Ember Tetra Care Guide, Tank Setup and Mates – 2020


The ember tetra has risen in popularity in the last few years because of its striking appearance and playful temperament, making it a great addition to any community aquarium.


They are easy to take care of, well-mannered, and super cute to look at. Their hardy temperament enables them to tolerate most water conditions.


This fascinating little freshwater fish is highly recommended to fishkeepers of all experience levels. Despite all its plus points, very few people have heard of them, but that may soon change.


In this guide, we’ll go over the key things you need to know about Ember Tetras. By the time you’re done reading this, you’ll know the ins and outs of what it takes to take care of Ember Tetras.


Category Rating
Level of Care Very Easy
Temperament Extremely peaceful
Appearance Bright Red to Bright Orange
Life Expectancy Can live for over 2 years
Size Reach a size of 1-inch maximum
Diet Omnivorous species
Family Characidae
Tank Size 10 gallons minimum
Tank Environment Heavily planted tank with freshwater
Tank Mates Very peaceful with other community fish


About Ember Tetra


Originating from the slow-moving waters of Western Brazil, the Ember Tetra belongs to a diverse order of fish known as the Characiformes (with over 2000 fish in 19 families). Among these species, the Fire Tetra is the most well-known for its unique appearance. Because of their fiery appearance, the Ember Tetra is also known as the Fire Tetra.


If kept well in a tank, they can live for up to years and only reach lengths of up to 1-inch max.


Ember Tetra Appearance


ember tetra


Because of their striking appearance, Ember Tetras can be easily recognized. Ember Tetras are characterized by a fiery red appearance that may have orange overtones.


Their eyes have an orange rim. Their tiny bodies are a little elongated, with females being slightly oblate during the mating season. Female fish also tend to have larger air bladders in comparison to the males.


Most Ember Fish have a relatively small caudal fin, a really tall and thin dorsal fin, and one merged anal fin. The base of their fin shares the same colors as the rest of the body, sometimes appearing even brighter. The upper part of their head has a bold reddish color.


Furthermore, their bodies are slightly flat towards the back. This unique shape aids them in moving around more smoothly and extremely swiftly, despite their small size.


Their pectoral and ventral fins are almost completely transparent and make a little flicker as they swim. For this reason, the Ember Tetras are fun to watch in the aquarium.


How to spot the differences between male and female Ember Tetras? You’ll have to see the air bladder to know the gender of the Ember Tetra. A large and round air bladder indicates female tetra. On the other hand, male Ember Tetras have pointed and smaller air bladders.


Ember Tetra Temperament


They are extremely fast and active swimmers and can be very playful in their aquarium. You would expect them to be timid due to their small size, but that really isn’t the case. They are always hanging around the middle section of the aquarium (they seldom, if ever, swim to the bottom).


It is worth noting that Ember’s require some time to adjust to their new settings. Expect your Ember’s to act with lots of paranoia and being overly cautious. Over time, however, they will happily get along with other fish. If you place them with other peaceful and passive fish, you would make them feel at home much faster.


They will often check out other smaller fish and get up close. Understandably, the Ember Tetra doesn’t get aggressive at all owing to their small size of about an inch. Acting aggressively would cut their life short.


Tank Requirements and Conditions


ember tetra tank requirements


The ideal aquarium size should be a minimum of 10 gallons. At this size, you can easily keep a group of Ember Tetras and also place several important plants.


If you want to keep a larger number of fish in communities, you should buy a tank with a volume of about 25 gallons. This provides them with the ideal balance of space, plants, and friendly fish to socialize with.


Mimicking the natural habitat of the Ember’s isn’t particularly difficult. This is the main reason why they are ideal for beginners, Ember Tetras are low-maintenance.


The water should be kept between 74 to 83 degrees Fahrenheit, at mostly neutral pH values between 5 to 7, and water hardness of about 10.


Use a water testing kit to check the water’s parameters against established values. This will help you stay on top of your Ember Tetra’s needs.


Tank Setup


The natural habitat of the Ember’s is heavily planted and is dotted with lots of greenery. This is something you’ll have to provide in the tank. Some plants that you can keep include the Anacharis, Java fern, and Java moss. But don’t go overboard with the plants, moderation is key here – place enough plants for Ember Tetras to hide and leave enough space for them to freely move about.


You can also try to place a few drifting plants like the hornwort. The tank’s setup should create just a tiny amount of movement in the water to mimic the slow-flowing tributaries and streams they inhabit. This requires the installation of an aeration system and silent filtration. A regular sponge filter can be used for this task.


Below is a list of plants that you can place in your aquarium:


Java Moss


This plant virtually takes care of itself. It grows fast and can create vibrant moss beds that beautifully blow in the water current. They’re a great choice for fry and grazers like Ember Tetras.


Java Fern


This plant is virtually indestructible to abuse from overly curious fish like Ember Tetras. Furthermore, it doesn’t need fertilizers or special soils. They will grow anywhere and create beautiful aquariums.




Salvinia is an excellent plant that is good for regulating unhealthy levels of ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates. It also provides shelter to fry and smaller fish that want to take cover from bullies. Furthermore, the Salvinia has anti-microbial properties that may be good for the tank.




Duckweed is nearly impossible to kill – which may be seen as a bad thing by some aquarists. However, it is a quick and cheap solution for covering the top of your tank. It is a little difficult to get rid of them.


Tank Mates for the Ember Tetra


Ember’s are classified as shoaling fish, which means they thrive in groups. They are peaceful and never get violent with other fish, despite being relatively active. A rule of thumb when finding tank mates for Ember Tetras is to find fish that don’t commit to the middle portion of the tank.


Ember Tetras are fond of staying near the middle and don’t venture out to the bottom or top of the tank very often.


Using this knowledge, you should try to find mates that they won’t come into conflict with. Because of their relatively small size, we don’t recommend putting them with larger fish because they may get confused as food. You should find peaceful and passive fish that are roughly the same size as the Ember Tetra.


A few good examples include Neon Tetras, Rasboras, Pygmy Catfishes, and Cory Catfish. They are all popular fish that will thrive peacefully with Ember Tetras.


Ember Tetras are social creatures that prefer to live in groups of at least 10 to 15 other fish. They do not like to be on their own and prefer to socialize with other fish, especially those of the same species. Shoaling fish like Ember Tetras that are kept alone will experience elevated stress levels that could have an extremely negative impact on their mental and physical health.


Feeding Ember Tetra


feeding ember tetra


If you want your Ember Tetras to develop and retain their mesmerizing appearance for a longer time, it’s important to provide them with a well-balanced diet. The food they eat plays an important role in the appearance and color. Make sure your Ember Tetra’s diet consists of the following:


  • Bring shrimp (helps bring out that fiery red shade everyone in Ember Tetras)
  • Worms and other small invertebrates
  • Frozen and live food such as Grindal worms and Daphnia worms at  regular intervals
  • Flakes and dried foods
  • Artificial supplements in case your ember tetras are not healthy (after due consultation with a veterinarian)  


Remember, Ember Tetras are small and have tiny mouths, so it is important to crush and grind their foods as much as possible. This is to ensure they don’t choke on bigger chunks of food, it’s fairly easy for this to happen. Their small bodies cannot process too much food in a single session. Only provide as much food as they can reasonably consume within 2 to 3 minutes.


You will have to feed your Ember Tetras around 3 times per day to ensure they have the necessary nutrition to stay satiated throughout the day.


To keep their diet diverse, toss in a varied mix of frozen foods, live foods, flakes, and worms. When they see all the types of food varieties available to them, they will eat well. Good nutrition will play a positive role in their body’s overall health.


Pro Tip: Don’t worry if you notice your Ember Tetras nibbling on live plants in your tank. This is a sign that they’re healthy enough to venture out to the bottom of the aquarium.


For the most part, Ember Tetras aren’t very choosy when it comes to food. As long as you provide them with proper nutrition on a regular basis, they will have a happy time inside the tank.


Dangers, Diseases, and Threats  


Ember Tetras are hardy fish and have well-equipped immune systems to fight off diseases and toxic bacteria. This is one reason why they’re low-maintenance. It goes without saying that Ember Tetras will become more vulnerable to diseases if you don’t provide them with good quality of care, such as a varied diet and regulated water conditions.


Ember Tetras may contract a very strange disease where they will turn black all of a sudden and start drying.


While it is difficult for parasites to invade the aquarium, it is possible for them to make their way in. Signs of disease are expressed by bloating of the body or dots on the skin. Unusual behavior is also a sign that something is wrong.




Another common disease to watch out for is bloat. Bloating occurs due to the accumulation of fluids, gas, and undigested food in the Ember Tetras.


Some people have a hard time telling a difference between a fish that’s eaten too much and one that is suffering from a severe case of bloat. For the most part, Ember Tetras that ate a lot of food will continue to act normal whereas the one suffering from bloat won’t.




Ich can also affect Ember Tetras. Affected fish will develop tiny white blotches across their skin. Ich can attach themselves to the fins, body, gills, and moth. You will usually see fish scraping against objects (probably because the parasites are causing an itch).


Cottonmouth Disease (or Columnaris)


Sometimes referred to as cottonmouth or false neon tetra disease, it happens because of gram-negative bacteria. Symptoms of cottonmouth disease include lesions on the mouth and grey spots. Affected Ember Tetras will lose their colors and develop fuzzy patches because of secondary infections.


Constipation is a common ailment that usually goes away on its own. But if the condition persists, you can feed canned peas to provide more fiber to your Ember Tetras. In the more severe cases, you may need to provide a salt bath.

Lighting for Ember Tetra

Ember Tetras aren’t very fussy about special lighting, although they prefer dimly lit aquariums. This can be easily achieved using overhead plants or adjustable light fixtures. We don’t recommend placing the aquarium in direct sunlight because it will stress out your Ember Tetras as they’re not used to moving around in well-lit tanks.


How to Breed Ember Tetra


ember tetra breed

It is relatively easy to breed Ember Tetras. But first, you’ll have to identify males and females together. Females are noticeable by their rounder abdomens and are slightly larger than males.


If Ember Tetras are the exclusive inhabitants of the tank, then breeding will take place without human intervention. Female Ember Tetras prefer to lay their eggs on algae.


Once the Ember Tetra fry emerges from their shells, it is really important to look after their wellbeing because parents are known for eating their young. You may need a separate tank to maximize the survivability of Ember Tetra fry. They will quickly reach maturity at 4 months old.


Here are a few tips you should follow before breeding:


  • Select the most active and brightest fish.
  • Before breeding begins, keep the males and females separate.
  • Give them lots of varied foods to eat.
  • If possible, find a separate 6-gallon tank. Place some Javanese moss on the top and bottom. This will create a grid of microcells that are beneficial to breeding. The water should be kept at a temperature of about 80 Fahrenheit, at an acidity of about 6.5 pH, and water hardness levels of about 5. The light should be diffused and dimmed.
  • To initiate breeding, place the males and females together in this separate tank that you just prepared above.
  • When you notice the eggs (usually after 12 hours), the parents should be returned to their main tank.
  • Now give the fry 2 days to hatch from their eggs. Feed them small rotifers, artemia, and Cyclops. After about a month, they will have grown enough to defend themselves from bullies.


Are Ember Tetras Aggressive?


Ember Tetras are not aggressive because of their small size and will get along with most fish. They are social creatures that prefer to live in groups of 8, 12, or more.


As long as your tank has enough space for all fish, there shouldn’t be any problems with temper tantrums. You can place other passive fish that are known to mind their own business.


Where to Buy Ember Tetra


ember tetra buy guide


Most local pet stores have Ember Tetra for sale at a reasonable price, but you might be able to find them through online stores, forums, and hobbyists who specialize in breeding these species.


The average asking price for a single fish is usually around $3. Make sure to only buy healthy and active Ember Tetras by carefully studying their colors.




Is Ember Tetra the Right Fish for Your Aquarium


Whether you are new to fishkeeping or a seasoned veteran, Ember Tetras will always make a good choice because of their peaceful temperament.


They are a low maintenance species that require fairly generic water requirements. Once they acclimate to their new home, you’ll be guaranteed to have a lively aquarium for a very long time.

Click here to know 30 most popular Fish for your Aquarium


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