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 and how do they work?
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. This species only grows up to 0.8 inch (2 cm), but it packs a powerful punch with its bright, red-orange body that is slightly translucent 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.
How to set up an aquarium with Ember Tetras
Because of their little size, you have the flexibility to keep them in a 5-gallon nano tank with a smaller school or a larger tank with a massive group. 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. It is preferable to have slow flow and gentle filtration with a pre-filter sponge or sponge filter. We find that ember tetras tend to show brighter colors in planted tanks with a dark substrate and background. Some hobbyists add driftwood and catappa leaves to create a South American biotope.
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 don’t tend to be in close quarters, but prefer to hang out in loose groups or shoals. 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. Be aware that some dwarf gouramis or bettas are territorial and may need to be moved if they get too aggressive.
Ember the tetras of a community tank
What does Ember Tetras eat?
They are omnivores in nature and enjoy eating small invertebrates, zooplankton, and plant matter. Although ember tetras don’t have a preference for particular foods, their little mouths prefer small, slow-sinking food. 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. These are our favorite foods:
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. The profile of males is slimmer than that of females, and they are rounder when seen from the top. They are egg scatterers and do not need parental care. That being said, ember tetras can be bred in a colony setting where the parents are kept with the young. The key is to put them in a seasoned, matured aquarium with lots of natural microfauna for the fry to feed on and dense plants (like Pogostemon stellatus ‘octopus’ and water sprite) for the fry to hide amongst.
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 protects the eggs and prevents adults from getting to them. If you have a higher pH, you can add catappa leaves to the ground to make biofilm and acidify 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.
Tiny babies need tiny foods like infusoria and vinegar eels. You can feed them small meals several times per day and make sure to change the water every day. 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.