Blind Cave Tetra / Mexican Tetra (Astyanax mexicanus)

Blind Cave Tetra

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Blind Cave Tetras are a relatively new tetra to the mainstream aquarium keepers. As there name would indicate, the Blind Cave Tetras have no eyes. They are born with eyes as fry, but the eyes degenerate and are reabsorbed back into the body at a few weeks old. There is a form that has eyes, although you do not generally see this version on the market.

These cave tetras are also completely devoid of pigmentation. They are pink, but will get an iridescent sheen to them as they get older.

The Blind Cave Tetra lives in deep caves in the wild. They range from Texas to Mexico, with the sighted version from Mexico to Panama. There is no need for eye sight in the pitch black caves, so they have evolved to adapt to these conditions.

A larger tetra, Blind Cave Tetras need a minimum of 20 gallons for a school of 5. They can reach up to 4 inches. They prefer subdued lighting, as it is closer to their natural habitat. A sand or small gravel is preferred. Although some will learn to eat off of the surface of the water, most will root in the substrate for food. They do very well on sinking food. They will eat anything that they can get a hold of from flakes, pellets, to live foods. They will also eat any eggs from other fish that may be in the substrate.

Although they are blind, they very rarely swim into the tank sides, decor or other tank mates. They may nip at tank mates when first introduced into a new aquarium, but once they learn that they are not food – they rarely do it again.

These fish are being used in studies about eye growth and transplant. Many strides in the science of the eye have been reached because of research conducted on this fish. The results have scientists hopeful that there is a treatment to cure blindness in humans.

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