Complete Guide to Ember Tetras – Great for Everyone

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Ember Tetras are fun little fish that get along well with other fish. They’re one of the best additions for a community tank.

The Ember Tetra is among the most popular freshwater fish and is one of the most beautiful.

This fantastic nano fish has bright orange and red scales that makes them look like little embers of fire swimming around in your tank.

Keep reading to learn all there is to know about these fiery little fish.

Overview of the Ember Tetra

The Ember Tetra (Hyphessobrycon amandae), also known as the Fire Tetra, is a freshwater fish from the Characidae family found in slow-flowing rivers of Central-Western Brazil.

Characiformes are one of the most diverse orders of freshwater fish with over 2000 species within 19 families. They are unquestionably among the most attractive freshwater fish.

The color and beauty of these tetras are what sets them apart from other tetras.

They are a very peaceful fish even though they are active and are not demanding when it comes to their upkeep.

You don’t have to have any expertise or experience with fishkeeping to enjoy keeping these little gems.

What I like about this fish:

  • This fish is striking to look at and are breathtaking when they are in a school of 10 or more.
  • They are quite hardy so are perfect for all fish keepers.
  • They can go in a tank as small as as 10 gallons.
  • A fantastic community fish.
caring for ember tetras

What does an Ember Tetra look like?

Ember Tetra are the tiniest of fish, but despite this they are captivating to look at.

They have a beautiful iridescent appearance that sparkles when they change color. They are bright red, often with a saturated orange gradient. Eyes often have an orange tint to them.

Males are especially eye-catching in red or orange.

Females are pale yellow with scales that are much more iridescent then the males.

Their body shape is a little elongated. They have a large primary and small secondary dorsal fin and a very small pectoral fin. Their pelvic and anal fins are fused together, as well as their homocercal caudal fin.

If you take a look at the sides of an Ember fish, you can see lateral lines on them. They are the same color as the rest of the fish, but are more visible on females than males.

Size wise, you can expect them to reach a maximum size of 0.80 inches.

Males and females look quite different with regards to color and shape.

The male Ember Tetras have vivid colors and thinner bodies whereas the females have rounder bodies and more subdued coloring.

Ember Tetra Behavior

This is where they really excel. Even though they are tiny fish, they are very active swimmers.

They are more often seen swimming in the middle section of the tank and do not hide away unless your fish tank lights are very bright which they will find stressful.

Despite being small they are very social and do not shy away from fish that are larger than them.

Ember Tetras will be happiest when they are in a shoal with other Ember Tetras.

If you place other tetra fish in the same aquarium tank then they will interact with them and mimic their behavior.

They are not known to be fin nippers unless their tank is too small and there is not enough room for them to roam.

Ember Tetra tank setup

Tank Setup and Size

Ember Tetra naturally occur in rivers, lakes and occassionally even in swamps.

The water bodies where these species are found are largely surrounded by plants and trees. Most of the vegetation on the ground ends up on the riverbed or in water.

The riverbed soil is normally soft and dark with a mix of gravel and light rocks.

To keep Ember Tetras happy and healthy, it’s best to create their natural habitat inside your fish tank.

The smallest tank size that will be suitable for them is 10 gallons. Any smaller will not be suitable for these active swimmers.

Water Conditions

Ember Tetra are small freshwater fish that prefer slow flowing rivers with a lot of vegetation. Make sure that the water flow is low by using a hang on back filter or a low flow external filter to simulate a quiet river current.

  • The ideal pH needs to be between 5.5 an 7.
  • Water harness must not be more than 18dH.
  • Temperature can be in the range of 68-82°F.

Tank Setup For Ember Tetras

Ember Tetras naturally love heavily planted areas so this needs to be replicated in your tank.

Even though they love lots of plants, they also require space to swim around so keep this in mind when planning out your tank.

In order to display these fish properly, your substrate should preferably be dark-colored.

Gravel or mud with plant material is perfect.

These fish are not fans of bright lighting so moderate lighting is the way to go. To help them feel even more at ease, add some floating plants to dim the lighting even more.

Tank Size

Even though these are small fish I would not recommend a tank smaller than 10 gallons. The reason for this is because of their activity levels. They are very active and need space to swim.

Ember Tetras must be in groups of 8 to 10 at the minimum. Keeping them in groups of 10 to 12 is best because they are happiest with plenty of their own kind around.

A 10 gallon tank is appropriate for keeping around 10 Ember Tetra fish. However, your fish will be happier in a bigger school (i.e. more than 10), and therefore will need a bigger tank.

15 to 20 Ember Tetras will be perfect for a 20 gallon tank.

You can keep them in a species only tank but they will do better in a community tank where they can interact and mingle with other fish.

They will chase and play together as they swim through the plants in your tank.

The Ember Tetra is perfect for nano community tanks.

Tank size for Ember Tetra

Tank Mates

Being friendly and peaceful, you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to tank mates.

Ember Tetras live with many different types of fish in the wild. Besides other tetras they can be found living in communities with Pygmy Rasbora, Pleco Catfish, Cichlids and even Arowanas.

This fish is docile & harmless, so it should be kept with other peaceful, non-aggressive fish that are not large enough to eat it.

Ember Tetras are compatible with other tetras like:

  • Rosy Tetras
  • Bleeding Heart Tetras
  • Flame Tetras
  • Neon Tetras
  • Rummy Nose Tetras
  • Black and Green Neon Tetras
  • Glowlight Tetras
  • Cardinal Tetras

Other suitable tank mates you can consider are:

  • Pygmy Corydoras
  • Hatchetfish
  • Dwarf Cichlids
  • Harlequin Rasbora
  • Guppies

The Ember Tetra will not cope with aggressive fish and should not be in a tank with fish large enough to eat them.

What to feed your Ember Tetras

Ember tetras are similar to neon tetras when it comes to food. They are voracious eaters and will eat both plants and animals.

In their natural habitat you will find them consuming invertebrates, zooplankton and small worms.

In the home aquarium, they’ll typically eat dry food which can include flakes or small pellets.

It is important to give them a varied diet including foods such as live worms or frozen daphnia.

This is important because eating too much processed food can cause digestive issues.

I usually feed them at least twice a day to make sure they are getting all the nutrients they need for their active lifestyle.

Caring for Ember Tetras

These fish are not difficult to maintain or care for.

If you make sure that the tank is heavily planted and you feed them well, they will be content. They also need to be in a school so that they can socialize with each other.

They are hardy and not aggressive and love other tank mates.

what to feed ember tetras

Common Diseases

There are some illnesses that can affect your Ember Tetra just like any other fish in your tank. Here are the common ones that you should keep an eye out for.

Ich is a common illness in fish that causes white spots. It causes the fish to itch and can be treated with medication. Simple tank maintenance can prevent it.

Ember Tetras can also get infected by fungal and bacterial infections.

Almost all of these infections are caused by lack of maintenance and can be easily prevented or treated. If you don’t treat this right it can become worse and even cause your fish to die.

Fungal and bacterial infections are easy to spot as your fish’s fins will begin to rot and will need to be treated with antibiotics from a pet store.

Ember Tetras can also suffer from impaction.

Impaction is a serious medical condition in which a fish’s digestive tract becomes blocked.

Feeding your fish too much processed dry food and not enough variety can lead to impaction.

This fish loves food, so if it consumes too much dry food, the stomach expands and causes them to become ill.

This is avoided by giving your fish enough fiber in their diet or letting the dry food first be soaked in water before feeding it to your fish.


Ember Tetras are known to be some of the easiest fish to breed.

You want to keep males and females in the same tank and nature will naturally take it’s course.

The pH level of the water needs to stay at 7 during breeding season and will need to be monitored and closely controlled. The water temperature should be higher than 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Ember Tetras are free spawners that do not care for their fry. Once they have laid eggs then they abandon them and leave them to fend for themselves.

If you want to keep the fry then once hatched move the babies to a separate raising tank where you can monitor them properly and make sure that get the right food.

Once they grow up to medium size, you can move them to the regular fish tank.

Photo of author


Irma Bense is the founder of She has over 42 years of experience in keeping fish.She has kept both freshwater and saltwater fish through the years.She has extensive knowledge in breeding numerous species of fish from Show Guppies, Cory Catfish, German Blue Rams to Apistogrammas.You can learn more about Irma on the 'About' page.

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