Silvertip Tetra Behavior

Old Town Fish Geek

Got a small school of 6 silvertips earlier this week. Put them by themselves in a biotope kind of tank. Sand, driftwood, & leaf litter. It's a 30 gallon tall.

The first few days they stuck together, but today it appears two dominant fish chose & are defending territories. The four subdominant fish mostly hang out near the bottom together, getting chased if they get too close to the dominant fish at the top.

Is this just how silvertips are? Or could the small school size be the problem?

I am hoping to spawn them & then add a larger school of them to a 55 gallon blackwater community tank with other smallish schooling species.

Will these fish bully other active species too?



I don't have silvertips but have been researching stocking for my newest tank. Their behaviour in most videos I have seen is that they school very nicely together and are really interesting in that they will follow your hand against the glass.

I think you are on the right track about school size. I would expect a school of 6 to be just too small and that having double or triple that number will spread out the aggression and make everyone play nicer in the water box. I have heard the same thing about tiger barbs, who tend to get a bad rap as a community fish but an online publication says that a school of 20 is generally quite peaceful.

Check out Aquarium Co-op's video on silvertips - he has a pretty large school in one tank and it is amazing how they will respond when he is near the tank or puts his hand on the glass.


The territorial fish are probably males setting a spawning area. If there are females (more silvery body color, deeper body when full of eggs), they will go to the males when they are ready to spawn. If there are extra males beyond the two, there probably aren't enough potential spawning areas for them to protect. Many tetras do this during spawning season, then go back to shoaling when the conditions are no longer right. Adding to the school might cause them to stop, as a larger population would interfere with their territories too much.


I agree with what chromedome52 said.

A number of shoaling tetras will behave in this way and the dominant fish may become a nuisance or even kill off subordinates.

I believe 20 fish starts to become a shoal, when the aggression becomes dissipated and shared out becoming less significant.

You could easily breed some more of these as this is one of the easiest fish to breed in my experience.

You could try reducing the temperature to 74F (Neon Tetra level) as I have found this can reduce aggressive behaviour.
  • Thread Starter

Old Town Fish Geek

Thanks for the advice.

I've also heard they are easy to spawn. That's one of the reasons I chose them. I haven't bred an egg scattering species yet.

Since they are showing pre-spawning behavior, should I go ahead and work toward that goal now?

I've read about putting 1 male & 2 or 3 plump females into a small spawning tank.

The fish that appear to be females are not ready to spawn yet. The territorial males eat most of the food. I'm not sure how to best go about conditioning the females with those 2 males.

Can/should I split the group to condition them?
  • Thread Starter

Old Town Fish Geek

I might have all males! Today every fish except one have been doing display behaviors. Hovering near each other & twitching their fins. They do not get close & chase & then dive into moss or spawning mops, so I'm sure they aren't spawning.

The single fish that has not done this is pale & deep bodied. But it isn't plump like a gravid female.

So what do you guys think? 5 males & 1 female? Or??

BTW, I went back to the fish store to het more, but they were sold out.


I would buy a group and take back males I didn't want. To me they are inexpensive enough to do this.

I had a male and a female and all my subsequent fish were from this pairing.

I think it will soon be obvious when she is ready to spawn as you will observe her size and see her doing it in the tank.

I just took the adults out after I had observed her spawning and reared them in the tank. 100 fry was all I needed. You can get a lot more if you faff about.
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