Silver Dollar Fish Care, Diet, Breeding & Habitat

If you are a fish keeper with a bit of experience and are looking to expand your fish collection, Silver Dollar Fish might be the fish for you.

They are peaceful medium-sized fish, ideal for community aquariums.

These silvery-colored fish get their name from how they look. Laterally flattened, they look exactly like an old silver dollar.

If you are looking for topwater schooling fish, they are one of the best choices. Keep reading to learn how to successfully care for them, breed them, and much more…

Silver Dollar Fish Facts & Overview

Metynnis argenteus
Silver Dollar Fish (Metynnis argenteus)
CategoryRating
Care Level:Intermediate
Temperament: Peaceful
Color Form:Silver
Lifespan: 10 years
Size: 6 inches
Diet:Omnivore
Family:Characidae
Minimum Tank Size: 75 gallons
Tank Set-Up:Freshwater
Compatibility: Large peaceful fish

Silver Dollar Fish, Metynnis argenteus, get their name from the way they look. They are large silvery fish from the South American rivers.

They belong to the Characidae family, the same family as Piranha and Pacus. However, in contrast to their more aggressive relatives, they are peaceful herbivorous fish, perfect for large size community aquariums.

Silver Dollar is a common name given to a number of different species in the Metynnis genus.

Their scientific name describes the fish perfectly. Metynnis, meaning ‘with plowshare’ which refers to the laterally flattened body, and, argenteus, meaning ‘covered with silver’.

They are quite hardy fish and with good care can live for around 10 years.

You can easily find them in pet shops and online for a modest price. As they are best kept in groups, they are usually sold in bulk.

Typical Behavior

They are large peaceful schooling fish that need plenty of swimming space. You should keep them in a group of at least 5 individuals. They can be quite skittish and reclusive if kept alone.

Interestingly, they are pelagic fish, which means they will spend most of their time swimming close to the water surface. They get startled easily and will jump out of the tank.

Whilst they are peaceful fish, during eating time they can be aggressive and chase each other around the tank.

Appearance

Silver Dollar Fish Appearance
Silver Dollar Fish (Metynnis hypsauchen)

As the name suggests, they look like an old silver dollar. They have a round body that is laterally flattened.

Silver Dollar Fish is a generic term that refers to multiple characin species. Metynnis hypsauchen and Metynnis argenteus are two popular species and they look very similar.

The only way to spot the difference between these species is the black patches found behind the eyes and on the body of M. hypsauchen.

Another common species found in the aquarium trade is the Red Hook Silver Dollar (Myleus rubripinnis). They can be identified by their different coloration and fin shapes.

Spotted Silver Dollar Fish

As the name gives away, the Spotted Silver Dollar Fish is identified by the silvery ground color and the black dots on its body. They are found in Brazil and French Guyana, and can reach up to 6.5 inches.

Red Hook Silver Dollar Fish

This fish has a distinctive black-trimmed, red anal fin. Its coloration is much more obvious than other Silver Dollar fish.

They can reach 22 inches in the wild and up to 9 inches in aquariums.

Red Hook Silver Dollar Fish

Habitat And Tank Conditions

Silver Dollar Fish originate in South America.

The waters here are dark and filled with peat. They will also have gravel and rocks with dense vegetation and lots of hiding spots. The rivers that they live in are often full of debris such as driftwood, large rocks, and weeds.

As far as currents, the water flow here will be moderate.

Silver Dollar Fish Tank Setup

Silver Dollars are tropical freshwater fish – the tank should mimic their natural environment as much as possible.

They will mainly swim in the middle and top part of the water column and therefore need open areas for swimming.

These fish are quite hardy and have some tolerance toward different water conditions. They require clean and well oxygenated waters with a good filtration system and moderate flow. A couple of powerheads can be used to help out with water movement and oxygenation.

However, make sure not to use glass powerheads as your Silver Dollars will be very active and could easily shatter the powerhead.

They are jumpy fish, preferring dim lighting and a dark background. We suggest using dark-colored gravel as a substrate. You need a lot of open space but also some hiding places around the back and sides of the tank (you can build these with large rocks and driftwood).

As they are herbivores, you should only keep plants that are not very tasty; try java fern and hornwort. The alternative is to use artificial plants.

The temperature of the water should be kept between 75-82°F with a pH of 5.5-7.5. You have a flexible water hardness between 4-18 dGH.

What Size Aquarium Do They Need?

Silver Dollars need at least a 75 gallon. This is the minimum tank size for a school of 5 individuals.

Allow 10 gallons of water for each additional fish you add.

Tank Mates

Silver Dollar Tank Mates

Silver Dollar Fish are large peaceful and active fish.

These fish are great community fish that swim in the top part of the aquarium. If you want to add some contrast, you can look for other large peaceful fish such as catfish that spend most of their time near the tank bed. Plecos and Doradids could be good fish to start with.

Further ideal tank mates are peaceful South and Central American Cichlids such as freshwater Angelfish, Firemouth, and Green Terror Cichlids. Giant Danios, Pacus, and Anostomus are also good tank companions.

We do not advise keeping your Silver Dollars with smaller fish such as Gouramis, Bettas, and Tetras as they might get eaten.

Shrimps and snails can be a good addition; however, they too might get eaten.

Keeping Silver Dollar Fish Together

Silver Dollars are at their best when kept together. They are schooling fish, so they feel safer and more protected in a group.

You should aim to keep them in a group of at least 5 individuals.

Diet

Silver Dollars are actually omnivorous fish; however, they prefer an herbivorous diet. In nature, they usually feed on the surrounding vegetation including terrestrial plants.

You can feed them a variety of plants such as lettuce, cress, chickweed, cucumber, peas, and spring greens. You can also feed them seaweed such as spirulina along with large vegetable flakes.

Spinach, carrots, and fruit can also be used as an alternative food source.

They will appreciate random treats such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, and boiled potatoes.

Herbivorous fish play an important role around the globe in all major environments. Both freshwater and seawater herbivore fish help to control community structures of certain habitats.

By feeding on the surrounding vegetation, they prevent algae or coral to overgrow and steal all the nutrients from the surrounding waters. They help to keep a healthy and stable environment by grazing on the surrounding plants.

You should feed your Silver Dollars twice a day, offering only enough food that can be consumed in 3 minutes or less at each feeding.

Care

Silver Dollar Fish

Silver Dollars are pretty hardy fish.

As aquariums are closed systems, harmful substances such as nitrate, phosphorous and decomposing organic matter will build up over time.

This is why water should be replaced on a regular basis and at least 25-50% of the water should be replaced every other week.

Even though Silver Dollars are quite resilient fish there is no guarantee that your fish will not catch a disease or an infection. Remember that every time you add something new to your tank, it is a potential source of infection.

A clean water tank, a balanced diet, and an environment that most resemble the natural habitats will help your fish to settle making it a healthy happy fish.

One of the most common diseases in ornamental fish is an ectoparasite known as Ichthyophthirius multifiliis – more commonly known as white spot disease or ich. Your fish will start to develop white spots on its gills, fins, or scales.

This protozoan life cycle depends greatly on water temperature. Higher water temperatures above 77°F will interfere with the different life stages and will help prevent an outbreak.

Breeding

Silver Dollar Fish Swimming

Silver Dollars are relatively easy to spawn in captivity providing they have a large comfortable environment. In the wild, you will find them spawning in shallow waters and in heavily planted areas of flooded rivers.

You will first need a mated pair.

For the best success of finding breeding pairs always keep them in a group, raising them from juveniles to maturity. This fish usually reaches maturity around 1 year of age (about 4 inches in length).

If you have a pair, you should separate them from the rest of the school. You can also precondition males and females to spawn by feeding high-quality plants and vegetables. When the males are ready to spawn, their color will darken especially around the anal, caudal, and dorsal fins.

For a successful spawn, you should get a separate shallow tank of at least 40 gallons with soft warm waters. Keep temperatures around 79-82°F, pH at 6.0-7.0 with water hardness of 4-8 dGH.

You can provide a gentle water flow by using an air-powered sponge filter.

Dim light, soft spots of java moss, and floating plants on the surface will help during breeding. Males will start chasing females around the tank. When the females are ready to spawn, they will release the eggs near or on the floating plant and the male will fertilize them.

The female can produce up to 2000 eggs, transparent and slightly yellow. These will sink to the floor.

It is easier to raise the fry without the parents however Silver Dollars don’t generally eat their young. The eggs will hatch in about 3 days and the fry will be free-swimming after 6-9 days.

You can feed infusoria-type foods to the fry until they can eat larger things such as small plankton, brine shrimp nauplii, and vegetable flakes. Fry will reach adult size in about 6-8 months.

Are Silver Dollar Fish Suitable For Your Aquarium?

Silver Dollars are hardy tropical freshwater fish. They are large peaceful schooling fish that make the perfect addition if you want a community aquarium with good-sized fish.

If kept alone they can be quite skittish and are best if kept together.

Their name, Silver Dollars, is quite a generic name to refer to different Metynnis species, different in colors and sizes.

They are best for aquarists with some previous experience. They will eat anything that you give them, however, they prefer plants and vegetables.

A Silver Dollar for your thoughts? Leave a comment in the section below…

About Robert 454 Articles
Robert Woods is the creator of FishKeeping World, a third-generation fish keeper, and a graduate in animal welfare and behavior. He is also a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Marine Aquarium Societies of North America, and the Nature Conservancy.

23 Comments

  1. Beverley says:

    Silver dollar fish look cool but are the ok with guppies .?

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Bev, given the size difference between Silver Dollars and Guppies, I would say no. Although Silver Dollars prefer a herbivorous diet, they are actually omnivores so if they’re feeling peckish they might eat them. Thanks, Robert

      • Jennifer says:

        I been asking the same question and I have not gotten a response that I have been looking for? I bought a tank a 10 gallon and got a gold fish and I became close to the fish! Well it got big and then I bought a 20 gallon and I was wondering if you could tell me how long it will take to getting use to the 20 gallon and how long I should keep off the lights? I’m not adding fany other fishes until he gets used to it him self

        • Colleen says:

          Your gold fish need companions..it will be happy with more of it’s kind..keep in mind..they will grow as large as their environment..your tank will stay dirty more often than not..look into a 30 to 60 gal long tank..gives them room to play and interact with each other and the larger the tank..the easier to keep clean..also think canister filters…can be expensive up front but worth it..no more buying filter pads and won’t have to clean the tank as often

    • Harold says:

      I have 4 silver dollars in a community 55 gal tank along with 3 guppies, 3 tiger barbs, 3 opalime gouramis, 4 male dwarf gouramis, 1 albino rainbow shark, and 1 bushynose pleco. These fish have all lived together for about 1 year and live very well together.

  2. Christina says:

    I have 5 loony size little ones and I also have a pinky size arowana. My tank is 8’x2’x2’. I’ve seen in videos they get along in a tank but arowanas aren’t the gentle kind. Should I be concerned?

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Christina, they should be fine, just keep an eye on the size of them to ensure they don’t get eaten. Many thanks, Robert

  3. Shannon says:

    Hello. We inherited our silver dollar from my MIL. He is ~17 years old. Yes, 17, as she had him when I met my husband in 2002. His tank mates back then were kissing fish. When we brought them home only the silver and one kissing fish remained. The kissing fish died about 8 years ago. I tried introducing other compatible smaller fish but our silver kills them. I’m a bad fish mom as I never researched them and didn’t know they do better in groups. He’s kept clean and happy. Seems quite healthy. I’m wondering if it’s too late to introduce 2 more silvers for companionship or has he been alone long? Thanks

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Shannon, it’s extremely difficult to answer this question as it’s not something I’ve ever come across. I’m going to leave your question here in case anyone with a similar experience can share their thoughts with you. Thanks, Robert

      • Richard Jackson says:

        Hi my name is Richard I think I can add some insight on your issue. We also had a silver dollar fish that the rest of her school died after that she was alone for quite some time and became very aggressive towards her other tank mates we feared trying to add other fish to the tank because of her aggression but we went ahead and make the decision to buy formula for silver dollars for companionship and to see if she would School up for about 2 weeks she stayed away from everyone she didn’t like anyone and she snapped at anyone that came near her meaning the other silver dollars. Around a month she started to come around and started to school with her pack and now she’s doing great

    • Tiffany says:

      I know this is an old post, but was just wondering if you ever ended up trying to introduce any other silvers? I am in the same situation. We have a single silver dollar that is 14. He has outlived all his tank mates, been through an earthquake and 2 moves to different states and he’s still with us! Lol knowing how long they live Im concerned about adding more SD’s that we might have to will down to our children ha!, but I do feel bad that’s he’s in there by himself. No idea what to do.

    • Linette says:

      Our silver dollar fish were purchased in 1993 and still thriving. We are beginning to think they will out live us. ?

  4. Roger Harvey says:

    Hi I am changing my tank after 10 years in terms of the fish and the look of it I am wanting to get some silver dollars and keep my 2 small plecs in with them my question is what sort of substrate should I use to best show off the fish and type of rocks / background would best suit there habits I need the tank I’m going to get good quality artificial plants but keep it simple in the terms of which fish I keep I was thinking sandy type bottom? Thoughts / recommendations most welcomed Thankyou

  5. Howard says:

    Hi rob I am thinking of changing some of my sponges for ceramics for better filteration is that ok

    • Howard says:

      I have jewel 500

  6. Dakota says:

    i have agressive silver dollar is there anyway to prevent him from continuing biting the fins off of my angelfish

  7. siva says:

    HI,is it ok to keep a minigroup of bala shark with silver dollars.

  8. Brian says:

    Are silver dollars compatable with discus. ?

  9. Caroline Wright says:

    Hi, we have two silver dollars, both 7 years old, in a community tank (tetras, clown loaches, molly’s, scissortails). One of them keeps swimming aggressively, he bashes his face into the glass and into anything in the tank, frightening all the other fish. This results in his face bleeding, he lies down for a while and then starts swimming again. He is peaceful for a while with the other silver dollar and then he starts again. Any advice would be helpful as we are worried about him and his tank mates. Thank you, Caroline.

  10. Vic says:

    Hi so we are all here because we’re having the same problem. Our longest lasting Silver Dollar has eaten or outlived the rest of the tank. We’ve had them so long there part of the family. My Silver dollar “Fishy” is 18-20 yes old 9-11 inches across. On his own in a 350ltr tank. He will Dance and shimmer for me and come to where I am nearest the tank as if to say feed me. I had the typical tropical start
    up. Then my school of Dollars got big . Always 1 got the biggest became the Daddy with the dark markings( I assume male) very similar to African cichlids ( I had observed from my friends cichlids setup) also and this larger fish became dominant very aggressive and littery started attacking any fish close to him and eating them. Not just tail nipping (be warned) . They definitely turn to meat eaters.
    I also noticed that the dominant Silver Dollar always died the 1st as if it took more life force to become bigger quicker. After eating 50+ Small fish I had 2 Silver dollars left. ( for about 6 months settled down). Then One week holiday I went away (auto fish feeder with dry pellets) he obviously didn’t like that much I came home to him munching on his mate of 16+ years half the tail missing with him actually eating him. I came to the conclusion that he needs or has the taste for meat… so now he readily eats slices of ham and chicken. Very good to watch as he shakes it side to side and does a circle of death dance with it trailing from his mouth . He like slices of cheese half grapes and peas to keep him healthy as welll as the normal flakes and dry foods(insect ones).
    Problem is he’s on his own and I want to get him a companion, but I don’t want him to be the bullied one if I got a Discus or Oscar which I would love, they would have him. I’m thinking with my experience if I house him with just a few more similar sized Silver Dollars then the aggression would remain because they will compete for dominance. I think the answer is to get a new school of dollar’s (6-8) about 3-5 cm definitely no threat to him hopefully he won’t eat them (now he’s getting ham and chicken) and they will school up with “Fishy being the leader . And it will all start again in about 5yrs lol I just think big silvers need to be kept like specimens.

  11. Shirley says:

    Hi, one of my silver dollar fish has develop what appears to be a loss of scales and black spots on the tail. He/she is part of a school of 5, in a 55 gallon tank. Water is changed monthly along with the media in a rena canister filter. I also have a separate aerator. Do you have any idea what might be going on with this individual?

  12. Nick Haddad says:

    I knew little about aquaria in general or about silver dollars, but set up a 10-gallon tank with two silver dollars at my young daughter’s request in 1998. I kept the tank on the cool side (approx. 77 degrees) and fed them sparingly. One died after 15 years, the other is still going strong at 23+ years (in our tank…it is obviously oder than that).

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