Ember tetra is a tiny, freshwater, tropical fish which is native to the Araguaia River in Central Brazil. They were first discovered by Heiko Bleher and named it Hyphessobrycon amandae in honor of his mother, Amanda Bleher.
Ember tetras belong to a very diverse species of fish called the Characiformes, which has a total of 2000 fish across 19 families.
It has become very popular among nano fish keepers in recent years because of its fiery appearance and playful nature. Because of this, it is also sometimes called the Fire Tetra.
Despite its appearance, however, Embers are peaceful and not demanding. So it’s a good choice even for those who have no or little experience in fish keeping.
Embers are a small species and a full-grown adult can reach up to 0.8 inches long. Although male and female Ember tetras are similar, the females usually have a larger air bladder and their abdomen grow a bit bigger during the breeding period.
How long do Ember tetras live?
Ember tetras are known to live up to three years in the wild. They can have the same life span in a well-kept heavily planted aquarium. That’s because their natural habitat are green and forested areas with slow-moving water.
The Araguaia River, where they come from, has layers of tree branches and fallen leaves covering the surface. These decaying leaves and branches cause the pH levels in the water to soften and allow only a little light to reach the bottom.
Therefore, the ideal tank condition for this fish should have similar conditions as their natural habitat. Some of the plants you can use are Java ferns and Java moss.
These plants serves as their hiding place and food. They also provide protection for their eggs during the breeding season. You can also add a few free flowing plants and attach them firmly to the substrate. Just make sure not to overdo the plants so the fish have still enough room to swim around.
To recreate the slow moving water movement, use a silent filtration and aeration system. A regular sponge filter is perfect for this kind of set-up. It will produce the ideal water flow for the Ember tetras without disturbing them.
And since they swim in areas with low pH levels, the recommended water parameters should have a pH level that is between 6.5 and 6.75, and a temperature between 23°C and 29°C.
With regard to the substrate, you can use any type but if you want something visually impressive, we suggest using a dark one. You can also add dry leaves because they produce good bacteria that are beneficial for the fish.
You should also place the aquarium in a slightly lighted place. Avoid placing it in direct sunlight because it can stress Ember tetras as they are not used to swimming in well-lit areas.
Just an important note: it will take some time for Ember tetras to get used to their new habitat so you should not be surprised if they act timidly or strangely at first. Once they adapt, they will be back to their usual playful self.
Are Ember tetras aggressive?
Ember tetras are playful but not aggressive. You might have seen some Ember tetra owners on Reddit or other forums saying that their fish has shown aggressive behavior, but they are very rare. In fact, they rarely cause any trouble.
Ember tetras are community fish – they thrive better if they live as a group or with other fish with a similar behavior as theirs. Seasoned fish keepers suggest that if you want to take care of Ember tetras, you need to have at least 7 or 8 of them in your aquarium.
Neon tetras, rasboras, or dwarf cichlids, small corydoras, and pygmy catfish are good companion fish for Embers.
Small corydoras have the same size and temperament as the Ember tetras while neons and rasboras prefer to swim in a different water layer.
Ember tetras swim and feed in the middle layer. You can seldom find them picking food from the bottom. That’s why they can also live with pygmy catfish, which are known as bottom feeders.
Can Ember tetras live with bettas?
Ember tetras and bettas can definitely live together. However, you need to remember some rules to ensure that both of them thrive in the same environment.
First of all, you need to place at least 10 to 12 Ember tetras in the same aquarium with bettas. As mentioned, Embers are a community fish and they thrive better in schools. Also, Ember tetras are smaller than bettas so there’s a possibility that if one of your Embers gets sick, bettas will eat them.
Aside from these, there are no other problems between them living in the same tank. Since Ember tetras are middle layer swimmers, they stay out of the way of bettas. They also have the same food preference so feeding them is also not a problem.
Caring, Feeding, and Breeding Ember Tetras
Ember tetras are healthy but they are very sensitive to even the slightest changes in their environment, which can cause them stress. Therefore, you have to monitor water temperature and acidity from time to time to ensure their health and safety. Avoid moving your aquarium from place to place because changes in lighting can also affect their health and temperament.
Aside from changes in their environment, overfeeding can also cause them to act strangely so you have to be careful how you schedule their eating time.
Since their living space is densely packed with plants, you need to change your aquarium water regularly. Consistent aeration and filtration are also recommended to ensure their health.
When it comes to breeding, Ember tetras are free spawning so it’s not a difficult task at all. They also spawn more often so if there’s one thing to look out for, it should be how to control the process to increase the amount of fry. You need to separate the fry in a small, dimly lit tank that is weakly filtered.
To further stimulate Ember tetras to spawn, make sure that the pH level of your water is neutral and the temperature should be between 25°C and 27°C.
Whether you are a seasoned or first time fish keeper, Ember tetras are a good choice. They are compatible with other fish species and also low maintenance. All you need to do is re-create their natural habitat and once they acclimate to their new home, you have a fish you can care for a very long time.