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  • Source: Copyright Peter and Martin Hoffmann

Hemigrammus rodwayi (= H. armstrongi) (Gold Tetra)

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An interesting fish that normally have a pale, silvery appearance (see the lower of the two pictures presented here). However, when the skin of this fish is irritated, for example by parasites, the skin produces guanin that turns the fish a bright gold (as in the upper picture). This is the form referred to in older aquarium books as Hemigrammus armstrongi.

Fish information (behaviour and breeding):

A peaceful, schooling fish that does well in community tanks with other quiet species. Must be kept in a group of at least six specimens or else becomes shy and nervous. Do not keep with aggressive tankmates.

This fish sometimes proves difficult to keep. Well oxygenated water with a low nitrate level seems to be important, so use a good filter and make regular water changes. Soft, acid water is preferred, although it can do well in neutral, moderately hard water as well.

Has been bred in captivity, but since only the wild caught fish have the golden colouration, aquarists tend to favour wild over tank-raised fish. Otherwise, breeding is similar to that of other small tetras.

Family Group: Characins
Distribution Guyana
Temperature 24-28C
Size 5.5 cm
Water Parameters Soft, acid water essential for long-term health
Water PH 6.0-7.0

Useful sources of information:

For a well illustrated and detailed reference guide on this and many other fish, consider the Baensch Aquarium Atlases. Volume 1 contains all the common species, and later volumes cover more unusual species. You can buy these books here.