Ember Tetra 101: Care, Size, Breeding, Lifespan, & More

The Ember Tetra is a cute and fun little freshwater fish that we recommend to aquarists of all experience levels.

They’re very easy to take care of, well-mannered, and look stunning!

We’ve been hearing from more and more people who have been adding these fish to their tanks, and we don’t blame them. There’s really no downside.

In this guide, we cover everything you need to know about Ember Tetra care. By the time you’re done reading this, you’ll be fully prepared!

Species Summary

Ember Tetras (Hyphessobrycon amandae) can be found most heavily in Central Brazil in the Araguaia River basin, although they have been sighted in areas surrounding this hotspot.

They prefer backwater rivers with low currents and a very high amount of vegetation. This is important to note because you’ll want to replicate this heavily planted environment in their tank as well.

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In the wild, this fish eats a mixture of plants and very small invertebrates. They are very peaceful and can be compatible with a wide variety of tank mates.

The main draw of the Ember Tetra is its bright orange color. This really makes them stand out in most freshwater nano aquariums and means this fish will likely be a popular choice for years to come.


The typical Ember Tetra lifespan is between 2 and 4 years. While there have been some sources that have reported a lifespan of up to ten years, that’s widely considered to be inaccurate.

Maximizing their lifespan is heavily dependent on the quality of care they receive and the habitat they live in. Aside from the obvious water quality impact, the biggest influencer on their health and lifespan tends to be the presence of plants. Ember Tetras that live in heavily planted tanks tend to live much longer than the ones that don’t.


The appearance of Ember Tetras is the main reason they’re so popular among the aquarist community. These fish are extremely pretty and their bright coloration makes them mesmerizing to watch swim around in your tank.

Ember Tetra close up view of body and anatomy

The Ember Tetra is almost entirely orangeish-red and the brightness of their color holds true wherever it’s present on their body. This gives them a very distinct and sharp look that’s impossible to miss!

Their dorsal fins are tall and thin with a gradient that fades from their primary color to a slightly darker tone at the back. This darker area transitions into a slightly transparent section at the very edge of the fin.

Their caudal fins are forked and have a more drastic color transition than their dorsal fins. The very base of the fin is the same color as the rest of their body (sometimes even brighter). From there it quickly transitions into a darker orange before becoming almost completely transparent. This clear portion of their caudal fin makes up the back half of the fin.

The ventral and pectoral fins of the Ember Tetra are almost completely clear as well. This is neat to watch because it makes a little flicker while they swim!

Their bodies have the classic build that you see in many types of tetras build of being thicker and taller in their front half but thinning out a lot behind their dorsal fins.

Author Note: The diet and level of care that you provide will directly impact how bright their colors are. A dull Ember Tetra typically means it hasn’t been cared for properly at some point.


The average Ember Tetra size is just under 1 inch in length. This is a little smaller than their popular Neon counterparts which is an important distinction to make. Some people think these fish are essentially the same, just with different colors.

There have been instances where an Ember Tetra has grown to be larger than an inch but that’s very uncommon. The size of these fish is often not visibly impacted by the quality of their care.

Ember Tetra Care

Ember Tetra care is about as easy as it gets. These fish are a dream to keep and are recommended for aquarists of all experience levels.

As long as you take care of the basics with their habitat and water quality there isn’t much else you’ll need to worry about. That’s why we recommend them for anyone looking to add a splash of tiny color into their tank!

Tank Size

The ideal tank size for Ember Tetras is 10 gallons at a minimum. This will allow you to keep a group of them together (more on that later) and also include the necessary amount of plants.

If you want to include a larger number of these fish together (somewhere in the 20-25 range) then you’ll want to up the tank size to 20 or 25 gallons. This will maintain the necessary balance of space, fish, and plants.

Water Parameters

Maintaining the proper water parameters for an Ember Tetra is not very challenging. This is one of the main benefits of owning these fish. They’re very low-maintenance in this regard!

  • Water temperature: Generous range of 73°F to 84°F 
  • pH levels: 5-7 is the recommended range but we prefer keeping them closer to 6.5
  • Water hardness: 5-17 dGH

It’s always recommended to get an aquarium test kit and perform regular level tests. Aiming for once or twice a week at minimum is a safe frequency.

Even though Ember Tetras are hardy and easy to care for when it comes to water conditions, the most experienced aquarists tend to play it safe and test regularly. This will prevent any fluke shifts from causing harm to your fish.

What To Put In Their Tank

The main thing you’ll want to include in their tanks is plants. In their natural habitat Ember Tetras are surrounded by heavy vegetation, so it’s what they’re comfortable with.

An Ember Tetra swimming near plants

Not only does this help keep their stress levels low, but it provides major benefits to the quality of the water as well. Some of the best plants to include in their tanks are Java Moss, Hornwort, and Anacharis.

Author Note: While the presence of plants in their habitat is obviously important, you don’t want to go overboard. Make sure there’s enough room for them to swim freely and interact with each other. The plants are there to provide a place to hide and rest, nothing more.

Common Potential Diseases

Due to their hardy and durable nature, there aren’t any species-specific diseases that plague the Ember Tetra. This is great news for aquarists of all experience levels and makes them a great low-maintenance fish to keep.

This doesn’t mean they can’t get health problems of course. Poor diet and subpar water quality can increase their risk of infection and illness in general.

Food & Diet

Just like any fish, you’ll want to give your Ember Tetras a balanced diet to help them thrive and live long lives. Variation is important if you want to ensure that they get the necessary vitamins and nutrients to keep their systems running smoothly.

This means a mixed diet of flake fish food and frozen or freeze-dried food is a great place to start. For live food, we recommend Daphnia and brine shrimp as a great source of protein and nutrients.

You might also see them snacking on a plant from time to time. This is completely fine and is not something that you have to worry about. They won’t eat enough to damage the plant, and this is part of their normal behavior.

Aquarists have had success feeding Ember Tetras anywhere from 2-4 times a day. If your schedule can accommodate it, we recommend three feedings.

Author Note: It’s very important to avoid overfeeding with these fish. Their tiny size often baits aquarists into dropping in more food than necessary. If you overfeed an Ember Tetra it can lead to a multitude of health problems. Keep an eye on your fish for any signs of malaise.

Behavior & Temperament

Ember Tetras are very fun fish to keep in your tank due to their general temperament and behavioral tendencies. Unlike other species, these fish are quite active!

These are shoaling fish which means you’ll almost always see them in a group. This makes it quite enjoyable to watch them swim around because of their bright colors. They look like a group of orange bullets.

Fire tetra swimming together

Ember Tetras are fairly curious fish that will move from one area of the tank to another (as a group). They have no worries about checking out other similarly sized critters and aren’t shy by nature.

With that being said, they will spend some time hiding out in the included plants. This is their natural safe space and usually means they just want to rest for a bit.

They aren’t aggressive at all which is great when you start considering tank mates (details on that in the section below). Overall, we would really consider them model inhabitants!

Ember Tetra Tank Mates

Because of their gentle nature, there are plenty of viable Ember Tetra tank mates you can choose from. These fish will mind their own business and not bother other fish in the tank, even though they are relatively active.

One thing that’s worth noting when it comes to finding the right tank mates for Ember Tetras is the space they occupy in the aquarium. These fish are committed middle-dwellers and won’t venture to the top of bottom of the tank very often. You can use this knowledge of their behavior to find tank mates that they won’t cross paths with.

We don’t recommend tank mates that are significantly larger than the Ember Tetra because they might accidentally confuse them with a snack. Nonaggressive fish that are roughly the same size is what you’re looking for.

Cory catfish, rasboras, Neon Tetras, and pygmy catfishes are all popular pairings that are compatible with the Ember Tetra. However, if you stick to the recommended guidelines about temperament and size that opens up a bunch of options for you.

Author Note: We also like critters like the nerite snail and Cherry shrimp as Ember Tetra tank mates. Non-fish pairings don’t get enough love!

The Importance Of The Shoal

This is something we’ve touched on a little bit in this guide already but it’s important enough to deserve its own section. One of the most important parts of Ember Tetra care is keeping them in a group.

These fish don’t want to be on their own. We recommend that you keep at least 10-15 of these together to ensure that they feel comfortable and enriched by their buddies.

Hyphessobrycon amandae in a shoal

Shoaling fish that are kept alone will be subject to extreme stress. This can have a seriously negative impact on their physical and mental health.


Ember Tetra breeding is very straightforward and doesn’t require a lot of prep on your part.

All you really need is a tank where males and females are present to get started. Try to adjust the water to reach a pH of around 7 and keep the temperature on the higher side of their normal range (above 80°F at least). This will help encourage the spawning process.

Once spawning has occurred the parents will leave the fry to fend for themselves. You should use this opportunity to move them to a fry tank where you can help them grow before introducing them to their own normal-sized tank.


Ember Tetras are some of our favorite freshwater fish out there. The combination of their beauty and ease of care make them the perfect fish for aquarists of any experience level.

It’s quite addicting to watch these fish swim around and explore the tank. The flicker of bright color while they swim is worth the price of admission for sure!

Whether you’re just getting started or simply want a pretty and low-maintenance freshwater fish, the Ember Tetra is a great choice. We’ve been recommending these fish to our friends for years, and now we’re doing the same with you!

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