Ember Tetra : Fish Species Profile

ember tetra fish


  • Characteristics
  • Origin
  • Colors and Markings
  • Tankmates
  • Care
  • Diet and Feeding
  • Gender Differences
  • Breeding
  • Further Research

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on Cardinal Tetra Fish! If you’re an aquarium enthusiast or someone just starting out, you’re in for a treat. Cardinal Tetras are not just fish; they’re a vibrant splash of color and energy that can transform any aquarium into a mesmerizing aquatic wonderland. In this guide, we’ll dive deep into the world of Cardinal Tetra Fish, exploring their origin, care requirements, breeding habits, and much more. Let’s embark on this exciting underwater journey together!

Species Overview


COMMON NAMES: Cardinal tetra, red neon, roter neon

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Paracheirodon axelrodi

ADULT SIZE: 2 inches


Origin and Distribution

Ember Tetras (Hyphessobrycon amandae) are small, brilliantly colored fish native to South America. Specifically, they are found in the clear, slow-moving waters of the Araguaia River Basin in Brazil. This region is renowned for its diverse aquatic life and lush vegetation.

In their natural habitat, Ember Tetras inhabit densely planted areas, especially around the edges of streams and tributaries. They prefer habitats with subdued lighting, which is often filtered through the dense vegetation. This preference for shaded environments is reflected in their behavior in home aquariums, where they tend to be more active and vibrant in well-planted tanks with gentle lighting.

Due to their striking reddish-orange coloration and peaceful nature, Ember Tetras have become popular in the aquarium trade worldwide. Aquarists appreciate them not only for their beauty but also for their ease of care, making them a favorite choice for both beginners and experienced hobbyists. When keeping Ember Tetras in captivity, recreating their natural habitat with plants, soft, slightly acidic water, and subdued lighting enhances their well-being and showcases their vibrant colors.

Colors and Markings

Ember Tetras (Hyphessobrycon amandae) are renowned for their vivid and captivating colors, making them a popular choice among aquarium enthusiasts. Here’s a detailed description of their distinctive colors and markings:

1. Brilliant Reddish-Orange Body:

The most striking feature of Ember Tetras is their vibrant reddish-orange body color. This fiery hue covers their entire body, from the tip of their nose to the base of their tail. The intensity of this coloration can vary slightly among individual fish, but it generally resembles the warm glow of embers, which inspired their name.

2. Transparent Fins with Hints of Red:

The fins of Ember Tetras are mostly transparent, allowing light to pass through. However, upon close inspection, you’ll notice delicate hints of red in their fins, especially in the dorsal and anal fins. These subtle red accents complement their fiery body color, creating a harmonious and visually appealing contrast.

3. Small and Sleek Body:

Ember Tetras have a streamlined and slender body, typical of many tetra species. Their small size, usually around 0.8 to 1.2 inches (2 to 3 cm) in length, adds to their elegance and makes them an excellent choice for community aquariums.

4. Dark Eyes:

Cardinal Tetras typically have a metallic silver or transparent iris, which gives their eyes a bright appearance. Their eyes are relatively large and add to their overall expressive look.

Ember Tetras’ radiant reddish-orange body and subtle red accents in their fins make them a captivating sight in aquariums. Their lively colors, combined with their peaceful nature, make them a delightful addition to planted aquariums, where their vibrant hues truly come to life against a backdrop of lush greenery.


Ember Tetras (Hyphessobrycon amandae) are small, peaceful fish that can coexist harmoniously with a variety of tankmates. When selecting companions for Ember Tetras, it’s important to consider their peaceful nature and small size. Here are suitable tankmates for Ember Tetras in a community aquarium:

Small Tetra Species:

  • Neon Tetras: Peaceful and colorful, Neon Tetras are similar in size and temperament, making them excellent companions for Ember Tetras.
  • Green Neon Tetras: These tetras share the same peaceful demeanor and are a visually appealing addition to the tank.
  • Rasboras: Harlequin Rasboras and Chili Rasboras are peaceful schooling fish that get along well with Ember Tetras.

Other Peaceful Community Fish

  • Corydoras Catfish: Small, peaceful bottom-dwelling fish like various Corydoras species make excellent tankmates for Ember Tetras.
  • Otocinclus Catfish: These algae-eating catfish are gentle and help keep the tank clean.
  • Dwarf Gouramis: Peaceful dwarf gouramis add a touch of color and elegance to the aquarium.

Shrimp and Snails

  • Cherry Shrimp: Cherry shrimp are small, colorful, and beneficial for cleaning up debris in the tank.
  • Nerite Snails: Nerite snails are excellent algae cleaners and won’t bother Ember Tetras.
  • Amano Shrimp: Amano shrimp are larger and peaceful, making them suitable companions for Ember Tetras.

Small Non-Aggressive Fish:

  • Endler’s Livebearers: These small livebearers are peaceful and come in various attractive colors.
  • Kuhli Loaches: These slender, peaceful loaches are interesting to watch and get along well with Ember Tetras.

Avoid Aggressive or Predatory Species:

  • Avoid Cichlids: Cichlids, especially larger and more aggressive species, may harass or prey on Ember Tetras.
  • Avoid Large Catfish: Large catfish like Oscars and Plecos can be aggressive and might not be suitable companions.
  • Avoid Fin Nippers: Fish species known for nipping at fins, such as some barbs and bettas, should be avoided to prevent stress and injury to Ember Tetras.

When introducing new tankmates, it’s crucial to observe their behavior closely. Each aquarium is unique, so monitoring interactions among different species ensures a peaceful and thriving community tank. Providing adequate hiding spots and a well-planted environment also helps reduce stress and promotes harmony among tank inhabitants.

Ember Tetra Habitat and Care

Ember Tetras (Hyphessobrycon amandae) originate from the clear, slow-moving waters of the Araguaia River Basin in Brazil, South America. To ensure their well-being in captivity, replicating their natural habitat is essential. Here’s a guide to their habitat and care requirements:

Aquarium Setup

  • Tank Size: A 10-gallon tank or larger is suitable for a small school of Ember Tetras. A larger tank allows for a stable environment and space for swimming.
  • Substrate: Use fine-grained, dark-colored substrate to mimic their natural riverbed. Live plants like Java Moss and Amazon Swords provide shelter and create a natural ambiance.
  • Filtration: Provide gentle filtration to maintain water quality. Ember Tetras prefer slow-moving waters; avoid strong currents to prevent stressing the fish.
  • Lighting: Use subdued lighting to replicate their habitat’s dappled sunlight. Floating plants like Water Sprite or Indian Fern can diffuse light, providing shaded areas.

Diet and Feeding

  • Diet: Offer a varied diet consisting of high-quality flakes, pellets, and small live or frozen foods like brine shrimp, daphnia, and micro worms. A diverse diet enhances their coloration and overall health.
  • Feeding Frequency: Feed small portions 2-3 times a day. Ensure they consume the food within a few minutes to prevent overfeeding and water pollution.

Social Behavior

  • Schooling Nature: Ember Tetras are schooling fish and should be kept in groups of at least 6 to 8 individuals. Being in a school reduces stress and promotes natural behaviors.
  • Tankmates: Choose peaceful tankmates like small tetras, rasboras, peaceful dwarf cichlids, and small catfish. Avoid aggressive or fin-nipping species.

Maintenance and Monitoring

  • Water Changes: Regular water changes (20-30% biweekly) maintain water quality and simulate the natural freshening of their habitat.
  • Observation: Regularly observe their behavior. Changes like loss of color, reduced appetite, or unusual swimming patterns can indicate health issues.

By recreating their natural habitat conditions and providing a balanced diet, Ember Tetras can thrive, displaying their vibrant colors and playful behavior. A well-maintained aquarium with suitable tankmates and water parameters ensures their happiness and longevity in your aquatic environment.

Ember Tetra Diet and Feeding

Ember Tetras (Hyphessobrycon amandae) have a diverse and flexible diet, making them relatively easy to care for in the aquarium setting. Their natural omnivorous tendencies mean they can consume a variety of foods. As a staple, high-quality tropical fish flakes or pellets specifically designed for small fish serve as the foundation of their diet, providing essential nutrients. To enhance their diet and encourage their natural behavior, incorporating live or frozen foods is beneficial. Offerings like brine shrimp, daphnia, and micro worms mimic their natural prey, providing necessary proteins and nutrients. Additionally, occasional treats of blanched spinach or zucchini introduce vegetable matter, offering a balanced diet. Feeding should occur 2-3 times a day in small, manageable portions. Careful observation is crucial: adjust the portion size to prevent overfeeding, which can lead to water quality issues. Providing a diverse diet not only keeps Ember Tetras healthy but also showcases their vibrant colors, making them a delightful addition to any aquarium.

Gender Differences

Distinguishing between male and female Ember Tetras (Hyphessobrycon amandae) can be challenging due to their small size and subtle differences. Males and females of this species share similar body shapes and color patterns, but there are subtle distinctions upon close observation. During the breeding season, which is when these differences are most noticeable, females tend to appear slightly rounder and fuller, especially when carrying eggs. The male Ember Tetras, on the other hand, often exhibit more vibrant colors, with their red and orange hues intensifying. Additionally, males might display more prominent fin extensions, particularly in the anal fin, although this can be challenging to discern without close scrutiny. Another distinguishing feature is the female’s slightly larger size. While these differences are subtle, they become more apparent during breeding behavior, making it possible for experienced aquarium enthusiasts to identify the gender of their Ember Tetras with careful observation.

Breeding the Ember Tetra

Breeding Ember Tetras (Hyphessobrycon amandae) can be a rewarding experience, but it requires attention to detail and careful preparation. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to breed Ember Tetras successfully:

Set Up a Breeding Tank

Prepare a separate tank, around 10-20 gallons, with soft, slightly acidic water (pH 6.0 to 6.5) and a temperature between 78 to 82°F (25 to 28°C). Use a sponge filter for gentle filtration and provide some plants or spawning mops for egg-laying sites.

Selecting Breeding Pairs

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Identify the Breeding Pair:

Introduce a small group of Ember Tetras into the breeding tank. Provide them with a varied and nutritious diet to condition them for breeding. Watch for pairs forming naturally; males will intensify their colors and engage in courtship displays.

Spawning Behavior

Once a pair forms, the female will scatter adhesive eggs among plants or spawning mops, and the male will fertilize them. After spawning, promptly remove the adult tetras to prevent them from eating the eggs.

Incubation and Hatching

Ember Tetra eggs usually hatch within 24 to 36 hours. The fry will attach themselves to plant leaves or tank walls using adhesive organs called ‘egg sacs.’ After a few days, they will become free-swimming.

Feeding the Fry

Regular water changes are essential to maintain excellent water quality for the delicate fry. Use aged water to avoid shocking them with sudden parameter changes.

Raising the Fry

As the fry grow, you can move them to larger tanks or introduce them to the main tank when they are large enough to avoid being preyed upon by adult fish. Provide suitable hiding spots and live plants to create a safe environment.

Patience and Observation

Breeding Ember Tetras requires patience and keen observation. Not all pairs will successfully breed, so it might take a few attempts to achieve successful spawning. Regularly observe the behavior of the breeding pair and the condition of the fry to ensure their well-being.

By providing the right environment, a balanced diet, and careful monitoring, you can create a conducive atmosphere for Ember Tetras to breed and raise their fry successfully. Remember that each breeding pair and situation can vary, so adapt your approach based on the behavior and needs of your fish.


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