Ember Tetra: Fish Species Profile

Characteristics, Origin, and Helpful Information for Hobbyists

School of Ember Tetras Hyphessobrycon amandae

nektofadeev/Getty Images

The flame-colored Ember Tetra is a stunning, shining addition to any freshwater community aquarium. Small in size, these fish do best in a school, like the Neon Tetra and Cardinal Tetra. The Ember Tetras are easy to keep, just be sure to maintain proper water quality and feed them a good diet.

Species Overview

Common Name: Ember Tetra

Scientific Name: Hyphessobrycon amandae

Adult Size: 1 inch

Life Expectancy: 2 to 4 years


Family  Characidae 
Origin  South America 
Social  Peaceful 
Tank Level  All 
Minimum Tank Size  10 gallons 
Diet  Omnivore 
Breeding  Egg layer 
Care  Easy 
pH  5.5 to 7.0 
Hardness  5 to 17 dGH 
Temperature  73 to 80 F (23 to 27 C)

Origin and Distribution

The Ember Tetra originates from the Araguaia River Basin in South America. Most available in the fish hobby have been captively bred, so wild stocks are not affected.

Colors and Markings

The Ember Tetra gets its name from its striking red-orange appearance. Glowing like an ember, this fish's entire body is a solid, shining bronze to pumpkin orange. Even their eyes take on this pigment, resulting in a stunningly vibrant fish. If you notice an Ember Tetra that is lighter in color, with almost a translucent body, this can happen if they do not have a proper diet during development.


When it comes to tankmates for the Ember Tetra, there are many community fishes that will cohabitate with them well. Ember Tetras are naturally shy fish and like to be in a school, but they can school with other small fish, including other small tetras and Rasboras. They also do well with bottom-dwelling peaceful fishes, such as plecos and cory catfishes. Here are some excellent examples of tank mates for the Ember Tetra:

Cardinal tetra Paracheirodon axelrodi
Cardinal Tetra (Paracheirodon axelrodi)

cejoos/Getty Images

Cory catfishes
Cory catfishes (Corydoras spp.)

andriy romagnoli revenko/Getty Images

Harlequin Rasbora Rasbora heteromorpha
Harlequin Rasbora (Rasbora heteromorpha)

slowmotiongli/Getty Images

Ember Tetra Habitat and Care

When it comes to building the ideal habitat for your Ember Tetras, it is important to keep in mind their small size and shy nature. These fish should always be kept in a school of at least 5 individuals, but as stated above, these can be mixed species of similar-sized fishes. Ensure your fish have lots of cover from either fake or live plants. Unlike many species of freshwater fish, the Ember Tetra will not voraciously snack on your live plants and will use them for cover, rather than nutrition.

As with care of all fishes, ensuring good water quality is critical to your fishes' overall health and welfare. You will need to test your water chemistry regularly, using a liquid-based test kit. Since Ember Tetras are very small, they will not make a significant impact on your water chemistry, but in a larger group, they can make a bigger difference. You may not have to clean up after them as often as your goldfish or other larger fish, but keeping an eye on your water quality parameters will help. Plan on regular aquarium maintenance including water changes and trimming any dead plant material.

Ember Tetra Diet and Feeding

The Ember Tetra is an omnivore, therefore it will require a mix of meat and veggie food sources. This can easily be accomplished by feeding a complete pelleted diet. Try to avoid flake foods, even for small fish. Flakes, with a higher surface to mass ratio, will quickly lose their water-soluble vitamins, including vitamin C. Thankfully, very small pelleted diets are available for even the smallest pet fish species.

In addition to their pelleted diet, you can supplement with an occasional frozen diet. Please keep in mind that these recommendations are only for maintaining adult fish. For juvenile fish and broodstock, you will need to feed higher protein and fat in the diet in order to promote proper growth and development.

Frequency of feeding will depend on the temperature of your aquarium water and how often you are around. Most fish species will forage in the wild throughout the day, so small meals spread throughout the day are best if you can manage it. Otherwise, you should feed your fish once to twice a day, ensuring the food is well spread out so all the members of the school can get equal access to food. There should be enough food for them to eat for 3-5 minutes, but no uneaten food left over after that time.

Gender Differences

It can be difficult to tell apart male versus female Ember Tetras. Provided you are giving them an appropriate breeding diet, supplemented with more protein and fat, you may notice your female Ember Tetras will become a little rounder in the belly. This can be hard to see, but if you have a school of these fishes, chances are good that you will have at least one of each gender.

Breeding the Ember Tetra

Breeding the Ember Tetra is relatively easy for most intermediate fish keepers. If you have never bred fish before, it can be a little bit difficult. The Ember Tetra is an egg-laying fish, so the females will deposit their eggs in a safe space in the aquarium, and then the male will swim along behind her to fertilize the eggs. You may notice the males chasing the females prior to laying the eggs. This is a common behavior wherein the males are trying to entice the females to release their eggs.

The biggest difficulty in breeding the Ember Tetra is providing your broodstock with proper nutrition and environment for successful breeding. Remember, breeding fish will require higher protein and fat content in order to properly develop eggs and sperm. They have to be happy within their environment, including good water quality with adequate cover to make them feel safe. Without these parameters covered, your fish may abandon their breeding desires.

You may choose to move your fish to a breeding tank prior to changing their diet. This will allow you to manipulate their environment slightly, providing longer light periods and a slightly elevated temperature. Once the eggs are laid, you can remove the parents, since Ember Tetras do not rear their young at all. The eggs will hatch in a few days. After hatching, the fry will have a yolk sac that will slowly be absorbed. Once that is used up, they will rely on you for proper developmental diet. Plan on feeding a high protein and fat diet frequently throughout the day in order to encourage proper development and growth. Be sure not to overfeed, though, as that will quickly foul the water quality.

More Pet Fish Species and Further Research

If you like the Ember Tetra, here are some other similar species you may want to check out: