Bucktooth Tetra

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Exodon paradoxus - Müller & Troschel, 1844
Bucktooth Tetra

A habitual scale eater that can cause havoc and death in the aquarium. JJPhoto.dk


This is an attractive South American fish, but its propensity to prey on small fish and attack larger ones, up to and including Oscars, makes it a poor choice for a community aquarium.

It is a species known to practice lepidophagy, eating the scales of other fishes with its specially adapted teeth. (Scales are rich in calcium and other nutrients.)

Unless kept in large schools, they will also kill each other.

Family: Characidae

Other common name(s):

Native range:

Habitat: Streams and rivers.

Maximum length: 7.5 cm (3 in)

Minimum aquarium size: 209 L (55 gal)

Water: Freshwater 23 °C (73 °F) - 28 °C (82 °F)

General swimming level: Mid-level.


Omnivore. Will take most aquarium foods readily. Keep well-fed to discourage predatory behaviors on tankmates.

Aquarium Compatibility

Aquarists who have kept these fish typically regard them as "mean" and able to bully everything from piranhas and Oscars to tough African cichlids.

Special Care

Not recommended for the community tank.

If acquired, the Bucktooth Tetra should be kept as a single individual or in schools of 10 or more to diffuse aggression.


Scatters eggs in leafy plants. Offer micro foods and newly hatched Artemia to the fry. Fry are cannibalistic and must be culled or sorted by size frequently as they grow.

Reference: 101 Best Tropical Fishes
Image credit: JJ
Text credit: KW