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Penguin Tetra

(Thayeria boehlkei)

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 Quick Care Facts

• Care Level: Easy   • Temperament: Peaceful   • Maximum Size: 3"
• Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons   • Water Conditions: 64-82° F, KH 4-8, pH 5.8-8.5
• Diet: Omnivore   • Origin: South America, Amazon   • Family: Characidae
• Species: Tetras   • Aquarium Type: Community

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Species Information

Penguin Tetra native habitat, distribution, behavior & aquarium compatibility.

The Penguin Tetra (Thayeria boehlkei) originates from the tributaries, backwaters and flood plains of the upper Amazon basin in Peru and Brazil. Penguin Tetra live in schools of fish that prey on small insects, worms and crustaceans. They prefer areas with dense vegetation and complex tree roots that provide them protection from larger predatory fish species and fertile feeding grounds.

Their natural habitat is full of dense vegetation and covered by a jungle canopy, thus they are used to diffused lighting conditions. Ideally this species should be kept in groups of 6 or more individuals in aquariums that simulate their native habitat. Many hobbyists recognize this species due to their oblique or heads up swimming style that is typical of fish of the genus.

Their unique swimming style combined with larger schools of 10 or more individuals is a very impressive sight that can really accent a well planted community aquarium. Overall though the Penguin Tetra makes an excellent addition to any tropical community aquarium or community Amazon biotope.

Aquarium Care

How to successfully keep Penguin Tetra in the home aquarium.

Penguin Tetra are ideally suited for planted aquariums and Amazon biotope community aquariums that feature lots of vegetation, tree root and diffused lighting conditions. They will however live happily in a variety of community aquarium environments provided they are housed with other peaceful community species. While Penguin Tetra can live without issue under bright aquarium lighting, they will be happier in aquariums that have tall plants or floating plants that will diffuse the bright aquarium lights.

This species should always be kept in groups as they are a schooling species in nature. Schooling species like the Penguin Tetra do much better in captivity and have much longer lifespans when housed in groups. They will often school with other similarly shaped Tetra, Barb and Danio species. Many schooling species like the Penguin Tetra will exhibit fin nipping behavior, which is normal in a group of schooling fish.

However, when they are not kept in a group they will tend to nip at other fish in the aquarium who may not be accustomed to this behavior and can be stressed or suffer fin damage.

An ideal environment will include a sand or small pebble substrate combined with live plants, tree root and diffused lighting. However, the Penguin Tetra is a very hardy species that is capable of adapting to a wide variety of aquarium setups. They are also very tolerant of a wide variety of water conditions including a wide range of water temperature and pH.

Their small size and active swimming nature make them an excellent fit for both smaller nano aquariums and larger planted aquariums. Overall an excellent fish species for any level of aquarium hobbyist.

Feeding & Nutrition

How to properly feed Penguin Tetra and provide a healthy diet.

Being a micro predator by nature, the Penguin Tetra is accustomed to feeding on small organisms like small insects, larvae, small crustaceans and worms. However, they will quickly adjust to commercial based flake, freeze-dried or pellet foods designed for tropical community aquarium fish. They can be fed bloodworms, tubifex worms or other similar fair as a treat or supplementation to their staple diet.

Varying their diet will help ensure that they receive all the vitamins and minerals that they need to maintain a healthy immune system. Ideally they should be fed small meals that will be consumed within a few minutes, 2 to 3 times per day.

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