The REAL Truth about Silver Tip Tetra's - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 3 Old 12-03-2011, 12:29 PM Thread Starter
Tracy Bird's Avatar
The REAL Truth about Silver Tip Tetra's

I would like to add a small school (5-7) of Silver Tip Tetra's to my aquarium.

Profiles of this species, as well as my Mom & Pop LFS (who have been around forever) suggest that the fish is very peaceful and a good community fish.

However, when I read reviews of the species many people report that they are terrors on their own kind as well as tank mates. Several reviews I've seen compared their behavior to Tiger Barbs.

I've also seen a number of You Tube Videos of the species that show some pretty hard aggression

In two different LFS the species seemed very peaceful and I did not witness any aggressive behavior.

I have a 29 Gallon Planted with a 30 inch foot print.

My current stock is Espei's and Rummy Nose with both species appearing to be very comfortable amongst each other.

Is my tank sufficient in size to add a school?

I definitely don't want a species that will chase my fish into hiding and create stress.

So what are your experiences with Silver Tip Tetra's and if you have had a bully of the school yard how did you handle it?
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post #2 of 3 Old 12-03-2011, 03:54 PM
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As I understand it, they are like the zebra danio and bloodfin tetra - very active and play rough, but do no real harm as long as they are kept in sufficient space and numbers.

So yeah, they'd def freak your rummynose out!

"My dither fish need dither fish!"
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post #3 of 3 Old 12-05-2011, 12:02 PM
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Environment plays a major role in fish aggression. Tank size has a lot to do with this, as well as how the tank is aquascaped, water parameters, and other fish species included. With shoaling fish, there is also the aspect of how many of the species needs to be present, and this can vary with the species.

Taking the last aspect first, shoaling fish need a group for several reasons, one of which is interaction. The species may have specific social behaviours, a pecking order, dominant/submissive roles, etc. Recent studies have proven beyond doubt that when shoaling fish are maintained in too small a group (one study used five as the absolute minimum) aggression is almost certain to occur. Normally-aggressive species heighten their aggressive tendencies, while normally peaceful species can become nippy and more like bullies not only to their own but other species as well. Think of this as the fish's means of responding to what it finds intolerable; it simply "lashes out" out of frustration. Sometimes it may respond the opposite--by withdrawing so much that it simply wastes away.

To the environment issue. The same increased aggressive behaviours were observed when fish were kept in too small a space. Bare tanks also bring out aggression. Inappropriate water parameters (temperature, pH and hardness) can also affect aggression. And having the wrong fish as tankmates--putting a fish like a Serpae Tetra with inherent nipping tendencies in a tank with angelfish is only asking for trouble because the slow sedate angelfish with its trailing fins is too much of a temptation.

Howard Goldstein authored an article in the December TFH entitled Community Fish Cautions. He lists several frequently-seen and so-called "community fish" that can create havoc. But he makes a very valid point first up: "It's Not the Fish; It's the Tank. These fish are not difficult to keep. Their required conditions are not hard to create and maintain, but they must be met."

To return to your Silvertip Tetra. A group of 8 or more in a spacious tank at least 3 feet in length with lots of plants for cover but also space to swim lengthwise and with a slight current from the filter will likely be model citizens. Put the same fish in a 20g high and they may nip each other repeatedly. This is applicable to many species.

A last word on what one perceives in fish store tanks. This cannot always--in truth, rarely should--be taken as indicative of the fish's behaviour or compatibility. What appears on the surface to "work" in the store tank may in fact be so harmful to the fish that they are irreparably weakened. Over-crowding a species sometimes stresses the fish so much that they behave just the opposite. They are being forced into a situation that is not to their liking, and cannot respond normally. Place them in the proper environment at home, and the normal tendencies will return, sometimes. Sometimes the stress may be so great that the fish is permanently disabled, so to speak. And this works both ways; peaceful fish may become aggressive, whereas mildly-aggressive may be so docile they waste away.


Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]

Last edited by Byron; 12-05-2011 at 12:04 PM.
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