Hyphessobrycon rosaceus (“ornatus”)

22. September 2023

In 1997, the US ichthyologists Stanley Weitzman and Lisa Palmer published a scientific paper that caused a sensation among experts. In it, they described the new species Hyphessobrycon epicharis, but also commented in detail on a relationship group within the South American small tetras known as the “rosy tetra clade”. The authors showed, among other things, that the phantom tetras belong to this group and that the genus Megalamphodus, in which the phantom tetras stood until then, does not represent an independent genus. 

The actual “rosy tetra”, i.e. the species that precedes the group as the eponymous species, has been one of the most popular ornamental fishes since 1933. Since there are a number of species in the rosy tetra clade that look extremely similar, it is understandable that there have been several misidentifications. At the first import in 1933 it was believed to be a scientifically unknown species, which was described as Hyphessobrycon ornatus. It sailed under this name until the 1960s. Then it was believed that H. ornatus was identical with H. bentosi from Brazil described in 1908. This was split into two subspecies, H. bentosi bentosi and H. bentosi ornatus. The current state of affairs is (fide Zarske, 2014) that the rosy tetra is in fact identical to H. rosaceus, a species described from Guyana in 1909 and to which H. ornatus is a synonym. 

Regardless of the name confusion, the tetra still swims in our aquariums and is propagated by several breeders. This is good, because from Guyana, its homeland, for many years no or only very sporadic imports take place for most different reasons (mainly to high costs). The very rare imports then do not contain common species like the rosy tetra. It is a good example that conservation breeding can easily be done over decades if only there is sufficient and continuous demand for the animals.

Please also note the entry about the breeding form “White Fin”: https://www.aquariumglaser.de/en/fish-archives/hyphessobrycon-ornatus-white-fin-2/

For our customers: Hyphessobrycon rosaceus (“ornatus”) has under the name H. ornatus code 261402 on our stock list. Please note that we only supply to wholesalers.


Weitzman, S. H. and L. Palmer (1997): A new species of Hyphessobrycon (Teleostei: Characidae) from the Neblina region of Venezuela and Brazil, with comments on the putative `rosy tetra clade’. Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters v. 7 (no. 3): 209-242.

Zarske, A. (2014): Zur Systematik einiger Blutsalmler oder “Rosy Tetras” (Teleostei: Ostariophysi: Characidae). Vertebrate Zoology v. 64 (no. 2): 139-167.

Text & photos: Frank Schäfer