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Are Silver Dollar Fish Fin Nippers?

Silver dollar fish are highly popular with aquarium hobbyists and get their name from their distinctive appearance – which looks much like that of a round silver dollar. These tropical fish are native to the weedy river basins in South America and can live up to 10 years in captivity if properly cared for. But what are they like in a community tank environment? Will they nip fins, for example?

Yes, silver dollars are fin nippers and shouldn’t be kept with fish that have long fins or flowing tails like angels or bettas. This species is closely related to the piranha and as such, can become aggressive – especially at feeding times or when stressed. If you want them to remain peaceful in captivity, keep them well-fed and in a school of at least 5.

Now that you know silver dollar fish can get fin-nippy, let’s explore this topic together and in more detail. I’ll explain why these generally peaceful fish can sometimes get hostile, how to prevent them from nipping at fins of their tankmates, and what types of aquatic creatures can live in harmony with them. I’ll also discuss what their ideal tank conditions are and why bigger is better when it comes to size.

So, if you’re ready to dive deep into the aquatic world of the unique and illusive silver dollar fish, then let’s begin…

Are Silver Dollar Fish Aggressive?

Most types of silver dollar fish are said to be semi-aggressive in nature. Some species are more hostile than others. If kept in large schools in a species-only tank, they can be quite peaceful. Feeding times are when their predatory instincts kick-in and you may notice them chasing enough other. Ensuring you’re providing them with plenty of food 2 to 3 time a day will help keep aggression levels at bay.

Do Silver Dollar Fish Have Teeth?

Silver dollars have no trouble when it comes to eating as they have strong front teeth like that of the piranha. These teeth are highly effective and allow them to consume foods larger than their mouths. In fact, they’ll often swim about their tank with a large pallet – filling up their mouths before passing it off to another school member.

How Do You Stop Silver Dollars from Nipping at Fins?

Fin nipping in captivity can happen for different reasons, ranging from stress and illness to hunger and instinct. To stop or prevent your silver dollars from nipping at the fins of their tankmates, there are 5 things you as an aquarium hobbyist can do. These include the following:

  • Remove the aggressor and place it in a breeding net inside the main tank for a week or so – this should calm its aggressive tendencies.
  • Should the aggressor continue to nip fins when placed back in the main tank, consider returning it to the pet shop, rehoming it in a separate aquarium, or finding a new owner for it.
  • Ensure you’re feeding your fish regularly with enough food to sustain them all – 2 to 3 times a day with as much as they can eat in a 3- to 5-minute timespan.
  • Don’t keep silver dollars with smaller fish or those with long fins and/or flowing tails.
  • Make sure the tank is large enough – 50-gallons minimum for a school of 5 silver dollars to start but be prepared to upsize as the fish grow or you add more.

Regarding silver dollar fish, fin nipping is often accidental and usually happens during a feeding frenzy. This species is herbivorous and generally peaceful in nature so don’t let those pointy teeth upfront scare you!

silver dollar fish in aquarium

Are Silver Dollars Prone to Fin Rot?

Since silver dollars are sometimes known to nip at the fins of their tankmates – that includes other silver dollars as well – they’re also prone to fin rot. This disease can be deadly if not treated promptly and completely. The result of a bacterial infection, fin rot begins with the gradual wearing away of the fins – starting at the edges and progressing upwards until it reaches the base.

Will Silver Dollar Fish Fins Grow Back?

Should your silver dollars develop fin rot, you must treat both the fish and the water to fully eradicate the disease. Administering a broad-spectrum antibiotic such as erythromycin and performing a deep-water change are required. Provided you’ve done both and your fish don’t incur a secondary infection, their fins should grow back within a 2 to 4 weeks.

Will Silver Dollars Eat Other Fish?

As the ‘vegetarian cousin’ to the piranha, silver dollars can get aggressive at mealtimes or if underfed. Otherwise, they tend to be peaceful in nature and don’t usually eat other fish. They may inadvertently swallow smaller fish that happen to swim into their mouths during a feeding frenzy which is why you should keep them others of like size or slightly bigger.

Why are My Silver Dollar Fish Chasing Each Other?

Silver dollars don’t tend to be aggressive with one another unless their getting ready to mate. Besides the male chasing the females around the tank, other signs of mating include turning black – dark spots along the body or on the tips of the fins. During the breeding season, males may become aggressive and chase each other as well in order to assert dominance.

What Kind of Fish Can Live with Silver Dollars?

Without a doubt, the best tankmates for silver dollars are others of their kind! This species likes to be kept in a school and can become stressed, sick, and/or aggressive if kept alone in a community tank. Since they prefer to swim near the top half of the tank, they can easily be housed with bottom dwellers such as plecos, loaches, and cory catfish.

Other fish that can live peacefully with silver dollars are those of like size and temperament. Species that also share the same aquatic conditions is a must. In this case, South American tropical herbivore fish like giant danios, firemouth cichlids, and green terror cichlids are recommended. These are all big fish and will need an extra-large to call home.

What are the Best Tank Conditions for Silver Dollar Fish?

To prevent your silver dollars from fin nipping, you must ensure their aquatic environment is balanced. A tank that’s too small with inadequate water parameters will increase stress which can lead to aggressive behavior. Silver dollars need to be kept in schools and since they grow up to 6 inches or more in length, they need a large tank – a 50- to 75-gallon aquarium minimum, depending on how many fish you have.

Silver dollars are tropical fish and prefer warmer water (between 75- and 85-degrees Fahrenheit) so a heater is required. They also need a pH level of 5.0 to 7.0 and a water hardness of around 15dGH. A heavily planted tank is also recommended as these fish are herbivores and like to snack on the greenery in their aquarium.


To conclude, silver dollars can get fin nippy if stressed or underfed. For this reason, they shouldn’t be kept with smaller fish or those with long, flowing fins and/or tails that attract attention. Often referred to as the ‘vegetarian cousin’ of the piranha, they can become aggressive, especially at feeding time. To ensure a peaceful aquatic environment, keep them in schools of 5 or more in as large a tank as possible.

I hope you’ve found this article to be both interesting and informative. Thanks for reading and good luck with your aquarium hobby!

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