Care Guide for Ember Tetras – Orange Jewels of the Nano Aquarium
A staple of the freshwater nano aquarium world is the ember tetra. 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. 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.
How to set up an aquarium with Ember Tetras
Due to their small size, they can be kept in a 5-gallon Nano tank with a smaller school or larger tank with a large 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. 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. To create more of a South American biotope look, some hobbyists also like to add catappa leaves, driftwood, and other interesting botanicals.
How many ember Tetras should I keep? They are social creatures and feel most at home when they are surrounded by their species. They are not a tight-knit group, but rather prefer to live in a loose group or small 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. Be aware that some dwarf gouramis or bettas are territorial and may need to be moved if they get too aggressive.
Ember Tetras in a Community Tank
What do Ember Tetras Eat?
They are omnivores and eat zooplankton as well as small invertebrates and plant matter. Even though ember tetras do not have picky eating habits, they do have small mouths that love 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. As egg scatterers, they display no parental care and will happily predate on their own eggs and newborn fry. However, ember Tetras can be raised in a colony where parents and the young are kept together. It is important to place them in a mature, seasoned aquarium that has plenty of natural microfauna and dense plants for the fry.
A school of ember Tetras in a densely stocked tank
For greater yields, use a mature, small tank that has a sponge filter. Cover the entire bottom of the tank with plastic craft mesh, and underneath it, place a bed of java moss (or DIY spawning mop) as shelter. The barrier prevents the eggs from falling through the holes and keeps the adults away. If you have a higher pH, you can add catappa leaves to the ground to make biofilm and acidify the water. After giving the adults a lot of food and conditioning them for spawning, transfer them into the breeding tank. After several days of spawning, remove the adult fish and fry if possible.
Tiny babies need tiny foods like infusoria and vinegar eels. Keep them fed small meals at least once a day. Also, make sure you change your water daily to maintain a stable water quality. You may be able for them to start eating baby salt shrimp after a few weeks depending on their water temperature. This will increase their survival rate and growth. 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.