Ember tetra swimming in aquarium

Ember Tetra Care: Tank Setup, Diet And More

Tropical fish are rising in popularity because of their striking appearance and playful personalities. The Ember Tetra is a rising star. They add a spark of color to your freshwater aquarium and have a peaceful temperament, making them excellent additions to community tanks. They’re a favorite freshwater fish species for a reason!

They are easy to care for and we recommend them for all experience levels. In this guide, we will dive into their care, including tank set-up, feeding, breeding, and more. Let’s get started!

Recommended Ember Tetra Care Items:

Ember Tetra Overview

The Ember Tetra’s scientific name is Hyphessobrycon amandae. It is a small freshwater tetra fish from the Characidae (Tetra) family and is native to the slow-flowing rivers of Brazil. It is most commonly found in the Araguaia River basin. It is also sometimes called the Fire Tetra.

This species is popular with fishkeepers due to their striking, bright appearance. They’re also great additions to aquascaped tanks, as they won’t destroy plants and their coloration contrasts well with plants.

Personality-wise, they are an active, inquisitive, peaceful fish. They are easy to care for and you don’t run the risk of them outgrowing your tank.  They’re great beginner fish but they’re also very popular with experienced aquarists due to their coloration and compatibility. 

Ember Tetra Appearance

The appearance of Ember Tetras is one of the main reasons they’re so popular in the aquarist community. How could you not be captivated by a fish that is named after fire?

The Ember Tetra is a fiery orangeish-red. Their eyes also have an orange rim. Once you see one, you won’t forget what they look like. Their scales are compact and seamless and lay flush with one another. Due to this, they can look slightly transparent in some areas.

School of ember tetras swimming

Their body shape is skinny and long, like most Tetras. Their body appears slightly compressed or smaller towards the back – this allows them to move smoothly. Females are usually a little rounder than males, especially during the breeding season.

Their caudal (tail) fins are forked and have a drastic color transition. The base of the fin is the same color as the rest of their body. From there, it quickly transitions into darker orange before becoming almost completely transparent. The back half of their caudal fins are clear. The ventral and pectoral fins of the Ember Tetra are almost completely clear as well. 

The diet and care provided directly impacts how bright their colors are. A dull Ember Tetra typically means something in the environment is less than ideal.

How long do Fire Tetras live?

In captivity, most Ember Tetras live about 2 years. Perfectly cared for Embers may live longer – about 4 years.

Their lifespan is heavily dependent on the quality of care they receive and their habitat. Water quality is extremely important, as is the presence of plants. Ember Tetras that live in heavily planted tanks tend to live longer than the ones that don’t. Thiis mimics their natural habitat, which helps keep their stress levels low.

How big do Ember Tetras get?

Ember Tetras are little fish; the average size is right around 1 inch in length. Even though they’re small, they’re not timid. Their size is also partially responsible for their peaceful behavior;  they wouldn’t last long if they tried to boss bigger fish around.

Ember Tetra Temperament

Ember Tetras are a fun fish to keep in your tank due to their easy-going temperament. They’re active, inquisitive, and peaceful, which is the trifecta of greatness for an aquarium fish. Ember Tetras are curious fish that will move from one area of the tank to another as a group. 

These are shoaling fish which means they hang out and swim in a group. They look like a group of orange torpedoes zipping around your tank.

They also like their private time and will spend time hiding out in plants. This is why it is so important for Embers to live in planted tanks; they need their beauty rest and privacy!

They are not aggressive, meaning you can put them in a community tank without worries. 

Ember Tetra Care

Ember Tetras are easy to care for aquarium fish. However, you need to know what you’re doing. Our guide covers their ideal habitat, including tank, breeding, filtration, and more.

Ember Tetra Habitat

When planning the ideal fire tetra tank, it is recommended to try to recreate their natural environment. This principle works well when designing tanks and making sure your fish are eating correctly. Recreate their natural environment for best results. 

As a native to the rivers of Brazil, the Ember Tetra thrives in aquariums with lots of plants and plenty of refuge and places to explore such as driftwood and rocks. Due to the presence of driftwood and a good amount of rain, their preferred water is slightly acidic. Their natural habitat has dense jungles with thick canopies that block lots of daylight. This creates dark pockets of water with lots of fallen leaves, vegetation, and tree roots. They will appreciate dark substrate as well.

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Keeping any aquarium fish in non-ideal conditions will stress them out, which is associated with a higher incidence of disease and shortened life spans. 

What is the best tank for an Ember Tetra?

While Embers are not big fish, they do best in groups in heavily planted tanks. Therefore, the smallest tank we recommend for a small group of embers is 10 gallons. They can exist in a nano tank, but 10 gallons is most ideal.

However, if you have room for a bigger tank and a bigger crew of embers, we recommend it. They’ll be happier and their schooling behavior will be more entertaining. For a group of 20-25 embers, you’ll want a tank size to 20 or 25 gallons minimum. This will maintain the necessary balance of space, fish, and plants.

How many Ember Tetra can go in my tank?

We recommend a minimum group size of 10 embers. Embers absolutely do not want to be the  solo representation of their species in your tank. This will stress them out. 

If you have the space, consider a group of 20-25 embers. This will help bring out their inquisitive, charming behavior. Think about it from their perspective – they’re tiny fish, about an inch in length. If you’re a solo tiny fish, you’re going to be pretty timid. However, if you have 20 buddies to explore with, that is a much better and calmer situation for you. 

For larger tanks, we recommend the following maximum amount of embers:

  • 29 gallons: 20-25 embers
  • 40 gallons: 22-28 embers
  • 55 gallons: 28-35 embers

Water Conditions

Maintaining the proper water parameters for an Ember Tetra is not challenging. Because of their habitats, they prefer slightly acidic water. They’re low-maintenance when it comes to water!

  • Water temperature: 73°F to 84°F 
  • pH levels: 5.5-7 (closer to 6.5 preferred)
  • Water hardness: 5-17 dGH

Even though Ember Tetras are hardy, experienced aquarists tend to play it safe and test regularly. This will prevent any random shifts from causing harm to your fish. This is especially important when first establishing your tank. It is important to get the nitrogen cycle working properly in your tank before adding any inhabitants.

Additionally, keep an eye on the pH in your tank. If you need help lowering the pH, check out our pH lowering guide.

In order to maintain stable water conditions,  we recommend testing weekly with this Water kit.

What to put in their tank

The most important thing to put in their tank is live plants. It mimics their natural habitat and will give them plenty of places to rest, relax, and explore.


Ember tetras are mid-water swimmers and don’t really hang out at the bottom of the tank so there is no risk involved in them cutting or scratching themselves like certain bottom-feeders. This makes them pretty flexible on substrate type.

They prefer planted tanks so you will need to consider finding a substrate that will support your plants. A dark substrate will bring down the overall brightness of your tank and also help their fiery orange colors pop. If you’re going the planted tank route, we recommend something like Seachem Flourite Black Clay Gravel or Flourite Dark


Ember Tetras are small fish and produce a bio load so their individual filtering needs are small. In most cases, a sponge filter will suffice. They also tend to hang out in the slower moving tributaries of main rivers in the wild, so they don’t need a ton of current.

An important consideration is getting a filter that is sufficient for your tank volume. It is important to have enough capacity for the beneficial bacteria that process ammonia.

Look at the GPH rating (gallons per hour) of the filter. The GPH rating should be 4x higher than your tank size.  We also recommend using a power strip for your aquarium to keep your aquarium cabinet space organized as they can get disorganized with filters, heaters, air pumps, etc.


Ember Tetras will appreciate a natural environment, so adding a few rocks or pieces of driftwood is a nice touch. Be mindful of adding enough structure to the tank so they have nooks and crannies for hiding and relaxing, without adding so much that you impede their ability to swim.

Ember tetras in planted tank


Out of all of the potential items you could put in their aquarium, live plants are the most important and impactful. Ember Tetras love plants like Java Fern, Java Moss, Amazon Swords, and Anubias. Embers also like floating plants like dwarf water lettuce or red river floaters. 

Live plants also help to remove nitrates from your water, which keeps your nitrogen cycle in check and lessens the chances of algae blooms and harmful water spikes. 

Ember Tetra Potential diseases

Important notice: we are not veterinarians at Aquarium Friend so the information below should be used for general awareness only. If you are concerned about the health of your electric blues, consult a fish health professional immediately.

Ember Tetras are hardy so there aren’t any species-specific diseases that plague them. This adds to their low-maintenance reputation.

However, poor diet, non-ideal tank conditions, and subpar water quality can increase their risk of infections and illnesses like Ich. It is important to keep stress levels low by keeping a sufficient school size (10+ fish) and making sure their tank conditions are correct.

Ember Tetra Feeding 

Ember Tetras need a balanced diet to thrive and live long lives. Variation is important to ensure that they get the necessary vitamins and nutrients. They’re not picky eaters so feeding is straightforward.

What should you feed an Ember Tetra?

An Ember Tetra’s natural diet consists mostly of small invertebrates and other zooplankton. Sometimes, they graze on plants.

In captivity, they can be fed balanced dry foods, either flake food or granules. It is also recommended to include live food or frozen food like Daphnia or small Brine Shrimp. Food variety helps ensure your fish get plenty of nutrients while also keeping mealtime exciting.

You might also see them snacking on a plant from time to time. Don’t worry though. They are tiny fish and won’t eat enough to damage the plant.

How often should Ember Tetras eat?

Feed your Ember Tetras anywhere from 2-4 times a day. Only give them enough food that they can easily consume in less than 4 minutes. 

It is important to avoid overfeeding this species as they’re small and have pretty tiny stomachs. Chronic overfeeding can lead to health issues for your fish and nitrogen cycle problems in your tank, as you will be adding decaying food which will contribute to the ammonia load.

Ember Tetra Tank Mates

Ember Tetras are peaceful community aquarium fish. Because of this, there are lots of potential tank mates.

One easy rule of thumb when selecting tank mates is put fish together that prefer different areas of the tank. That way no one fish species is getting too crowded. Ember Tetras prefer the middle of the tank and won’t venture to the top of bottom of the tank very often. If you pick top or bottom dwellers, everyone will have plenty of room to stretch their fins.

Because Ember Tetras are on the small end of the scale, we don’t recommend tank mates that are significantly larger as they might choose to eat them, even if they’re not an aggressive fish. Say goodbye to your cichlid dreams. Nonaggressive fish that are roughly the same size is the ideal tank mate. Here are some good options:

Are Ember Tetras fin nippers?

One potential complication in community tanks, even among peaceful fish, is fin nipping. While there are a few reports here and there about fin nipping with embers,, it’s very unlikely. Ember Tetras are peaceful and will usually steer clear of other fish. However, if your school of Ember Tetras is too small, fin nipping behavior might surface because of the stress levels in the small school.

Ember Tetra Breeding

Like most care components for Ember Tetras, breeding them is pretty easy. 

They are free-spawning fish, which means that the parents do not care for fry. Little ones, you’re on your own!

How to Sex Ember Tetras

To the less experienced aquarist, sexing an ember tetra can be challenging. However, if you’re keeping a group of 10-20 embers, you can be pretty sure that you have both sexes represented.

Male ember tetras are brighter than female ember tetras.  Female ember tetras are larger and more rounded.

The Breeding Process

To begin, you need a tank with a school that contains male and female Ember Tetras.  It is recommended to condition the parents with live, protein-rich foods for 2 weeks prior to spawning.

Adjust the water slightly to reach a pH of around 7 and increase the temperature to the higher side of their normal range (about 80-82°F). This will help encourage the spawning process. Lighting should be dimmed (set the mood!) and the water should be weakly filtered.

Under ideal conditions, spawning will occur frequently and doesn’t require any special set-up. However, adult fish will pick off the fry and eat them, so unless you’re looking to provide fry snacks for your tank, it is recommended to separate the fry. You can also add a small mesh net in order to separate the eggs and fry from the adults.

Once spawning has occurred, the fry are on their own. Move them to a fry tank where you can help them grow before introducing them to their own normal-sized tank.

Ember Tetra FAQs

Will angelfish eat ember tetras? 

Juvenile angelfish will probably be ok with ember tetras. However, with larger juveniles, or adult angelfish, you’re risking your embers being viewed as snacks.

Do Ember Tetras need a heater?

Because Ember Tetras can survive in a wide range of temperatures (70-84°F), they usually do not require a heater. However, if you’re from a cold climate, or the room your tank is in is particularly cold, you might need a heater.

Can Ember tetras live with bettas?

Yes, Ember tetras can be housed with bettas. However, there are a few important caveats. First, you need to make sure you have a big enough tank where each fish has sufficient space. Secondly, make sure you have a large school of embers so they feel confident. Make sure your plant is heavily planted – both species will appreciate that touch. Plan to keep a close eye on your tank inhabitants. Some Bettas are more peaceful than others so keep an eye out for an stalking type behavior from the Betta. If you notice anything, plan to remove the Betta in order to avoid unnecessary deaths.

Can Ember tetras live with neon tetras?

Yes, ember and neon tetras can live in the same tank. They’re similar sizes, non-aggressive fish so they’re highly compatible as tank mates. However, each species will prefer to school only with their own kind, so be prepared for at least 10 of each species. If you have a school of neons and add a single ember, expect the ember to be stressed.

How much do Ember Tetras cost?

Ember Tetras are affordable and typically cost between $2-4.

Do Ember Tetras jump?

There are reports of Ember Tetras jumping out of tanks, especially right after they have been added to a new tank. However, they’re not prolific jumpers like some fish species.


Now that you’ve learned just about all there is to know when it comes to caring for Ember tetras, you should be able to decide for yourself if they’re a good fit for your aquarium.

Ember tetras are peaceful community tank members. They’re a favorite of aquarists who love their fiery orange color and active, curious  behavior. They can live in harmony with both shrimp and fish tank mates but avoid aggressive fish who will snack on your small embers.

If you can accommodate their desire for a heavily planted tank and keep stable water conditions for them, they make beautiful additions to any community tank with their pops of color.

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