Growing to about 6.5 cm (2.6 in) total length, the Colombian tetra is silver-grey in colour. It has a turquoise blue tinge of increasing intensity from the lateral line upwards, which becomes a prominent stripe across the anterior dorsal ridge. The fins are predominantly scarlet red but the colour will fade as the fish rests. The anal fin is usually edged with black, and both dorsal and caudal fins have whitish tips.
The Colombian tetra is generally a hardy, adaptable fish and has a lifespan of 3 to 5 years. It eats all common aquarium foods such as flake food, frozen and freeze-dried foods and small live foods. They prefer neutral or slightly acidic water at around 24-26oC. The recommended tank volume is about 30 US gallons (114 L). Although they have been known to harass other fish, the likelihood of this happening is greatly reduced if they are kept in groups of six or more, preferably 10. The Colombian tetra can be bred in a similar way to other species in the genus.