Ember tetra care guide

Ember tetra (Hyphessobrycon amandae) is one of the smallest tetra fishes kept in tanks. Ember tetra has become a popular nano tanks dweller due to its size, good temper and its simplicity as for tank conditions.

Ember tetra (Hyphessobrycon amandae)

Habitat in the wild

The ember tetra inhabits in Brazil, in Araguaia River basin and in its tributary Rio das Mortes river. This attractive small fish was discovered in 1986 by Heiko Bleher, German popularizer of aquarium husbandry. He was the first to describe the fish in 1987 and named it after his mother Amanda Bleher, who was a researcher.

Typically the ember tetra inhabits in slow waters of forested streams and tributaries with thick-set water plants. Araguaia River basin pH values are low and the bottom is covered with a layer of fallen leaves and tree branches. The water sometimes has light yellowy-brown tint due to the presence of tanning agents and other chemicals produced while organics decays – the bottom is covered with fallen leaves and branches.

Such medium usually has soft, slightly acidic or neutral pH water and quite often is poorly lightened due to the thickly growing plants and the forest above the water.

Scientific NameHyphessobrycon amandae
Common NamesEmber tetra; ember fish
Range and habitatBrazil
Size2 cm (0.8 in)
Lifespan2-3 years
Ease of keepingMedium
Minimum tank size20 liters (5 gallons)
Temperature21–27 °C (70–81 °F)
Water hardness5-20 dGH


The shape of the body is the one typical to all tetra fishes, but it is just 2 cm (0.8 in) long. The ember tetra lifespan of the fish is quite short – about 2-3 years. Usually its body is orange or orange red, eyes ounce is also orange with a black pupil of the eye.

Keeping in a tank

Tank size

Small size of the fish allows it to dwell even in nano tanks. Though, for this fish I wouldn’t recommend tanks smaller than 20 liters. Tank decorations aren’t that crucial, however the fish demonstrates its best coloring is a well decorated tank with a dark substrate.

Tank decor

Considering the above mentioned a small Aquascape or Nature Aquarium will be good for the fish. Floating plants will create shadowed areas in a tank and make the fish fill safe, which will lead to forming of shiny orange red coloring of its body.

Water filtration shouldn’t be too strong, since the fish main habitat is in slow waters and it doesn’t like fighting with fast water flow. Soft, sandy bottom will be the closest to the one of the biotope where the fish inhabits as a rule. You can put some dry leaves on the bottom, but keep in mind that they’ll make the tank water darker.

Water parameters

In the wild ember tetra dwells in soft, acidic water, however the fish that grew in a tank can adapt to various water parameters. The recommended tank water temperature is 21–27 °C (70–81 °F), pH 6.5-75, 5-20 dGH.


The ember tetra is omnivorous, but it has a small mouth, that’s why small grained food is more preferable. In the wild the fish feeds on small insects and zooplankton, while in a tank it eats both artificial and live food. The main thing you should keep in mind is that the food has to be small sized.

Tank mates

Ember tetra is a very peaceful fish, it won’t compete neither with other fishes nor with small shrimps as well (like cherry shrimp, for example). Tiny size of the adult fish also means that it won’t hurt even a new born shrimp.

It’d be perfect to keep the fish with other even-tempered fishes of South America and South-East Asia – such as neon tetra, honey gourami, pygmy corydoras and oto. This is a schooling fish, usually there are 8-10 species in a school. That’s why it is recommended to get exactly this number of tetra fish, to make them feel and behave more confident as well as demonstrate their natural habits.

Ember tetra is always in its school, they always swim in a flock and it is almost impossible to scatter them, because they feel more comfortable in a company of its kind. The fish swims mainly in the bottom part of the tank. At that if the fish lives together with other small fishes, they are active and swim around all the tank volume.

However, if there is just a school of this fish in a tank, they tend to spent most of the time at one place. Ember tetra will be a good companion for a shy celestial pearl danio.

Ember tetras and neon tetras

Gender differences: male vs female

There is no color differentiation between ember tetra males and females. However, the adult females have more rounded and fat abdomen, than the males. You may also differentiate the females due to their air-bladder, that is clearly seen through almost transparent body of the fish. Air-bladder of the male is a bit pointed and odd shaped, at that it is smaller than that of the females.

Ember tetras in its school


Ember tetra breeding is easy and very much alike to that of other Hyphessobrycon species. You’ll have to find a separate tank for spawning, if you want to have a large number of juveniles.

The tank of 30 x 20 x 20 cm size will do for this purpose. It should have dim lighting and bunches of thin-leaved plants such as Java moss or some other spawning substrate. The water should be of low hardness with acidity in the range pH 5-7, GH 1-5, temperature about 27-29 °C. Water filtration through peat will be of great use as well as using osmotic water for breeding.

A small airlifting filter is a perfect one in terms of choosing a proper one for the tank. Ember tetra spawning in a group of about 5 species of each gender is a very interesting process to observe. Besides the fish may spawn in couples.

But to perform this kind of spawning it’s better to keep males and females in separate volumes.

When the female have eggs and the males demonstrate their best coloring, you should select the fatter females and the males with the brightest colors and put them into the spawning tank in the evening.

The fish should spawn the next morning. Adult species may eat the eggs anytime they have a chance to do this, so remove them from the tank right after the spawning is over. The eggs incubate for 24-36 hours, the juveniles start swimming in 3-4 days after this.