Characidae, Hemigrammus Clade Common Name:
Bleeding Heart Tetra Origin and Habitat:
Upper Amazon basin along the borders of Peru, Columbia and Brazil. Compatibility/Temperament:
A peaceful, slightly larger tetra suitable as tankmates for angelfish, other peaceful characins, rasbora, danios, gourami, small catfish and loaches, and smaller New World cichlids. Should be kept in a group of at least six but preferably more. In its native waters in Igarape Preto, this fish is found in company with the neon tetra in small blackwater streams. Bleeding Heart Tetra Diet
Carnivorous in nature, it accepts most prepared foods including flake and frozen. Size
Can attain 3 inches, and is reported to reach 3.5 inches. Minimum Tank Suggestion
30-36 inches in length. Water parameters for Bleeding Heart Tetra
Soft (hardness to 12 dGH) acidic to slightly basic (pH to 7.2) water, temperature 23-28C/73-82F. Occurs in dark or dimly-lit sluggish streams in forested areas. Description
One of some 30 species in the "rosy tetra" group of characins, sharing the common traits of a disk-shaped body, black dorsal fin, and dark humeral or shoulder patch. On this species, the patch is a vivid red, giving the fish its common name.
There are three closely-related species, all growing slightly larger than the other rosy tetra species. The subject species is the largest and most commonly seen, and is now (over the past decade) being commercially bred. Hyphessobrycon socolofi
is very similar but slightly smaller, and the elongated dorsals and anal fin lobes on the males are only slightly longer than the females; this species occurs in small streams near the Rio Negro around Barcelos, Brazil, and was described and named as a distinct species by Weitzman in 1977. The third species, H. pyrrhonotus
, was described and named by Burgess in 1993, and is commonly called the Flame-back Bleeding Heart Tetra; this comes from the deeper red on the back below the dorsal fin that continues posteriorly past the adipose fin to the base of the caudal (tail) fin. The habitat of this species are small streams along the Rio Negro about 80 miles north of Barcelos. These two species may be ecologically isolated and thus be evolutionarily closely related (Weitzman & Palmer, 1997).
Males have an elongated dorsal fin that can be flared like a banner above the fish and a longer anal fin and are more colourful; females are stockier in build. Not difficult to spawn, but the parents will eat the eggs if left in the tank after spawning.
This fish frequently pales in colour, particularly when kept in basic water or barren tanks. Maintained in soft, acid water in a well-planted aquarium with a very dark substrate and very dim light, the fish becomes at ease and the colourings intensify dramatically; it is a vastly different fish in appearance from what is seen in the store tank.
This species is sometimes seen under the name Hyphessobrycon rubrostigma
assigned by Hoedeman in 1956, but Gery (1972) determined that this was the second name given to the same species, and under the rules of the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature the first assigned name must have priority; both Gery (1972) and Weitzman (1977) assigned the subsequent name as a junior synonym.
The genus Hyphessobrycon
--the name from the Greek hyphesson
[believed to mean "slightly smaller"] and brycon
[=to bite]--was erected by C.H. Durbin in 1908 and presently contains more than 100 described species. The classification is deemed incertae sedis
[Latin, "of uncertain placement"]. It was formerly considered within the subfamily Tetragonopterinae, but Javonillo et.al. (2010) suggest that this subfamily should be restricted to species within the genus Tetragonopterus
since they do not share physiological characteristics with species in other genera such as Hyphessobrycon
Authors that have recently studied the systematics of the genus Hyphessobrycon
have unanimously pointed out that the group is not well defined and its monophyly is yet uncertain. [A monophyletic genus is one wherein the species share a common ancestor, thus linking them together physiologically.] Mirande (2009) for example has proposed several revisions to the family Characidae based upon phylogenetic diagnosis. Some genera have been moved to a new subfamily, while others are now (temporarily) assigned to a specific clade within the family pending further study. The recognition of groups of species [clades] within Hyphessobrycon
is based primarily on similarities of color patterns; an hypothesis of its intra-relationships is currently unavailable, except for the rosy tetra clade proposed as monophyletic by Weitzman & Palmer (1997). Hyphessobrycon
has until recently been differentiated from Hemigrammus
solely on the basis of the fish in Hemigrammus
possessing a scaled caudal fin; this however is now known to be unreliable, since it occurs in intermediate conditions (de Lucina, 2003). References:
de Lucena, Carlos Alberto Santos (2003), "A new characid fish, Hyphessobrycon scutulatus
, from the Rio Teles Pires drainage, upper Rio Tapajos system (Ostariophysi: Characiformes: Characidae)," Neotropical Ichthyology
1 (2), pp. 93-96.
Javonillo, Robert, Luiz R. Malabarba, Stanley H. Weitzman and John R. Burns (2010), "Relationships among major lineages of characid fishes (Teleostei: Ostariophysi: Characiformes), based on molecular sequence data," Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
, Vol. 54, No. 2 (February 2010).
Mirande, J. Marcos (2009), "Weighted parsimony phylogeny of the family Characidae (Teleostei: Characiformes)," Cladistics
, Vol. 25, No. 6 (July 2009).
Weitzman, Stanley H. & Lisa Palmer (1997), "A new species of Hyphessobrycon
(Teleostei: Characidae) from the Neblina region of Venezuela and Brazil, with comments on the putative 'rosy tetra clade'," Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters
volume 7 (no. 3), pp. 209-242. Contributing Members
The following members have contributed to this profile: Byron