Copper tetras are beautiful freshwater fish that don’t get the attention they deserve. This underrated species is truly a joy to own if you know how to provide them with the right conditions.
This guide will cover everything you need to know about copper tetra. You will learn about your tankmates, diet, lifespan, tank setup, and more!
While not as well known as other popular tetras, the Copper Tetra (Hasemania nana) is a beautiful freshwater fish with a unique personality to match. Like other types of tetras, Copper Tetras are hardy and relatively easy to pick up. They thrive in most tropical biotype aquariums and do well in community tanks.
The Copper tetra is endemic to small streams and tributaries in South America. They are more frequent in the São Francisco basin in Brazil. However, they have a fairly wide distribution that includes black and white water environments.
Author’s Note: As a schooling fish, this species thrives best in large social groups. When kept in a large aquarium, these goldfish can create a brilliant wave that you can’t help but enjoy.
Copper tetras have the same iconic torpedo-shaped body as other species in the Characidae family. In fact, its silhouette is very similar to that of the neon tetra and the cardinal tetra. Beyond color, the main difference from the Copper tetra is that it lacks an adipose fin behind the dorsal fin.
Male Copper tetras have a deep copper color. They are semi-transparent, but the coppery sheen reflects light beautifully in most conditions.
The females also have a subtle yellow hue, but they are not as vivid. Instead, the body color is closer to silver. Plus, they have a bigger overall shape and a plumper belly!
Both males and females sport golden yellow fins. Each one is flecked with shiny silver at the tips, which is how these fish get their name.
At the base of the tail fin, Copper tetras have a distinctive black marking. It extends into the caudal fork and is flanked on both sides by a hint of yellow.
This species is a sight to behold. The finer physical details make them more intricate than other tetra species. But the overall coppery sheen also works to create an even shoal color in large groups.
With good care the typical lifespan of copper tetra can be five to eight years.
Many factors will affect the lifespan of these freshwater fish. While genetics play a role, so does the level of care you provide. Good breeding is essential to keep these fish stress-free and healthy.
The average size of Copper tetras is around 1.2 inches long. That puts them on the smaller end of the size spectrum.
Author’s Note: In some cases, fully grown adults have reached up to two inches in length, but that’s pretty uncommon. Having a Copper Tetra that reaches this size is a combination of good genes, a lot of care and a bit of luck.
Tetra Silver Tip Care
Copper tetra is a very simple process. These fish are some of the hardiest in the trade. They are well adapted to standard tropical conditions and are relatively undemanding.
All that said, they do have some behavioral preferences and quirks that you’ll need to accommodate if you want them to really thrive.
Here are some care guidelines to help you get started on the right foot.
Thanks to their small size, Copper tetras do not need a huge aquarium to stay healthy. A small group can do just fine in a standard 10 gallon tank. But for best results, we recommend starting with a tank size of at least 20 gallons instead.
20 gallons is enough to support the lifestyle of a small school. As a general rule of thumb, provide about three gallons of volume for each adult tetra you plan to keep.
Author’s Note: You can scale if you plan to own a large group or want them as one of the community fish you plan to keep.
Hailing from the warm waters of South America, Copper Tetras are the epitome of «tropical.» One of the reasons these fish do so well in captivity is because they adapt to standard tank conditions.
These fish are all about warm water, neutral pH levels, and low hardness. See preferred parameters below.
- Water temperature: 64°F to 82°F (around 72 to 74 degrees is ideal)
- pH levels: 6.0 to 8.0 (aim for neutral)
- Water hardness: 4 to 8 KH
Author’s Note: Be sure to check these parameters regularly with a reliable aquarium test kit. Maintaining water quality is one of the most important aspects of silver tipped tetracare, and you need the right equipment to do it right!
What to put inside your tank
Usually the best course of action for any fish is to recreate its natural environment as closely as possible in your tank. While that sentiment remains true with Copper tetras, you can take some creative liberties to provide a much more fulfilling life for these freshwater fish.
Start with a layer of fine sand substrate. The sand substrate closely mimics a natural river bed. Plus, it’s safe and suitable for any bottom fish you might add later.
On top of the substrate material, consider adding a few pieces of driftwood and rocks. You can also throw some Indian almond leaves on the substrate. Not only does it replicate plant detritus from its natural habitat, but the tannins will infuse the water for better health!
You can then add plants. Interestingly, Copper tetras don’t get much exposure to plants in the wild. Their natural habitat is filled with fallen leaves and plant twigs rather than lush vegetation.
However, these fish seem to enjoy having some plant cover. It acts as a place to play and hide. Use fine-leaved plants that are hardy and hardy.
Author’s Note: Copper tetras have a reputation for nipping leaves, but damage is usually not a big problem. As long as you go with a fairly durable plant, you’ll be fine.
Possible common diseases
Like any other fish, Copper tetras are susceptible to diseases that flourish in shitty water conditions. They do not have any unique health ailments, but they can fall prey to the usual tropical fish diseases.
Ich, fin rot and velvet disease are all standard.
Fortunately, those conditions are easy to treat with over-the-counter medications and effective quarantine.
To avoid those problems altogether, stay on top of water conditions. Copper tetras are hardy and do a good job of resisting disease on their own, but they do have their limits.
When water conditions fluctuate regularly, fish are under a lot of stress. Disease-causing bacteria and parasites will also thrive. With their already weakened immune systems working against them, Copper Tetras cannot fight off disease when water conditions are not the best.
Test parameters regularly and perform weekly water changes to keep diseases at bay.
Food and Diet
Copper tetras are omnivores. They consume insects, plant detritus, and just about anything else they can find in nature.
In captivity it is important to provide a high quality diet with plenty of variety.
The base of the fish meals must be first quality flakes or dry granules. Look for nutritionally balanced formulas or those focused on color vibrancy.
Author’s Note: The color of a fish says a lot about its overall health and nutrition. When that characteristic coppery sheen starts to fade, it means you need to look for a better meal!
Along with flakes or granules, provide high-protein snacks. Copper tetras love bloodworms, daphnia, brine shrimp, and other meat-based foods. You can offer freeze-dried, frozen, or live foods.
Copper tetras need a couple of meals every day to stay healthy. Only provide enough food that the fish can eat in two minutes. After that, clean up any leftovers to keep the water in good shape.
behavior and temperament
As mentioned above, Copper tetras are school fish. Therefore, they must stay in groups of at least six or seven fish. If possible, it is better to have a bank of ten or more.
When kept alone or in small numbers, Copper Tetras tend to become very aggressive. This is because they rely on the rest of the group to get them comfortable exploring the tank. Without that support system, they live in constant fear and typically don’t have a long lifespan.
In general, Copper tetras are considered to be slightly more hostile than other tetra species. Even in large groups, they have a habit of antagonizing fish by biting their fins. Of course, they will target long-finned species, but they can snap at any fish unlucky enough to get in their way.
Fortunately, that behavior is fairly easy to mitigate with careful planning. A large tank can also control aggression to keep the peace.
Tank Mates of the Copper Tetra
When planning a community tank with Copper tetras, you should give a lot of thought to potential tank mates. These fish do well in communities and can co-exist with other species. However, you may witness multipart aggression if you pair these fish with incompatible creatures.
Never put these fish in the same tank as large aggressors. Thanks to their small stature, Copper Tetras are quick targets for hungry fish. They cannot outcompete larger species, so they quickly become food.
Also avoid fish with long fins. To keep things peaceful, it is best to avoid slow moving fish which the Copper tetra may also target.
Similar sized tetras, peaceful bottom dwellers and more can flourish alongside the Copper tetra. Here are some good tankmates to consider.
- Tetra black skirt
- Buenos Aires Tetra
- zebra danios
- molly fish
- Most types of rasboras
- blind cave tetra
- cory catfish
- serpae tetra
- Peaceful types of plecos
- Platy Fish
Copper tetras breed voluntarily in captivity. They are egg spreaders, meaning the females lay eggs all over the tank. They generally prefer to place them between plants for safety.
These fish do not exhibit parental instincts at all. Therefore, it is essential to remove adult fish.
To maximize survival rates, set up a separate breeding tank. The tank will serve as a spawning ground and a breeding tank.
Use a tank that holds 10 to 20 gallons. Water parameters similar to those of the primary tank. However, you can also aim for a slight acidity to induce spawning.
For egg safety, add plants with smooth, dense leaves. Alternatively, you can equip the tank with a mesh cape. The eggs will fall through the mesh while keeping hungry adults apart.
Place three pairs of male and female Copper tetras in the breeding tank. Then condition the adults with high-protein foods like bloodworms or brine shrimp. Over time, the males will take on a more vibrant color while the females fill with eggs.
When they are ready, the pairs will mate. This usually happens early in the morning. The females lay their eggs throughout the tank while the males fertilize them.
Remove the adults after spawning and place them back in the main tank.
The eggs usually hatch in 24 to 36 hours. After that, the fry will continue to feed from their egg sac for another three days. At that time, they swim freely.
Provide brine shrimp, infusoria, or micro worms. Small, nutrient-dense foods will stimulate growth until babies are big enough to eat everyday foods.
The silver tip tetra care is nothing to be afraid of. As long as you have a good understanding of their behavior, it shouldn’t be difficult to provide these freshwater fish with the conditions they need to thrive.
Let us know if you have any questions about these amazing fish. We are always happy to help!