Ember Tetra Fish Care Guide, Size, Lifespan & Tank Mates

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Ember Tetra or the Fire Tetra is one of the most common beginner fishes, due to how easy it is too care for. The below guide will go into more details on how to care for them, feed them and which fish would make the best tank mates.  

The Ember Tetra Fish is often known as the Fire Tetra and is a popular fish for beginners, is it however easy to look after and does it live well with other fishes?

If you are new to owning an Aquarium then I would recommend the Ember Tetra. They make perfect fish for nano tanks, as they don’t require a lot of swimming space. This little fish is a very peaceful fish, so finding tank mates is really easy.

If you are interested in having Ember Tetras in our fish tank, I have written a complete care guide below.

Ember Tetra Quick Stats

Experience Level: Beginner

Minimum Tank Size: 10 Gallon

Family: Characidae

Diet: Omnivore

Size: 2 cm (0.8 inches)

Temperament: Peaceful

Water Temperature: 23–29 C (73–84 F)

PH Level: 5.0-7.0

Lifespan: 2 Years

Introducing The Ember Tetra

Ember Tetra Fish

The Ember Tetra or sometimes referred to as Fire tetra is a perfect fish for beginners and experienced aquarists, it is not a demanding fish so very easy to look after.

It’s a very popular fish due to its temperament and its bright appearance.

You can find these fish in the slow waters of forest streams, typically found in the Araguaia River basin in Brazil. These rivers tend to have a layer of fallen leaves and branches at the bottom, which explains why they like planted tanks.

This little fish can make a great addition to any tank, they are active, playful and look great. The coloring is a combination of yellow/orange to give it that look of fire, yet their body is semi-transparent.

Basic Care Guide

When I first started having fish, I naturally didn’t have much of a clue as to what I was doing and I wanted fish that were not only easy to look after but also looked good. I went to the store and was recommended the Ember Tetra, this is such a perfect fish for a beginner.

My first tank was a small Nano tank, I just wanted a little tank to go on my desk allowing me to look at them whilst I worked. This would be more than enough for the Fire Tetra, as they really only need a minimum of a 10-gallon tank.

The Ember Tetra is a schooling fish so you might want to get a few of them, so you want to ideally get at least 5 of them. I can sit for hours looking at schools of these swimming around the lake, in and out of logs and plants.

They are peaceful fish and are good with other fish, as long as they are not aggressive. I have done some research on the best Ember Tetra tank mates below if you are looking for some ideas.

Since this little fish only lives up to 2 years, they are generally a good introduction and doesn’t tie you down to looking after a fish that lives 5-10 years. They are usually plenty of these fish around in stores as they are very popular and will typically only cost $1-$2 per fish.

Getting Your Aquarium Right For Ember Tetra Fish

The Ember Tetra is not a very demanding fish, which as I said is one reason why it’s a popular choice. You do however still need to get the tank set up right, as this will make them more active, playful and really help with stress levels.

The section below will cover what I found works well when it comes to getting the tank set up perfect for them.

The Tank

When it comes to the tank, the Ember Tetra Fish are only small so the tank itself can be as small as 10 gallons. Even though they don’t require much space, it’s important to make sure that you do not overstock the tank. This can cause stress which can then result in them becoming ill.

An easy way of preventing overstocking is to make sure you have one inch of fish per Gallon of water. So if you have a 10-gallon tank, an Ember Tetra is roughly 0.8 inches. If you were to just have this one type of fish then you could have a maximum of 12.

You want to make sure that you get the correct PH level that matches their natural habitat, not doing so cause stress. The Ember Tetra has a good range of PH levels, so it shouldn’t be too hard to keep it at the right level. You want to aim for between 5.0 and 7.0.

Like with the PH, you want to keep the water temperature between 23–29 C (73–84 F).


You no doubt want your Ember Tetras to be comfortable and so you want the light in the tank to try and emulate what it would have been in their natural habitat. If the tank is in a well-lit area then you only need the light to be on 2-3 hours, if however, it doesn’t get much light then id make sure the tank light is on during daytime hours.


Using a gravel or sand substrate will be enough, there is not really any special requirement though. You do want to make sure that it is cleaned before going into your tank and is changed every so often. To help prevent going to the bottom of the tank, I would recommend adding around 1.5-2 inches of substrate.


The best thing to do when it comes to decor is to try and mimic the Ember Tetras natural environment, this will really help them thrive and you will get the enjoyment of watching them swim around.

I would recommend going with some rocks, as well as driftwood and even some plants. You can also add caves and other hiding places, as they will swim in and out of these. Just make sure there is also plenty of open swimming area for them.


Getting the right filter is very important, as you want the water to be clean but at the same time, you don’t want it to cause too much movement in the water. Fire Tetras are used to slow-moving water, I would, therefore, recommend getting a silent filter.

What Does The Ember Tetra Fish Eat?

The Ember Tetra is an omnivore and will eat live food as well as artificial. The main thing to remember is that it should have a varied diet, making it as diverse as possible. You will often see them nibble on plants, which is why it’s good to have some in your tank. Their natural diet in their habitat is zooplankton or other small invertebrates.

Due to their size, you will need to make sure you feed them food that is small enough for them to eat, some of this you might need to grind up. I would often feed them a mixture of live food such as Grindal Worms, Daphnia or Artemia as well as artificial foods.

In terms of the amount to feed them, you should feed them small amounts two to three days per day.

Food Summary

  • Omnivore
  • A varied diet is recommended
  • Combine live food with artificial
  • Can often nibble from plants

How To Determine Your Fish’s Gender?

It can be hard to tell the difference between males and females of the Ember Tetra, this is because like some fish there is no color difference. Size-wise they are also the same, however, females’ abdomen is a little more rounded and fatter.

If you have a good eye, you can also see that the air-bladder is different in the male and female. You can see this as their bodies are semi-transparent. The males are smaller than the females as well as being pointed and odd-shaped.

The Ember Tetra Breeding Guide

Image showing Fry of the Fire Tetra/Ember Tetra

If you are wanting to get into breeding, the Ember Tetra is a great choice.

They are very easy to breed, although you will want to get yourself a separate tank that is used just for breeding.

For the most success you need to try and recreate their natural breeding habitat, so make sure the lighting is low and you use a spawning substrate such as Java Moss.

When the females have eggs you will notice they get even bigger and the males color will stand out, even more, to try and demonstrate to the females. You should put the fatter of the females and place these in the spawning tank, as for the males you want to pick the ones that have the brightest color.

You will soon see the spawn appear in the tank when you do you should move the adults back to the main tank. This needs to be done as the adults tend to eat the eggs. The eggs will normally take up to 36 hours for them to incubate and then usually in 3-4 days the juveniles will start swimming around.

The Ember Tetra do not care for their fry, so you might need to grind food down even more for them.

Compatibility Guide – The Best Ember Tetra Tank Mates

Since the Ember Tetra is a peaceful fish, they are fairly easy to find tank mates for. If you are planning on having this fish you are going to want to get a couple as they are schooling fish, I would personally recommend getting at least 5. It’s pretty cool watching them as a school, as they always swim in a group.

Since they are a small fish, you do have to be careful what other fish you do get to habitat with them. I would recommend going with other peaceful fish and those that are of a similar size.

  • Hatchetfish
  • Dwarf Cichlids
  • Microrasboras
  • Rasboras
  • Neons
  • Shrimps
  • Honey Gourami
  • Oto
  • Pygmy Corydoras


If you are new to owning an aquarium and you want an easy starter fish, the Ember Tetra is perfect. Although even if you are experienced, I would still recommend this great fish. They look great with a fiery-looking body and are very easygoing.

Looking for just a small fish tank to put on your desk or on a side table? This fish is perfect as you only need a 10-gallon tank. As an omnivore, they eat both live and artificial food, it’s just a good idea to try and give them a varied diet.

They are peaceful, so if you’re looking for a good community fish then it would be ideal. Since they are schooling fish you will want to ideally get 6+ of them and you will spend hours watching them all swimming around your fish tank. The Ember Tetra loves swimming around the rocks, in and out of caves/plants, as well as swimming around in the open.

I do hope that this Ember Tetra Care Guide has helped and answered all the questions you might have. Hopefully, now you know more about these fish, what they eat, how to breed them and what fish would make the best tank mates. If you do have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments below.

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