The Ember Tetra (Hyphessobrycon amandae), also known as the Fire Tetra, is a small freshwater fish native to Western Brazil. They were only recently discovered in 1987. They belong to the family Characidae, which encompasses 19 families and almost 2000 fish species. Due to their bright appearance, they are very popular with fish keepers.
Ember Tetras are a popular choice and a hardy fish, so they are especially popular with beginners. They are readily available and inexpensive. Most aquarists, pet stores or online marketplaces will sell and even ship Ember Tetras.
When choosing a place to purchase your Ember Tetras, you should be advised to have a group of at least 6. Do not buy Ember Tetras from sellers who are prepared to sell you a smaller group.
Ember Tetra Lifespan
Although small, they can live for 2-3years in a tank with optimum conditions. They are very easy to breed and will breed regularly, so it is important to do some research on how to care for Ember Tetra fry. You may also want to consider having a larger tank to upgrade to if breeding does occur.
This sweet little fish grows less than an inch as an adult, usually between 0.6 and 0.8 inches long.
They are a vibrant, fiery red and some Ember Tetras may have an orange ombre or gradient towards their abdomen. They also have a orange rim around their eyes.
They are long and thin, with females having slightly larger air bladders than males. Ember Tetras have one merged anal fin, a narrow but long dorsal fin and large tail fin. Both their dorsal and tail fins can have a grey or black tip. Their scales are small and lie close together, making the fish look almost transparent in places.
Ember Tetra Tank
Being so small, Ember Tetras are quite comfortable in smaller tanks, but 10 gallons should be the minimum as they are active swimmers. They are great for nano-tank setups, but they are also equally comfortable in larger tanks provided they are in a group.
There are no requirements with regards to substrate, but due to their bright color, a darker substrate would be more visually pleasing than sand or colored gravel. A dark aquarium soil or fine gravel would be a great choice.
Including a few leaves would create a natural tank floor and would be similar to the conditions in the wild. As the leaves decompose, they will add beneficial bacteria into the tank, supporting the health of the live plants and maintaining good water quality.
Large gravel is not ideal as it has lots of sharp edges and can cause injury.
Plants and Decorations
Ember Tetras come from an environment of heavy vegetation and lots of leaf litter on the riverbed. To recreate this in your tank, you can plant species like Java Moss and Java Fern, but do not over crowd the tank. Make sure to leave plenty of free-swimming space.
One or two small hides or stones with space between will add to the décor but also provide additional hiding spaces. Ember Tetras also use the dense vegetation to breed so be aware of this when planning your setup.
You can also include some leaf litter for the substrate and some small floating plants that will stay on the surface, but be careful not to block out the light as this will affect the plants in your tank.
If you are using fake plants, be sure to chose options that do not have sharp edges. They can cause serious injury if a fish gets snagged or rubs against the edges.
The ideal pH for Ember Tetras is 5.5-7 but within this range, the pH must be kept stable. Being from a tropical climate, their tank temperature should be between 68 and 82°F.
They live in small streams or tributaries with slow water flows, so you need to choose a gentle aeration system that produces minimal sound. A regular sponge filter will be perfect for the job, especially in a smaller tank.
If there are dim areas of the tank, this will encourage breeding. A standard aquarium light will be fine for Ember Tetras. Remember to switch lights off at night to maintain a normal day/night cycle.
Ember Tetra Health
Ember Tetras are prone to a strange disease that quickly turns they body black. If not spotted early, it is fatal. It normally shows first as a small black spot on the tail fin. You should seek expert or veterinary advice as soon as possible if you spot this on one of your Ember Tetras.
Keeping a regular water change routine and maintaining stable tank parameters in the correct ranges will keep your Ember Tetras happy and healthy. Many fungal and bacterial infections are caused by poor water quality.
Ember Tetra Food & Diet
Ember Tetras are omnivores. In the wild they feed of small aquatic insects and will graze on plants. They can live quite happily on artificial fish flakes but it is advisable to supplement their diet with bloodworms, daphnias and brine shrimp. Bettas are a good tankmate as they will eat the same food as Ember Tetras.
It is easy to overfeed an Ember Tetra. They need 2 or 3 small feeds per day rather than one large feeding. Any live food should be small and flakes or artificial food should be ground up.
Behavior & Temperament
Ember Tetras are peaceful, but are a surprisingly playful and lively fish, despite their tiny size. They enjoy swimming through and resting in plants or driftwood.
They are a middle dwelling fish and very rarely spend time near the bottom of the tank. They may venture to the top of the tank at feeding times.
During the time they are first added to the tank, they may seem unusually cautious due to the new surroundings. Given some undisturbed time to acclimate, they should begin displaying normal active behaviors.
These fish are a shoaling species and will move about the tank as a group rather than separately.
Ember Tetra Aquarium Mates
They should definitely be kept with other Ember Tetras due to their shoaling nature. Between 6 and 8 is a good number for a 10-gallon tank. If you have a 20-gallon tank or larger, then your group should be 10-15 Ember Tetras for them to be happy and confident.
They are more comfortable as a group and will become stressed if kept alone or are separated from their shoal.
They should not be kept with semi-aggressive species or larger fish due to their small size. They are easily eaten or injured.
Safe tank mates include small and peaceful fish from the same family, or those than utilize different water levels:
- Bottom dwellers like Pygmy Catfish
- Neon Tetra
- Pygmy Corydoras
- Cherry Barbs
Is the Ember Tetra the perfect nano fish?
We have a video below that will talk about why the Ember Tetra is a great pick for a nano fish or anyone who wants a beginner pet fish. Please check it out!
Ember Tetra FAQ
- Are Ember tetras aggressive?
No, they are a peaceful and placid community fish.
- How long do Ember tetras live?
In optimum tank conditions they can live between 2 and 3 years.
- Can Ember tetras live with bettas?
Yes. Bettas are a top dwelling fish so will not get in the way of your Ember Tetras. They may occasional shoal together. Be mindful that Bettas are bigger and may eat sick Ember Tetras.
- How many Ember tetras are in a gallon?
In a 10 gallon tank no more than 8 should be kept together as they are active swimmers. In a larger tank a group between 10 and 15 is best. Although they are a small fish, Ember Tetras should not be kept in tanks smaller than 10 gallons.
- Are Ember tetras fin nippers?
If they are kept with Bettas they can get a little nippy during feeding time as they may end up in the same water level, but otherwise they are a calm and non-aggressive fish.
- Will Ember tetras breed?
Ember Tetras will breed quite easily, so you will need to bare this in mind. They are free-spawners which means the parents do not care for the fry.
Whether you are just starting out with a 10-gallon tank or you are a fish hobbyist looking to set-up or add to an established community tank, Ember Tetras are a great choice.
They are bright and colorful, so they make any tank look good. Their placid nature makes them the perfect fit for a community tank of other small and calm fish.
It is important to bare in mind that they do not do well with large or aggressive fish as they are likely to be chased, injured or eaten.