Working here I often find people looking for a fish that is just a little different from everything else. Although they may not be the most exotic fish out there, the Bucktooth Tetra (Exodon paradoxus) will bring some life to a tank, as well as some color and attitude like no other fish I have seen in my time here. But these aren’t your average community fish.
At first glance, you can see that these Amazon natives are quite attractive. They have rather elongate bodies, lending to their speed and agility. They are tan with a beautiful, green-gold shimmer along the mid-line, two well-defined, rich, black spots, and orange-red accents in the fins. It is said that the fish gets its name from its prodruding teeth, though these teeth are not always visible. These are hardy, robust fish that can live for many years in home aquariums.
These are not friendly tetras for your community. These behave in a far more aggressive manor, which is one reason they are perfect for a species only tank. They have a tendency to attack attempted tankmates, even if the tankmate is larger, eating scales and eyes if not more. The Bucktooth Tetra is technically omnivorous, but it likes its meat as can be derived from its not so friendly nature, and foods like freeze-dried and frozen items will suit them well in the aquarium. They seem to eat just about anything while they’re here, from flakes to mysis shrimp, even full sized shrimp that they devour like a pack of piranhas. Live plants will also become food items, though these fish also enjoy the cover provided by plants.
There are several points to consider if you want to try Bucktooth Tetras. They should be kept in a group of no less than six, but do better if there are eight or more. They are a schooling fish so they feel safety in numbers, but they may show aggression towards each other if kept in a group that is too small. When you decide to purchase them, try to get them all around the same size and ideally the same time. Larger or more mature specimens may view smaller fish as prey, and established groups may view new additions as intruders. Due to their max size, active nature, and need for being kept in groups, you’ll need an aquarium of adequate size. A tank of 40 gallons or more will be necessary, even for a minimal group.
Bucktooth Tetras like a planted aquarium, with driftwood and other ornamentation for cover. They will also eat some live plants. Being Amazon fish they prefer softer water with pH of 5.5-7.5 though they are quite adaptable and hardy. In the right aquarium, a schooling group of these fish can be stunning.