Ember Tetra

Ember Tetras are enchanting freshwater fish that bear a resemblance to their relatives, the Neon Tetras. Displaying a brilliant orange-red hue, they have captured the hearts of aquarium enthusiasts. These friendly fish demand minimal maintenance, making them a fantastic addition to community aquariums.

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Care DIfficulty


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South America

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0.8 inches (2 cm)

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4 years

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Table of contents

Origin, Appearance, Size, and Lifespan

The Ember Tetra, or Hyphessobrycon amandae, is a captivating freshwater fish native to the Araguaia River basin in Brazil. They usually inhabit clear, blackwater environments with dense vegetation.

In their natural habitat, Ember Tetras are often found in slow-moving, shallow waters abundant in plant life. These plants not only function as hiding spots but also as a food source, while the dark riverbeds accentuate their vibrant colors. Being social creatures, these fish thrive in groups of at least six, but it is not unusual to see them in schools of 20 to 30 or more.

Their natural environment consists of warm, soft, and slightly acidic water. The temperature typically ranges from 73 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit (23 to 29 degrees Celsius), with a pH level of 5.5 to 7.0, and water hardness between 1 to 10 dGH. To replicate a similar environment in your aquarium, maintain a consistent water temperature, employ a high-quality filtration system, and incorporate live plants and driftwood.

By closely replicating the Ember Tetra's natural habitat and ensuring the proper water conditions, you will be setting your fish up for a healthy and content life in your aquarium.

Ember Tetras are admired for their fiery orange-red coloration that covers their entire body. These radiant colors make them a striking and captivating feature in aquariums. Although they are small, reaching only about 0.8 inches (2 cm) in size, their vivid hues and lively nature make them an excellent choice for individuals seeking a lively, colorful aquatic display. These delightful fish bring pleasure to observers as they swiftly dart through the tank, making them a beloved favorite among hobbyists with varying experience levels.

With appropriate care, Ember Tetras can enjoy a lifespan of up to three years. As sociable beings, they thrive in groups and are best kept in schools of a minimum of six individuals. To promote their well-being and ensure a long life in captivity, it's crucial to provide a densely planted aquarium with ample hiding spots, as well as a diverse diet comprising premium flakes, pellets, and frozen foods.

Fun Facts

Having learned more about the appearance and lifespan of Ember Tetras, let's delve into some intriguing facts about these stunning fish that make them stand out in the aquarium hobby. From their vibrant coloration to their social behavior, Ember Tetras are full of surprises and are certain to captivate any aquarist.

  • Mimicry for survival: In the wild, Ember Tetras are often found swimming with other similarly sized and colored fish. This mimicry helps both species increase their numbers and confuse predators, improving their chances of survival.
  • Natural sunscreen: Ember Tetras have a unique pigment called erythrophore, which helps them survive in the dark, tannin-stained waters of their natural habitat. This pigment acts as a natural sunscreen, protecting the fish from harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation that penetrates the water surface.
  • Characidae family member: Despite their colorful appearance, Ember Tetras belong to the Characidae family, which includes a diverse range of fish, some with transparent bodies. Ember Tetras, however, have developed bright colors as a form of camouflage and communication in their dimly lit habitats.
  • Ability to change colors: Ember Tetras can alter the intensity of their colors based on their surroundings, mood, or health. In dimly lit conditions or when stressed, their colors may appear less vibrant. Conversely, when they feel secure and healthy, their colors become more vivid, making them stand out in an aquarium setting.
  • Shoaling behavior: Ember Tetras are shoaling fish, meaning they prefer to swim together in groups. This behavior not only helps them feel secure but also creates a stunning visual display in an aquarium. Their coordinated movements and radiant colors can transform a home aquarium into a mesmerizing underwater scene.

Now that you've uncovered some fascinating tidbits about Ember Tetras, you'll be better equipped to appreciate their beauty and intricacies in your aquarium. In the following section, we'll provide recommendations on tank setups, ensuring your Ember Tetras have an ideal environment to thrive and showcase their brilliant features.

Recommended Tank Setups

Each setup includes the core components—tank, filter, heater, lighting, substrate, and more—ensuring that you can create an appropriate environment for Ember Tetras and other compatible freshwater fish species in your aquarium. As you move from budget-friendly to high-end setups, you will also have more options for customization, aesthetics, and advanced features. Ember Tetras are schooling fish and need to be kept in groups of at least six individuals to reduce stress and ensure their well-being. Typically, Ember Tetras are priced between $2 and $4 per fish, although prices can vary based on factors such as size, quality, and availability.

Budget-friendly setup (around $200):

  • Tank: 10-gallon aquarium with a hood or glass canopy ($30 - $50)
  • Filter: Hang-on-back (HOB) or sponge filter rated for 10 gallons ($15 - $30)
  • Heater: 25-50 watt adjustable aquarium heater ($10 - $25)
  • Lighting: Basic LED aquarium light ($15 - $35)
  • Substrate: Inexpensive aquarium sand or small gravel ($5 - $15)
  • Decor: A few pieces of driftwood and rocks, along with low-cost live plants like Java Fern and Anubias ($15 - $35)
  • Fish: Minimum 6, maximum 10 Ember Tetras ($12 - $20)
  • Thermometer: $2 - $8
  • Substrate Vacuum: $5 - $20
  • Fish Net: $1 - $5
  • Algae Scraper or Magnetic Cleaner: $3 - $15
  • Siphon and Bucket: $10 - $25
  • Test Kit: $10 - $40
  • Fish Food: $3 - $15
  • Water Conditioner: $3 - $10

Mid-range setup (around $300 - $500):

  • Tank: 15-20 gallon aquarium with a hood or glass canopy ($40 - $100)
  • Filter: Canister filter or high-quality HOB filter rated for the tank size ($40 - $120)
  • Heater: 50-100 watt adjustable aquarium heater ($15 - $35)
  • Lighting: LED aquarium light with adjustable settings for plant growth and color enhancement ($30 - $100)
  • Substrate: Nutrient-rich aquarium substrate designed for planted tanks ($10 - $30)
  • Decor: A mix of driftwood, rocks, and live plants such as Amazon Swords, Java Fern, Anubias, and Cryptocoryne species ($25 - $60)
  • Fish: Minimum 6, maximum 12 Ember Tetras ($12 - $24)
  • Thermometer: $2 - $8
  • Substrate Vacuum: $5 - $20
  • Fish Net: $1 - $5
  • Algae Scraper or Magnetic Cleaner: $3 - $15
  • Siphon and Bucket: $10 - $25• Test Kit: $10 - $40• Fish Food: $3 - $15
  • Water Conditioner: $3 - $10

High-end setup (above $600):

  • Tank: 20-30 gallon rimless aquarium with a glass canopy ($80 - $200)
  • Filter: High-quality canister filter rated for the tank size ($80 - $200)
  • Heater: 100-150 watt adjustable aquarium heater with an external temperature controller ($25 - $60)
  • Lighting: Advanced LED lighting system with customizable settings for plant growth, color enhancement, and day/night cycles ($100 - $250)
  • Substrate: Premium aquarium substrate designed for planted tanks, with added root tabs for extra plant nutrition ($15 - $40)
  • Decor: A combination of driftwood, rocks, and live plants to create a natural aquascape, featuring plant species such as Amazon Swords, Java Fern, Anubias, Cryptocoryne species, and carpeting plants like Dwarf Hairgrass or Monte Carlo ($40 - $100)
  • Fish: Minimum 6, maximum 20 Ember Tetras ($12 - $40)
  • Thermometer: $2 - $8
  • Substrate Vacuum: $5 - $20
  • Fish Net: $1 - $5
  • Algae Scraper or Magnetic Cleaner: $3 - $15
  • Siphon and Bucket: $10 - $25
  • Test Kit: $10 - $40
  • Fish Food: $3 - $15
  • Water Conditioner: $3 - $10

Please note that these numbers are just recommendations, and you should consider other factors such as tank mates and individual fish personalities when deciding how many Ember Tetras to keep in your aquarium. Prices may vary depending on location, brand, and availability.

Set Up Your Tank

In the previous section, we discussed the recommended tank setups for your Ember Tetras and other fish. Now that you have a better understanding of what's required, let's dive into the step-by-step process of setting up your aquarium. These steps will guide you through selecting the ideal location for your tank, cleaning and preparing the tank, installing essential equipment, and cycling the water to create a healthy environment for your fish. We'll also cover the proper acclimation process to ensure a smooth transition for your Ember Tetras and other fish into their new home. By following these guidelines, you'll be well on your way to creating a thriving aquatic ecosystem for your fish to flourish in.

  • Step #1: Choose the perfect spot for your aquarium, making sure it's away from direct sunlight, heat sources, and drafts. Ensure the surface is level and sturdy enough to support your filled tank. If your aquarium requires a stand, assemble it according to the manufacturer's instructions and place the empty tank on it.
  • Step #2: Next, clean the tank by rinsing it with clean water (avoid using soap or chemicals) to remove dust or debris. Wipe the inside with a clean cloth or paper towel. Rinse the substrate (sand or gravel) thoroughly in a bucket until the water runs clear, then spread it evenly across the bottom of the tank, creating a slight slope towards the back for visual depth.
  • Step #3: Before filling the tank with water, plan the layout of your aquarium, including the position of equipment like heaters and filters. This will make it easier to set up and maintain the tank in the long run. Install the heater and filter according to the manufacturer's instructions. If you're using a sponge or under-gravel filter, place it beneath the substrate before adding water.
  • Step #4: Decorate the tank with driftwood, rocks, and plants to create hiding spots and a visually appealing environment, ensuring there are open swimming areas for your fish. When decorating the tank, be careful to arrange driftwood, rocks, and plants in a way that won't damage or obstruct the equipment. You can also anchor plants to driftwood or rocks to help them stay in place.
  • Step #5: Fill the tank with water treated with a water conditioner if your tap water contains chlorine or chloramines. Place a clean plate or plastic bag on the substrate to prevent disturbance while filling. Fill the tank until it's about 2/3 full. Attach the aquarium light to the hood or canopy, following the manufacturer's instructions. Consider using a timer for your aquarium light to maintain a consistent day and night cycle, which is essential for fish and plants. Connect the heater, filter, and any additional equipment (air pump, CO2 system) to power sources, and install the thermometer in an easily visible location.
  • Step #6: Top off the water, leaving space between the water surface and the top of the tank for oxygen exchange. Turn on the filter, heater, and other equipment. Monitor the water temperature and adjust the heater as needed. Allow the tank to cycle for 4-6 weeks to establish beneficial bacteria and stabilize water parameters. During the cycling process, you can add a bacterial starter culture to speed up the establishment of beneficial bacteria in the tank. Use an aquarium test kit to monitor ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels.
  • Step #7: After the tank has cycled and water parameters are stable, slowly acclimate your Ember Tetras and other fish to the tank's conditions before introducing them. Begin by floating the unopened fish bag in the tank for 15-20 minutes to equalize the temperature. Afterward, open the bag and add a small amount of tank water to it. Continue adding small amounts of tank water to the bag every 5-10 minutes for at least 30-60 minutes, allowing the fish to adjust to the new water chemistry gradually. Use a net to gently transfer the fish from the bag to the tank, avoiding any unnecessary stress or exposure to the water from the bag.
  • Step #8: Once all the fish are introduced, establish a consistent daily feeding schedule, providing high-quality food in appropriate amounts for your fish species. Perform regular water changes (20-30% every 1-2 weeks) and monitor water parameters using a test kit to maintain a healthy environment for your fish. Observe your fish closely for any signs of stress or illness, especially during the first few weeks after introduction. Be prepared to take action if necessary, such as adjusting water parameters or seeking advice from an experienced aquarist.

By following this step-by-step guide and incorporating the additional setup tips, you can create a thriving aquatic environment that will help your Ember Tetras and other fish flourish in their new home.

Recommended Water Parameters

To keep your Ember Tetras healthy and happy, it's important to maintain specific water parameters in your aquarium. Here's a breakdown of what to aim for:

  • Temperature: Keep the water between 73°F and 84°F (23°C and 29°C) for optimal comfort.
  • pH: Aim for a slightly acidic pH of 5.5 to 7.0, similar to their natural habitat.
  • Hardness: Soft to moderately hard water (1-10 dGH) is ideal, though they can adapt to slightly harder water.
  • Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate: Keep ammonia and nitrite at 0 ppm, and maintain nitrate levels below 20 ppm.
  • Lighting: Provide low to moderate lighting with shaded areas and plants to prevent stress.
  • Water movement: Moderate water flow is best, mimicking their natural slow-moving habitat.Make sure to test your aquarium water regularly and perform necessary water changes to keep the environment stable.

Routine Water Maintenance

Water changes are crucial for a healthy Ember Tetra tank. They help remove excess nutrients, waste, and toxins. Here's a suggested routine:

  • Weekly water changes: Replace 20-25% of the tank water every week.
  • Test water parameters: Check pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and hardness regularly.
  • Use a gravel vacuum: Clean the substrate during water changes.
  • Dechlorinate the water: Treat tap water with a water conditioner before adding it to the aquarium.
  • Match temperature and pH: Ensure new water is similar to the tank water.
  • Acclimate the fish: Give your fish time to adjust to new conditions after water changes.

In addition to routine water maintenance, consider the following to ensure the health of your fish and the overall appearance of your aquarium:

  • Monitor lighting duration: Keep track of how long your aquarium lights are on each day, aiming for a consistent 8-10 hour photoperiod. Too much light can lead to excessive algae growth.
  • Plant maintenance: Regularly trim live plants to maintain their health and appearance. Remove any dead leaves or plant matter to prevent water quality issues.
  • Filter maintenance: Clean or replace the filter media as recommended by the manufacturer, usually every 4-6 weeks. Avoid replacing all filter media at once, as this can disrupt the beneficial bacteria and lead to water quality issues.

Diet and Feeding Schedule

Ember Tetras are omnivores and require a diverse diet. Here are some feeding guidelines:

  • Flakes and pellets: Use high-quality flake or pellet food designed for small tropical fish.
  • Frozen and live foods: Offer brine shrimp, bloodworms, daphnia, or mosquito larvae as occasional treats.
  • Vegetable matter: Provide blanched spinach, zucchini, or cucumber for added nutrients.
  • Feeding frequency: Feed modest portions two to three times a day, and avoid overfeeding.

Stress and Diseases

Ember tetras may experience stress from various sources, such as poor water quality, aggression, or unsuitable tank conditions. Identifying and addressing these stressors is vital for your fish's health and well-being:

  • Watch for stress signs: Keep an eye on your Ember tetras for unusual behavior like hiding, lethargy, color loss, or rapid breathing, which may indicate stress.
  • Check water quality: Test your aquarium water to ensure it meets the ideal parameters and conduct regular water changes to maintain a healthy environment.
  • Monitor tank mates: Make sure your Ember tetras aren't being harassed or attacked by other fish and remove any aggressive tank mates if needed.
  • Create a suitable habitat: Provide plenty of hiding spots, appropriate lighting, and a properly sized tank for your fish.

While Ember tetras are generally hardy, they can be susceptible to some common fish diseases, such as:

  • Ich (white spot disease): A prevalent parasitic infection causing white spots on the body and fins, lethargy, and appetite loss. Treat Ich with aquarium salt or anti-parasitic medication and raise the water temperature to around 82°F (28°C).
  • Fin rot: A bacterial infection that leads to frayed or discolored fins and tail. Treat fin rot with a partial water change, aquarium salt, and antibacterial medication containing erythromycin or tetracycline.
  • Velvet disease: A parasitic infection causing a yellow or brownish velvet-like coating on the fish's body. Treat velvet disease with anti-parasitic medication containing copper sulfate or formalin.
  • Swim bladder disease: A condition where fish have difficulty swimming upright. Treat swim bladder disease by fasting the fish and offering them blanched peas, and consider using an antibacterial medication if needed.

Prevent diseases in Ember tetras by maintaining excellent water quality, avoiding overfeeding, and providing a balanced diet. Quarantine new fish before adding them to the main tank and promptly address any signs of illness.


Breeding Ember Tetras can be a rewarding experience for hobbyists. Follow these steps to breed Ember Tetras:

  • Step #1: Create a suitable breeding environment with a separate 5-10 gallon breeding tank, a pH level of around 6.0 to 6.5, and a temperature of about 80°F (27°C). Maintain soft water (1-4 dGH) and include hiding spots like plants and spawning mops for the fish's comfort.
  • Step #2: Select healthy, mature male and female Ember Tetras for breeding. You can determine the gender by observing their physical characteristics and behavior.
  • Step #3: Prepare the breeding pair with a high-protein diet of live or frozen foods for several weeks to help them build strength and energy.
  • Step #4: Encourage spawning by introducing the pair to the breeding tank, gradually raising the water temperature, and dimming the lighting. Include a spawning mop or fine-leaved plants for egg depositing.
  • Step #5: Care for the eggs and fry by removing the breeding pair after spawning. Keep the breeding tank in a dimly lit area, as the eggs and fry are sensitive to light. Eggs will hatch within 24-48 hours, and the fry will become free-swimming after several days. Gradually increase the lighting duration as the fry grow. Feed them infusoria or liquid fry food initially, then gradually introduce crushed flake food.
  • Step #6: Monitor the growth and development of the fry, and separate them by size if needed to prevent larger fry from preying on smaller ones.

Breeding Ember Tetras can be a rewarding experience for experienced hobbyists. Patience and the right conditions are key to success.

Recommended Tank Mates

Here are the top 10 recommended tank mates for Ember Tetras:

  1. Dwarf Corydoras
  2. Neon Tetras
  3. Cardinal Tetras
  4. Guppies
  5. Bristlenose Plecos
  6. Pygmy Corydoras
  7. Cherry Shrimp
  8. Nerite Snails
  9. Rasboras
  10. Otocinclus Catfish

Remember to avoid large, aggressive fish like cichlids, angelfish, and predatory species, as they may harm or eat the Ember Tetras. Always observe the behavior of new fish and ensure they don't cause stress or aggression towards the Ember Tetras.


To summarize, Ember Tetras are an enchanting species of freshwater fish admired for their vibrant colors and low-maintenance nature. These fish need specific water parameters, a well-rounded diet, and an appropriate environment to flourish in captivity. However, with the right conditions, they can live a healthy life and become a wonderful addition to any aquarium. When selecting tank mates, it's essential to pick peaceful and non-aggressive species to ensure a harmonious community. Breeding Ember Tetras can be a challenging but rewarding experience for experienced hobbyists, and patience and ideal conditions are vital to success. Overall, Ember Tetras are a beautiful and lively species that can enhance any aquatic display with their vivid colors and dynamic behavior.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ideal tank size for Ember Tetras?

When setting up a home for Ember Tetras, a 10-gallon tank is the minimum recommended size for a small group. Opting for a larger tank is even better, as it helps keep water conditions stable while offering plenty of room for your fish to swim.

How many Ember Tetras should be kept together?

Keep in mind that Ember Tetras are schooling fish, which means they thrive in groups of at least 6-8 individuals. By maintaining a larger group, you'll not only help your fish feel safer but also encourage them to display their fascinating natural behaviors.

What water parameters do Ember Tetras require?

Ember Tetras thrive in water temperatures between 73°F and 84°F (23°C and 29°C), a pH between 5.5 and 7.0, and soft to moderately hard water with a hardness between 1 and 10 dGH.

What do Ember Tetras eat?

Ember Tetras are omnivorous and require a varied diet. Feed them a mix of high-quality flake or pellet food, along with live or frozen foods such as daphnia, brine shrimp, and bloodworms.

Are Ember Tetras compatible with other fish?

Yes, Ember Tetras are generally peaceful and can coexist with other similarly sized, non-aggressive fish species. Ideal tank mates include other small tetras, rasboras, corydoras catfish, and small plecos.

How long do Ember Tetras live?

With proper care and optimal tank conditions, Ember Tetras can live for 2 to 3 years.

How do I breed Ember Tetras?

Breeding Ember Tetras can be challenging, as they require specific water conditions, such as very soft, acidic water, and a dimly lit environment. Use a separate breeding tank, and separate males and females before introducing them for spawning.

Do Ember Tetras require a planted tank?

While not strictly necessary, a planted tank is highly recommended for Ember Tetras. Live plants provide hiding spots, improve water quality, and create a more natural environment that closely resembles their native habitat.

Can Ember Tetras change color?

Indeed, Ember Tetras can undergo color changes as a result of several factors, such as stress, illness, or alterations in water conditions. If you observe your Ember Tetras experiencing a loss of color, it's important to examine the water parameters and keep a close watch on their health.