Caring for Pristella Tetra: A Comprehensive Guide

When it comes to pristella tetra care, the good news is that they’re fairly low-maintenance. Native to the coastal rivers of South America, these beautiful tropical fish are known for being hardy, peaceful, and enjoyable to watch. With their silvery, nearly transparent body and vibrant yellow, black and white striped fins, they can easily make a delightful addition to your tank. But what else do you need to know before getting your own?

In this guide, we’re going to provide all the essential information on pristella tetra care. You’ll learn how to set up the right habitat, how to choose the right tank mates, the best diet for your fish, the expected lifespan, and more! Read on for everything you need to know about keeping x-ray tetras healthy and happy in your aquarium. 

Pristella Tetra
A brightly colored, abstract, and photo-realistic illustration of a group of pristella tetras in a lush underwater environment.

Species Summary

Pristella maxillaris, also known as the x-ray tetra, is a unique freshwater species that are native to Brazil, Guyana, Orinoco, and Venezuela. They’re capable of withstanding changing environments and migrating with seasonal floods, which makes them highly adaptable to life in captivity. As one of the few members of the Characidae family, these fish come with several distinct features, including a see-through body, vibrant yellow, black, and white striped fins, and a red or pinkish tailfin.


The average size of adult pristella tetras is between 1.75 and 2 inches in length. While they’re usually quite small on their own, they prefer to school together, so you should plan to keep a group of at least six or more. Therefore, in order to keep your fish healthy and active, we recommend a tank size of at least 10 gallons (although 15-20 gallons would be ideal). 

Water Parameters

These fish don’t require any special water parameters, although they do come from waters that aren’t entirely freshwater. As such, they can generally handle more brackish conditions, but this really isn’t necessary for a closed freshwater tank. Overall, the ideal water temperature is around 78°F with a slightly acidic pH of 5.5-6.5. 


Pristella tetras are omnivores, so they’ll accept both plant and animal matter. To keep your fish well-nourished, you can feed them a variety of different commercial pellets, freeze-dried and frozen foods. You can also add in some high-protein snacks like bloodworms here and there. 

Tank Mates

When it comes to tank mates, you have quite a few options for the pristella tetra. The number one rule of thumb is to avoid keeping aggressive fish with these timid swimmers. That includes options like Oscars or Jack Dempsey cichlids. Most peaceful tetras, barbs, rainbowfish, platies, guppies, small gouramis, and bristlenose plecos should be fine. However, if you do choose to mix and match species, it’s important to remember that the ideal tank size should increase accordingly to provide enough space for everyone.


Pristella tetra care when it comes to breeding is fairly easy. These fish will usually spawn in groups if they’re provided with the right conditions. To get them ready, you’ll want to set up a separate breeding tank with plenty of plants and soft mops for the female to lay her eggs. The ideal water parameters for spawning are slightly acidic (around 5.5-6.5 pH) and warmer temperatures (around 78°F). If all goes well, the female should lay between 40 and 50 eggs during each spawning session. After that, you might want to give the parents some time off by transferring them back to the main aquarium, as they might possibly eat their spawn if left alone. 


With the proper diet and optimal living conditions, the typical lifespan of a pristella tetra is four to five years. Of course, good care can always make a huge difference when it comes to the health and well-being of your fish, so always remember to keep an eye on the water parameters and purchase your new fish from a reputable seller. 


When it comes to their care needs, pristella tetras have a lot to offer. Not only are they low-maintenance and resilient, but they’re also visually stunning and fun to observe. To take care of your fish, you’ll want to provide them with an appropriately sized tank along with plenty of hiding spots. Be sure to watch the water parameters closely, but you don’t need to obsess over anything too crazy. Finally, make sure to feed them a balanced diet of commercial pellets and high-protein snacks to keep them well-nourished.

When it comes to tank decorations and accessories, pristella tetra care is relatively easy. Most of these fish will enjoy a tank filled with plenty of hiding spots and extra places to explore. Some great options include the addition of some live or artificial plants, driftwood, and a few rocks. If you want to create some extra space for them, consider setting up an underwater cave or two.

If you want to go the extra mile when it comes to pristella tetra care, then you’ll want to keep your tank well-maintained. This includes regular water changes, cleaning the filter media, and vacuuming up any uneaten food or decaying plant matter that might find its way into the water column. It’s also important to keep a close eye on the pH and temperature of the water, making sure to keep them within the optimal range.

In terms of diet and nutrition, these fish don’t need anything special. You can easily provide them with a diet of flakes, freeze-dried foods, and other high-protein snacks. Just make sure you don’t overfeed them, as this can lead to issues like bloating or unnecessarily foul water conditions.

When it comes to pristella tetra care, disease prevention is also important. These fish have a very delicate immune system, so they’re more susceptible to infection than other aquarium species. To avoid this, it’s best to isolate any new fish before introducing them to your main tank. That way, you can quickly identify any potential health problems and take appropriate action. 

In addition, you’ll want to provide your fish with plenty of clean and healthy water on a regular basis. This means performing weekly water changes and cleaning the filter media every two weeks or so. Additionally, if you plan to use tap water, it’s essential that you use a dechlorinator beforehand to minimize the risk of contamination.

Finally, pristella tetra care also involves providing plenty of enrichment opportunities in the tank. This is especially true if you keep these fish in groups. You can add in items like floating logs, pipes, or rocks for them to explore, along with fine-leaved plants for hiding. You can even provide a few mirror surfaces (like a fluorescent background) for them to admire their own reflection!

Overall, taking care of pristella tetras doesn’t need to be hard or intimidating. With the right set-up and maintenance, these fish can add a lot of beauty and enjoyment to any tank. Keep in mind all the points discussed above, and you’ll be well on your way to creating a thriving aquatic home for your x-ray tetras!