If you don’t know what fish to get for your aquarium, you might want to consider the bucktooth tetra. These guys are really cool, they look neat, and they definitely have big personalities.
Obviously, you need to know how to take care of your brand new bucktooth tetra fish, something we are going to help you with right now. Let’s get on with it and talk about everything there is to know in regards to bucktooth tetra care.
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About The Bucktooth Tetra
The bucktooth tetra fish is a species of tetra fish native to South America, specifically the Amazon and Tocantins river basins. In case you were wondering, their scientific name is Exodon paradoxus. Generally speaking, these little guys are fairly easy to take care of. Keeping them alive is not very hard. That being said, breeding them is a nightmare, and keeping them with other fish is difficult too. This is also because the bucktooth tetra likes to occupy all areas of the tank, bottom, middle, and top.
This is one of the most aggressive species of tetra fish around, plus they like to eat scales, so keeping them with anything but other bucktooth tetras is not going to work well. The bucktooth tetra has silver scales with some blue and yellow thrown into the mix. They definitely look cool to say the least.
A normal bucktooth tetra can grow to around 2.9 inches or 7.5 cm long, making it a fairly large tetra variation. Finally, these little guys can live for as long as 10 years when properly cared for, something we are going to discuss below.
Ideal Tank / Housing Conditions
The first thing that you need to know about bucktooth tetras is that they need quite a bit of room to be happy. These little guys are schooling fish, which means that you should keep at least 6 or 8 of them together, preferably more something like a dozen of them.
Since they like to live in fairly large schooling populations, they need a pretty big tank. The minimum tank size for a small school of bucktooth tetras is 30 gallons, but preferably more. In reality, the larger the tank size the better off they are.
Next when it comes to what is inside of the tank, these little guys prefer fairly heavily planted tanks. Their native habitat has a whole lot of greenery on the bottom. You don’t really need any floating plants, but definitely lots of plants under the water. A good mix of short and wide plants, as well as taller plants, will make your bucktooth tetra fish feel right at home (we have covered our top 10 plants on this post).
They get a little antsy, so they like to hide under and within plants, they like to eat plants sometimes, and it gives them a calm place to rest. Another upside to having a heavily planted tank is that the plants help filter the water and create oxygen, thus reducing the work your filter has to do. Some driftwood, rocks, and little castles or other cool ornaments won’t hurt either.
The next thing that is important for keeping bucktooth tetra fish is the condition of the water. While these fish are fairly hardy and easy to take care of, they do require some fairly specific water conditions to be happy and healthy. When it comes to temperature, seeing as the bucktooth tetra is a tropical fish, it needs to be between 73 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit.
In terms of the dH level of the water, it needs to be fairly soft. A dH ranging from 5 to 20 will be just fine. Also, in terms of the pH level, bucktooth tetras prefer slightly acidic water, but anywhere from 5.5 to 7.5 pH will do. These little guys do need fairly clean water, so you are going to want to invest in a good filter, one that engages in all 3 major types of water filtration.
A very weird and interesting fact about the bucktooth tetra is that it is a lepidophage. This means that they love to feed on the scales of other fish, often nipping at other fish and eating their scales, which leads to injury, death, and disease. That being said, they will eat other foods. In the wild, besides fish scales, they also like to feed on small insects and insect larvae. Of course you are not always going to be able to supply your bucktooth tetra fish with fresh insects, which is alright because they will accept other foods too.
They may nip on plants a little bit, but generally speaking, these little guys like their meat. You can give them pellets and flakes a couple times per day, but they will really like things such as daphnia, blood worms, earthworms, lancefish, krill, and other such small creatures.
Make sure that they get enough protein. When it comes to a feeding schedule, you should feed them several times per day, 3 or 4 at most, and give them only so much as they can eat in roughly 1 minute. This will help avoid overfeeding.
If you do house your bucktooth tetras with other fish, make sure that the other fish get enough food because these little critters are very competitive, they eat a lot, and they will outcompete larger fish for food.
Bucktooth Tetra Fish Tank Mates
Something very important to note about bucktooth tetra fish is that they cannot be kept with other fish for the most part. Like we said before, they eat scales, which can lead to injuries, infections, and death for the fish having its scales consumed. Therefore, keeping these little guys with only other bucktooth tetras is a big must.
That being said, there are a few types of fish out there, like the scale-less catfish, which do not have scales, thus rendering this issue mute. Also, bucktooth tetras are known to be bullies and will often bully other fish such as cichlids to the point of death.
Any fish that you keep with the bucktooth tetra must be non-reflective and/or scale-less. Also, fish that are substantially larger than the bucktooth tetra may be ok depending on the circumstances.
So, breeding bucktooth tetras is not often done. There are several reasons for this. First of all, telling males and females apart is more or less impossible, which is a pretty big deal no doubt. Second of all, if you do manage to find a male and female, if you put them in a breeding tank, they will end up fighting and killing each other instead of breeding a lot of the time.
Next, these fish are well-known for being egg eaters. If you do breed these fish, you need to remove the parents once the eggs are laid and fertilized. There is no doubt about the fact that they will eat the eggs.
The only real way to make these fish breed is to keep them in their large community tank. If they are going to breed, this is where they will do it. In all reality, you are better off simply buying more bucktooth tetra fish rather than trying to breed them.
As you can see, besides tank mate and breeding issues, bucktooth tetra care is not all that hard. If you like cool looking fish with big personalities, the bucktooth tetra is a really neat option to keep in mind the next time you go to buy some fish.
Featured Image Credit: Pavaphon Supanantananont, Shutterstock