The Tetra group of fish are among the most popular freshwater fish in the hobby. Not that far behind goldfish and betta fish. However, it is usually one or two of these tetra fish that tend to take all the limelight.
The X-Ray Tetra is among those members of this group that isn’t necessarily very popular but it can be just as satisfying and even easier to keep. Here is a detailed look at this often overlooked gem of a freshwater fish.
A Little Background On The X-Ray Tetra
Just like most Tetras, these fish also originate from South America. Despite not being as popular as other tetras such as the Neon Tetra, the X-Ray tetra was discovered more than a century ago. Additionally, unlike other Tetras, these fish can actually be found not just in freshwater bodies but also in brackish waters near South America’s coastline.
The X-ray tetra is also known by other names such as the Water Goldfinch and the Golden Pristella Tetra. These fish have gained some popularity in recent years in the aquarium hobby thanks to their unique looks and highly adaptable nature.
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Its name provides a pretty big clue about its appearance. It has a somewhat translucent body and this translucency becomes more prominent from behind the gills to its tail.
As such, its spine is visible and that gives it an appearance akin to an X-Ray. However, this fish isn’t all about its see-through looks. It is colorful in its own right. Its tail has a reddish tint to it while the dorsal and anal fins are striped in single bands of yellow at the base, black in the middle, and white at the tips.
The head and belly of the fish also have a golden sheen which can look absolutely stunning when the light hits it in just the right way.
They have the classic torpedo shape very common among tetras. They also stay relatively small with a maximum size of between 1.6 inches – 1.9 inches or 3.2 centimeters – 5 centimeters. The females tend to be larger than the males.
X-Ray Tetra Temperament And Behavior
These are among the most docile and peaceful fish you can come across in the freshwater hobby. They are also schooling fish and will need to be in the company of their own kind to feel safe. So, keep them in schools of at least six. Otherwise, they will become nervous and skittish which can shorten their lifespan quite considerably.
X-Ray Tetra Tankmates
Because of these behavioral traits, it is very important to choose the right type of tankmates for these fish. Even slightly aggressive or curious fish that might chase after the X-Ray tetra should be avoided. These fish can also become very skittish in the presence of larger fishes even if they are docile and keep to themselves.
Ideally, keep these fish in a species-only tank or with other tetras and other smaller fishes that are equally docile and of a similar size. Some great options include
X-Ray Tetra Tank Size and Tank Setup
While a small group of these fish can technically be kept in a 10-gallon tank, it is always advisable to go for a 15-gallon or even a 20-gallon tank. This will allow you to keep a good-sized school of X-Ray tetras.
As far as tank setup and water parameters are concerned, these fish happen to be among the most adaptable tetras out there. A planted tank either natural or artificial is a good starting point but you are only limited by your creativity. As long as there is a healthy mix of hiding spots and open spaces, these fish should do just fine.
They can also tolerate a wide range of water conditions as long as there are no sudden and frequent fluctuations. The temperature can be between 64°Fahrenheit and 82°Fahrenheit or 17.5°Celsius to 28°Celsius. They do not really have a preference for pH and hardness and all you need to do is stick to a stable value.
X-Ray Tetra Feeding And Lifespan
Their awesome easygoing nature extends to their feeding habits as well. They will readily accept most plant and protein-based foods. Choose a commercial fish food from a reputed brand as the primary option with live, frozen, and dried food as a once-in-a-week treat. Feed them small quantities of food three to four times a day
With a proper diet and regular upkeep of the tank, these fish can live for up to five years.
X-Ray Tetra Diseases
These fish also happen to be among the hardiest tetras out there. They don’t usually suffer from all the deadly ailments that can sometimes afflict their cousins. However, if kept in poor conditions, they can become susceptible to the usual host of freshwater fish diseases such as ich and parasitic infections.
However, these can be easily avoided by doing regular maintenance and by providing these fish with a proper diet. Any new additions to their tank should be undertaken after proper quarantine and in the event of an outbreak, prompt treatment should be provided. The good news is that this is pretty easy as all you will need are some over-the-counter medications that are readily available at most fish stores.
X-Ray Tetra Breeding
Given how awesome and easy to care for these fish are, breeding them can be an attractive idea for hobbyists. Fortunately, getting these fish to breed is a relatively straightforward process.
In their natural habitats, these fish migrate from brackish waters to freshwater bodies inland to breed. You can replicate this by moving them from the main tank to a breeding tank with water that has a lower temperature, pH, and hardness.
Your best bet is to introduce multiple pairs as they can be a bit picky when it comes to choosing partners. Once a breeding pair is formed, remove all the other adults. This is very crucial as you could lose all the eggs otherwise.
The female will lay between 300 and 400 eggs which the male will then fertilize. As soon as this is done, remove the parents as well. The eggs will hatch in about 24-36 hours and they can be fed freshly hatched brine shrimp or some form of commercially available fry food.
To Sum It Up
If you are looking to add something a bit more exclusive to your community tank that is still very easy to take care of and has an alluring appearance then the X-Ray Tetra is a worthy contender. You might have some trouble procuring them but it is well worth the effort as this is one of the most underrated tetras out there.