Ember Tetra Care Guide: Types, Diet, Tanks, Tank Mates, Breeding

Are you looking for an active and beautiful freshwater fish for your home aquarium? Well, the ember tetras are perfect in many ways for beginner and experienced fish keepers.

These tropical fish are small, which is perfect for small-sized fish tanks, but they need to be kept in groups for their safety and happiness. Ember tetras are also one of the best freshwater fish to own. While you could go for other tetras, ember tetras stand out because of their beautiful bodies.

To know more about these adorable tetras, this care guide details everything from the proper water parameters, diet, and everyday behavior so you can give them all they need to grow healthy and happy! 

Species Overview

Ember tetras are tropical fish naturally found in slow-moving waters like lakes, swamps. and rivers with thick vegetation. Their origins are linked to the freshwater rivers in Brazil, specifically in the Araguaia river basin and the Rio das Mortes river.

The waters there are soft and slightly acidic, with dim lighting due to the heavy plant cover. The plants located on the soft river bed are essential for food, shelter, and sometimes used as a breeding ground.

Although they were first discovered in 1987, ember tetras didn’t enter the aquarium trade until the 1990s. Fish keepers were attracted to them because of their striking colors and how easy they are to take care of. 

Quick facts about Ember Tetras

Here is a quick facts breakdown of the Ember Tetras:

  • Scientific Name: Hyphessobrycon Amandae
  • Size: 1 inch
  • Origins: Central Brazil
  • Lifespan: 2-4 years
  • Diet: Omnivorous
  • Temperament: Peaceful 
  • Care level: Easy

Appearance and Size

Ember tetras are beautiful tropical fish that will light up your fish tank. Most of these fish are bright orange and red making them easily identifiable among other fish. Some aquarists commonly refer to them as the ‘fiery red fish’.

These tropical fish are small and grow between 0.8 and 1 inch long. This is smaller than other tetras, like neon tetras. These fish have long bodies, with the female ember tetra having a slightly more rounded shape, especially while breeding, compared to the ember tetra male. Their bodies allow them to swim swiftly and move faster in the water.

If you look closely enough, you’ll think their body is transparent. This is because of how their scales lie near each other on their bodies. 

Types of Ember Tetras

Ember tetras come in two types, mainly differentiated because of their color.  The orange ember tetra is the most common among fish keepers due to their sunset orange scales. The other ember tetra is red-orange in color. They have similar glittering scales as the orange ember tetra but appear as red in most tank lighting.

What To Look For When Buying an Ember Tetra

You have to be careful when buying an ember tetra so you don’t introduce sick or infected fish into your home aquarium. A healthy fish will be active with brightly colored scales on their bodies. If you can see your ember tetra before you purchase them, ensure they are healthy and not swimming erratically in the store’s fish tank. They should also be eating. One of the reasons your fish isn’t eating is they are sick.

Where To Buy Ember Tetra’s

Ember tetras aren’t hard to find. You can get them at fair prices in most physical and online pet stores. You can buy them for around $2-$4 per fish. Unfortunately, not all these fish will survive during shipping, so it could be wiser to buy several ember tetras during your first purchase.

Here are some online stores you can buy ember tetras: 

Ember Tetra Care

Taking care of Ember Tetras is easy for most fish keepers; that’s why they are so popular these days. They are peaceful and entertaining, making them ideal for most fish and community tanks.

You have to keep their diet and water parameters in mind to ensure they are comfortable and healthy while under your care. But we’ve got you covered on that front.

Below are all the details you need to care for Ember Tetras! 

Tank setup

The best tank size for a single ember tetra is 10 gallons. This is, however, the minimum tank size because these freshwater fish are shoaling fish species and need to be kept in groups. Keeping them alone can lead to adverse side effects like stress.

If you’re keeping ten ember tetras, it’s best to keep them in a 20-25 gallon fish tank. You will have to increase the size if you intend on adding more ember tetras or other fish species in the same tank. 

You’ll notice below that these fish sometimes snack on plants, so you must keep them in a heavily planted aquarium. In their natural habitat, ember tetras are surrounded by tons of vegetation. It isn’t only a snack for them and provides cover when they want to rest or stay away from aggressive fish.

Plants are also suitable for helping maintain good water quality for these fish.

Some of the best plants for an ember tetra tank include: 

  • Java Moss
  • Anacharis
  • Java fern
  • Hornwort

As long as the aquarium plants aren’t too many that the tetras can’t swim, these fish will be happy with some plants in their tank. Floating plants like hornwort are also an excellent addition to their fish tank.

In regards to the substrate, dark substrate works well in an ember tetras tank due to the contrast in color. Since these fish are tropical, you’ll need a silent filtration system to ensure the water moves similarly to its natural environment.

Water Parameters

Despite being very low-maintenance fish, ember tetras still require certain water parameters to stay healthy and happy in your home aquarium.

These include:

  • Water pH levels: 6-6.5 pH
  • Water temperature: 72-82 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Water hardness : 5-16 dGH

If you are a beginner aquarist, using an aquarium test kit can help you ensure the proper water parameters are met for these popular freshwater fish.

All tetras are sensitive to high ammonia and nitrite levels; ember tetras aren’t any different. High ammonia levels can quickly lead to stress, illnesses, or death. Testing regularly is the best way to tell whether these parameters are being maintained before your ember tetra gets sick.

Food & Diet

Ember Tetras require a balanced diet to grow healthy and live longer. The best ember tetra food should be rich in protein. While you will find them occasionally snacking on the aquarium plants, these fish species still need more than that for a balanced diet.

Keeping your ember tetra on a feeding schedule will be great for both of you. Feeding them twice a day is good enough to prevent overfeeding, which could cause constipation for these tiny fish. Overfeeding can also lead to other health problems for ember tetras. Ensure the food they are dropping in the tank can be quickly eaten within 2 minutes. If they take longer, you could be overfeeding them. 

You can supplement their diet with live foods like brine shrimp and bloodworms, Tubifex worms, insect larvae, micro worms, and daphnia. Other options include freeze-dried and frozen foods, which can add much-needed protein to their meals.

Be careful with live foods because they could introduce parasites contaminating the entire fish tank. So live foods can be a great treat for these fish.

You have no reason to worry if these small fish are snacking on your plants because they will not do a lot of damage that could lead to the death of your plants.

Common Diseases

While there are certain diseases that all fish species are susceptible to in captivity, Ember tetras are known to be hardy fish and withstand most environmental changes.

But drastic changes in water temperatures, a lack of a balanced diet, and poor water quality can increase the likelihood of these fish getting sick.

Here are some diseases you should watch out for as an ember tetra fish keeper:

Bacterial infections

Bacteria and fungal infections are likely if you see your fish has rotting fins or cloudy masses around their body. It’s best to address these infections as soon as possible because fungal and bacterial infections can be fatal if not dealt with immediately. The best immediate action is to isolate the sick ember tetras and do a water change to prevent the infection from spreading. With medication, your small fish can be on their way to recovery.

White spot disease

White spot disease is common among freshwater fish. You can identify if your ember tetra has this illness by checking for white spots on their body. This disease is usually caused by stress or poor water quality. Treating the water and using the over-the-counter medication can help alleviate the symptoms of white spot diseases.


Most fish keepers have a breeze keeping Ember Tetras in their home aquarium because they are peaceful fish. This makes them ideal if you’re looking for friendly fish to keep with other tank mates. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t active while awake.

They are active because these fish are more comfortable in groups as they are schooling fish. So keeping only one ember tetra in your fish tank could make them lonely. If you own a small number of these fish in a tank, you can find them hiding in areas they feel safe, like under rocks, caves, or driftwood.

For most of the day, they will be darting from one end of the tank to another, trying to explore their surroundings, which makes them very entertaining to watch. These are the best fish to have in your home aquarium.

Suitable Tank Mates for Ember Tetras

Now that it’s clear, Ember Tetras are peaceful and friendly with other fish ; there are several good tank mates they can share space with. Because these small freshwater fish are middle dwellers, it’s best to choose fish species that are bottom dwellers or who won’t bother them.

Here are some of the best ember tetra tank mates :

  • Cory Catfish
  • Rasboras
  • Pygmy Catfish
  • Nerite snails
  • Cherry Shrimp
  • Neon Tetras

While they can comfortably live with other fish species, you should avoid keeping ember tetras with larger fish that could see them as their next meal. 

Tank mates to avoid keeping with ember tetras include: 

  • Goldfish
  • Angelfish
  • Carnivorous fish species
  • Koi
  • Cichlids 
  • Tiger Barb

Don’t forget, however, that these fish prefer to be kept in groups of at least 10-12 so they can feel safe and at home in their new surroundings, especially if they will be with other fish in the aquarium.


Unlike other fish species that are hard to breed, the ember tetra is more straightforward. Even beginner fish keepers can breed ember tetras if they want to. All you need is to keep a female and male ember tetra in a breeding tank.

The water parameters have to be right first. Higher water temperatures over 80 degrees Fahrenheit, with a pH of 7, will help encourage them to breed faster. You should also give your ember tetras live fish foods to encourage them to start spawning. When they begin breeding, and the fry have hatched, it’s time to move the fry into a separate tank. Why?

Aside from the risk of the parents eating their young, Keeping the ember tetra fry in a separate tank will give them a chance to grow healthy before you place them back into the main tank. The fry tank should be small with dim lighting. Ensure you always filter the water to prevent your small fry from getting sick. 


Do ember tetras like fast currents? 

No. These fish are used to slow-moving waters so in captivity they will prefer mild currents in their fish tank. A filter can help maintain the required water currents so you don’t have to stress about it. 

Are ember tetras fin nippers? 

No. They do not normally nip on fins. While these fish normally don’t do this, they won’t back away from a fight. Fin nipping could indicate that there aren’t enough ember tetras in their school. 

How many ember tetras are needed in a fish tank so they don’t feel lonely? 

A school of ember tetras can be between 8-15 fish. If you add more than these you’ll have to get a tank larger than 15 gallons for them to be comfortable. 

How long do ember tetras live? 

These fish have a short lifespan of between 2-4 years. The length of their life depends on their diet and the water quality you maintain in their fish tank. 

Are Ember Tetras suitable for your home aquarium? 

Whether you are an experienced or beginner fish keeper, you can manage taking care of an ember tetra. These shoaling fish are fascinating to watch as they move in unison as a group in the fish tank.

They are easy to take care of if you maintain warm water parameters, add plenty of aquarium plants in their fish tank and keep them with friendly and same-sized tank mates.

These tropical ember tetras are active and are great if you are looking to add color and life to a community tank. 

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