Ember Tetra Fish Feeding and Care Guide

The Ember Tetra is one of those fishes that are not only beautiful to look at, but also easy to maintain.  This is the main reason why they are perfectly suitable for newbie aquarists as well. If you are new to handling fishes, but are passionate about the same, you could try your hands at maintaining the Ember Tetra. The only thing that you have to remember is that they are not very commonly found in pet stores like the other fishes. You could buy them from select dealers, though.

The Ember Tetra, scientifically known as Hyphessobryconamandae, is one of the newly-discovered fishes in the world. It was discovered a few years back, 1987 to be precise, by a reputed fish explorer from Germany, HeikoBleher. Bleher’s mother’s name was Amanda, in memory of whom, the Ember Tetra was named.

The Ember Tetra is a freshwater fish and belongs to the family, Characidae, which is already quite big and has a diverse range of species. This fish was first discovered in the smooth flowing waters of the Araguaia River Basin, located in the Central Brazil region of MatoGrosso State.

Though the Ember Tetra’s natural habitat consists of soft and low-pH content of water, these brightly colored fish can live comfortably in hard water as well. Though the Ember Tetra fishes are very small, they are quite active inside the tank. Therefore, you need to take care of the tank setup to give enough freedom for these fishes to swim about.

In the following sections, we will tell you some basic details about the Ember Tetra and some important points that you have to take care of, when you have them in your aquarium.

Physical Characteristics

With their fiery red/orange shade and small bodies, the ember tetra is one of the most beautiful fish in its family.  The word, tetra, denotes the small freshwater fishes that belong to the African and South American regions. Like all other tetras, Ember Tetra is too is very small. It grows to a maximum length of about 2 inches.

While most of the ember tetras are orange in color, some are in shades of red as well. The eyes of this fish are of the same color as that of their body and have a clear black outline. Their bodies are quite elongated. While their dorsal fin is quite large, their caudal fin is small. The blackish grey gradient of these anal and dorsal fins stand out very well among the fiery orange bodies of the fish.

The anal fin is slightly merged and the portion above the eyes is of a bright red shade, which makes the ember tetra quite attractive.  It is not surprising to know that these fishes are absolute delights for the aquarists, as they are very warm and friendly, as well.

How do you know the difference between a male and female ember tetra? You need to watch out for the air bladder, to find out the same. If the air bladder is reasonably large and round, you have a female ember tetra on hand. Male fishes have a slightly small and pointed air bladder. During the breeding period, you will notice that the female fishes have a slightly depressed abdomen.

The structure of an animal plays a vital role in its speed of movement. This rule applies to the ember tetra as well. The backward compression style, in which the body of the fish is designed, helps it to swim swiftly, in spite of its visibly small structure.  The scales of the ember tetra are so closely designed to each other that make the structure of the fish look almost transparent, when you look at it from the outside.

Feeding

Do you want the ember tetras to develop and retain their bright orange/red shades for a long time? If yes, you should focus on the foods that you feed them. Their diet plays a big role in the color and appearance of these fishes.  When you bring the ember tetra home, you can think of the following items as its diet:

  • Small invertebrates and zooplankton such as worms
  • Brine shrimp (very important for bringing out the color in the ember tetras)
  • Live and frozen food (you could consider feeding them Daphnia worms, Grindal worms or Artemia at regular intervals)
  • Dried Foods
  • Flakes
  • Artificial supplements (if your ember tetras aren’t healthy and if artificial foods are recommended by the veterinarian)

Once you know what you feed, you should follow some fundamental tips to ensure that the foods you feed start showing positive signs in the growth of these fishes:

  • You have to grind the foods as much as possible, so that it is easy for the small ember tetras to feed on them. Big chunks of food can choke them, if you don’t pay attention.
  • Since they have very small bodies, they cannot take in too much food at a single time. Therefore, you have to feed a small portion of food during each session. Ensure that you feed the fishes around three times per day, to ensure that they feel full.
  • Keep the ember tetra’s diet as diverse as possible. Include a healthy mix of flakes, frozen foods, live foods, granules and the like. When they see different types of foods presented to them, these fishes eat well. When they eat well, it has a positive impact on their body’s shade as well.
  • Sometimes, you may find your ember tetras grazing on plants that you have kept in the aquarium. There is nothing to worry about; let them enjoy feeding on the microbe colonies that live amidst these plants.

In short, you can rest assured knowing that the ember tetras are not very fussy about their diet. As long as you feed them different kinds of food at regular intervals, you will notice that your ember tetras are very happy inside the tank.

These are low-maintenance fishes that you don’t have to worry about at all, when it comes to feeding them and taking care of them. Breeding is one department in which you may face a lot of challenges with most of the other breeds. However, with the ember tetras, you will be pleasantly surprised to know that the breeding process is easy as child’s play. Read on to know more about the same:

Breeding

Most of the freshwater fishes that belong to the Hyphessobrycon species are very easy to maintain, as it is easy to breed them.  All that you need to do is make a few adjustments to the tank settings with respect to water quality, lighting and other factors.

Also, though it is not absolutely necessary, it is ideal if you use a separate tank for spawning process. This will keep the fry safe from the adult fishes and also increase the chance of the number of young ones. The spawning process can be easily done if you take care of these requirements:

  • You will need a tank that contains the dimensions of 30x20x20cm to carry out the spawning process with ease. Even if you have a big tank where schools of ember tetras grow peacefully, it is still recommended that you use a new and different tank for spawning purposes.
  • Take extreme care of the quality of substrate that you are using. In order to mimic the natural habitat of the Brazilian rivers, you should keep the substrate slightly dark-colored. You could use Java moss or thin leaves of plants as the substrate in the tank, for best results.
  • The water’s hardness levels should be around 1 to 5 and the pH level should be anywhere between 5 and 7.Ensure that the temperature is set to 27 to 29 degrees Celsius, to create a perfect ambiance for the fishes to breed.
  • The water filtration system should be gentle enough to create the smooth river-water effect that is found in the natural habitats of the ember tetras. Using sponge-filters or air stones for filtering the water is highly considered, as they provide oxygenation services as well.
  • For the spawning process,  you need to select different numbers of males and females and watch their physical features closely. When a female ember tetra has eggs inside, you have to take it out and put it in the spawning tank along with brightly colored males. This the perfect stage for the spawning process to start.
  • Within a day of putting them inside the separate tank, you will notice that the females have laid quite a few eggs inside the new tank. It is highly recommended that you take out these eggs from the spawning tank immediately and keep them in a separate tank. When you leave the eggs inside the spawning tank itself, there are high chances of the adult ember tetras eating the little ones.
  • After the incubation process of around 3 days, you will notice that the juvenile ember tetras start swimming easily, without any trouble.

For the substrate, we already told you that you should use dark-material like java moss. You could also consider using a mesh in the spawning tank, so that the eggs fall carefully to the bottom of the tank, thanks to the safety of this mesh.  This way, it becomes difficult for the ember tetra to get to this fry. Grass-matting or glass marbles are also excellent substrate choices that you can use in your spawning tank.

As soon as the fry enters this world, it should be given dry food only, as the first option. The body of the fry is very slender and it cannot accept other strong foods, especially live foods. Wait till the fry grows to be slightly large, before introducing regular foods such as worms, brine shrimp, etc.

Care

It is important for you to understand how to take care of the ember tetra very well, if you want the fish to live up to its maximum lifespan of 2 to 3 years.  The tank size is not the only point that you should take note of. There are other factors that demand your attention, such as the quality of water, temperature settings, type of plants that you can place inside and more.

Here are the basic requirements that you have to take care of, when you are setting up your tank to house the ember tetras:

  • The tank that you plan for your ember tetras should be capable of holding at least 10 gallons of water.  Mostly, these fishes are bought in groups (called schools). Hobbyists usually house close to 8 ember tetras in their aquariums. If you plan to grow a lot of these small fishes in your tank, you can consider setting up a big tank, though.
  • The original habitat of Brazil, the rivers of Brazil contains soil that is soft and dark brown, green or black. Therefore, you have to plan your tank’s substrate accordingly. You could mimic the soil of the natural riverbed by creating a substrate using Java moss, Java fern and other plants such as Anacharis. 
  • The whole idea of setting up the tank is to ensure that the ember tetras are comfortable inside. So, you have to keep enough plants to create hiding spots for them and also have enough space in the tank for these active fishes to swim about freely.
  • The ember tetras love to move around in the middle layer of the aquarium they don’t get to the bottom at all. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you consider keeping floating plants, such as hornwort, in the tank, to provide good support for these fishes.
  • The maximum level of water hardness should be around 18dH, whereas the ideal acidity levels (pH) should be anywhere in the range of 5 to 7. The ideal temperature for the ember tetras is around 80degrees F.
  • The filtration and aeration system that you choose should be as gentle and smooth as possible, to mimic the nature of the slow-moving rivers found in Brazil.
  • It is highly beneficial for the fishes and your tank when you place dry leaves inside the aquarium. When these dry leaves get decomposed, they emit a lot of good bacteria, which is good for the overall health of the fishes.

Diseases

The ember tetras are prone to a strange disease where they turn black all of a sudden and start dying, even before you diagnose the disease. Most of the owners of the ember tetras notice a black spot on the caudal fin first. They make the mistake of ignoring this, but within a week, the black spot grows bigger and it spreads all over its body.

Therefore, it is recommended that you check the body of the ember tetras regularly to notice for strange features such as black spots. Check with the doctor as soon as you spot a black spot, so that it doesn’t become serious. Also, it is highly recommended that you change the water in the tank at regular intervals. This will keep the ember tetras happy and healthy.

Behavior

Ember tetras are peaceful fishes that love to swim and play about in the tank. They use the plants in the middle layer not only to play and float but also to hide, whenever they please. They are very adjustable fishes that get used to hard water quickly, even though they are originally from a place where the water is very soft.

As soon as they are put inside your tank, they may feel slightly apprehensive, but that doesn’t mean that these fishes are scared. The only way to get rid of their inhibition is to put them along with a school of other ember tetras. Wouldn’t you love to see a group of bright orange-colored fishes swimming actively inside your tanks?

Aquarium Mates

Ember Tetras are very friendly fishes that love to live in huge groups. They love to live with species of their own kind, which makes them perfect inmates for community tanks.  These fishes love to float around in the middle layer of the tank. Therefore, fishes that prefer the bottom layer of the tank are great tank mates for the ember tetras.

Examples of such fishes are pygmy catfishes, dwarf fishes, neon tetras, hatchel fishes and the like. When these tank mates occupy different layers, they learn to live in perfect harmony with each other. Ember tetras are also very compatible with other small-sized fishes such as Corydoras and other species that belong to the family of Characidae. This is because ember tetras feel comfortable and safe around small fishes.

An important point to remember is that you shouldn’t place your ember tetras along with large-sized, predatory fishes. Also, do not place them with fishes that can eat up the plants.  It is always recommended that you keep around 8 ember tetras in the same tank, as these fishes stay peaceful in a big company.

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