© Strood and District Aquarist Society HOME home 36. Hemigrammus bleheri (Rummy Nose Tetra)

One pleasure we oldies have is the ability to conjure up past pleasant memories and dwell heavily on them, which is what I am about to do now..

Back in 1982 I set up a small tank in my fish house. The size was about 15x10x10 inches and it was positioned on a lower shelf due to lack of space elsewhere. The location, about knee high, meant that it took a little effort to bend down to view the tank.

The whole purpose of this exercise was to house a few Hemigrammus bleheri (rummy nose tetra). I had previously noted these fish in my memory bank when visiting my local fish shops and decided to purchase some when they next became available. The attraction to me being the prominent iridescent scarlet nose, the black and white striped caudal fin accentuated by the polished mother of pearl body.

Well the time had come. I made my purchase and now I was the proud owner of my first H. bleheri

You may wonder at this point where this story is leading, I can only say that it lead me into one of these time stopping experiences of sheer absolute delight.

To go back to the tank. I filled it with rainwater which had been slightly stained with peat. I had included a thin layering of fine gravel to cover the transparency of the base of the tank and finished it off with a generous clump of java moss. One would say perhaps not a particularly inspirational set up, anyway two days later the fish were acclimatised and set free in their new home - 6 rummy nose in all.

From then on they took a back seat with all the other activity going on in the fish house. Their tank just received daily feeding and weekly maintenance until after about six to seven weeks I took a closer look and wham !!! what a sight. The water was sparkling crystal clear, the java moss had grown and spread its fine fern type leaves in a stretching upward curving fan towards the light source and swimming as a shoal through these thread like fronds were the rummy nose in absolute outstanding colour. The whole scenario was totally sublime and beautiful.


If, at that moment, I had been offered the crown jewels in exchange for my tank I would have emphatically declined.


Since that day I have tried to breed them off and on without success until this last twelve months. I decided to really have a serious attempt at mastering the technique.


I think that the big mistake in my previous breeding attempts was that the rummy nose were a bit too young. My more recent experiences proving to be more successful have been with more mature fish and of course combined with lots of patience. Not every spawning attempt with these fish proves to be successful you have to accept a few failures, but believe me, the persistence is well worth it.


To breed rummy nose it goes without saying you need a pair! I find it better to separate the sexes prior to breeding using the old adage that separation makes the heart grow fonder.


I use a smallish tank round 18x10x10 inches. Situate the tank where the water would appear to be in deep shade and fill with soft water to a level of about 6 inches. The pH.reading should be between 6.5 - 6.8 and no more than 1 degree of hardness. It would be even better if the pH. reading had been achieved by the inclusion of peat giving the water a slight amber colour. An ideal temperature would be about 76°F. Finally drop in a nylon spawning mop . I generally introduce the breeding pair to the tank before lights out in the evening. You then have the luxury of a few hours to dream of a large spawning in the morning. Alas this does not happen, it usually takes place on the second morning or even possibly on the third.


At this point I would love to be able to describe the courtship prior to spawning and the actual spawning, but I can't as I never witnessed it. On several occasions in the community tank I have seen males seeking attention from the females by making short darting manoeuvrers around the female and a gentle nudging along her body, but these actions do not constitute a full blown courtship.


I have bred rummy nose five times successfully out of many failed attempts. The failed attempts included spawnings with many eggs laid whiched turned duff or remained clear and dissolved away which infers that they were not fertilised, but what is common to failed or successful spawnings is the carpet of non - adhesive eggs scattered over large areas of the tank bottom. They totally ignore the nylon spawning mops. What is also common is the disinterested poise of the breeding pair. They usually adopt a static position after spawning in the corner of the tank totally oblivious of their surroundings. On occasions I have been staggered at the sheer quantity of eggs laid. Could be between 150 and 250.


The first proper spawning I had was of these number of eggs. I have to say I just could not believe my luck. Visions of great grandeur passed before my eyes and being surrounded by tanks full of rummy nose . At this point I lost control and could not hold back a full blast from my lungs culminating in a loud GERONIMO!!


Unfortunately on this occassion the eggs stayed clear, swelled up and slowly dissolved.


The spawnings that I have experienced have all taken place early in the morning hence the lack of observation. At my next attempt I will rise at the crack of dawn.


Of the five spawnings achieved, the most fry raised to adults have been 43 otherwise 15 to 25 being the norm.


The eggs start to hatch in about two days and at three days you can see the fry hanging onto the glass. At five days they are free swimming. I feed micro worm as a first feed for two days followed by newly hatched brine shrimp. I do not use infusoria or ZM000. Micro worm is minute and livebearing in its reproduction therefore feeding it offers the fry a selection of minuscule sizes. It goes without saying that once the fry are on brine shrimp the rest should be plain sailing.


I would have preferred this to have been a more scientific account of Hemigrammus bleheri spawning but, alas, without witnessing the event it is just a keen hobbyists view.


© Colin Roberts and SDAS 2007.