If you’re looking for the perfect fish for a nano tank, then the ember tetra may be the perfect fish for your tank. These fish stay small and tend to be quite peaceful, making them suitable for community tanks, including those with shrimps and other small invertebrates. If you’re interested in adding embers to your tank, keep reading for everything you need to know about these tiny fish.
Quick Facts about Ember Tetras
|Up to 0.8 inches
|Minimum Tank Size:
|Tropical freshwater, blackwater
|Peaceful shoaling fish
Ember Tetra Overview
Ember tetras are a fantastic way to bring some color and excitement to your aquarium. These active fish are happiest in groups of 10–12 fish, and larger groups can bring out their confidence, creating happier, brighter, and more active fish.
They are peaceful and gentle fish, making them suitable for a large number of tank mates. They do prefer tropical freshwater tanks with slightly acidic water, but they are relatively hardy fish that are easy to care for. They can be kept in a variety of water parameters, and some people enjoy keeping them in blackwater tank setups.
Because of their docile nature and small size, they’re considered to be one of very few fish species that can safely be kept in tanks with breeding shrimps since they usually stay far too small to eat most invertebrates routinely kept in the aquarium trade. They also bring a lot of energy and fun to tanks, especially if you feel like the energy that your other fish or invertebrates bring to the tank is lacking.
How Much Do Ember Tetras Cost?
These are not expensive fish through most retailers. Expect to spend between $2–6 per fish, but keep in mind that you’ll need to purchase around 10 fish to start your shoal, so you could be looking at anywhere from $20–72 for 10–12 fish. If you purchase from an online retailer, you may get the fish for a low price, but most online retailers charge high shipping fees to overnight ship live fish.
Typical Behavior & Temperament
Ember tetras are docile fish that are not known to be fin nippers or aggressive toward their tank mates. It’s important to keep them in shoals, though. In small numbers, these fish will feel unsafe and are likely to be easily spooked. They may spend a lot of time hiding, and the more stressed they are, the paler their coloration is likely to be.
When kept in appropriate numbers, ember tetras are active fish that can be seen happily zipping around the plants in the tank.
Appearance & Varieties
Ember tetras are named after their orange coloration, which looks like the orange of embers. They also have a small amount of black, primarily on the tip of the dorsal fin. This can be difficult to spot, though, especially if your fish are pale.
While ember tetras only come in this color variety, the shade of orange can vary. Sick, stressed, scared, and young fish will be more pale-colored than healthy adult fish. In paler fish, it can be difficult to spot the black coloration on the dorsal fin. The paler the fish, the more it will blend into the tank environment, which can make them difficult to spot.
How to Take Care of Ember Tetras
Habitat, Tank Conditions & Setup
At minimum, ember tetras should be kept in a 10-gallon tank. The more embers you have, the larger the tank should be. They like having lots of space to swim, so make sure you don’t overstock the tank with plants or décor that may cause too much interruption to the tank’s swimming capacity.
Water Quality & Conditions
Although relatively hardy, ember tetras do need good water quality to thrive. They prefer a pH around 6.6, but they can be kept in tanks with a more neutral pH or slightly more acidic pH like you’d find in a blackwater tank. They need tropical water temperatures between 70–82°F.
Substrate is not of any importance to ember tetras since they spend most of their time in the upper half of the water column. However, these fish will thrive with live plants, so make sure your substrate is able to support plant life.
Ember tetras love having live plants in their tank, and there is a wide variety of plants that are acceptable. Mosses, like Java moss and flame moss, are great to have if you intend to breed your ember tetras. Other plants that can help mimic your embers’ natural environment, like Java ferns, Anacharis, hornwort, and Crypts, are great options.
These fish are typically active during the daytime, and while they don’t have specific lighting needs, your lighting should be able to support the plant life you add to the tank. They also need a normal day/night light cycle, so make sure your tank lights are off at night.
Since these fish are small and have a low bioload, their filtration needs aren’t high. It is important to ensure your filter can support the needs of the number of living things in the tank, though. Ember tetras can be kept in a tank with just about any type of filter, but more powerful filters may need the intake covered to keep the fish from getting sucked in.
Are Ember Tetra Good Tank Mates?
Ember tetras can be excellent tank mates to a variety of fish and invertebrates. Although they do eat invertebrates in the wild, these are usually extremely small invertebrates that are not intentionally kept within the aquatics trade. Most embers are too small to eat shrimps, and if your shrimplets have enough plants to hide in, they are unlikely to be eaten as well.
It’s recommended to quarantine new ember tetras before adding them to your primary tank. A quarantine can last anywhere from 2–8 weeks, and it can allow you to catch and treat any infections and conditions before your new ember tetras can infect other animals in the primary tank.
What to Feed Your Ember Tetras
Ember tetras are omnivorous fish, so they need a combination of plant and animal matter to keep them healthy. High-quality fish food that is small enough for these tiny fish to consume should make up the base of their diet. Tetra foods and foods that are a consistency near a powder usually work well. They can also be fed brine shrimp, daphnia, and other very small invertebrates as a treat.
Keeping Your Ember Tetras Healthy
Top-notch water quality is the best way to maintain the health of your ember tetras. Make sure filtration is adequate, and you are performing routine water changes and checking parameters to ensure the water quality is staying high.
If you notice your embers seem to be losing their bright coloration or are becoming more skittish and less active, then you should check the environment for stressors, like water quality issues and predators. Due to their small size, they are susceptible to predators that may get into your tank, like dragonfly nymphs.
To encourage breeding, your tank should be kept at 80°F or warmer since this will stimulate spawning behaviors. A neutral pH is ideal for breeding as well.
Ember tetras are egg layers, so a spawning mop, like moss, is necessary to catch the eggs. You can leave the eggs in the tank, but the parents will not protect the eggs or the hatchlings, and they may get eaten. It’s usually recommended to relocate the eggs to a breeder box or safer tank. Since fry are so small, a liquid or extremely finely ground food may be necessary.
Are Ember Tetras Suitable for Your Aquarium?
These brightly colored fish are suitable for multiple aquarium environments but choose their tank mates wisely. Their full adult size is less than 1 inch, so they are susceptible to being eaten by larger tank mates. Ember tetras are peaceful, though, and are unlikely to cause any problems in your tank. They thrive in shoals of 10–12 fish but can be kept in groups as small as eight fish. Make sure to provide them with good water quality, live plants, and plenty of swimming space to bring out their brightest colors and best activity levels.
Featured Image Credit: Baba87, Shutterstock