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Ember Tetras: Everything You Need To Know

Ember Tetras: Everything You Need To Know

Ember Tetras (Hyphessobrycon amandae) are easy to care for and are popular for beginners. If you’re wanting fish with vibrant color, that stays small and are peaceful in a community tank, they could be the perfect fish for you.

The Ember Tetras’ care guide covers the water quality, feeding & diet, size of the tank, and items to put in the tank. This fish species live comfortably in 73-84 °F (23-29 °C) water temperatures and 5-7 pH levels. They prefer tanks with many plants, like Java moss, and feed 2-4 times daily.

In this article, I’ll discuss Ember Tetras in detail, including their care, what makes them thrive, and mistakes to avoid when you have them in your aquarium. 

Ember Tetras At A Glance

  • Common name: Ember Tetra
  • Scientific name: Hyphessobrycon amandae
  • Care level: Easy
  • Size: 0.6 to 0.8 inches
  • Lifespan: 2 – 4 years
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • School size: 8 or more
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons
  • Water temperature: 73-84 °F (23-29 °C)
  • Water pH: 5.0 to 7.0
  • Water hardness: 5-17 dGH

Ember Tetras, originate from South America and are commonly found in slow-moving rivers in Western Brazil in the Araguaia River basin. These vibrant fish add a touch of beauty to the tranquil ecosystems they call home.  

Appearance & Size

Ember Tetras are very striking, they are a vibrant reddish-orange color, tiny in size, and quite captivating to watch swim around your aquarium.

A true nano fish, they will grow to just under 2 cm (0.8 inches) at maturity, which is slightly smaller than their well-known Neon counterparts.  

Ember Tetras Average Lifespan

The average Ember Tetra lives from 2 up to 4 years.  Many factors come into play when it comes to how long they will live.

Water quality is a crucial factor, but having enough plants has the most influence on their overall health and longevity. Ember Tetras housed in heavily planted tanks tend to live longer than those without adequate plant coverage.

Ember Tetras Behavior & Temperament

Even though Ember Tetras are peaceful fish, they are quite curious by nature. You’ll notice they spend most of their time in the middle section of the tank moving around groups, curious about their tank mates. 

They are relatively active and can be enjoyable to watch because of their vibrant colors.  

That being said, they can get easily stressed so it’s important to give them a few hiding places so they feel safe and have somewhere to comfortably rest when they need to.

Ember Tetra Tank Care & Set Up

Looking after these little guys is fairly straightforward, as long as you have the basics covered with their tank set up, habitat, water quality, and diet it will be a breeze to look after them and watch them thrive.

Ember Tetras are great little fish to add a bit of character and color to your tank.

Tank Size

The ideal tank size for Ember Tetras is 10 gallons at a minimum.

The rule of thumb is to have a gallon (3.8 liters) for an inch (2.54 cm) of fish. Ember Tetras are almost an inch (2.54 cm) in size, so you’ll need a gallon per fish. If you intend to have a community aquarium, you’ll need to adjust the tank size to cater to the size of the other fish species at maturity.

If you want to include a larger number of Ember Tetras together (20-25) you’ll need the tank to be 20 or 25 gallons. This will help maintain the necessary balance of space, fish, and plants.

IMPORTANT: Ember Tetras are shoaling fish, and find safety in numbers so the more fish you keep the more comfortable they will feel. I recommend at least 8-10 Ember Tetras together, so they feel safe and secure with their nano buddies.

Water Parameters

One of the reasons why Ember Tetras are easy to keep is because they’re not so fussy about water quality. The water parameters are favorable, and slight changes in water quality may still be within the optimal range.

  • Water temperature: 73-84 °F (23-29 °C)
  • pH level: 5.0-7.0 (The ideal pH is 6.5)
  • Water hardness: 5-17 dGH

However, it’s important to stick to the water requirements because failure to do so will lead to stress and even the death of your fish. Ember Tetras prefer water with temperatures ranging between 73 and 84 °F (23 and 29°C). 

Some of the aquarium kits to have readily available include an aquarium heater and thermometer. These will help you maintain optimal water temperatures for Ember Tetras at all times. 

When the water temperature falls too low, Ember Tetras become sluggish and stop swimming as fast and as often as they usually do. They may also develop respiratory infections.

On the other hand, if the water is too warm, oxygen levels will drop, leading to fish distress. If not remedied quickly, your Ember Tetras will suffocate.

If the water temperature changes suddenly, either because of changes in room temperature or if someone accidentally switches off the aquarium, Ember Tetras go into shock. Their gills won’t function properly, and they will move closer to the surface to breathe better. 

The HiTauing Submersible Aquarium Heater (available on has a rapid heating in-built temperature control system, with a temperature range of 63-94 °F (17-34 °C). It has an intelligent sensor and over-temperature protection system that turns off the heater when it reaches the set temperature. 

The other aspects you need to pay close attention to are water pH and hardness levels. 

Ember Tetras thrive in slightly acidic water. They can live comfortably in pH levels ranging from 5.0 to 7.0, but the most suitable is 6.5. Ember Tetras will get weak and sluggish in alkaline water. 

What To Put In Their Tank

Few Male Ember Tetras 

You need to be careful when getting Ember Tetras because if you put too many males in the same tank, they are likely to fight. The males will also harass the females if there are too many. You should have two to three male Ember Tetras in a 10-gallon (38-liter) tank.


Ember Tetras are originally from the Araguaia River Basin in Brazil. This area has heavy vegetation, so you should mimic that in the aquarium. Ember Tetras need vegetation to hide in case of confrontations with other fish. They also rest among the plants. 

The plants also help keep the fish’ stress levels low and improve water quality. 

Some of the popular plants for Ember Tetras include:

Whichever plants you opt for, ensure you don’t go overboard. Too many plants will interfere with the movement of fish as they swim and socialize. 


Ember Tetras are not picky, so you can use any substrate in your aquarium. However, if you want the color of your fish to pop, a dark substrate is more aesthetic. It would be best if you also consider the effect of the substrate’s aesthetic appeal.

For example, sand is great because it comes in different shades. However, it increases the risk of hydrogen sulfide, which forms during the nitrogen cycle. Hydrogen sulfide exposes fish to bacteria, fungi, and parasite infections, which can be fatal. 

Fortunately, iron supplements will limit the presence of hydrogen sulfide in the water. 

Some popular dark substrates include:

  • Aquasoil
  • Porous clay gravel
  • Terrarium substrates
  • Black aquarium stones

Seachem Flourite Black Clay Gravel (available on doesn’t soften or decompose in the aquarium. It is safe for fish and plants. It also doesn’t alter water pH. It’s attractive and helps the colors of fish to pop. 

Decorative Items

Besides the natural plants, you may add some artificial plants to make the vegetation dense. However, focus more on natural plants. You can also use other decor pieces, like driftwood, to stimulate Ember Tetras. 

You should avoid items with sharp edges, such as stones because they will injure the fish as they swim or play. 

Aquarium Filter

In the wild, Ember Tetras live in slow-moving waters. Ensure the filter you use in the aquarium is low current. A sponge filter is a great choice for biological and mechanical filtration because they are gentle and will not stress the fish.

Tank Mates

Ember Tetras are very peaceful fish, so you’ll want to keep them with other peaceful, similar-sized tank mates.  You don’t want larger fish mistakenly eyeballing your Ember Tetras as a menu option.

Popular tank mates for Ember Tetras include the following:

Ember Tetras are middle-dwellers and don’t often venture to the top or bottom of the tank.  Keep this in mind when choosing their tank mates.

Food & Diet

Ember Tetras are omnivores, so you’re spoilt for choice when feeding them. This is another reason they’re a popular choice for people new to fish-keeping. 

You can feed them various kinds of food including the following:

  • Fish flakes
  • Frozen food
  • Worms
  • Brine shrimp
  • Daphnia 

Live foods are especially important because they help sustain the colorful radiance of Ember Tetras. Unfortunately, live foods can be a source of contamination, so you shouldn’t rely on them as a daily feed. Instead, they should be given occasionally as treats. 

Feed Ember Tetras two to four times a day. Be careful not to overfeed them because it’s easy to do so, given their size. Only give them food they can consume within two minutes because whatever they can’t consume will go to waste. 

You should also remove any excess food because this will encourage overfeeding.

Keep monitoring your Ember Testas for signs of overfeeding. One way to tell you’re overdoing it is if the water parameters are optimal, but your fish appear sluggish and inactive. They will also appear obese.

Here is a video that covers everything you need to know about Ember Tetras, including how to feed them:

How Long Can Ember Tetras Go Without Food?

When you have an aquarium, you should always consider the possibility of being away from home for a few days. Sending someone to feed the fish every day may be challenging. Knowing how long Ember Tetras can go without food will help you plan their care while you’re away.

Ember Tetras can go for 5-12 days without food. However, the longer they go without food increases the likelihood of fin nipping as the fish enter survival mode and the closer they are to death. Ember Tetras that are poor eaters shouldn’t go over 2-3 days without food to encourage them to eat.

Ember Tetras can go for days without food. So, your fish will be fine if you have an emergency or need to be away from home for a few days. However, you shouldn’t leave them for too long without food. 


Just like caring for Ember Tetras, breeding them is fairly straightforward, and not a lot of preparation is required. 

Place the male and female in a tank with an adjusted water pH of around 7 and a water temperature of around 80°F to 84°F.  Both water pH and water temperature are adjusted to the higher side of their normal range to encourage spawning. If you have lighting, ensure it’s dimmed.

Ember Tetras are free-spawning, which means the parents will leave the fry to fend for themselves. Once spawning has occurred, move the fry to a small tank to help them grow before moving them to their own normal-sized tank (minimum 10 gallons). 

Ember Tetras Diseases

Ember Tetras, like other types of fish, get sick. This is normal, but it’s important to look for signs of illness in Ember Tetras. This way, you can start treatment early and help your fish recover quickly. 

When you notice a change in behavior in your Ember Tetras, there’s always the possibility they are sick. 

For example, they usually have a healthy appetite but may suddenly stop eating. They may also spend more time hiding among the plants instead of being active, as is the norm. 

Here’s a list of common diseases among Ember Tetras, the signs to look out for, and the possible treatment:

Wasting/skinny disease (viral/bacterial infection)


  • Weight loss
  • Redness around the belly and anus
  • Loss of scales
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fish are active, yet they don’t eat


  • Feed antibiotic foods
  • Add antibiotics into the tank



  • White spots on the body
  • Spots become bigger over time
  • Scratching against plants and objects in the tank


  • Add copper sulfate into the tank to kill parasites
  • Malachite green
  • Formaldehyde

Swim Bladder Disease


  • Fish swim close to the surface or follow a curved path
  • Abnormal swim pattern (sideways or upside down)


  • Antibiotics in the water
  • Surgery

Fish And Tail Rot


  • Rugged, reddish fins and tails
  • White spots
  • Rotten edges
  • Swelling of fins and tails


  • Improve water quality
  • Antibacterial medications (malachite green)
  • Reduce stress levels



  • Protruding eyes 
  • Swelling around the head


  • Add antibiotics into the tank
  • Salt baths
  • Antifungal medication (Melafix or Terramycin)
  • Surgery

How To Prevent Diseases in Ember Tetras

While diseases are expected in fish, you can take measures to minimize the risks of illnesses in Ember Tetras. The key is the quality of water in the fish tank. The care of Ember Tetras is not just centered on how you feed and keep them but also on the maintenance of the tank water.

These tips will help keep your Ember Tetras healthy:

  • Change the water regularly.
  • Clean the substrate and decorations.
  • Use a filter to circulate oxygen. 
  • Maintain optimal water temperature and pH levels.
  • Test the water regularly so that you can make adjustments where necessary. 
  • Avoid overcrowding the aquarium because this can lead to high ammonia levels. 
  • Feed your Ember Tetras a healthy diet of dried and live foods.
  • Monitor stress in Ember Tetras. 

Signs of Stress in Ember Tetras

Ember Tetras have a calm and peaceful temperament. It’s fun watching them swim and move as a group all day. However, stressful conditions will cause a change in Ember Tetras’ behavior, and this will affect their health.

Signs of stress in Ember Tetras include:

  • Poor appetite
  • Loss of color
  • Gasping close to the surface
  • Diseases
  • Erratic motions
  • Hiding
  • Weight loss
  • The fish may be swimming sluggishly

These symptoms are a sign that something is wrong in the aquarium. For example, if your Ember Tetras are gasping close to the water’s surface, dissolved oxygen levels may be too low. 

If the Ember Tetras keep hiding behind plants, it’s a sign that the fish are uncomfortable in the tank. It could be because the other fish in the tank are harassing them, especially if you have a community of different types of fish in the aquarium. 

Ember Tetra FAQs

Are Ember Tetras beginner fish?

Yes, Emer Tetras are good for beginners, as long as you have the basics covered with their tank set up, habitat, water quality, and diet it will be a breeze to look after them and a joy to watch them.

Are Ember Tetras fin nippers?

Ember Tetras aren’t generally known to nip fins but there have been a few occasions of them doing so.  Neon Tetras, Black Skirt Tetras, and Serpae Tetras on the other hand are fin nippers.

Can I mix Neon and Ember Tetras?

Yes, you can mix Neon Tetras with Ember Tetras because they have a similar temperament and of similar size.  Just make sure you get the balance right when setting up your tank e.g. water temperature, pH, hardness, filtration, and lighting.

How many Ember Tetras should I keep together?

I recommend at least 8-10 Ember Tetras together. They are shoaling fish and find safety in numbers so the more fish you keep the more comfortable they will feel.

Do Ember Tetras lay eggs?

Yes, Ember Tetras lay eggs, they are an egg-scatter, which means they don’t lay their eggs in any specific area.  Once spawning has occurred, the parents leave the fry to fend for themselves.

How do I know if my ember Tetra is pregnant?

If your Ember Tetra is pregnant, its belly will appear bigger than usual. When they are ready to spawn you may also notice a dark spot on their underbelly near their tail.

Wrapping Up

Ember Tetras are a great choice for your aquarium. The water quality parameters have a range that allows for simple mistakes. However, it would be best to stick within the recommended guidelines to ensure your Ember Tetras remain healthy. 

You should also monitor them whenever you’re in the room to easily discover irregular behavior, which may indicate unfavorable water conditions or poor health.

I’m Elle, the founder of FishHQ. I created this website to share knowledge, tips, and inspiration for beginner hobbyists to help them create a healthy, happy, and vibrant environment for their fish to thrive. Read more...