The Ultimate Ember Tetra Care Guide: Tank Mates, Breeding and More…

Tetras are among the most popular freshwater fish and the Ember Tetra is one of the most beautiful of them all.

This eye-catching nano fish is also known as the Fire Tetra because of its lovely orange scales.

These playful little tetras are quite outgoing and they get along well with all sorts of other fish. It is one of the best community tank fish around.

Do you think that your tank could use a few Ember Tetras?

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about these fiery little fish…

Ember Tetra School

About Ember Tetras

The Ember Tetra (Hyphessobrycon amandae) is a tiny orange tetra from South America.

Their color and beauty truly set them apart from other tetras.

They belong to the family Characidae, which happens to be one of the most diverse fish families in the world.

You will find these little fish in the Araguaia River basin in Brazil.

First time fishkeepers will find them to be very easy fish to care for.

They are surprisingly hardy for their size and are not particularly susceptible to common fish diseases.

If you love community nano tanks then you will love this tetra. Ember Tetras stand out most of all in a diverse community with plenty of tropical plants to take shelter in. You must keep Ember Tetras in schools of at least 8 but they will be happiest in larger schools of 10 to 12.

These Tetra can be found at most aquarium suppliers for approximately $2-$4 per school of 5.

Key Facts:

  • Experience Required: Freshwater fishkeeping.
  • Nicknames: Amanda’s Tetra, Dwarf Tetra and Fire Tetra.
  • Color Forms: Orange and red.
  • Size: 0.75-0.80 inches.
  • Tank Size: 10+ gallon tank size.
  • Tank Temperature: 70°F-82°F.

Species History

Ember Tetra

The Ember Tetra was first discovered in 1987.

They were found in the Araguaia River (in Brazil) and was named for ichthyologist Heiko Bleher’s mother, Amanda.

Bleher himself did not discover the species but worked extensively with other fish species in South America. Unlike the Rosy Tetra and others in the genus Hyphessobrycon, the Ember Tetra has not been studied extensively in the wild.

They were first introduced to the aquarium trade in the early 1990s.

Fishkeepers quickly fell in love with this tetra’s striking colors and were delighted to discover that it is not a difficult fish to care for at all.

Today the Ember Tetra is an aquarium favorite.

The genus has been widely researched for its diversity and richness. Several new species have been discovered in recent years too.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Easy to keep and beginner friendly.
  • Great for community tanks.
  • Very active and easy to spot.
  • Gets along well with other fish.
  • Can thrive in lower temperatures than most tropical fish.
Cons

  • Not compatible with larger tank mates.
  • Must be kept in a large school.
  • Can not handle changes in water conditions.
  • Short lifespan.

Appearance

The Ember Tetra might be tiny but they command a lot of attention.

They are covered in iridescent scales that sparkle like glitter against their orange body.

Males are an especially eye-catching red or orange, while females are a pale yellow color. The iridescent scales are much more apparent on the female’s duller colors.

Embers are shaped like a bullet with 6 fins. They have a large primary and tiny secondary dorsal fin, a very small pectoral fin, a pelvic fin, a fused anal fin and a homocercal caudal fin.

If you look closely at the sides of the Ember you can see their lateral lines. They are the same color as the rest of the fish and are more visible on females than males.

You should expect your Ember Tetra to grow to a maximum size of 0.80 inches.

To tell the difference between the males and the females you should look at both the color and the shape of the fish’s body.

Males are very easy to spot because their colors are vivid. They also have thinner bodies that are shaped more like underwater torpedoes. Females can be recognized first by their paler coloration and by their rounder bodies.

This ember fish’s appearance is a reflection of its quality of life. Poorly fed tetras kept in poor water conditions will fade to a pale yellow color. A clean tank and a healthy diet will keep your tetras looking their very best.

Color Varieties

There are two different color varieties of Ember Tetra:

  • Orange: This is the most common and the one that most keepers will associate with the species. Shimmering sunset orange males and yellow-orange females. Both genders have iridescent scales that create a glittering appearance with matching lateral lines.
  • Red: Red orange to scarlet orange males and faded orange females. They have the same glittering scales and matching lateral lines as displayed on the more popular orange color form.

Tank Mates For Ember Tetras

Freshwater Tank For Ember Tetras

Ember Tetras live alongside fish of all shapes and sizes in the wild. In addition to other tetras they share their wild home with Pygmy Rasbora, Pleco Catfish, Cichlids and even Arowanas.

However these do not all make suitable tank mates in the aquarium.

You should only keep this fish with other peaceful fish that are not large enough to eat it.

Ember Tetras can live peacefully with just about any other kind of tetra – the best ones are the ones from their own genus including: Rosy Tetras, Bleeding Hearts, Black Neons and Flames. Neon Tetras also make good tank mates, along with Pygmy and Harlequin Rasbora. Small Corydoras catfish are also good additions to an Ember community.

Guppies and other small Rasbora, such as the Chili Rasbora, also make great roommates for most tetras.

The best non fish tankmates for your tetras are Cherry Shrimp and Nerite Snails. Other small cleaner snails work as well.

Cichlids are best avoided, so that means no Convict Cichlids.

Jack Dempseys, Oscars and even the more peaceful freshwater Angelfish will be a nightmare for a tetra tank.

Long finned fish (such as Gouramis) should also be avoided.

Contrary to popular belief they should not be kept with Bettas either.

Rambunctious Barbs such as the Tiger Barb can be too much for this fish to handle too. Clown Loaches are a poor choice for the same reason.

Ember Tetra School

Ember Tetras

Ember Tetras must be kept in a school of 8 to 10 individuals at a minimum. They are happiest in schools of 10 to 12.

To keep a small school of 8 tetras you will need at least a 10 gallon tank. However your fish will be happier in a larger school and therefore a larger tank.

Add one gallon for each new Ember you add to your school.

A 20 gallon tank will fit one large school of 10 to 15 Ember Tetras.

Though you can keep them in a single species tank they crave social interaction and will thrive in a diverse community. Not only do they interact eagerly within their school but they will interact with other fish of their own species and others.

You will catch them chasing and playing with each other in your underwater plants.

They are one of the very best fish for community nano tanks.

Wild Habitat and Tank Conditions

An Ember Tetra Tank

These fish come from South American river basins where the water temperature is between 70°F-82°F.

These rivers have a muddy substrate with lots of decayed plant material. Underwater plants are abundant in the river and provide them with the security that they crave.

Most of the time Ember Tetras stay in the low flow areas of the river basin.

They tend to come out just before sunrise and just after sunset and stay in the middle levels of the water column.

Tank Set Up

  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 Gallons
  • Tank Type: Freshwater planted
  • Temperature: 70 to 82°F
  • pH: 6.0 to 6.5
  • Hardness: 5 to 17 dGH
  • Flow: Light
  • Substrate: Enriched fine gravel or mud

To keep your Ember Tetras happy and healthy you should aim to reproduce their wild conditions inside your tank.

They will need at least a 10 gallon tank.

You will need to use a heater that can maintain a water temperature between 70°F-82°F. You will also need to use a hang on back filter or a low flow external filter to simulate a quiet river current.

A fluorescent hood light makes the best light for your tetra tank. In the levels where your tetras are most likely to spend their time the lighting should be moderate at most.

For substrate you should use fine gravel or mud enriched with plant material. The darker your substrate the better it is for their habitat.

Most importantly your tank should be full of aquatic plants.

Your tetras will spend most of their time swimming in and out of the leaves and stems of your underwater jungle. As these plants die they will leave detritus that enriches the soil even further. Microbial colonies will form in the soil that your fish will be able to eat.

You can keep the most popular low light plants such as Java ferns and Crypts. Bladderworts and Anacharis are great plant choices as well but they grow very fast. So make sure to prune them regularly to keep them from taking over your tank.

Finally, you can use Java moss, Najas grass or Peacock moss for carpeting. Hornwort or Duckweed can be used on the surface of your tank to provide extra shading.

Breeding Ember Tetras

Amanda’s Tetra

This species is very easy to breed.

In a large school of Ember Tetra you can expect several spawning events throughout the year.

Most of the time they will breed on their own without any help from you. However there is a chance that they will eat the eggs or fry if left to it.

To create the safest spawning conditions you need to put mated pairs in separate tanks and remove them once the female has spawned.

You can get them into breeding condition by feeding them larval brine shrimp 4 times a day for at least 2 weeks. Raise the tank temperature up to 80°F and keep the pH as close to neutral (7.0) as possible.

You will need to put pregnant Ember Tetras into a nursery tank. This tank should have a sponge filter, a breeding mesh and a bit of Java moss. When your males are showing off their brightest colors they are ready to attract mates. Keep an eye on the size of your females’ abdomens as they will swell when carrying eggs.

Once she lays her eggs remove the female and place her back into the main tank.

The eggs will hatch in about 2 days and there can be as many as 100 new baby fish.

Larval tetras can be fed paramecium and other microscopic foods until they are large enough to eat powdered fish flakes.

When your larvae reach the fry stage they will look like smaller versions of their parents.

They can now eat brine shrimp, larvae and microworms as they prepare for adulthood.

Ember Tetra Care Guide

A Single Ember Tetra

They are one of the easiest fish for first time keepers to raise.

Because of this they make a wonderful introduction to the world of tropical freshwater aquariums.

For their size they are surprisingly healthy and hardy.

The most important thing to remember is to keep your tank clean and keep your water parameters consistent. Your fish will react very negatively to poor water quality.

Clean and cycle your tank every 2 weeks and make sure that it is fully cycled before you reintroduce your fish.

Trim and prune your plants and clean up any algae or detritus that is left behind. Too much decay can lower your tank’s water quality.

Finally you need to make sure your Ember Tetra have enough space to swim and shoal. Avoid overcrowding your tank with too many fish or too many plants.

This fish is not particularly susceptible to any diseases but can pick up some nasty parasites if its tank is not properly cleaned.

If the fish looks very faded or has a mix of bright and dull colors, this is an indicator that it is unhappy with its tank conditions. Other signs include poor shoaling behavior, erratic swimming and a lack of balance and coordination.

Any fish with signs of illness should be isolated right away or it is at risk of being attacked by the other fish in your tank.

Sadly though they do not live very long.

You can expect them to live for 2 to 4 years (even under the best care).

What To Feed Ember Tetras?

Close Up Ember Tetra

A fish this small can only eat the tiniest of prey.

In the wild they will eat the bacteria and microbes that form along algae and substrate. They will also eat zooplankton, larvae and other microscopic live prey.

You will also sometimes find them snacking on algae and plants in order to gobble up the bacteria that form on them.

This is why your tank should have lots of plants as they provide a crucial food source for your fish in the form of bacteria.

Outside of that you should feed them live prey such as daphnia and larval brine shrimp. Grindal worms and microworms can also be fed to them for protein.

While tetras prefer to hunt live prey you can give them frozen bloodworms every so often.

You can also give them fish flakes and pellets however you will need to crush them into a powder that is small enough to fit in their mouths.

They will need to be fed 3 times a day. You can feed them in the early morning and in the evening, and add an extra meal at around noon if necessary. Your fish will prefer to come out to eat before the sun rises and after it sets.

A well fed fish will show you their brightest colors so you can easily tell when your fish’s diet is correct.

Usual Behavior

The Ember Tetra is a shoaling fish.

This means that they do not necessarily swim in the same direction while in a group.

They are very social and despite their size they do not act shy or timid when around larger fish.

You will see these fish swimming in the middle levels of the tank. They will not hide unless the light is too bright. In a brightly lit tank they will stay close to the bottom.

When in a school these little guys will chase each other in and out of your plants and other underwater structures. If you keep them with other tetras then they will eagerly interact with them and may even mimic their behaviors.

These fish are not particularly known for fin nipping but they may still chase fish with trailing fins. For this reason you should keep long finned fish out of an Ember tank.

You can also catch them nibbling on your substrate at the bottom of the tank as they snack on microscopic prey.

Summary

Whether you are a newcomer or a seasoned aquarist, you can find room for the Ember Tetra in your tank.

Tetras can be amusing while they play and socialize well with their tank mates. Not only that but they add a splash of color to even the most boring aquariums.

Aquascapers will appreciate a fish that fits right into a planted tank.

Since they are so easy to breed you will always have a steady supply of new tetras in your community. There will be no need to keep running back to the store for more.

Ember Tetra are excellent for colorful community tanks and can be kept in some very creative biospheres.

If you need a fish to brighten up a room then this little fish is right for you!

How do you bring out your Ember Tetras’ best colors? Let us know below…

About David Thomas

David Thomas David has been keeping fish since he was a child. In his first tank he kept goldfish and since then he has kept over 30 different species. Now he has 4 separate tanks and his favorite is a 100 gallon freshwater tank with a school of Rasboras, Tetras and Loaches.

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