle - Top
Best kept asGroups 6+
Diet & FeedingOmnivore
LifespanUp to 5 Years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
pH 4.0 - 7.5
GH 3 - 12
TDS 18 - 143
Ideal Temperature
68 - 82
20 - 27

Natural Habitat

The Splash Tetra is a captivating species, endemic to the lush tropical River Basins of the Amazon and Orinoco in Brazil, and the coastal drainages of Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana, encompassing the Demerara Essequibo, Suriname, and Nickerie regions of South America. Inhabiting both clear and blackwater, these Tetras dwell in shallow creeks, streams, swamps, and wetlands and can be found in flooded forests during times of high water.

The most favourable habitats for these Tetras boast extensive overhanging riparian vegetation, lending an immersive and breathtakingly verdant appearance to their environment. In addition, the water is often steeped in tannins, staining it with the natural decomposed matter released by the lush vegetation, further enhancing the Tetras' captivating habitat.

 Orinoco - Venezuela
Venezuela Flag


Breeding Splash Tetras is a relatively uncomplicated process, and their distinctive and truly remarkable reproductive behaviour presents an enthralling spectacle that every aquarist should endeavour to witness. To begin, it is recommended to house a pair or trio of these Tetras in a small tank equipped with a sponge filter and copious amounts of Java Moss or floating plants. The water level should be lowered to approximately 10cm from the top, with the sponge filter's water flow directed towards the tank's sides and surface. This arrangement facilitates a moist microclimate beneath the tank lid and cover.

During spawning, the Tetras will leap onto the aquarium glass or lid, utilizing their enlarged pelvic fins to cling to their chosen site while coordinating their jumps. Each leap can result in around a dozen eggs being laid, with the potential for over 100 eggs in total if multiple females are present. Once spawning is completed, the female(s) must be removed, leaving the male to guard the eggs vigilantly. The male periodically flicks water onto the eggs using his tail, earning these Tetras their distinctive nicknames of "splash" or "spraying tetra." The male will remember their location and attend to each in turn if multiple nests are present.

Fertile eggs will typically hatch after two to three days, with the fry dropping into the water. The male should be removed from the tank at this point, and the fry should be fed infusoria and paramecium initially. The Java Moss and floating plants will also provide nourishment for the fry. After approximately ten days, the fry will have grown enough to consume vinegar eels or newly hatched brine shrimp. Regular partial water changes will help to maintain optimal water quality.

Diet & feeding

While Splash Tetras will readily accept high-quality dried foods, such as flakes, freeze-dried tubifex, and granules, it is crucial to supplement their diet with small live and frozen offerings, such as Moina, baby brine shrimp, and grindal worm, to maintain their optimal health and well-being. Consistently offering this diversified menu ensures that these Tetras remain in top condition within the aquarium environment.

Other Tetras of interest