Freshwater Fish

Borrachito Tetra Fish (Hemigrammus rhodostomus): Guide to care in the aquarium

The Drunken Tetra is a neat-looking freshwater fish that fits well in many aquariums. While there are some considerations you need to have when it comes to caring for them, we believe anyone can handle these fish with the proper knowledge.

These are one of our favorite freshwater species and when you see them in person you will understand why. It’s easy to get sucked into watching them swim around your tank (even if you’ve had them for a while).

This guide will teach you everything you need to know about Tetra runny nose care. Everything from basic size information, breeding tips, diet, and ideal tank mates can be found here!

Species Summary

With its quirky appearance and gentle nature, it’s no wonder the Drunken Tetra has become so popular with aquarium owners. They have some unique color patterns that make them stand out from the crowd, regardless of their habitat.

Technically speaking, there are three types of fish called Drunken Tetra Fish. The main species (scientifically known as Hemigrammus rhodostomus) is the true Drunken Tetra Fish.

Other varieties, such as Hemigrammus bleheri and Petitella georgiae, look very similar. In fact, most experienced breeders wouldn’t even be able to tell them apart!

That’s because they all come from a similar region. The True Drunk Tetra Fish resides in the Amazon Basin. However, they can also be found in the Rio-Vaupés River in Colombia and the Rio Negro River in Brazil. The other «imposter» species are also found in the Amazon River, although they tend to occupy other areas.

The Drunken Tetra Fish offers a beautiful addition to any tank. That said, they require special care and attention. Here are some important things to know about this unique fish.

Life expectancy

The average lifespan of Pez Borrachito Tetra is 5 to 6 years in captivity. However, some owners have gotten these fish to live up to 8 years (great genetics come into play over 6 years).

While several factors contribute to life expectancy, water conditions and diet are two of the most important. These fish require attentive care to help them reach their full potential.


The most notable part of the Drunken Tetra Fish is its appearance. It is almost as if the fish is made up of parts of several wildly unique species.

When it comes to shape, the fish has a torpedo-like body. It is a relatively small fish with a slim profile that is slightly more bulbous towards the head. The base color of the fish is silver. Some specimens also have a subtle translucent tint of green.

Most of the fins are translucent. They are all small and square, giving the fish a clean appearance. The only fin that is not translucent is the caudal fin. This is where things get interesting.

The caudal fin has vibrant black and white stripes. The exact number of stripes varies from fish to fish. However, there is always a single central black stripe separating the two sides of the fin. The zebra pattern offers a stark contrast to the relatively muted tones of the body.

As if that wasn’t enough, the Drunken Tetra Fish’s head is bright red. The striking color covers the entire head and even extends to the fish’s irises. On rare occasions, the color extends beyond the head and gills.

There is not much difference between males and females. Some breeders claim that females get slightly fatter than their male counterparts, but that physical characteristic has not been proven or established. However, sexing fish is very difficult.


These are not big fish at all. The average size of the Runny Nose Tetra is around 2.5 inches when fully grown. Some specimens do not even grow beyond 2 inches.

Author’s Note: This size makes them one of the best fish for small tanks. If that’s your thing, you should definitely consider this species!

Rummy Nose Tetra Care

Despite their gentle nature, Drunken Tetra Fish care can be a bit tricky at times. The difficulty comes with managing the water conditions and making sure the fish have everything they need to stay healthy.

Here are some care facts you need to know about the Drunken Tetra Fish that will make the ownership process much easier.

tank size

The good news is that you don’t need a giant tank to care for these fish. Ideally, Drunken Tetra Fish should not be kept in a tank smaller than 20 gallons. A larger habitat is always preferred as the fish like to swim and explore.

Individually, the Drunken Tetra Fish does not need a lot of space. It is recommended that you provide at least 2 gallons of tank space per fish. So with a 20 gallon tank, you can keep up to 10 fish comfortably.

Author’s Note: However, this does not mean that you can keep one of these fish in a 2 gallon tank. Consider 20 as a minimum, no matter how much you have.

water parameters

The goal with any fish is to mimic the water conditions of the natural habitat in the wild. The Amazon Basin is a difficult environment to replicate, especially in colder climates.

The waters of the Amazon River are warm and smooth. The particular rivers that these fish call home are quite rare. The water doesn’t contain a ton of minerals.

Most of the things in the background are decaying leaves from the trees above. As a result, the water becomes slightly acidic.

Rummy Nose Tetras are particularly sensitive to changes in water conditions. Excessive debris and algal buildup can significantly alter water chemistry, leading to stress and disease. Regular water changes and staying on top of conditions are important to keep your fish healthy.

  • Water temperature: 75°F to 84°F (target for medium)
  • pH levels: 5.5 to 7.0
  • Water hardness: 2 to 6 KH

Author’s Note: Make sure you have a reliable water level test kit on hand so you can trust the numbers you’re getting. Many owners are tricked into acting on misinformation due to poor quality kit and end up making things worse.

What to put in your tank

When you set up your fish tank, you have a lot of flexibility. Starting at the bottom, you can add a thick layer of sandy substrate. Sand is what these fish are most used to.

However, most Rummy Nose tetras are not going to spend much time in the bottom half of the tank. They may visit you occasionally, but these fish are not burrowers. So you can use gravel if you want.

As for the plants and rocks, you pretty much have the freedom to do whatever you want. The Drunken Tetra Fish will not damage your plants like other fish. But they will make great use of any available hiding places.

Rocks, driftwood and other decorative elements are important to provide shelter for the fish. Not only do they provide some security for frightened fish, but they also offer some relief from bright lights. This will lower their stress levels and help them live a long and happy life.

Regardless of what you decide to decorate your tank for, just make sure you leave enough room for swimming. Drunk Tetra Fish tend to occupy the middle area of ​​the aquarium. Leave the center of the tank relatively sterile so your fish can swim freely.

When it comes to equipment, we recommend external filters and water heaters. External filters tend to be more efficient at cleaning the water than traditional units. Considering the sensitivity of fish to ammonia and nitrates in debris, a high-performance filter (such as the Fluval FX4) is always a good idea.

A water heater will make it easier for you to keep temperatures consistent. You don’t need air stones or even a pump. Your filter’s return tube should provide enough movement to keep your fish happy.

Possible common diseases

Not keeping your aquarium in good condition can lead to a number of problems for your Drunken Tetra Fish. While there are no health conditions unique to this species, your fish could be experiencing any of the common freshwater ailments.

Two of the most common that affect Rummy Nose Tetras are Ich and Dropsy. Ich is a relatively common parasitic infection. It manifests itself in times of stress and appears as white spots all over the body of the fish.

If your fish get Ich, it is important to quarantine them as soon as possible. The disease is highly contagious and can cause death if left untreated. Fortunately, there are many simple over-the-counter medications to treat the problem.

Dropsy is when fluids inside the fish’s body build up and its thin profile swells. It can be caused by various things. However, it is usually a direct result of bacterial infections or parasites.

Author’s Note: The best way to deal with this is to prevent your fish from getting them in the first place. While nothing is guaranteed, you can drastically reduce the chance of this happening by keeping the water in your tank pristine. Also, take care that any new fish you introduce to your tank are healthy.

Food and Diet

Feeding the Drunken Tetra Fish couldn’t be easier. They are omnivores and thrive well on plant-based materials and proteins. Generally, fish will eat small pieces of plant debris or algae.

However, you should supplement those snacks with a regular balanced diet. Fish flakes and pellets work well. They should contain everything your Drunken Tetra Fish needs to stay healthy.

If you want to provide some treats from time to time, try live or frozen foods. Daphnia and bloodworms are highly appreciated by fish and act as a good source of protein.

You should try to feed your fish two small meals a day. Do not overfeed them, as excess food will change the chemistry of the water in the tank. Watch how much food they eat to get an idea of ​​whether or not you are giving them too much.

behavior and temperament

As we mentioned earlier, Rummy Nose Tetras are very passive and gentle (like most types of tetras). They will not cause any problems with other tame fish.

This species loves to swim in groups. They will usually stay together as they explore the tank. Most of the time, these fish will stay in the middle of the water column. The only times they will move away from this area is when they are grabbing food or hiding.

Tetra Rummy Nose Tank Mates

The best tank mate for the Drunken Tetra Fish is more Drunken Tetra Fish. Schooling fish do best when in groups of 6 or more. They coordinate their movements and put on a nice little display.

Other tame fish can be kept in the same tank. The only thing you need to worry about is keeping aggressive or large fish out of the tank. While they won’t bother other fish, the Drunken Tetra’s distinctive markings make them a target for other rambunctious fish.

Here are some fish that make great tank mates for the Drunken Tetra Fish:

  • green neon tetra
  • gourami pearl
  • corydora catfish
  • hatchet fish
  • Yo-Yo Loach
  • cherry pick
  • dwarf gourami
  • Harlequin Rasbora

This list is definitely not all-inclusive, but it’s a great place to start. As long as you avoid aggressive or large fish, you’ll probably be fine!


Rummy Nose Tetras are not difficult to breed. However, you need to achieve optimal conditions in your tank to trigger spawning.

Before doing that, there is the matter of making sure you have males and females in the tank. Because it is so difficult to determine the sex of fish, try to have several fish in the tank and keep an eye out to see which ones mate.

Then, raise the temperature to 84 degrees Fahrenheit. This mimics the warmer breeding season in the wild.

If successful, the female will swim to a leaf and turn around so the male can fertilize the eggs. Then she will lay large eggs on the leaf.

At this point, remove all the adult Rummy Nose Tetras. They are known to feed on eggs, so it is best to keep them separate.

After about 24 hours, the eggs will hatch. The little fry will survive outside of their egg sacs for the next few days or so. Then, they will be able to swim around the tank for a bit. Provide them with some food that the fry can eat. This includes specialized powdered solutions, infusoria, or brine shrimp.

Once the babies are as big as the adults, you can introduce them to the community tank with the rest of your Drunken Tetra Fish.


Borrachito Tetra Fish care does not have to be overwhelming. In fact, once you get the hang of it, everything becomes very simple!

These fish are rewarding to own and provide a unique look that stands out from the crowd. A school of these fish swimming by is truly a sight to behold!

We highly recommend giving this species a shot if you are looking to get away from the more common freshwater species. You will not regret.

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