Red Eye Tetra: Feeding, Breeding and Caretaking

Moenkhausia sanctaefilomenae

Red Eye Tetra - Moenkhausia sanctaefilomenae
Indy Poon/Creative Commons

The Red Eye Tetra adds a touch of glamor to a freshwater community aquarium. Their metallic look, dynamic energy and signature red eye with its pop of color combine to create an elegant display when kept in a school of six or more.

Red Eye Tetra: Overview

  • Scientific Name: Moenkhausia sanctaefilomenae
  • Other Names: Yellow Banded Moenkhausia, Yellow back Moenkhausia, Yellowhead Tetra
  • Family: Characidae
  • Origin: Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Peru
  • Adult Size: 2.75 inches (7 cm)
  • Social: Peaceful - suitable for community tanks
  • Lifespan: 5 years
  • Tank Level: Mid dweller
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore, eats most foods
  • Breeding: Egglayer
  • Care: Easy
  • pH: 5.5 - 8.5
  • Hardness: to 25 dGH
  • Temperature: 73-82 F (23-28 C)


If you've ever seen a school of these tetras with their bright silver body accented by a black tail and red eyes, it's easy to know why they got their name. This peaceful medium-sized tetra is readily available and suitable for most community aquariums. They also make an excellent beginner fish since they are hardy and easy to care for.

Red Eye Tetra are very peaceful; they are best kept in schools and will claim the mid-portion of the aquarium. Although they are easygoing, some owners report that they occasionally nip at the fins of slow moving, long finned fish. Red Eyes are very active in the middle section of the tank and may disturb less active top-dwelling fish.

In addition, other tetras may pick on them at times, so keep an eye on the community.


Red Eyes tolerate a range of water conditions, from hard alkaline to soft acidic water. They prefer a dark substrate and plant cover along the sides and back of the aquarium. Keep them in schools of six or more.

Their ideal aquarium includes live plants, driftwood, and rocks that recreate their natural habitat and offer spaces to hide. Since this tetra is a relatively large fish, strive for a 20-gallon tank or larger.


In nature, Red Eye Tetras primarily eat small insects and planktonic animals. Like most tetras in a home aquarium, they will accept virtually any foods, including frozen or freeze-dried brine shrimp, bloodworms, daphnia, and tubifex, as well as high-quality flake foods and micro pellet food. To keep them in top condition, feed them a varied diet of flake foods coupled with occasional feedings of live or frozen foods.


Females are larger and have a more rounded abdomen than the males. When attempting to breed them, set up a separate breeding tank with slightly acidic, very soft water (4 dGH or below). If you provide floating plants, the breeding pair will often lay eggs among them.

Once spawning has occurred, remove the mating pair, as they will consume the eggs and hatching fry. The eggs will hatch one to two days after they are laid. Initially, feed the fry commercially prepared fry foods, then freshly hatched brine shrimp, and eventually finely crushed flake foods.