Hemigrammus Pulcher: a Fish With a Brilliant Red Iris

brilliant red iris fish

Hemigrammus pulcher, commonly known as the Pretty tetra, is a fascinating species that captivates aquarists with its vibrant colors and elegant appearance. While its deep, disc-shaped body and stunning range of hues are undoubtedly eye-catching, one feature of this fish stands out in particular: its brilliant red iris.

This unique characteristic sets Hemigrammus pulcher apart from other fish species, giving it an allure that is hard to resist. But what is the significance of this red iris? What purpose does it serve?

In this discussion, we will explore the fascinating world of Hemigrammus pulcher and unravel the mysteries behind its brilliant red iris.

Key Takeaways

  • Hemigrammus pulcher, also known as the Pretty tetra, is a peaceful and lively community fish that adds beauty to any dimly lit and well-planted aquarium.
  • This species prefers to be kept in groups of at least six and requires a minimum tank size of 15 gallons or 24 inches long.
  • Hemigrammus pulcher is an omnivorous fish that eats a variety of foods, including aquatic insect larvae, worms, small crustaceans, and plants. It thrives on a varied diet and benefits from live and frozen foods.
  • Suitable tank mates for Hemigrammus pulcher include livebearers, danios, rasboras, other tetras, small catfish, loaches, and dwarf cichlids. It should not be kept with larger or more aggressive species.

Background Information

Hemigrammus pulcher, commonly known as the Pretty tetra, is a peaceful and vibrant fish species that belongs to the Characidae family and is native to South America. This species offers several benefits when kept in a community aquarium.

They are known for their peaceful nature and lively behavior, making them a great addition to a tank with other peaceful species. Additionally, Hemigrammus pulcher has a stunning appearance, with its deep, disc-shaped body and vibrant copper color.

To enhance their well-being, it is important to provide them with a well-planted and shaded tank. Hemigrammus pulcher is accustomed to living in slow-moving streams with dense vegetation, and replicating this environment in the aquarium is crucial for their overall health and happiness.

A well-planted tank provides hiding spots and promotes natural behaviors, while shaded areas help reduce stress and mimic their natural habitat. Overall, Hemigrammus pulcher thrives in a community aquarium and contributes to the beauty and harmony of the tank.

Origin and Habitat

With its natural habitat in the slow-moving streams of South America, Hemigrammus pulcher is a species that thrives amidst dense vegetation and requires specific tank conditions to replicate its native environment.

This forest-dwelling fish is commonly found in South American streams, particularly in rivers with abundant vegetation. To ensure their well-being, it is important to provide them with a shaded and well-planted tank.

Hemigrammus pulcher is adapted to living in most tanks, but they prefer lower pH levels and soft, acidic water. These fish are known for their timid nature and should not be kept with aggressive species.

Care Requirements

low maintenance pet ownership

To ensure the well-being of Hemigrammus pulcher in captivity, it is crucial to provide specific care requirements that replicate their natural habitat. Creating a suitable tank setup and maintaining appropriate water parameters are essential for their health and happiness. Here are the recommended care requirements for Hemigrammus pulcher:

Tank Setup Water Parameters
Minimum tank size of 15 gallons or 24 inches long pH level: Lower levels preferred
Shaded and well-planted tank Water hardness: Soft and acidic
Dense vegetation for hiding and exploration Temperature: 75-82°F (24-28°C)
Ensure sufficient swimming space for schooling behavior Ammonia and nitrite levels: Near zero


The Hemigrammus pulcher, commonly known as the Pretty tetra, exhibits a deep, disc-shaped body with a captivating coloration that transitions from violet to copper. This species possesses unique physical features that contribute to its aesthetic appeal. Here are some key aspects of its appearance:

  • Color variations: The body of the Pretty tetra showcases a striking gradient, starting with a violet hue on the upper portion and transitioning to a rich copper shade towards the lower section. The belly is pale or yellow in color, creating a pleasing contrast. Additionally, two bright garnet patches adorn its body, adding further visual interest.
  • Brilliant red iris: One of the most remarkable features of the Hemigrammus pulcher is its brilliant red iris, which contributes to its captivating allure. This vibrant eye color enhances the overall beauty of the fish and makes it stand out in an aquarium setting.
  • Transparent fins: The Pretty tetra possesses transparent fins, which provide an elegant and delicate appearance. These fins, in combination with its vibrant body coloration, create a stunning visual display as the fish moves gracefully through the water.
  • Known as the Pretty tetra: Due to its unique copper coloration and captivating appearance, the Hemigrammus pulcher is commonly referred to as the Pretty tetra. This name aptly reflects the fish's beauty and serves as an invitation for aquarists seeking an aesthetically pleasing addition to their aquarium.

The appearance of the Hemigrammus pulcher makes it an attractive choice for aquarists who desire to create a visually appealing and vibrant community tank. Its color variations, unique physical features, and elegant presence enhance the overall aesthetic value of an aquarium, making it a delightful addition for both beginners and experienced aquarists.

Diet and Feeding

nutrition and eating habits

Hemigrammus pulcher, commonly known as the Pretty tetra, is an omnivorous species that requires a well-balanced diet consisting of both live and commercial foods to thrive and maintain optimal health. Their feeding habits include consuming aquatic insect larvae, worms, small crustaceans, and plants. Pretty tetras are not fussy eaters and readily accept dried flakes, granules, and micropellets. However, to ensure a varied diet, it is recommended to supplement their meals with live and frozen foods such as brine shrimp, mosquito larvae, daphnia, and bloodworms. These small live foods not only enhance their health but also intensify their vibrant coloring. Additionally, Pretty tetras can be fed commercial fish flakes and pellets. Feeding frequency should be moderate to prevent overeating and maintain their overall well-being.

Recommended Food Types Feeding Habits
Aquatic insect larvae Omnivorous
Worms Eats live and commercial foods
Small crustaceans Accepts dried flakes and pellets
Plants Benefits from live and frozen foods
Brine shrimp Not fussy eaters
Mosquito larvae Thrive on a varied diet
Daphnia Enhances health and coloring
Bloodworms Moderate feeding frequency
Commercial fish flakes
and pellets

Suitable Tank Mates

In order to create a harmonious and balanced community aquarium, it is important to carefully consider suitable tank mates for Hemigrammus pulcher, also known as the Pretty tetra. These tetras are peaceful and active, making them compatible with a variety of other species.

Here are the best tank mates for Hemigrammus pulcher:

  • Livebearers: Species like guppies and mollies can coexist with the Pretty tetra due to their peaceful nature.
  • Danios and Rasboras: These small and active fish make great companions for Hemigrammus pulcher, as they share similar temperaments.
  • Other Tetras: Hemigrammus pulcher can thrive alongside other tetras, such as neon tetras or black skirt tetras, creating a vibrant and diverse community.
  • Small Catfish and Loaches: Species like Corydoras catfish and dwarf loaches can peacefully cohabit with the Pretty tetra, as they prefer similar water conditions.

Reproduction and Popularity

the evolution of popularity

Reproduction and Popularity of Hemigrammus pulcher can be observed and appreciated by both beginner and experienced aquarists due to its ease of breeding and widespread appeal in the aquarium hobby.

Breeding Hemigrammus pulcher can be achieved through various methods. When provided with suitable conditions, the female can lay up to 200 eggs, which eventually hatch into fry. However, breeding challenges may arise as the parents have a tendency to eat their own eggs or fry if not separated. To overcome this, a separate breeding tank or setup is required to maximize the chances of successful reproduction.

Despite these challenges, the popularity of Hemigrammus pulcher remains high. It has received a rating of 5/5 by 17 individuals, indicating its desirability among aquarium enthusiasts. Its gentle and peaceful nature, along with its vibrant appearance, make it a prized addition to any aquarium.


Based on its adaptability to various tank conditions, peaceful temperament, and vibrant appearance, Hemigrammus pulcher, also known as the Pretty tetra, is a highly sought-after addition to community aquariums.

Keeping Hemigrammus pulcher in a community tank offers several advantages, such as their ability to coexist peacefully with a variety of tank mates. Their small size and peaceful nature make them an ideal choice for beginner aquarists.

Additionally, their brilliant red iris and transparent fins enhance the beauty of a well-planted tank, creating a visually stunning display. However, it is important to note that Hemigrammus pulcher may not thrive in aggressive tank environments or with larger, more robust species.

Providing a well-planted tank is crucial as it mimics their natural habitat and enables them to feel secure and exhibit their natural behaviors.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Hemigrammus Pulcher Be Kept in a Tank Without Plants?

Yes, Hemigrammus pulcher can be kept in a tank without plants. However, it is recommended to provide tank decorations such as driftwood and rocks for hiding and resting places. Alternative tank mates include other peaceful species like livebearers, danios, rasboras, and other tetras.

How Often Should Hemigrammus Pulcher Be Fed?

The feeding frequency for Hemigrammus pulcher should be moderate to prevent overeating. They are omnivorous and accept dried flakes, granules, and pellets. Live and frozen foods such as brine shrimp and bloodworms enhance their health and coloring.

What Is the Average Lifespan of Hemigrammus Pulcher?

The average lifespan of Hemigrammus pulcher, a peaceful and lively tetra, can range from 3 to 5 years in optimal tank conditions. Feeding frequency should be moderate to prevent overeating and maintain their health.

Can Hemigrammus Pulcher Be Kept With Aggressive Species if Provided With Enough Hiding Spots?

Keeping Hemigrammus pulcher with aggressive species is not recommended, even with enough hiding spots. Hemigrammus pulcher is a timid fish that prefers peaceful tank mates. Aggressive species may stress and harm them, compromising their overall well-being.

Are There Any Specific Water Parameters That Hemigrammus Pulcher Requires for Optimal Health?

Hemigrammus pulcher requires lower pH levels and soft, acidic water for optimal health. It thrives in an ideal temperature range of 75-82°F. Maintaining these specific water parameters is crucial for the well-being of this fish.