What Tetras are Fin Nippers?

Tetras are popular fish that are a good addition to many freshwater aquariums. These easy to care for fish are thought of as non aggressive fish that play well with others. But did you know that some tetras are known to be fin nippers?

So, what Tetras are fin nippers?

  1. Neon Tetra
  2. Lemon Tetra
  3. Black Skirt Tetra
  4. Serpae Tetra
  5. Redeye Tetra
  6. Buenos Aires Tetra
Neon tetra Paracheirodon innesi freshwater aquarium fish

What is Fin Nipping?

Fin nipping is one of the worst nightmares for fish keepers. Having some stubborn fish nipping off their mates’ fins isn’t appealing. It may be fun to watch but definitely not good for the well-being of the fish.

Before you start your home aquarium, you will want to find out what species of fish are the most notorious when it comes to fin nipping. Fish nip for different reasons. However, some just nip more than others do.

Do all Tetras Nip Fins?

Most experienced aquarium owners will tell you that tetras are nippers. But the question is, are all tetras fin nippers? Well, not all tetras nip at fins of other fish in the aquarium. But there are some types of tetras that do.

A lot also depends on other factors, like how many tetras you are keeping in your tank and what other fish are their tank mates. Under the right conditions, some tetras that are known fin nippers might not nip in a particular setup.

None the less, its good to know which tetras are know to nip in the first place. Let’s take a closer look.

Tetras That Nip Fins

Some fish may nip fins as retaliation or to chase other species from their territory. Others do it when hungry and some just do it for fun. These are the most common tetras that nip.

1. Neon Tetra

This is a popular freshwater fish that belongs to the characin family. It’s mostly found in black water and clear water in the Amazon Basin streams. It is known for its beautiful shiny neon blue and reddish colors. Its belly is silvery. These colors become dimmer when light reduces and when the fish senses danger.

Although they are delicate and fun to watch, they have a habit of chasing fish from other species. They enjoy it when in shoals with other tetras. One neon tetra swimming alone causes anxiety and hence causing its color to fade.

Neon tetras are usually calm and peaceful. This makes people believe that they don’t actually nip. However, they react during possible attacks and nipping fins from other fish is just an act of defense.

The best way to reduce the chances of your neon tetras from nipping is to have a bigger aquarium and have a bigger school of them.

2. Lemon Tetra

This is another tropical freshwater fish originating from South America. It is a delicate fish famous for its shiny golden-yellow color with orange eyes. This species is wild and prefers staying in schools in a planted aquarium.

Unlike the neon tetras, the lemon tetras are extremely aggressive and can nip even without provocation. They enjoy most in an aquarium with plants and other tetra species. With teeth in front of their mouths, nipping other fish’s fins is the order of the day.

Placing a few lemon tetras in a bigger aquarium and keeping them with compatible species may reduce their nipping chances. However, it won’t stop them from nipping fins.

3. Black Skirt Tetra

Also known as the Black Widow Tetra, this is a species originating from the Paraguay River. It’s perfect for aquarium beginners although it has survival conditions. Its black and golden color makes it less visible, although it also exists in different colors.

This species behaves better in schools of other tetras. Just avoid putting them together with smaller species. Also, species with longer and conspicuous fins make it easy for black widow tetras to nip. For this reason, do not mix them.

Black skirt tetras also nip fins of the slower moving species. Although they are one of the most peaceful species, a slight temptation won’t prevent them from nipping.

4. Serpae Tetra

The Serpae Tetra is a native of the Amazon River. Known for its bright red color and a black spot near the eye, it is also called jewel tetra. It thrives in still or slow-moving water. Its red color forms attractive and clearly visible schools in the aquarium.

Serpae Tetras like shoaling in schools with other fast-moving and larger species. Mixing them with slow-moving species may make them a bit aggressive. This is what makes them start nipping fins. Feeding time also drives them crazy, making them nip.

They also prefer an environment with plants, rocks, and caves. Make sure you replicate their natural environment in your aquarium to keep them happy. A bigger aquarium and less slow-moving fish may help lower the chances of this species’ nipping. Also, ensure that you distribute food in different places to prevent scrambling and nipping.

5. Redeye Tetra

The Redeye tetra has red eyes that make it stand out. It has a shiny silver body and a black tail fin. Originating from South America is it a very peaceful species that likes shoaling in schools. Make sure you keep at least six in your aquarium.

They also co-exist peacefully with other species. However, slow-moving fish may trigger their stubbornness. The redeye tetra nips other species once in a while. Species with long fins cause the Redeye Tetras to nip more.

Note that this species is also in danger. Larger tetras often nip at them and hence you should create a bigger aquarium to reduce the chances. Also, always keep them in schools as this is the perfect way of putting their behavior in check.

6. Buenos Aires Tetra

This is a freshwater species originating from Argentina. It has a silvery body with a blue line starting from the fin to the tail. It also has a black spot near the tail. Its eyes and fins are red, making it a naturally beautiful creature, completely excellent for your aquarium.

Just like many other tetra species, Buenos Aires Tetras like swimming in schools. Although they are a very peaceful species, they get provoked. Smaller fish like Neon Tetras and long-finned species drive them crazy.

When hungry, they nip at the fins of the smaller fish and those with long tempting fins. Hence, always put them together with larger fish and short-finned ones to maintain peace in the aquarium.

Don’t let all this talk of fin nipping scare you away. Tetras are still an awesome fish for your aquarium. Check on this video on the top 5:


Most tetra species are extremely peaceful and can coexist with other species in the same tank. They also love schooling and swimming singly makes them terrified. However, slower-moving species, long-finned ones, hunger, and possible attack makes them react. Nipping at fins is what they do for survival. Smaller tetras like Neon Tetra are also at risk. Other larger species easily swallow them. Therefore, carefully choose the tank mates of your aquarium for peace and safety of all species.

Recent Content