A Favorite Freshwater Tropical: The Serpae Tetra

Excellent fish for beginners, nearly unkillable. And fairly pretty.


Serpae Tetra


This hardy tetra is native to South America. It is one of the very best beginner tetras being hardy and not overly aggressive.


In health, this fish will grow to over one inch in length and will attain a very deep orange which borders on being red. Black trim finishes the appearance as one of the more beautiful tetras.


Will form tight schools when kept with active dither fish. The Serpae Tetras are picky amongst themselves but will not usually harm other fish. Keep them in groups of three, five or seven. Even numbers of these tetras are bad luck.


I have had these in warm water [85 degF +], cold water [72 degF], still water, and well circulated water. They are tough and adaptable. Serpaes are impervious to ammonia and nitrite toxicity. They are highly susceptible to Ich and fluke infestations however. Serpaes survive salting and will survive Fluke Tab treatments. I have had Serpaes which have lived over two years.


They thrive on flake foods of good quality [so skip Wardley’s] and appreciate occasional feedings with tubifex, blood worms, and brine shrimp, and Serpaes can be trained to take food from a basket feeder. Feed at least once daily, and if kept warm, please feed two to three times daily to accomodate their higher metabolism.


They can nip each other, and losing one to fin nipping is not a surprise at any time.

Dr Erik Johnson is a Marietta, Georgia Veterinarian with a practice in small animal medicine. He graduated from University of Georgia with his Doctorate in 1991. Dr Johnson is the author of several texts on Koi and Pond Fish Health and Disease as well as numerous articles on dog and cat health topics.