Red Hook Silver Dollar Fish: Care, Diet, Breeding, Tank Mates…

    red hook silver dollar fish

    Red Hook Silver Dollar Fish Care Guide

    Red hook silver dollar fish have an awesome reputation among fishkeepers, as a go-to choice for a low-maintenance fish that does extremely well in community tanks.

    They have a unique and mesmerizing appearance, which stands out permanently, as they tend to occupy the middle and top areas of an aquarium.

    These fish thrive in freshwater heavily planted tanks, with plenty of refuge areas and in the company of other large peaceful species.

    When you take into account the silver dollar fish lifespan, its easy care is a definite plus. They typically live 10 years, with some individuals surpassing that age by a year or two if they’re winners of the genetic lottery.

    Category Rating
    Care level Easy
    Family Serrasalmidae
    Lifespan 10 years
    Size 10 inches (when mature)
    Tank setup Freshwater (heavily planted with hardy plants)
    Tank size 70 gallons/72″x15″x15″(for a group of adult fish)
    Temperament Peaceful (best kept in groups of at least 5)
    Diet Omnivorous
    pH 6.5-7.5
    Temperature 760F to 800F

    This guide aims to answer all your questions about the red hook silver dollar fish, so you can confidently include these popular rapid swimming beauties into your tank!

    About The Red Hook Silver Dollar Fish

    The red hook silver dollar fish, also known as Myloplus rubripinnis, belongs to the Serrasalmidae family.

    Previously known to belong to the Characidae family, and the Serrasalminae subfamily, it has now joined 90 other species in the newly elevated to family status Serrasalmidae.

    The distinctive feature of this family is the serrated keel running along their belly.

    These awesome fish are commonly found in the rivers of South America, from Ecuador, Venezuela and Colombia, to Peru and Brazil.

    The silver dollar fish prospers in the generous amounts of long vegetation found in the Amazon and Rio Orinoco. Their tall and thin shape makes it easy for them to navigate heavily planted freshwater areas.

    Aquarists often refer to them as “plant piranhas,” and for a good reason! A school of silver dollar fish will devour most plants.

    Keep that in mind when planning your tank’s setup, as you’ll need to include elements that mimic the rocks and driftwood found in the red hook silver dollars’ natural habitat.

    The biggest appeal of these fish is their fast swimming and schooling behavior. This visual perk can give any tank a lively and animated feel.

    Silver dollars are an excellent pick if you’re new to larger tanks. When mature, these fish can grow to lengths of over 10 inches. Their low-maintenance nature will ease you into the logistics of maintaining a bigger tank.

    There are only a few types of silver dollars that you can find for sale:

    • Red Hook Silver Dollar Fish
    • Spotted Silver Dollar Fish
    • Tiger Silver Dollar Fish

    Red Hook Silver Dollar Fish Lifespan

    You can find these fish for sale in sizes ranging from small to extra-large. However, size isn’t a good indicator of the age of your new tank inhabitants.

    The red hook silver dollar has a relatively slow growth rate, and its maximum size can vary a lot depending on the individual.

    The average silver dollar fish lifespan is ten years. But there have been reports of some individuals making it 1 or 2 years longer than their 10-year-old mates. A good set of genes and the ideal habitat are usually the key elements behind this rare occurrence.

    These fish are a robust and strong species, primarily due to the rough nature of their natural habitat. This can only be good news for you as an aquarist!

    The optimal water pH level, water hardness, and temperature fall within larger ranges than those of most freshwater fish. This means you can have happy and healthy silver dollar fish inhabiting your tank without micromanaging the water conditions.

    The red hook silver dollar fish may be a slow grower, but once fully developed to their large adult size, it’s quite a fascinating view!

    Red Hook Silver Dollar Fish Appearance

    This fish has a pretty literal connection to its name. It resembles a silver dollar, with an almost perfectly circular side-view, and a shiny appearance, which turns nearly translucent at fin level.

    Some of the easily identifiable features of the red hook silver dollar fish are:

    • The dorsal fin resembles a sloped equilateral triangle and is located at the highest point of their tall and flat bodies;
    • The front ridge of the red hook silver dollars’ dorsal fin is noticeably more opaque than the rest of it;
    • Its caudal fins form a V-shape and are 100% symmetrical;
    • The silver dollars caudal peduncle extends slightly into its caudal fin;
    • The presence of a distinct red anal fin that resembles a boat’s rudder.

    Other general appearance markers that the red hook silver dollar fish shares with other silver dollars:

    • Tall and flat figures;
    • Lumpy bodies;
    • Variations of the silver dollar coloration, with more or less of a patchy appearance.

    Types of silver dollar fish closely related to red hook silver dollar fish:

    Spotted Silver Dollar Fish The spotted silver dollar fish has a blend of darker primary colors, with overall gray undertones, as its coloration.

    A favorite among tropical fish hobbyists, it is easy to distinguish from other silver dollars thanks to its scattered dark brown spots!

    Tiger Silver Dollar Fish The tiger silver dollar has a sparkly clean blue-silver coloration, with large dark vertical stripes running along its length.

    A peaceful freshwater tiger that always puts on a splendid swimming show!


    The red hook silver dollar fish max size is commonly known to be 10 inches, but on average, the length of a mature fish ranges between 6-8 inches.

    They are by no means small fish, which makes them ideal if it’s your first time setting up a larger tank! When planning the tank setup of your new silver dollars, keep in mind that they are as long as they are tall, and they are active.

    These fish need space to develop to their max size, to practice their schooling behavior, and to swim freely. So plan accordingly!

    Red Hook Silver Dollar Fish Care And Tank Setup

    There are a few things you should consider when planning to introduce red hook silver dollar fish to a community tank:

    • The silver dollars’ natural habitat

    These fish are known to inhabit the slow-moving parts of a river, thriving in the areas where overhanging and marginal plants are abundant.

    Your silver dollar fish will benefit greatly if you replicate the “blackwater” environment found along the rivers they’re native to.

    You can do this by adding decorative elements that imitate rocks and driftwood, as well as naturally decomposing Indian almond leaves.

    A dark gravel substrate and limited light are also recommended for red hook silver dollar fish tanks.

    • The red hook’s diet

    The “plant piranha” is categorized as an omnivorous species, but the silver dollars’ herbivorous desires are definitely something you’ll want to take into account when setting up your tank.

    The tank needs to be heavily planted, with plenty of free space for rapid-paced swimming. You only need gentle water movement to keep red hook silver dollar fish comfortable.

    Go for sturdy plants, and plan to replace them on a regular basis. If this becomes too much of a hassle, you can always introduce some artificial plants as an alternative.

    Fabric and silk-like fake plants will give you a realistic aesthetic without compromising on the silver dollars’ need to find refuge among the plants.

    • The timid nature of red hook silver dollar fish

    Speaking of refuge, these fish are a shy and nervous bunch!

    Lots of plant coverage, dim lights, and plenty of places to hide are must-haves for your silver dollar fish. As they mature and solidify their schooling behavior, this type of tank setup is guaranteed to boost their confidence to swim in the open areas of the tank.

    • Where will your silver dollars hangout

    Red hook silver dollar fish tend to spend the majority of their time between the middle and the upper part of the tank.

    The rare occasion that makes them venture below these areas are when breeding and laying eggs. And even then, it’s a one-time deal.

    Why is this important to your tank setup?

    Because you will want (and need) a securely-fitting aquarium lid! These fish will jump out of the water. Be it because of nature’s drive or during feedings; you don’t want a 10-inch mature silver dollar escaping!

    General tank features/water conditions for happy and healthy red hook silver dollar fish:

    Tank size 72″ x 15″ x 15″ / 70 gallons  (length and width are a minimum)
    Number of fish  Minimum 5 fish to encourage schooling behavior & peaceful temperament
    pH level ideally 6.5-7.5 (but can range between 6.0 – 7.0 without a negative impact)
    Hardness Up to 10°H
    Temperature 76-80°F


    Note: Add 10-15 gallons per extra fish if you’re looking to house more than 5 mature red hook silver dollar fish in one tank.

    Red Hook Silver Dollar Fish Food And Diet

    You might be wondering if a fish species known as “plant piranhas” has anything other than plants on the menu. And surprisingly, they do!

    These fish are omnivores but with a strong herbivorous drive. They will eat smaller fish that are bite-sized compared to their size and will appreciate the occasional brine shrimp or bloodworm and other invertebrates.

    They will accept frozen or prepared commercial aquarium food.

    But if you really want to spoil your silver dollars, here is a list of their favorite plant-based food:

    • Summer squash;
    • Lettuce;
    • Spirulina;
    • Spring greens;
    • Algae wafers;
    • Peas;
    • Vegetable flakes;
    • Cucumbers;
    • Seaweed;
    • Leafy greens in general.

    The red hooks silver dollar fish has a flexible feeding schedule, reinforcing its low-maintenance status. Two feeding sessions per day will work just fine for your plant-loving silver dollars.

    Watch a school of hungry red hook silver dollar fish munch on some frozen veggies here:

    Behavior And Temperament

    Red hook silver dollars are schooling fish, which means you won’t see much individuality shining through. They are a gorgeous bunch, nonetheless!

    Although they are timid and anxious, they find confidence in larger numbers. That is one of the reasons why it’s typically recommended that you house at least 5 red hook silver dollar fish in the same tank.

    They are generally a non-aggressive and peaceful species that do well in community tanks, especially when joined by other large and non-confrontational species.

    The only type of behavior you have to worry about is red hooks mistaking much smaller fish for snacks. A prime reason why you should avoid pairing the red hook silver dollar with small or aggressive species.

    When given plenty of open space for swimming, with multiple refuge spots available, a school of red hook silver dollars will primarily occupy the upper part of the aquarium.

    Silver dollar fish are a fairly active species when you meet the needs of their temperament!

    Red Hook Silver Dollar Fish Tank Mates

    Pangio kuhlii
    Kuhli loaches are not only adorable, but they’re great tank mates, too.

    Here’s an easy guide to help you map out potential tank mates for your school of red hook silver dollars:

    Ideal Tank Mates based on Behavior Red hook silver dollar fish can prosper as a single species in larger schools than the minimum recommended size.

    But they are also peaceful and gentle companions to other similarly tempered fish.

    If everyone minds their own plants to munch on, you shouldn’t have any problem having a community tank where red hooks have to share their habitat.

    Ideal Tank Mates based on Size Go for larger sized species when choosing tank mates for your red hook silver dollar fish.

    Keep in mind they can reach lengths of 10 inches and can get as tall as they are long, with an almost perfectly circular figure.

    Ideal Tank Mates based on Tank designated area Silver dollar fish will hang out in the upper part of your tank, and they will favor the top areas during feeding sessions and swim-time.

    The best strategy for a bit of contrast is to find tank mates that will prefer hanging out in the lower half and bottom of the aquarium.

    Having these two types of tank mates will not only improve your aquarium’s aesthetics but will prevent any behavior changes from either species.

    Can’t fight when you don’t even bump into each other!

    Tank Mates to Avoid Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by introducing small or smaller and aggressive species as tank mates for the red hook silver dollar.

    You’ll either end up losing those smaller fish or end up with nervous and stressed-out silver dollar fish.



    Tank mates that you should definitely consider for your red hook silver dollar fish:

    Reproduction And Breeding

    Breeding red hook silver dollar fish can seem like a daunting adventure, but it all boils down to setting yourself up for success.

    Here are the 4 steps to take for the successful breeding of silver dollar fish:

    • Optimize your tank and water conditions

    Successful red hook silver dollar breeders report that having a peat-filtered aquarium makes a huge difference in optimizing your tank’s water in preparation for breeding. So, it is worth looking into this filtering method well ahead of time.

    Another thing you can do in advance is to home at least six red hook silver fish in the same tank and give them plenty of time to figure out their tank mates’ sex. This innate knowledge will drive them to confidently get down to business when it comes to breeding.

    You can also get your tank ready for breeding season by introducing fine plants, such as Java Moss or Cabomba. These aquatic refuge areas will make it easy for the red hook silver dollar female to lay her eggs, ready to be fertilized. 

    • Learn to distinguish between the sexes of the red hook silver dollar fish

    The easiest way to distinguish the male fish from the females is to observe the distinct feature that sets them apart from other silver dollar fish: their extended anal fin (the hook!).

    In males, the anal fin is extended and gets a more intense shade of red as the perfect moment for breeding approaches.

    Females have a much rounder anal fin and a visibly enlarged lower abdomen when carrying eggs.

    • Watch for the main event: egg-laying!

    A female will lay up to 2,000 eggs, and she will scatter them on plants in the lower part of the tank.

    Some will fall through, so it’s recommended that you try outbreeding in a tank that has dime-sized marbles as the substrate. This way the eggs can fall to the bottom of the tank and be hidden from the access of mature fish.

    Either way, you’ll need to move the eggs of red hook silver dollar fish away from the community tank because they will get eaten once laid.

    • Move adolescent red hook silver dollars into the community tank.

    Once your new red hook silver dollars reach a decent size (when they can’t be mistaken for food!), it’s time to reintroduce them to the community tank.

    Keep an eye out for signs of white spot disease, or other signs of illness, after the move. A swift change in water temperature can trigger ailments in juvenile fish.


    The red hook silver dollar fish is as low-maintenance as freshwater fish can come.

    With a unique figure and fascinating color, they will give your tank a lively vibe for years.

    Just be sure to fulfill their craving for plant-based goodies!


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