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Serpae Tetras....Big Mistake?

17877 Views 19 Replies 18 Participants Last post by  BulliedCatfish3
I think I might have made a fish mistake and I have only myself to blame. I went to the store and bought pretty fish without reading up on them first. I have a 30 gallon tank that is on it's way to being heavily planted (when everything grows in) with driftwood, two male Bolivian Rams and five corydoras catfish. My goal was to have a green, peaceful community tank. I wanted a school of some kind of bright, active fish and I asked about these tetras in the store, told them what kind of fish I had and they assured me that they would be a good fit. I bought six and brought them home. Then I decided to read up on them. And found out they can be quite aggressive and sometimes harrass and kill other fish. This is not what I want in my tank. I want everyone to be nice and swim around peacefully together. Aside from occasional squabbles between the two rams, that's what I have now. The rams even join the cory school and swim busily around (both rams, together!) sometimes. The tertras are still isolated from the others and I had intended to put them in with the others this afternoon. Is there anything I can do to ease their introduction, to influence them to be the nice kind of serpaes instead of the mean kind?
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I have avoided those fish based on my reading. In a heavily planted tank, it may be ok since the other fish have places to run off and hide. Also, a decent size school may help keep the aggression down to a minimum. Please don't take this as fact since I have never tried serpaes, just merely my opinion.
If you are hesitant, I would return them and let the people who work there know what you found in your research so they don't make the same mistake again.
LOL! don't know if there's a "nice" kind of serpae, but they mostly aggress other fish in their strata, and with the rams and corys on the bottom, you might not have too much trouble with them. They are pretty aren't they?
Never expose the Serpae to bright lights, don't get them wet, and never feed them after midnight.
I have a school (7) of serpaes in my 46 gallon community tank and I have never had any negative experiences with them. They chase each other around like crazy but they leave everyone else alone. I have them with an angelfish, two bolivian rams a trio of corys and a bunch of other tetras with no trouble.

Their color is a fantastic addition to a planted tank and in my opinion they are wonderful. I would definitely suggest getting 4-5 more so that they don't harrass the other fish though.
I have a 55 with 5 red serpae tetras, ~25 ember tetras, ~20 green neons, ~15 glowlights, 10 pygmy cories, and 5 regular size cories (two species). Except for the cories the red serpaes are the biggest fish in the tank. They never bother anybody. A little chasing back and forth among themselves, especially between males, but they don't harass the smaller fish.

I really like red serpaes. They are very pretty. When I get a bigger tank I plan to add to the size of the school.
i never had a problem with mine, i had about 7 in a 55 with other fish and they just kept to themselves, chasing each other around, but never went after any other fish
You should be fine. I had these in my 36g tank as a school of 9. They always schooled together and kept to themselves and usually hungout in and around a large Amazon Sword I have. They are usually only aggressive if in small numbers like less than 3.
Aaah! That's what everyone says! They're angels or they're devils! I have a school of six. Is that big enough? I can get more, but I don't want to overload my tank. And I was planning on adding one more small school of fish to my tank someday (hopefully hatchet fish). Did I just ruin that plan? I feel like the rams can hold their own against anyone who bothers them, but I worry about my corys and future fish. I have come up with a Plan B. I do have a 5 gallon aquarium that I could set up and move them to if they prove to be too rowdy. Is that big enough?
A school of six should be just fine, and you will certainly be able to add hatchets later on as the serpae don't really hang out near the top of the tank. The corys will do fine as well. Is it possible that the people who say they are the devil did not have a school? If you have only one, it is very likely that he would terrorize other fish, but with a school they will keep to themselves.

As for the plan B, a five gallon is too small for them, they like to swim.
I have never had a problem with serpae tetras. I've had groups from between 1 and 6 fish. The only differences I've noticed in behavior regarding school size is that a larger group will chase each other around the tank, and only having 1-2 will make the fish stake out their little area and not be as active.

They are one of my absolute favorite species of fish.
I also have a school of 6 serpaes. I have them now in a 29g with 2 juvi keyhole cichlids and a young BN pleco. They are very well behaved only fighting among themselves from time to time. They a voracious eaters and sometimes there will be a nipped fin or two but nothing serious. They used to be in my 20g with male guppies and hatchet fish and they were just a well behaved as they are now. Be mindful of your stocking with them and you'll be ok. That means no long flowing fins such as bettas or angels.
Ive got a school of 8 with 9 glo light tetras, 8 cardinals/neons, 3 angels and 6 cherry barbs.

They dont bother anyone.
I have heard alot of bad news about them nipping fins.
I dont ever see them chasing any of the other fish or nipping any fins.
Hey, Just read your post. My serpaes seemed very aggressive during the first few days and nipped nearly all of my neon tetras tails off... after a week tails grew back and everything is now peaceful.
My Serpaes nipped on my Neons but all is good now. BTW, Petsmart had them on sale for a buck a piece not too long ago - they might still be.
hmmm well, i think i have the kind of mean Serpaes. I have them in a 20 G tank.

8 serpaes, i used to have with them 8 tiger barbs, and 4 checked barbs.

all of the tiger barbs and the checkered barbs had nipped fins CONSTANTLY.

I moved the tiger barbs and the checkered barbs to an asian style 68 G tank.

So, i have the 8 Serpaes, 8 black neon tetras, 6 glowlight tetras and a small angel and 2 tuxedo platies that i plan to move out soon.

They harass the angel, the glowlight tetras and the platies. So far i ahevn't seen a nipped fin on my black neon tetras. I wanna have an amazon style tank and i have 15 cardinals in a 10 g tank...but i constantly think of returning the Serpaes...i really like them, they are very pretty fish, but far more aggressive than tiger barbs, which i feel are more predictable and a lot nicer than serpaes
I had a bad experience with Septras... I introduced a school of 6 into my community tank, and within a few hours they killed 2 neons, and nipped the other neons so bad that 2 more died the next day. Needless to say, I got a refund on these fish. I heard that larger schools are better, but I didn't want to risk it.
You have the same dilemma I did when stocking my 55g. I wanted Serpaes too, and heard basically the same thing as what is being reported in this thread- for some they are calm, for others they are terrors. I ended up getting Flame Tetras instead, which are very active but not aggressive. I still do really like the appearance of Serpaes, though.
Serpae terra can be aggressive if kept in low numbers, even to their own. A school of 5+ usually keeps them at ease IME.

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Hi! I have a 29 gallon tank, heated to 78 degrees, 8 plants with 6 turquoise danios, 5 serpaes, 2 kuhli loaches, 1 bronze Cory cat fish & 2 snails. I definetly regret it. I used to have 2 Cory catfish but my my serpaes killed one of them. The remaining one gets bullied most of the time & has pretty bad nipped fins. The serpaes are also known to harass my kuhlis and sometimes my danios. Hoping I can reduce aggressiveness- some people say bigger schools but I fear that will mean more serpaes attacking my Cory catfish 24/7. If I could go back in time and change something- definetly eliminate the serpaes. Well at least I have a new hobby- flinging the algae cleaner at them because I fricking hate them so much 😂 Oh well at least they're pretty!
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