Care Guide for Ember Tetras – Orange Jewels of The Nano Aquarium


Care Guide for Ember Tetras – Orange Jewels of the Nano Aquarium

The ember tetra is a staple in the freshwater nano-aquarium world. Just imagine a school of tiny, flame-colored fish darting back and forth amongst a lush forest of green aquarium plants. Plus, its peaceful nature and hardiness makes it an attractive choice for both beginners and veterans in the fishkeeping hobby. If you’ve never tried keeping ember tetras before, then keep reading to find out why they’re such a top-selling species at our fish store.

What are Ember Tetras?

Hyphessobrycon amandae is a common tetra found in Brazil, and it comes from the same genus as many other well-known tetras in the pet trade – such as the black neon tetra, Von Rio tetra, and lemon tetra. The species can grow to just 0.8 inches (2cm) but its bright, orange body is a big draw. It has a slightly translucent appearance with a coppery sheen. Unlike many other nano fish, ember tetras are relatively outgoing, especially in large groups, and won’t dart away as soon as you approach their tank.

Hyphessobrycon amandae

How to set up an aquarium with Ember Tetras

You can keep them in either a 5-gallon tank with a smaller group or a larger tank that holds a large number of students, due to their small size. They are mildly acidic, but can be adjusted to pH levels of 5.5 to7.5, 72 to 82degF (22 to 28degC), very soft to moderately difficult water. A sponge filter sponge or pre-filter sponge can be used to gently filter the water. Slow flow is preferred. In planted tanks with a dark background and substrate, ember tetras show brighter colors. Hobbyists like to add driftwood, catappa leaves and other interesting botanicals to give their tanks a South American look.

How many ember tetras should I keep together? As with most tetras, they are naturally social creatures that feel the most comfortable when surrounded by their own kind. They do not tightly school together but hang out mostly in a loose group or shoal. We like to have at least 6-10 of these tiny fish so that they can make an impact in the aquarium.

What fish can live with ember tetras? They are the perfect community fish and do fine with any similar-sized, peaceful animals that won’t eat them. For example, you can keep them with other nano schooling fish such as rasboras, tetras, and danios. Since they tend to swim around the middle of the aquarium, we like to pair them with bottom-dwelling corydoras catfish and surface-dwelling hatchetfish or pencilfish. Plus, their gregarious nature makes them well-suited as dither fish for Apistogramma dwarf cichlids or other timid creatures. We also find they get along with algae eaters like otocinclus catfish and dwarf shrimp. While they will leave the adult shrimp alone, almost all fish will opportunistically go after baby shrimp, so provide plenty of dense plants and caves for them to hide.

Can I put a betta fish with ember tetras? A blue betta fish or powder blue dwarf gourami would look amazing as a centerpiece fish among a sea of ember tetras because blue and orange are complementary colors. Some dwarf gouramis and bettas can be territorial so it is important to be ready to move them.

Ember tetras in a community tank

What do Ember Tetras Eat?

They are omnivores in nature and enjoy eating small invertebrates, zooplankton, and plant matter. While ember tetras are not picky eaters, they do have little mouths that prefer to feed on tiny, slow-sinking foods. Plus, feeding a varied diet of different fish foods will help them get plenty of essential nutrients and vitamins to live a long and healthy life. Our favorite foods include:

Nano pellets Crushed flakes Baby brine shrimp Easy Fry and Small Fish Food Daphnia – Cyclops – Rotifers

How to Breed Ember Tetras

It can be hard to sex ember tetras, so we recommend buying at least six fish to have a higher chance of getting both males and females. Males are slender in profile, while females have rounder bodies, especially when viewed from above. They are egg scatterers and do not need parental care. However, it is possible to breed ember tetras in a colony environment where the parents can keep the young. You need to provide them with plenty of microfauna to feed the fry and dense plants such as Pogostemon Stellatus ‘octopus” and water sprite for them to hide in.

A school of ember tetras in a densely planted tank

To produce greater numbers, prepare a small, mature tank with a sponge filter or air stone for slow flow. Place java moss or DIY spawning mop as shelter underneath the plastic mesh that covers the tank’s bottom. The barrier allows the eggs to fall through the holes, while blocking the adults from reaching them. To make biofilm, add some catappa leaves to the soil. If your pH is higher, you can also acidify the water by adding them to the water. After feeding and conditioning the adults to spawn, you can transfer them to your breeding aquarium. After several days of spawning, remove the adult fish and fry if possible.

For babies to thrive, they need very small foods, such as vinegar eels, infusoria, and powdered fries. Keep them fed small meals at least once a day. Also, make sure you change your water daily to maintain a stable water quality. Depending on the water temperature and size of the fry, they may be able to start eating baby brine shrimp after a couple of weeks, which will greatly increase their growth and survival rates. If you see a great disparity in the sizes of the baby fish, you may need to move the bigger fry to another grow-out tank so the smaller fry won’t get outcompeted for food.

While Aquarium Co-Op does not ship live fish, we have a list of preferred online vendors for you to browse that can ship aquarium animals right to your door. And for further inspiration, read our article about the top 5 nano fish that can live in a 5-gallon aquarium on your office or room desk.