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Ember Tetra: Care Guide, Pictures, Types & Lifespan

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By Lindsey Stanton

Ember Tetra

Ember tetras are brightly colored freshwater fish that originate from the Araguaia River basin in Brazil, and are part of the characin family. These colorful fish add a burst of color to home aquariums and make a tranquil school in the center of the tank. They are fascinating to watch for both adults and children alike. Ember tetras primarily eat a protein-rich diet making these small fish carnivorous. They are commonly referred to as “fire tetras” due to their intricate and stunning red to orange color. Ember tetras can easily be paired with other small and peaceful fish and they look best in a planted aquarium with strong filtration. Continue reading to learn more about keeping Ember tetras in your aquarium.

Quick Facts about Ember Tetra

Species Name: Hyphessobrycon amandae
Family: Characin
Care Level: Easy
Temperature: Tropical (24°C to 29°C)
Temperament: Peaceful & friendly
Color Form: Orange & red
Lifespan: 2 to 4 years
Size: 2 cm
Diet: Carnivore
Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
Tank Set-Up: Planted
Compatibility: Good

Ember Tetra Overview

Ember tetras make excellent community fish and will not cause trouble with other tankmates. They require a heated tropical aquarium and do best in warmer water than other tropical fish. They can withstand a constant temperature of 32°C, but these high temperatures are not recommended and will speed up their metabolism, shortening their lifespan drastically. Ember tetras enjoy slow moving waters and are exceptionally active through the day. They enjoy darker waters and get stressed when kept in brightly lit conditions.

Ember tetras are susceptible to being eaten and chased by larger fish. Ember tetras may be able to swim fast, but larger fish will be quick to catch up to them. Keeping them with threatening fish will cause the Ember tetras unnecessary stress. A stressed fish has a weak immune system and will catch disease they would otherwise typically be able to fight off. It is therefore essential to minimize stress within the aquarium and create a peaceful environment. Ember tetras should be quarantined at least 2 weeks before being placed into the main aquariums as they are quick to spread the external disease called ich.

Ember tetras are schooling fish and need at least 10 or more to group together appropriately. Ember tetras are small but require a minimum tank size of 10 gallons. This is due to their activeness and need to school with large groups.

Image Credit: nektofadeev, Shutterstock

How Much Do Ember Tetra Cost?

Ember tetras are not expensive to purchase. They are found in pet stores and online with reasonable prices. Ember tetras usually sell for $1 per fish in a pet store or $2 for 4 Ember tetras online. You will receive a larger number of Ember tetras online because some may not survive shipping and transport. Ember tetras are sensitive when being moved from their original tank (usually in the pet store or breeding farm) and take time to adjust to different conditions. This will make them significantly cheaper than other fish in the store. You are recommended to keep more than one Ember tetra; this will encourage the pet store to keep the price low so that you can easily purchase a group.

Typical Behavior & Temperament

Ember tetras are active and have a friendly temperament. You will generally see them swimming in the center of the tank. Ember tetras are not shy towards humans, yet you will find they enjoy living in a heavily planted tank where they can seek shelter. Ember tetras naturally reside in lakes that contain plant overgrowth, rocks, and wooden logs. In captivity, this set-up should be mimicked to ensure they feel safe within the aquarium and can take shelter when they feel disturbed. As they are smaller fish, they are at risk of being preyed on. Therefore, it is recommended to have plants that create a canopy at the surface of the aquarium.

Image Credit: nektofadeev, Shutterstock

Appearance & Varieties

Ember tetras are described as a fiery orange and red color. They have semi-transparent bodies which result in a deeper and more attractive bodily coloring. The Ember tetras’ appearance can be controlled by their diet. Since Ember tetras are carnivores, protein foods will enhance the overall color of the fish. If you want your Ember tetra to stand out within the aquarium, it is best to feed foods over 40% protein to ensure their full color potential can be reached. The eyes of the Ember tetra have an orange rim and are located on the sides of their head.

Ember tetras do not grow large and will reach a maximum size of 2 cm or 0.8 inches at adulthood. Due to their small size, it makes it easier to keep more Ember tetras in a smaller tank than it is with other schooling fish. In a small 10-gallon tank, you will be able to house 5 baby Ember tetras and upgrade as they grow. Ember tetras mainly come in two primary color varieties, namely red or orange. The glow given off by a healthy Ember tetra makes them stick out of the greenery within an aquarium, and this makes them easily identifiable amongst other fish species.

Ember tetras may take to schooling with neon or cardinal tetras as they are in the same family. Ember tetras distinguish the difference amongst one another using their lateral line, which every tetra species has. This can cause the different species to school together.

How to Take Care of Ember Tetra

Habitat, Tank Conditions & Setup


Ember tetras can be housed in smaller tanks. They make good nano tank fish and a group of 10 can be housed comfortably in a 20 gallon. Ember tetras require a rectangular tank and do poorly in bowls or biOrbs. The overall unnatural and magnifying effect the curved sides cause is stressful for fish. Housing your Ember tetra in a large standard rectangular aquarium with a canopy is recommended. Ember tetras require a tank that is greater in length than width.

Water temperature & pH

Ember tetras prefer acidic waters from 6.0 to 7.0. If you are struggling to bring the alkalinity down in the tank, you can use a pH down substance from your aquarium store. Ember tetras are tropical fish and require a stable temperature between 24°C to 29°C. The temperature should not fluctuate and using a preset heater is the best option.


Ember tetras are not fussy with substrate as they prefer to stay close to the surface. Although, a substrate is ideal in an aquarium as it hosts beneficial bacteria. Aquarium sand, gravel or pebbles can be used. If you plan to create a live planted tank for your Ember tetras, a 2-inch layer of aquarium sand works best.


Ember tetras do well in heavily planted tanks. Fast growing and small leaved plants make great hiding places for Ember tetras. Creating a tank set up with driftwood, rocks and plants brings out the true nature of Ember tetras.


The aquarium’s lighting should be dim with no bright artificial lighting. Keep the tank away from a bright window and only use lights that have the dim option. Adding tannins into the water provides a dark view for the Ember tetra within the aquarium and surface leaves from plants can block out some of the light.


Ember tetras require quality filters that do not produce a strong current within the aquarium. Ember tetras are adapted to slow moving water and will get tired when their swimming is exerted. If you plan to nano keep your Ember tetras, ensure you have a filter that filters 10 times the amount of water volume in a couple of minutes.

Image Credit: nektofadeev, Shutterstock

Are Ember Tetra Good Tank Mates?

Due to the Ember tetra’s peaceful nature, they get along with many small community fish. Ember tetras make excellent tankmates and do well with other peaceful fish. Keeping multiple types of schooling fish in the same aquarium can cause competition between the two schools and space will become a problem. Ember tetras must be kept away from aggressive and predatory motivated fish. When Ember tetras are kept with other social and friendly fish, their true personalities and colors will come out. If you plan to keep a community tank, choose fish that swim at the different layers within the aquarium. The main layers are bottom-dwelling, centerpiece fish and surface-dwelling fish. Ember tetras are center piece fish and go well with bottom and surface-dwelling fish.

  • Corydoras
  • Plecostomus
  • Mystery snails
  • Hatchet fish
  • Dwarf cichlids
  • Rasboras
  • Micro rasboras
  • Neon tetras
  • Rasboras
  • Shrimps
  • Blood parrot cichlid
  • Bala sharks
  • Iridescent sharks
  • Red-tailed sharks
  • Goldfish
  • Koi
  • Carp

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What to Feed Your Ember Tetra

Ember tetras are carnivores and will willingly eat grindle worms, bloodworms, or tubifex worms in captivity. Worms and daphnia should be fed as a treat and not an everyday source of nutrition. Small flakes and granules are a good source of everyday food. Ensure the granules or flakes you choose to feed your Ember tetras are small enough for them to chew. If the pieces of food are too large, it may be hard for them to catch the food before other tankmates do.

A diet rich in diversity is ideal and you can grind up the food to make it small enough for Ember tetras. You should feed Ember tetras two to three times a day in small amounts. Ember tetras have a high metabolism, and their activity level requires a steady amount of food. Healthy Ember tetras do not require supplements as all their necessary vitamins and minerals are found in their main diet. Smaller fish can easily be overfed which will result in bloat, obesity, and poor water quality. Food should be eaten in one minute before it is considered as overfeeding. If you nano keep Ember tetras, you should remove any uneaten food with a net to avoid spoilage.

Keeping Your Ember Tetra Healthy

Ember tetras are hardy species that can survive novice mistakes. The main elements in keeping your Ember tetra healthy are ensuring they receive a species appropriate diet, a suitable sized tank, water renewal, aeration and peaceful tankmates are the best possible way to maintain your Ember tetras health and general well-being. The water chemistry should contain 0 ppm ammonia, 0 ppm nitrite and >20 nitrate (ppm=parts per million). Cycle the tank before you add your Ember tetras and keep the water changes stable.

Filtration should be adequate, and their diet should be of high quality. You should take time to keep the algae and disease-causing bacteria down. The gravel should not be riddled with waste and a gravel vacuum should be used to capture debris and waste that gets stuck within the substrate.


Breeding Ember tetras is an easy task to do. Ember tetras are spawning fish and breeding requires minimal human intervention. The water should be warm, and you will require a separate tank or breeder box for the fry. Ember tetras do not play a role in raising their offspring and will eat their newly hatched fry. Once the female Ember tetra has laid sticky eggs along objects in the aquarium, you should remove them and place them in a separate tank or breeding box.

If you choose to keep the eggs in the tank, you should use a net to capture the fry immediately and raise them separately. Ember tetras do not have a specific breeding ritual and the females will deposit eggs to which the male will fertilize with milt. If you have a group of Ember tetras, there is a high chance you will have a good mixture of male and females. To encourage spawning, ensure the pH is neutral and the water is dim with a slow current.

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Are Ember Tetra Suitable For Your Aquarium?

If you are looking for attractively colored and small schooling fish, Ember tetras may be an ideal choice. Ember tetras are colorful community fish that you can keep in nano tanks. They are hardy and get along best with social tropical fish in planted tanks. If you do not have other schooling mid-water fish that will compete for schooling space with Ember tetras, Ember tetras will make an appealing center piece. The tank should contain no unsuitable fish that will harm your Ember tetras. Heated tanks are best for Ember tetras. The appeal of Ember tetras make them a very popular colorful fish for novice and seasoned aquarists.

Check out some of our other tank life species care guides:

Featured Image Credit: InsectWorld, Shutterstock

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