Care Guide for Ember Tetras

Species Snapshot

  • Species Name: Hyphessobrycon amandae
  • Common Names: Ember tetra
  • Size: Up to 1 inch
  • Lifespan: 2 to 4 years
  • Native Distribution: Araguaia River basin, Brazil

Small but stunning, the ember tetra (Hyphessobrycon amandae) makes a colorful addition to nano tanks and freshwater community tanks. They’re named for their glowing red-orange coloration. Ember tetras are shoaling fish found throughout the Araguaia River Basin in Brazil, though most specimens available for the aquarium hobby are captive bred.

Whether you’re looking to add some color to an existing community tank or starting a showcase tank, the ember tetra is a wonderful species to consider. Here’s what you need to know about caring for them.

Anatomy and Appearance

Members of the family Characidae, ember tetras have the typical tetra shape, distinguishable by the presence of a small adipose fin placed between the caudal and dorsal fins. Ember tetras remain very small, achieving a maximum length of just 2cm (about 0.8 inches). What sets them apart from other tetras is their all-over red coloration.

While many tetras exhibit spots, stripes, or bands of localized color along the lateral line, the ember tetra’s entire body is an orange-reddish color. The color fades to a mild translucency around the pelvic fin, but healthy specimens exhibit near-uniform color. Diet plays an important role in color vibrancy.

As is true of other characin species, ember tetras don’t exhibit obvious sexual dimorphism. The best indication of sex may be the egg-swollen belly that becomes noticeable in well-conditioned females. If you keep a shoal of ember tetras, you’re likely to have some of each gender.

Ideal Aquarium Setup

Ember tetras are most striking when kept in large groups. As a species native to the lower Amazon basin, ember tetras thrive in heavily planted tanks decorated with driftwood. Gentle filtration with minimal flow is typically adequate, though stronger filtration may be required if you keep these tetras with larger community species.

Tank Size

Though diminutive in size, ember tetras are a shoaling species. They don’t tend to form tight schools but group loosely and thus need ample space to swim. They can be kept in nano tanks as small as 5 gallons, but frequent water changes will be required to maintain high water quality. Groups of at least 6 are preferred, so a 10-gallon tank or larger is recommended.

To maximize the striking appearance of these fish, consider keeping a group of 20-25 ember tetras in a planted tank at least 20 gallons in volume.

Water Parameters

Ember tetras are a tropical species, so they prefer warmer water temperatures between 72°F and 84°F. They prefer soft to moderately hard water with a slightly acidic to neutral pH.

Like many tetras, ember tetras are adaptable to a range of water parameters but do best in an established aquarium with stable conditions. It’s important to test your tank water regularly to prevent parameter changes from harming your fish.

If you plan to keep a large school of ember tetras, it may be wise to introduce them in groups to avoid increasing the tank’s bio-load too dramatically.

Tank Décor

The native habitat of the ember tetra is lushly planted and filled with driftwood and leaf litter. As such, planted tank setups are recommended for this species. Not only do live plants benefit the water quality in your tank, but they provide cover to help keep the stress levels of your fish low. Just make sure to allow adequate swimming space for your school of ember tetras. Find both this lovely fish species and tank setup at Shrimpy Business.

To show off your ember tetras’ color, choose a dark substrate and background. Decorating with driftwood will give the tank a South American biotope appearance and create a more natural habitat for your fish. If you don’t mind the look of stained water, these fish may appreciate the addition of leaf litter.

Ember Tetras.

Diet and Feeding

The ember tetra is an omnivore, so they should be fed a combination of vegetarian and meat-based foods. These fish will accept a variety of flakes, pellets, frozen, freeze-dried, and live foods. Just keep in mind that they are a small species, so they should be fed small foods.

Because flake foods tend to lose nutrition quickly, micro-pellets and small fresh foods like daphnia and baby brine shrimp may be ideal. Ember tetras tend to swim at the middle level of the tank, so choose slow-sinking versus floating foods. These fish may appreciate treat tabs that can be stuck to the glass of the tank at mid-level.

Due to their size, ember tetras aren’t able to eat large quantities at once. They’re best fed small meals several times a day.

Temperament and Tank Mates

Ember tetras are a peaceful species that does best in groups with others of their own kind. They’re compatible with other small characids but may become stressed in a tank with significantly larger fish. Good tankmates may include rasboras, tetras, pencilfish, and freshwater snails.

Because they swim at the middle level of the tank, ember tetras may do well with bottom-dwelling species like Corydoras catfish to eat leftover food. Top-dwelling species like may also be a good choice. Ember tetras generally get along with adult dwarf shrimp but may feed on baby shrimp.

Breeding Ember Tetras

Experienced aquarium hobbyists are likely to find breeding ember tetras fairly easy. They are an egg-laying species, so females will deposit eggs on surfaces in the tank and males will follow behind to fertilize them. The best way to encourage breeding is to condition your fish with a nutritious, high-protein diet of fresh, frozen, and freeze-dried foods.

Keep in mind that ember tetras do not care for their young, so you may need to remove the adult fish once the eggs are fertilized. The eggs will hatch after a few days and the fry will subsist on their yolk sacs for a few days after that. Once they become free-swimming, ember fry will require frequent feeding with high-protein and high-fat foods.

If you’re looking for a colorful addition to your community tank, ember tetras are an excellent option to consider. Remember that they thrive best in groups, so make sure you have space in your tank to accommodate a group of at least 6 but ideally 10 or more.

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