The Serpae tetra (Hyphessobrycon eques) is a small and popular tetra known for its propensity to nip at other fish, especially those with long, flowing fins. It is native to waterways of Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay with stark colors. It gets its name from the Amazonian village of Serpa. Its genus is from the Greek, hyphesson, which means “a little smaller” and bryko “to bite.”
The Serpae tetra is easy to keep in a community tank that doesn’t include fish with long and flowing tails, such as angelfish and guppies because the Serpae tetra is fairly fast and enjoys nipping at the fins of other fish, including other Serpae tetra. It is ideal in groups of six with plenty of plants. Because the Serpae tetra is fast for its size, ensure that bottom dwelling fish get adequate food as Serpae’s are fast eaters and can devour most floating foods before others get a chance to eat.
Serpae tetras are fairly easy to keep. They are not a demanding fish and are adaptable to many environments. Their pH water requirements are wide ranging, from 5.0 to 7.8.
The Serpae tetra is a small fish at about 1.5 inches in length. It exhibits body colors that range from brick red to deep red. They can also exhibit very black dorsal fins often with a tinge of white at the edge. A black spot exists behind the gillplate. The tailfins are often red or a deep orange, but can also include a streak of clear flesh at the edges. Eyes are black. Colors are very pronounced. It is a very beautiful and fast fish.
The fish is found in Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay. It resides primarily in calm waters that are heavily vegetated. It can also be found in the black waters of the Amazon.
Ideally the Serpae tetra does best in schools of six or more. It occupies the middle portion of the water column and can be a fast moving fish. Because it has a propensity to be a fin nipper, it is best kept with tankmates that do not have long and flowing fins. More timid fish, such as corydoras can also be susceptible to the Serpae tetra’s sometimes agressive behavior.
The Serpae Tetra is ideal in heavily planted aquariums that mimic their natural environment. A two foot long aquarium or longer is ideal with adequate filtration. A 20 gallon aquarium is an ideal minimum Because the Serpae tetra is a calm water fish, devices such as powerheads are unnecessary. Water changes of 25 percent per week are ideal for the healthiest of fish. Ideal water conditions are pH of 5.0 to 7.8 and a water temperature range of 72-78 degrees Farenheit.
The Serpae tetra is a hardy fish that needs minimal care. The fish is small at only 1.5 inches and ideally is best kept in a small school of six. In smaller schools, the Serpae tetra can be aggresive to each other until a weaker fish is found. That fish will then be picked on.
Most Serpae tetra come from fish farms in the far east. They can be bred in captivity. The fish should be well fed prior to breeding. Aquarium plants, especially floating plants that help to shield the light is preferable. Water should be soft and slightly acidic. Once the eggs are laid, both adults should immediately be removed from the tank as the adults will eat the eggs.