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Family: Lebiasinidae, Sub-Family Pyrrhulininae

Common Name: Splashing Tetra, Jumping Tetra

Origin and Habitat: Guyana, French Guyana, Suriname and Brazil. Occurs in slower-moving feeder tributary streams and creeks with overhanging vegetation.

Compatibility/Temperament: Peaceful fish well deserving of its own species habitat but suited to a community tank of peaceful characins, dwarf cichlids, rasbora, small catfish and loaches. Should be kept in a small group of at least six.

Splashing Tetra Diet

Omnivorous, it will accept prepared foods such as flake and frozen daphnia and bloodworms.


Males can attain 3.5 inches, females 2.5 inches.

Minimum Tank Suggestion

24 inches in length, requiring space above the water for overhanging vegetation.

Water parameters for Splashing Tetra

Soft (hardness to 12 dGH) acidic to slightly basic (pH to 7.5, preferably below 7.0) water, temperature 25-29C/77-84F.


Truly an unique characin in its method of spawning. The male and female pair will jump from the water and cling to the underside of an overhanging leaf for a few seconds, during which the eggs are deposited and fertilized; the parents release themselves and drop back into the water. This procedure is repeated several times until 150 to 200 eggs have been laid. The male then remains under the leaf, periodically splashing water onto the eggs to prevent them from drying out. The eggs hatch in 2-3 days and drop into the water.

There is some variation in the pattern and colouring among fish from different locales, as illustrated in the two photos. Males are larger, with elongated fins and brighter colouring; in both photos, the male fish is above the female.

To allow for spawning, the tank should have space above the water surface for overhanging plant leaves, either from aquatic plants that grow above the water such as Echinodorus macrophyllus, or house plants allowed to grow over the tank. The tank must still be either covered or the water level must be low enough to prevent the fish from escaping the tank, since they are surface fish and avid jumpers. Floating plants are also recommended to provide a sense of security, along with dim lighting. The mouth is upturned, typical of surface-dwelling fish.

Originally described as Copeina arnoldi by Regan (1912), the species was one of 11 in the genus. In 1956, Dr. George S. Meyers established the genus Copella for three of the species, but all but two species were subsequently moved into the new genus (Gery, 1977). The Sub-Family Pyrrhulininae now contains two tribes, the Pyrrhulinini containing the Copeina (2 species), Copella (9 species) and Pyrrhulina (18 species), and the Nannostomini tribe of the closely-related pencilfishes in the genus Nannostomus. The adipose fin is never present and the mouth is upturned in the Pyrrhulinini, whereas the mouth is terminal in the Nannostomini and the adipose fin is sometimes present.

Contributing Members

The following members have contributed to this profile: Byron

Video from the BBC showing the spawning ritual of Copella arnoldi.


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