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Ember Tetras: A Complete Care Guide (Diet, Tank & More)

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Ember tetras are commonly found in freshwater aquariums because of their bright colors and their ease of care. They have a friendly demeanor and are great for beginner aquarists. 

While the ember tetra is easy to care for, it is important to know what type of environment they need in order to thrive. Read on to learn all you need to know about these small freshwater fish.

Ember Tetra Care Guide

Scientific Name:Hyphessobrycon Amandae
Common Names:Amanda’s Tetra, Dwarf Tetra, Fire Tetra
Size:0.75 – 0.80 inches
Minimum Tank Size:10 Gallons

Ember tetras are less than an inch long and are perfect community fish. They come in variations from red to orange and add a splash of color to freshwater community tanks. They require a minimum of a 10-gallon tank and are active fish.

Appearance & Temperament


Ember Tetras are among the smallest end of the spectrum when it comes to freshwater aquariums.  For this fact and their peaceful demeanor, they are very popular with at-home freshwater aquariums and are a great addition to a community tank.

These little fish grow to a little under 1 inch in length, about 0.75 – 0.80 inches in length.

Colors and Markings

Ember Tetras get their name from their bright orange or red color, like an ember itself, this bright ember color is this species’ biggest appeal.

Their bodies, like most other tetras, are thicker and taller in the front half and narrow out in the bottom half.

There are different variations of ember tetras are orange and red, the orange color being the more common color variety. Both color variations have differences between males and females.

In the orange variation, the male is an orange similar to that of a sunset, whereas females are more of a yellow-orange color. For the red variation, the females are paler orange, whereas males are red-orange.

The ember tetras have tall and thin dorsal fins that fade from their main orange or red color into a darker shade at the back, and then to slightly transparent at the very edge of the fin.

Their forked caudal fins have a more dramatic color transition, the base is the same as the main body, then changes into a dark orange then becomes near transparent. 

Gender Differences

As previously mentioned, vibrancy and hue vary between genders, and when distinguishing between males and females it is one of the first factors to look at. 

Male ember tetras are much more vibrant red or orange color whereas the females have a paler yellow-orange color. Because the females are paler their scales are a lot more apparent than the males.

Also when looking at the sides of the ember tetra the lateral lines are the same color as the body but more visible in females. Observing closely this is another way to sex ember tetras.

Where color is one of the main ways to sex ember tetras, another way is by the shapes of their bodies. Males have thinner bodies whereas females have more round bodies. 


In order to maximize the lifespan of your freshwater fish, they need good water and living conditions as well as good overall care. However, even with the most proper care the ember tetra only has a lifespan of 2 – 4 years. 

The habitat that they live in is the biggest factor in how long your ember tetra will live. The biggest influence is having plenty of plants in your tank.

Ember tetras tend to live longer in tanks that have heavy vegetation than those that don’t. 


The ember tetra is a popular smaller fish that are great in community tanks and great for any beginner.

They are peaceful fish that will get along well with other fish as they live in the wild with multiple species of fish, they are also not aggressive at all.

Ember tetras are schooling fish and need to be in a group of at least 10, the larger the school the happier the ember tetra. These fish are quite an active species compared to most other freshwater aquarium fish.

Being fairly curious fish,  as a group, they will move from one area of the tank to another checking out other fish and surroundings in their tank.

They are not shy but will spend some of their time hiding in plants, in nature this is their safe space, and usually use this hiding time to rest.

Ember Tetra Diet & Feeding

Like any other freshwater aquarium fish it is best to have a well-balanced diet suited to their needs. A combination of flakes and frozen food is best with the addition of some live food.

Daphnia and shrimp brine are great examples of live food that are great for the small ember tetra. 

Ember tetras come from heavily vegetated waters, which should be replicated in aquariums, so it is quite normal to find them snacking on surrounding plants.

It is best to feed ember tetras smaller amounts of food 2 – 4 times a day, although 3 times is most recommended.

Ember Tetra Tank Mates

As mentioned previously, the ember tetra is a schooling fish and should be kept in groups of their own, but they do very well with a variety of other fish as well.

The following are examples of great tank mates that ember tetras will live comfortably with:

  • Guppies
  • Rasboras
  • Barbs
  • Corydoras
  • Otto Catfish
  • Mollies
  • Rainbow Fish

Ember Tetras also do well with any other fish in the tetra family, as they will eagerly interact with those of their own kind. They do well with non-fish tank mates as well such as cherry shrimp or nerite snails!

However, where the ember tetra is so small, and at times can be easily stressed, it is best to avoid tank mates that are aggressive or large enough to eat them.

Also even though they are not known as fin nippers, it is recommended to avoid longer-finned fish to be safe. Some examples of fish that are not suitable tank mates for ember tetras are: 

  • Cichlids
  • Jack Dempseys
  • Oscars
  • Gouramis
  • Bettas
  • Tiger Barbs

Ideal Tank Set-Up & Tank Requirements

Ember tetras are schooling fish and should be kept in a group of at least 10-12 of their own kind.

A 10-gallon tank is suitable for a group of 10, a larger tank is needed for a larger group or if having a community tank. The general rule of one gallon for each ember tetra is recommended.

As with most freshwater aquarium fish, it is best to mimic their natural habitat as best as possible. 

Ember tetras come from heavily vegetated backwater rivers with low currents. Even though they are hardy fish, it is very important to establish the correct water parameters in your tank and maintain those levels.

Water parameters for ember tetras are as follows:

  • Water temperature:  Ember tetras have a larger temperature range that they can live comfortably in. They can live in water temperatures between  73°F to 84°F.
  • pH levels: It is recommended for ember tetras to have a pH level between 5-7. However, a lower pH of 6.5 is most suitable as they come from slightly acidic waters.
  • Water Hardness: A good water hardness level for ember tetras is between a range of 5-17 dGH.

As mentioned before, it is best to mimic their natural habitat, the most important thing to do is add plants to your tank. They come from very vegetated waters and this is what they are more comfortable with.

Adding plants to your tank not only provides benefits to water quality in the tank but also keeps the ember tetra stress levels low. A few great plant options to put in your tank are the Anacharis, java moss, or hornwort. However, you will have to keep in mind to leave enough room for them to interact with their school and swim around freely.

Using decorations as well as plants is an excellent way in recreating their natural habitat. Their natural habitat has branches and logs due to the river’s natural foliage. This not only can help make waters slightly acidic like their habitat but also gives them places to hide in the tank.

When choosing your substrate you will want to choose something darker, as this is similar to their habitat in the wild. Fine gravel or mud that is enriched with plant materials is best for ember tetras.

Fluorescent lighting is most suitable in a tetra tank, as they spend their time in the middle level of water. They prefer moderate lighting, between fluorescent lighting and heavy vegetation. It is also very important to have a slow-flowing filter as they prefer a slower current like they have in the wild.

As long as proper tank conditions and water parameters are met and consistent your ember tetras should remain happy. However, some signs will indicate they are not happy or stressed. Some signs to look out for include: dulling of colors, erratic swimming, poor shoaling behavior, or even lack of coordination.

How To Breed Ember Tetras

Breeding ember tetras is fairly easy to do as most of the time they will breed on their own without much preparation. In larger schools, several spawnings occur throughout the year. Ember tetras reach maturity around 4- 6 months.

The most important thing that you can do to ensure successful breeding is to have a tank with both males and females present, as well as create a safe environment for breeding and spawning. The best way to ensure the safest spawning conditions is to put mated pairs in a separate breeding tank and once the female has spawned, remove the adult tetras.

Even though the ember tetra will breed on their own, there are some things you can do in order for your ember tetra to be in optimal breeding conditions. 

Such as raising the temperature of the tank to about 80°F, as well as adjusting the pH level as neutral as you can (7). As well as feeding them larval brine shrimps about 4 times a day for 2 weeks minimum.

When breeding the males show off their brightest colors in order to attract the females. He will also chase the female around the tank, nipping at her fins while doing so. 

Once the female accepts the male as her mate, egg laying and fertilization occur within a few seconds, as well as simultaneously.

To ensure optimal spawning in ember tetras it is best to put the pregnant female in a nursery tank. In this nursery tank, it is best to have a sponge filter, and some recommend using a mess bottom. 

This is because as the females lay their eggs they will fall to the bottom of the tank, this not only helps in removing the adult fish after spawning but protects them from being eaten.

After the females lay their eggs, remember to remove them after laying, the eggs will hatch after about 2 days, and they can lay hundreds of eggs each season.

Until they are large enough to eat powdered fish flakes it is best to feed them microscopic foods like infusoria. Once they grow to fry, which is after a few weeks,  they can be fed brine shrimp, larvae, or microworms.

Ember Tetra Facts: From Origin to Aquarium

Ember tetras are one of the most popular freshwater aquarium fish, these tiny playful fish originate from South America.

In the densely vegetated low current backwater rivers, especially the Araguaia River in Central Brazil is where you will find the ember tetra.

Being first discovered in 1987, the ember tetra is named after ichthyologist Heiko Bleher’s mother.  The ember tetra was first introduced in the aquarium trade in the early 1990s.

This is when hobbyists quickly fell in love with them as they have striking colors and are found to be very easy to care for. 

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