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Ember Tetra: Characteristics, Diet, Facts & More [Fact Sheet]

Ember Tetras, with their vibrant orange hues and peaceful nature, are a popular choice among freshwater aquarium enthusiasts. These small, yet lively fish add a burst of color and energy to any tank they inhabit. In this article, we’ll explore the world of Ember Tetras, from their scientific classification to their behavior, diet, and conservation status.

Native to Brazil, these fish are not only admired for their beauty but also for their ability to adapt to various aquarium environments, making them a favorite for both novice and experienced aquarists.

The Ember Tetra at a Glance


Superclass:Osteichthyes (Bony fish)
Species:H. amandae

Essential Information

Average Size:Length: 0.8-1 inch (2-2.5 cm)
Average Weight:Negligible due to small size
Average Lifespan:2-4 years in captivity
Geographical Range:Native to the Araguaia River basin in Brazil
Conservation Status:Least Concern (IUCN Red List)

Species and Subspecies

The Ember Tetra, scientifically known as Hyphessobrycon amandae, is a species that does not have any recognized subspecies. This species is unique within its genus for its distinct bright orange coloration, which sets it apart from other Hyphessobrycon species.

While there are numerous other species in the genus Hyphessobrycon, the Ember Tetra is easily identifiable by its small size and intense color, which resemble glowing embers, hence the name.

Other species within the Hyphessobrycon genus vary in color and patterns, but none possess the same vibrant orange hue of the Ember Tetra.

This distinct coloration not only makes the Ember Tetra a favorite among aquarists but also serves as an effective means of identification and differentiation from other similar species in their native habitat.

Ember Tetra


The Ember Tetra is celebrated for its striking appearance. These small fish exhibit a vibrant, translucent orange-red color that intensifies as they mature and when in optimal health and conditions.

They possess a streamlined, spindle-like body shape typical of many tetra species, which aids in agile swimming. Their fins are generally transparent or slightly tinted with their body color, contributing to their overall luminous appearance.

Ember Tetras typically reach a size of about 0.8 to 1 inch (2 to 2.5 cm) in length. They do not show a significant difference in size or color between males and females, which is somewhat uncommon in the fish world. However, during spawning periods, females may appear slightly plumper due to egg carrying.

Habitat and Distribution

Ember Tetras are endemic to the Araguaia River basin in central Brazil, where they inhabit slow-moving, shallow waters. They prefer environments with abundant vegetation, such as densely planted streams and floodplains. These areas provide them with ample hiding spots and a rich source of food.

Their preference for warm, soft, slightly acidic water in their natural habitat is a key consideration for aquarists. In the wild, Ember Tetras are typically found in small groups, navigating through complex underwater plant life and feeding on a variety of microorganisms.

Ember Tetra


In terms of behavior, Ember Tetras are known for their peaceful and schooling nature. They are most comfortable and visually appealing in groups, often seen swimming in a synchronized manner. This schooling behavior is not only a defense mechanism against predators but also a social structure that provides a sense of security for individual fish.

They exhibit diurnal behavior, being most active during the day. Ember Tetras are curious and will often explore their environment, especially when provided with a tank that closely mimics their natural habitat, complete with plants and hiding spots.

Communication among Ember Tetras is primarily through body language and positioning within the school. They use subtle movements and positioning to indicate social hierarchy, breeding readiness, and alertness to potential threats.

Their peaceful demeanor makes them excellent candidates for community tanks, where they can coexist with other non-aggressive fish species.

Diet and Feeding Behavior

Ember Tetras are omnivorous, with a diet in the wild that includes small invertebrates, plant matter, and microorganisms. In aquarium settings, they readily adapt to a variety of foods.

Their diet can include high-quality flake food, micro pellets, and frozen or live foods such as daphnia, brine shrimp, and bloodworms. These foods not only meet their nutritional requirements but also help maintain their vibrant coloration.

Their feeding behavior is characterized by active foraging in the middle to upper levels of the water column. Ember Tetras have small mouths, making them well-suited for consuming tiny food particles. In a community tank, they are peaceful competitors for food, often swimming in groups to feed.


In their natural habitat, Ember Tetras face threats from larger fish and aquatic birds. Their small size and bright coloration can make them an easy target. However, their schooling behavior provides a degree of safety in numbers, as it can be confusing for predators to focus on a single fish in a moving group.

In aquarium settings, their main threat comes from larger, aggressive fish species. Therefore, it’s crucial for aquarists to carefully select tank mates to ensure the safety and well-being of these delicate tetras.

Ember Tetra

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Reproduction in Ember Tetras follows a typical egg-scattering pattern seen in many small freshwater fish. They do not exhibit parental care; once spawning occurs, adults may even consume the eggs if they are not separated.

Spawning is triggered by water conditions, often influenced by a change in temperature or light. During breeding, males may display more intense coloration and engage in a dance-like display to attract females.

Females release eggs among plants or on the substrate, where they adhere and are fertilized by the male. The eggs typically hatch within 24 to 48 hours, and the fry are free-swimming a few days later.

The fry are initially very small and require infusoria or specially formulated fry food until they are large enough to consume regular Ember Tetra diet. The growth rate of fry in a well-maintained aquarium can be relatively fast, and they often reach maturity in a few months.

Understanding the reproductive habits and lifecycle of Ember Tetras is crucial for aquarists who wish to breed them successfully and maintain a healthy, vibrant population in their aquariums.

Conservation and Threats

Currently, Ember Tetras are not listed on the IUCN Red List, and their conservation status has not been officially evaluated. However, they are widespread in the aquarium trade, which can sometimes lead to concerns about overharvesting from the wild.

To date, there are no specific conservation programs targeted at Ember Tetras, but their well-being is inherently linked to the health of the Araguaia River basin and similar ecosystems.

Conservation efforts for freshwater habitats in general, which would indirectly benefit Ember Tetras, focus on preserving water quality, preventing habitat destruction, and maintaining ecological balance. Responsible practices in the aquarium trade, such as encouraging captive breeding, can also help reduce pressure on wild populations.

Fun Facts

  1. Vivid Colors: The Ember Tetra’s vibrant orange color is not just for show; it’s a sign of good health and can become more intense during breeding or when in an ideal environment.
  2. Schooling Spectacle: When kept in groups, Ember Tetras create a mesmerizing display as they move in synchrony, resembling a flickering flame in the water.
  3. Resilient Dwellers: Despite their small size, Ember Tetras are known for their hardiness and adaptability, making them ideal for both beginner and advanced aquarists.
  4. Name Origin: The Ember Tetra is aptly named for its fiery orange-red coloration, reminiscent of glowing embers in a fire.
  5. Micro Hunters: In the wild, these tiny fish are adept at foraging for microorganisms and small invertebrates, showcasing their skill in hunting for food that fits their small mouths.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the ideal tank conditions for Ember Tetras?

Ember Tetras thrive in warm (around 73-84°F or 23-29°C), slightly acidic water (pH 5.5-7.0) with plenty of plant cover and a gentle current.

How many Ember Tetras should be kept together?

They are best kept in groups of at least six, as their schooling behavior is essential for their well-being and displays their natural behavior and coloration.

Can Ember Tetras be kept with other fish?

Yes, they are peaceful and can be kept with other non-aggressive, small fish species. It’s important to choose tank mates that require similar water conditions.

What do Ember Tetras eat?

In captivity, they can be fed high-quality flake foods, micro pellets, and small live or frozen foods like brine shrimp or daphnia.

How long do Ember Tetras live?

In a well-maintained aquarium, they typically have a lifespan of 2-4 years.

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