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?
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
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 come from mildly acidic waters but are adaptable enough to handle pH of 5.5-7.5, 72-82degF (22-28degC), and very soft to moderately hard water. It is preferable to have slow flow and gentle filtration with a pre-filter sponge or sponge filter. Our experience shows that ember Tetras are more vibrant in tanks with dark backgrounds and substrates. 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 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. However, some bettas or dwarf gouramis can be quite territorial, so be prepared to move them if too much aggression ensues.
Ember Tetras in a Community Tank
What are Ember Tetras able to eat?
In nature, they are omnivores that enjoy eating zooplankton, small invertebrates, 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. The profile of males is slimmer than that of females, and they are rounder when seen from the top. Because they are egg scatterers, they don’t need to be supervised and will prey on their eggs and the newborn fry. 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 for ember tetras within 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. 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.
The tiny babies require miniscule foods such as infusoria, vinegar eels, and powdered fry food at first. Keep them fed small meals at least once a day. Also, make sure you change your water daily to maintain a stable water quality. They may be able, depending on the temperature and the size of the fry to begin eating baby brine shrimp within a couple weeks. This will greatly increase their growth rate 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.