Lemon Tetra: Complete Care Guide

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The Lemon Tetra, with its vibrant coloration and resilient nature, is the perfect addition to any aquarium.

In this article, I will provide you with all the information you need to know about these fascinating fish.

Whether you are a beginner or an experienced fishkeeper, the Lemon Tetra is sure to captivate your attention and bring vibrancy to your aquatic ecosystem.

So let’s dive right in and discover the wonders of the Lemon Tetra!

Quick Facts

OriginAmazon River basin, South America
Scientific NameHyphessobrycon pulchripinnis
Natural HabitatSlow-moving rivers with dense vegetation
HardinessRelatively easy to keep
AppearanceLemon-yellow body, slender, forked tail fin
SizeAverage 2 inches (5 cm)
Lifespan3-5 years, up to 7 years
BehaviorPeaceful, social, active swimmers
Group SizeBest in groups of 6-8
Tank LevelMiddle and upper levels
Tank SizeMinimum 20 gallons
Water ParametersTemp: 72-82°F, pH: 5.0-7.5, Hardness: 2-15 dGH
Tank DecorLive plants, soft sandy substrate, driftwood
DietOmnivorous, flake or pellet food, live/frozen food
Compatible Tank MatesNeon Tetras, Corydoras Catfish, Guppies, etc.

Species Summary

The Lemon Tetra, scientifically known as Hyphessobrycon pulchripinnis, is a popular freshwater fish that hails from the Amazon River basin in South America.

These vibrant and colorful fish are best known for their lemon-yellow bodies and sleek, streamlined appearance.

They are relatively hardy and easy to care for, making them a great choice for both beginner and experienced fishkeepers.

In the wild, Lemon Tetras can be found in slow-moving rivers and streams with dense vegetation.

Lemon Tetras are known for their hardy nature, making them relatively easy to keep.


Lemon Tetras have a striking coloration that sets them apart from other fish species.

Their bodies are primarily lemon-yellow, which gives them their name.

They have a slender, elongated shape with a pointed snout and a forked tail fin.

The fins have a transparent appearance, allowing their vibrant yellow hue to be beautifully showcased.

In terms of sexual dimorphism, males tend to have brighter and more intense coloration than females.

Males often develop elongated dorsal fins and display more vibrant yellow tones.

Females, on the other hand, have a rounder belly and exhibit a slightly paler coloration.

Lemon Tetras can grow to an average size of 2 inches (5 centimeters) in length, making them a relatively small species.


With proper care, these fish can live for an average of 3-5 years in captivity.

However, there have been instances where individuals have reached up to 7 years of age.

To ensure a long and healthy lifespan for your Lemon Tetras, provide them with a well-maintained aquarium environment, a balanced diet, and regular monitoring of water parameters.

Behavior & Temperament

Lemon Tetras are known for their peaceful nature, making them an excellent addition to community aquariums.

They are highly social fish and should be kept in groups of at least 6-8 individuals to thrive.

When kept in larger groups, these tetras feel more secure and their natural behaviors and colors are better showcased.

Within the aquarium, Lemon Tetras are active swimmers and prefer to inhabit the middle and upper levels of the tank.

They enjoy darting in and out of plants and decorations and may form loose shoaling patterns while swimming.

Despite their gentle nature, it is important to ensure that their tankmates are also compatible and non-aggressive to prevent any undue stress or harm.

Lemon Tetra Care

Caring for Lemon Tetras is relatively straightforward, making them an ideal choice for both novice and experienced fishkeepers.

Providing a well-maintained aquarium environment, a balanced diet, and suitable tank mates are key components of their care requirements.

Additionally, regular monitoring of water parameters and performing regular water changes are crucial in ensuring the health and longevity of these vibrant fish.

Tank Size

To accommodate a group of Lemon Tetras, it is recommended to provide them with a tank size of at least 20 gallons.

This tank size allows for ample swimming space and provides adequate room for maintaining water parameters.

A larger tank minimizes territorial disputes among tankmates and helps create a more stable and harmonious environment.

Water Parameters

Lemon Tetras thrive in water conditions that mimic their natural habitat.

Here are the ideal water parameters for these fish:

Water Temperature: 72-82°F (22-28°C)

pH Level: 5.0-7.5

Water Hardness: 2-15 dGH

Maintaining stable water parameters is crucial for the health and well-being of your Lemon Tetras.

Regular water testing, appropriate filtration, and the use of conditioners to remove chlorine and other harmful substances are essential.

What To Put Inside Their Tank

When creating the perfect environment for your Lemon Tetras, try to replicate their natural habitat as closely as possible.

In their natural habitat, Lemon Tetras can be found in slow-moving rivers and streams with dense vegetation.

To simulate this, it is recommended to include live plants, such as Java Moss or Amazon Sword, along with a soft and sandy substrate.

Adding driftwood, rocks, and caves can provide hiding spots and create a more natural-looking aquascape.

Ensure proper water flow and filtration to maintain high water quality.

Be cautious when selecting tank mates, as they should be compatible with the peaceful nature of the Lemon Tetras.

Food & Diet

Lemon Tetras are omnivores and have a varied diet in the wild.

They primarily feed on small insects, insect larvae, and plant matter.

In an aquarium setting, provide them with a balanced diet to ensure their nutritional needs are met.

A staple diet for Lemon Tetras can consist of high-quality flake or pellet food specially formulated for tropical fish.

Supplementing their diet with live or frozen foods, such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, or daphnia, can help promote natural foraging behaviors and provide additional nutrients.

Feed them small amounts twice a day to prevent overeating and minimize waste.

Lemon Tetra Care

Lemon Tetra Tank Mates

Lemon Tetras are peaceful fish that get along well with a variety of tank mates.

When selecting tank mates, choose species that have similar temperaments and can coexist peacefully.

Suitable tank mates for Lemon Tetras include:


Breeding Lemon Tetras can be a rewarding experience for experienced fishkeepers.

Providing the right conditions, including appropriate water parameters, suitable tank mates, and a well-balanced diet, can encourage breeding behaviors.

It is important to have a separate breeding tank to protect the eggs and fry.

To promote successful spawning, it is recommended to slightly lower the water temperature and provide plenty of plants for the females to lay their adhesive eggs.

Once the eggs are laid, the parents should be removed to prevent them from eating the eggs.

The eggs will hatch within a few days, and the fry can be fed infusoria or commercial fry food until they are large enough to consume crushed flake food.

Why You Should Consider This Fish

If you are looking for a vibrant and peaceful fish to add to your aquarium, the Lemon Tetra is a fantastic choice.

With their striking yellow coloration and peaceful nature, they can bring a lively and charming presence to any community tank.

Their hardy nature and relatively low maintenance make them a great option for both beginners and experienced fishkeepers.


Can Lemon Tetras be kept with aggressive fish?

It is generally not recommended to keep Lemon Tetras with aggressive fish as their peaceful nature may make them targets of aggression. It is best to select tank mates that have similar temperaments to ensure a harmonious tank environment.

How many Lemon Tetras should I keep together?

Lemon Tetras should be kept in groups of at least 6-8 individuals. By keeping them in larger groups, their natural behaviors and colors are better showcased, and they feel more secure.

Are Lemon Tetras jumpers?

While Lemon Tetras are not particularly known for being jumpers, it is always advisable to have a securely fitted lid or cover on the aquarium to prevent any accidental jumps.

Do Lemon Tetras need a heavily planted tank?

Lemon Tetras appreciate the presence of plants in their tank as it provides them with places to hide and mimics their natural environment. However, the tank does not need to be heavily planted, and a mix of live and artificial plants can be used.

Can Lemon Tetras tolerate high water flow?

Lemon Tetras prefer moderate water flow as it mimics the conditions of their natural habitat. Excessive water flow can cause stress and make swimming difficult for these fish.

Photo of author


Irma Bense is the founder of BetterFishkeeping.com. 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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