Ember Tetra: Species Profile

Category: Tetra

Common Names: Ember Tetra

Scientific Name: Hyphessobrycon amandae

Family: Characidae

Minimum Tank Size: 10 Gallons

Care Level: Easy

Temperament: Peaceful

Max Size: 1 Inch

Temperature: 74-80 F

pH: 5.5-7.0

Tank Level: Middle

Colors: Red, Orange

Diet: Omnivore

Breeding: Moderate

By Mbdtsmo [CC BY-SA 4.0]

Ember Tetra: Species Overview

Ember tetras are fun tropical fish to include in an aquarium because they brighten it up with their orange color. These fish are also popular because they’re active in the middle of a tank and love schooling in groups of six or more.

It isn’t challenging to care for ember tetras, making them an excellent fit for beginner fish keepers.

But it’s still important to do your due diligence before bringing ember tetras home. Otherwise, you could inadvertently harm them if you don’t set up the proper tank parameters.

Distinguishing Features

Fish keepers favor ember tetras for their solid but beautiful colors. You’ll encounter these fish in varying shades of:

  • Red
  • Orange
  • Pale yellow

The color and its strength vary according to several factors, including genetics, gender, and health. Males and fish with high-quality diets have more brilliant colors than female ember tetras and those with poor nutrition.

Ember tetras have an iridescent sheen to their scales, which is especially noticeable in females against their relatively duller colors.

These fish have a classic torpedo tetra shape, not to be confused with the common torpedo, with their bodies narrowing towards their tails.

If you study your fish closely, you can see lateral lines on their sides.

They have six fins, all of which become transparent at the tips. But before that happens, their base color usually becomes even brighter.


Ember tetras originate from the freshwater Araguaia River basin in Brazil.

Their ideal habitat contains lots of dense vegetation that grows both from the substrate and as floating plants and debris on top of the water.

These fish also live in areas with little current, sticking to smaller streams and backwaters. As a result, they’re accustomed to murky water that contains a lot of decaying plant matter.

Although ember tetras don’t frequently visit the substrate, it contains a dark mixture of decaying organic material, sand, and small stones.


Ember tetras are on the small side of the tetra family, as they average an adult length of 0.8 inches. In rare cases, they’ll grow over one inch long.

Male and female ember tetras often grow to similar lengths. However, males have a slimmer appearance than females.


The average ember tetra lives between two and four years. That’s shorter than the lifespan of several other types of tetras.

Some people claim they’ve had ember tetras live as long as ten years, but we wouldn’t put much weight into these claims.

That said, the quality of care you provide your ember tetra significantly impacts their potential lifespan. Following the recommendations we’ll share here will give your tetras the best chance of a long life.


It’s easy to tell male and female ember tetras apart, thanks to distinct differences. Male ember tetras have the following characteristics:

  • Brighter colors
  • Thinner bodies
  • More visible lateral line

In contrast, females have rounder bellies, especially when they’re getting ready to lay eggs. They also have duller colors than males, commonly coming in the pale yellow variety.


Ember tetras are peaceful fish that enjoy socializing with each other and different fish species of a similar size.

They’re shoaling fish, meaning they move together in a group throughout the tank. You should keep a minimum of six of these fish together to help them maintain good emotional health.

Ember tetras would rather hide in plants from aggressive fish than fight back. Both males and females have these same tendencies.

Because ember tetras have such an even temperament, they make excellent community fish. You’ll just need to ensure to pair them with other fish of a similar size so that they don’t become another fish’s dinner.

It’s also best to keep ember tetras in a separate tank from slow-moving fish with long fins. Since these tetras are playful and curious, they sometimes nip at flowy fins.

Tank Parameters

Bringing home ember tetra fish is a joy, and if you’re like us, you’ll never become bored watching them dart around their tank as they explore it.

But keeping these fish in good health requires upfront planning. So, follow the recommendations below to ensure your fish stay happy and healthy.

Minimum Tank Size

The minimum tank size you should have for six ember tetras is ten gallons.

The beauty of these fish is that they’re so small that you can have many of them without dedicating a large space in your home to an aquarium.

Of course, the larger the tank you can afford, the happier your tetras will be.

Water Parameters

Below are the water conditions you must arrange for your ember tetras before introducing them to their new tank.


Ember tetras need warm water that remains between 73°F and 84°F.

Since many homes often get cooler than these temperatures, using a heater is the best way to ensure your tank remains at a consistently comfortable temperature for your tetras.


As acidic-loving fish, ember tetras need pH levels between 5.0 to 7.0.

We recommend aiming for a pH of 6.5, as 7.0 sits right at neutral, and while ember tetras enjoy acidic water, they prefer it on the milder side.


Ember tetras are freshwater fish, so they don’t need salt in their water. In fact, they’ll die quickly and painfully if you try to place them in a saltwater tank.

That said, it’s okay to use freshwater aquarium salt on occasion.

Aquarium salt can be helpful for freshwater tanks to boost a fish’s immune system. Using this strategy is especially effective in protecting your tetras if any fish in the community tank falls ill.

Tank Setup

Now that you have the ideal water conditions for your ember tetras, below are other essential aspects to consider when setting up their tank.


Ember tetras don’t venture down to the substrate often, but they’ll sometimes do so to poke around for some food.

Therefore, it’s best to choose sand or fine gravel substrate, as they closely resemble what your fish would encounter in the wild.

Choosing a dark brown or black substrate is ideal. That will mimic the tetra’s natural habitat while allowing you to enjoy their colors that will stand out even more against a dark substrate.


The types of decorations you choose can make or break your ember tetra’s experience in their tank. These fish prefer natural decor, such as:

  • Driftwood
  • Rocks
  • Caves
  • Sunken logs

While decorations are vital to an ember tetra’s tank, be sure not to overcrowd it. These fish love to swim in schools, so they need plenty of open space.


In the wild, ember tetras live in areas with dense aquatic plants. So, you should set up a portion of their tank to mimic this.

Live plants are essential for ember tetras because they offer them food, a hiding place, and shelter from direct sunlight.

We encourage you to place groups of plants around the sides and perimeter of your tank. Some excellent choices include:

  • Java moss
  • Java fern
  • Red root floater
  • Water wisteria

As with the decorations, leaving enough space in the tank for your fish to swim is important.


Ember tetras don’t need a tank light, given that they live in dimly lit areas in the wild.

But if you have other tropical fish species in your aquarium, the chances are high that they require light. If possible, keep the light in a low to medium setting.

Otherwise, creating a section of the aquarium with dense vegetation and floating plants is all the more important so that your ember tetras can escape the bright light.


A filter is essential for ember tetra tanks. In nature, there’s a constant flow of fresh rainwater and water from streams to keep toxins in balance.

But aquariums don’t have this natural cleaning option, which is where filters come into play.

A filter that hangs on the back of your aquarium is ideal for ember tetras. You can also use an external filter placed on a low setting so it doesn’t create too much current.

Regardless of the filter you choose, checking and cleaning it often is imperative to keep dangerous toxins out of the water.


A heater is essential for all ember tetra tanks if your home’s temperature drops below 73°F.

Even if you keep the room temperature in your home on the warm side, using a heater is still a good idea, as it’ll reduce the potential of stressing your ember tetras from temperature fluctuations.

When purchasing a heater, you should also buy a thermometer. That way, you can attach it to the side of your tank and monitor the temperature.


Ember tetras make it easy for fish keepers to know if they’re getting a high-quality enough diet, given that they’ll become duller in color if they don’t receive the proper nutrients.

As omnivores, ember tetras enjoy a combination of vegetable and animal protein sources.

So, some excellent foods to give your fish include:

  • Fish flakes
  • Fish pellets
  • Daphnia
  • Brine shrimp

It’s also common to see ember tetras picking at live plants in their aquarium.

It’s best to feed your ember tetra three times per day. But if that isn’t conducive to your schedule, twice-daily feedings are okay.

To prevent the possibility of your ember tetras overeating or dirtying up the water from excess food, remove all food they don’t eat within two to three minutes.


It’s easy to breed ember tetras, and you don’t even need to use a separate breeding tank if there aren’t any other fish species living with your tetras.

To prepare your ember tetras for spawning, raise the pH level to 7.0 and increase the temperature to at least 80°F. You should also feed them a high-protein diet, such as live larval brine shrimp.

Then, let your tetra fish do their thing—the females will grow eggs, and the males will fertilize them.

The hardest part about breeding these fish is timing it so that you move the baby fry to a separate tank once they hatch (two days after the female lays her eggs). Otherwise, the adult tetras will try to eat them.

Common Diseases

We’ll start with the good news: Ember tetras don’t have diseases that are specific to their species. And now for the bad news: These fish can come down with the same aliments as other tropical fish.

A high-quality diet and the proper tank conditions go a long way toward reducing the chances of your ember tetras becoming ill.

Nevertheless, below are some of the most common diseases they can obtain.

Fin Rot

Fin rot is a bacterial infection from dirty water, fin nipping, or a damaged fin. It presents as the fins becoming stringy and sticking together.

It’s possible to stop the spread of fin rot by using antibacterial medicine. With luck, your ember tetra’s fins will grow back.


Ich is a parasite that happens when an ember tetra comes in contact with an affected fish. Your tetra will develop small white spots and itch themselves on hard objects.

You can treat ich by frequently changing 25% to 50% of the tank water and adding ich medicine.

Velvet Disease

Velvet disease is another parasitic infection caused by the Oodinium dinoflagellate. It causes ember tetras to develop a dusty gold coat.

You can treat velvet disease by increasing the water temperature, turning off the tank light, adding aquarium salt, and applying velvet disease medication. It’s often possible for ember tetras to live a long life if you catch velvet disease in its early stages.

Potential Tank Mates

You can pair ember tetras with many tank mates. But you first must ensure that you have a minimum of six tetras so they can school and a large enough tank to accommodate more fish.

Some of the best tropical fish species for ember tetras include:

  • Rasboras
  • Neon tetras
  • Pygmy catfish
  • Cory catfish

You can even add non-fish species as tank mates for your ember tetras. Cherry shrimp and snails are excellent choices.