Flame Tetra Care Guide: Tips for Keeping Your Fish Happy and Healthy

Are you a beginner in the aquarium hobby and looking for a colorful and easy-to-care-for fish? Then the flame tetra might be the perfect choice for you. These small, schooling fish are known for their bright orange-red hue and entertaining behavior. In this article, we will provide a complete guide to flame tetra care, including their tank requirements, diet, and compatible tank mates.

Flame tetras are native to South America and typically grow up to 1.5 inches in length, making them suitable for smaller tanks. They are hardy fish and can tolerate a wide range of water conditions, but they prefer slightly acidic water with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. To keep them healthy and happy, they need a well-filtered tank with plenty of hiding places and swimming space. In terms of diet, they are omnivores and will eat both flake and live foods. It’s important to feed them a varied diet to ensure they receive all the necessary nutrients.

When it comes to tank mates, flame tetras are peaceful fish that do well in community tanks with other non-aggressive species. However, they should not be kept with larger or aggressive fish that might bully or eat them. With proper care and attention, flame tetras can live up to five years in captivity.

Species Overview

If you’re looking for a beautiful and easy-to-care-for fish, the Flame Tetra might be the perfect choice for you. Here’s a quick overview of everything you need to know about this species:

Property Value
Scientific Name Hyphessobrycon flammeus
Common Names Flame Tetra, Von Rio Tetra, Fire Tetra, Red Tetra
Distribution South America
Size Up to 1.5 inches (4 cm)
Lifespan 3 to 5 years
Diet Omnivorous
Temperament Peaceful
Minimum Tank Size 10 gallons
Temperature 72°F to 82°F (22°C to 28°C)
pH 6.0 to 7.5
Water Hardness Soft to medium
Care Level Easy
Filtration/Water Flow Moderate
Water Type Freshwater
Breeding Egg scatterer
Breeding Difficulty Moderate
Compatibility Peaceful community fish

Flame Tetras are known for their bright orange-red coloration and their peaceful nature. They are suitable for beginners and can thrive in a variety of tank setups. With a proper diet and water conditions, they can live up to 5 years.

To keep your Flame Tetras healthy and happy, it’s important to provide them with a tank that’s at least 10 gallons in size, with moderate filtration and water flow. They prefer soft to medium water with a slightly acidic to neutral pH.

These fish are omnivorous, so you should feed them a varied diet that includes both flakes and pellets, as well as live or frozen foods like brine shrimp and bloodworms. They are peaceful and can be kept with other peaceful community fish.

Breeding Flame Tetras can be moderately difficult, as they are egg scatterers and require specific water conditions to breed successfully. However, with the right setup and care, you can enjoy watching these fish spawn and raise their fry.

Origins and Natural Habitat

If you’re interested in keeping Flame Tetras, it’s always a good idea to learn about their origins and natural habitat. Flame Tetras are native to the slow-moving, shallow coastal rivers of eastern Brazil, specifically in the Guanabara Bay region, Paraiba do Sul, and the Guandu River basins, as well as Sao Paulo in the upper Tiete River basin. These tetras are part of the Characidae family and are closely related to other popular aquarium fish such as Neon Tetras and Black Skirt Tetras.

In their natural habitat, Flame Tetras are typically found in groups of six or more, swimming in schools near the riverbanks. These freshwater fish prefer to live in clear waters with a pH range between 6.0 and 7.5, and a temperature range of 72°F to 82°F. They also prefer slow-moving waters with plenty of vegetation, including plants and driftwood.

If you’re planning to keep Flame Tetras in your aquarium, it’s important to replicate their natural habitat as closely as possible. This means providing them with plenty of hiding places, such as plants and driftwood, and ensuring that the water is kept clean and well-filtered. You should also aim to keep the water temperature between 72°F and 82°F, and maintain a pH level between 6.0 and 7.5.

Overall, Flame Tetras are fascinating and beautiful fish that are relatively easy to care for. By learning about their natural habitat and providing them with a suitable environment in your aquarium, you can enjoy these colorful fish for many years to come.

Physical Characteristics

Flame tetras are small freshwater fish that belong to the Characidae family. They are known for their bright orange-red color that makes them a popular choice among aquarium enthusiasts. In this section, we’ll discuss the physical characteristics of flame tetras, including their size, shape, color, and markings.

Size and Shape

Flame tetras are relatively small fish, with males growing up to 1.5 inches (4 cm) in length and females slightly smaller. They have a streamlined body shape, with a slightly curved back and a pointed head. The dorsal fin is located towards the back of the body and is usually larger in males than females.

Color and Markings

The most striking feature of flame tetras is their bright orange-red coloration. Males usually have a more intense coloration than females, with their fins being a brighter shade of red. Females, on the other hand, have a slightly duller shade of orange. They also have a black stripe that runs from the eye to the tail, which is more prominent in males.

In addition to the black stripe, flame tetras have a silver-white underbelly and a black spot at the base of the caudal fin. The caudal fin is forked, with the upper lobe being longer than the lower lobe. The anal fin is also forked, and the pelvic fins are located towards the front of the body.

Overall, flame tetras have a striking appearance that makes them a popular choice for aquariums. They are easy to care for and can be kept in small groups, making them a great addition to any community tank.

Lifespan and Growth Rate

Flame tetras have an average lifespan of about 3-5 years, although they can live longer with proper care. They are relatively small fish, growing to a maximum size of around 2 inches in length. They are also known for their vibrant colors, with their bright red-orange bodies and iridescent blue stripes.

In terms of growth rate, flame tetras are relatively fast growers. Fry will typically reach their full size within a few months, and adult fish will continue to grow slowly over the course of their lifespan. However, it’s important to note that growth rate can vary depending on a number of factors, including diet, water quality, and tank size.

To ensure that your flame tetras grow and thrive, it’s important to provide them with a healthy and varied diet. In the wild, they primarily feed on small insects and other invertebrates, so it’s a good idea to include a mix of live, frozen, and dried foods in their diet. Some good options include brine shrimp, bloodworms, and high-quality flake or pellet foods.

In addition to diet, water quality is also crucial for the growth and overall health of your flame tetras. They prefer slightly acidic water with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0, and a temperature between 72 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s also important to keep their tank clean and well-maintained, with regular water changes and filtration.

Overall, with proper care and attention, flame tetras can make a beautiful and rewarding addition to any aquarium.

Diet and Feeding

When it comes to feeding your Flame Tetras, it’s important to provide a varied diet that meets their nutritional needs. These fish are omnivorous, which means they eat both plant and animal-based foods.

You can feed your Flame Tetras a variety of foods, including flake and pellet foods specifically designed for tropical fish. These foods should make up the bulk of their diet. Be sure to choose high-quality foods that are rich in protein and other essential nutrients.

In addition to flake and pellet foods, you can also offer your Flame Tetras live or frozen foods. Brine shrimp, bloodworms, daphnia, and mosquito larvae are all excellent options. These foods provide important nutrients that your fish may not get from dry foods alone.

When feeding your Flame Tetras, be sure to only give them as much food as they can eat in a few minutes. Overfeeding can lead to health problems and poor water quality in your aquarium.

Overall, providing a varied and balanced diet is essential to keeping your Flame Tetras healthy and happy. With a little bit of effort, you can ensure that your fish are getting all the nutrients they need to thrive.

Behavior and Temperament

Flame tetras are known for their friendly and peaceful behavior, making them an ideal addition to any community aquarium. These fish are active swimmers and enjoy swimming in schools, so it is recommended to keep them in groups of at least six.

They are hardy fish and can adapt to a variety of water conditions, but it is still important to maintain a clean and stable environment for their well-being. In addition, providing plenty of hiding places and plants can help them feel more secure and reduce stress.

Flame tetras are schooling fish and feel more comfortable and secure when they are in a group. In fact, they may become stressed and exhibit aggressive behavior if kept alone.

Overall, flame tetras are a great choice for beginner aquarists due to their easy-going nature and low-maintenance care requirements. With proper care, these fish can live up to 5 years, providing years of enjoyment and entertainment in your aquarium.

Care and Tank Requirements

When it comes to caring for flame tetras, providing them with a suitable tank is essential. Here are some things to keep in mind when setting up your aquarium.

Tank Size

Flame tetras are small fish, typically growing up to 1.5 inches (4 cm) in length. However, they are schooling fish and should be kept in groups of at least six. As a general rule of thumb, you should have a minimum of 15 gallons of water for a school of six flame tetras. If you have room for a larger tank, you can house a larger school. Just make sure to add 2 gallons of water for every additional flame tetra you want to add to the aquarium.

Water Parameters (Temperature and pH)

Flame tetras are freshwater fish and prefer water that is slightly acidic to neutral with a pH range of 6.0 to 7.5. The ideal temperature range for them is between 75°F and 82°F (24°C to 28°C). It’s essential to monitor the water temperature and pH levels regularly to ensure they remain within the recommended range.

Tank Setup and Decorations

When setting up your aquarium, make sure to provide plenty of hiding places for your flame tetras. They enjoy having places to retreat to when feeling stressed or threatened. You can add decorations like driftwood, rocks, caves, and plants to create a natural-looking environment. Live plants like Java moss can also be added to the tank to provide additional hiding places and cover.

For the substrate, you can use sand or gravel, but make sure it’s not too sharp or rough, as it can damage the delicate fins of your flame tetras. You can also add a cover to the tank to prevent them from jumping out.

Filtration and Aeration

Flame tetras are sensitive to changes in water parameters, so it’s essential to maintain good water quality in the aquarium. A good filtration system is necessary to keep the water clean and healthy for your fish. You can use a hang-on-back filter or a canister filter, depending on the size of your tank. It’s also essential to provide adequate aeration to the tank to ensure there is enough oxygen in the water.

Regular water changes are also necessary to maintain good water quality. You should aim to change around 10 to 20% of the water every week.

By following these care and tank requirements, you can provide a healthy and comfortable environment for your flame tetras.

Suitable Tank Mates

When it comes to choosing tank mates for your flame tetra, it’s important to consider their peaceful nature. Flame tetras prefer to travel in schools of at least six, so it’s best to choose fish that are of a similar size and temperament. Here are some suitable tank mates for your flame tetra:

  • Neon Tetras: These small, peaceful fish are a popular choice for community tanks and make great tank mates for flame tetras. They are also schooling fish, so they will appreciate the company of other fish.

  • Rasboras: Like neon tetras, rasboras are peaceful and prefer to be kept in schools. They are also similar in size to flame tetras, making them great tank mates.

  • Danios: Danios are another great choice for a community tank with flame tetras. They are active, peaceful, and enjoy swimming in schools.

It’s important to avoid aggressive or territorial fish when choosing tank mates for your flame tetra. They are unlikely to do well in a community tank with aggressive fish, and may become stressed or even injured. Additionally, it’s important to ensure that your tank is large enough to accommodate all of the fish comfortably. A good rule of thumb is to have at least one gallon of water per inch of fish.

Overall, choosing the right tank mates for your flame tetra is crucial for creating a peaceful and harmonious community tank. Stick to peaceful, schooling fish of a similar size and temperament, and your flame tetra will thrive.

Breeding Process

Breeding Flame Tetras can be a rewarding experience for aquarists. Here are the steps you need to follow to breed these beautiful fish:

  1. Setting up a Breeding Tank: To breed Flame Tetras, you will need a breeding tank. A breeding tank should be smaller than the main tank and have a capacity of around 10-20 gallons. The water should be slightly acidic with a pH of 6.0 to 6.5 and a temperature of around 78°F.

  2. Choosing a Male and Female: Flame Tetras are easy to sex. Males are more colorful and have a slimmer body, while females are rounder and have a more subdued color. Choose a healthy male and female for breeding.

  3. Conditioning the Fish: Before breeding, you need to condition your Flame Tetras. Feed them high-quality food, such as live or frozen brine shrimp, bloodworms, or daphnia. This will help the fish to develop eggs and sperm.

  4. Introducing the Fish: Once the fish are conditioned, introduce them to the breeding tank. The male will begin to court the female by displaying his fins and chasing her around the tank.

  5. Egg Laying: When the female is ready to lay eggs, she will lay them on a flat surface, such as a leaf or a breeding cone. The male will then fertilize the eggs.

  6. Removing the Adult Fish: After the eggs have been fertilized, remove the adult fish from the breeding tank. This will help to prevent them from eating the eggs.

  7. Hatching the Eggs: The eggs will hatch in around 24 to 36 hours. Once they hatch, the fry will be very small and will need to be fed small amounts of food, such as infusoria or baby brine shrimp.

Breeding Flame Tetras can be a fun and rewarding experience. With the right setup and care, you can successfully breed these beautiful fish in your own aquarium.

Common Diseases and Treatments

Keeping your flame tetra healthy is important to ensure that they live a long and happy life. Unfortunately, like any other fish, flame tetras can get sick too. Here are some of the most common diseases that flame tetras can get and how to treat them.


Ich, also known as white spot disease, is a common disease that affects many species of fish, including flame tetras. The disease is caused by a parasite that attaches itself to the fish’s skin and fins, causing small white spots to appear. If left untreated, ich can be fatal to your fish.

To treat ich, you can use medications that are specifically designed to kill the parasite. You can also raise the temperature of your aquarium to speed up the life cycle of the parasite. This will cause the parasite to detach from the fish and die.


Stress is another common problem that can affect your flame tetra. Stress can be caused by a variety of factors, including poor water quality, overcrowding, and aggressive tank mates. If your flame tetra is stressed, it may become lethargic and lose its appetite.

To reduce stress in your flame tetra, you should ensure that your aquarium is properly maintained. This includes regular water changes, removing uneaten food and debris, and providing adequate hiding places for your fish. You can also consider adding some live plants to your aquarium, as they can help to reduce stress and provide a natural environment for your fish.

Other Diseases

Other diseases that can affect your flame tetra include fin rot, dropsy, and swim bladder disease. These diseases can be caused by a variety of factors, including poor water quality, stress, and bacterial infections. If you notice any signs of illness in your flame tetra, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, or unusual behavior, you should seek treatment immediately.

To treat these diseases, you can use medications that are specifically designed to target the underlying cause of the illness. You can also improve the overall health of your aquarium by maintaining proper water quality and providing a stress-free environment for your fish.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some suitable tank mates for Von Rio Tetras?

Flame tetras are peaceful fish that can coexist with other small, non-aggressive fish. Some suitable tank mates for Von Rio tetras include other tetras, guppies, platies, and corydoras catfish. It is important to avoid keeping them with larger, aggressive fish that may bully or eat them.

How often should I feed my flame tetras?

Flame tetras are not picky eaters and can be fed a variety of foods, including flakes, pellets, and frozen or live foods such as bloodworms or brine shrimp. It is recommended to feed them small amounts of food 2-3 times a day. Overfeeding can lead to health problems and poor water quality in the tank.

What is the ideal temperature range for flame tetras?

Flame tetras are tropical fish that require a temperature range of 72-82°F (22-28°C) to thrive. It is important to maintain a stable temperature in the tank to prevent stress and health issues.

What size tank is recommended for keeping flame tetras?

Flame tetras are small fish that can be kept in a minimum tank size of 15 gallons. However, it is recommended to provide them with more space by keeping them in a larger tank. A 20-gallon tank is suitable for a small group of flame tetras.

Are flame tetras aggressive towards other fish?

Flame tetras are peaceful fish and are not known to be aggressive towards other fish. However, like most fish, they may become territorial during breeding or if their space is threatened. It is important to provide them with plenty of hiding places and space to swim to prevent aggression.


Congratulations! You have learned everything you need to know about caring for Flame Tetras. These little fish are a great addition to any aquarium, whether you are a beginner or an experienced hobbyist. With their beautiful colors and peaceful nature, they are sure to bring joy to your tank.

Remember to keep your Flame Tetras in a tank that is at least 10 gallons and provide them with plenty of hiding places and plants. They are social fish, so make sure to keep them in groups of at least 6. Feed them a varied diet of flakes, pellets, and frozen foods, and make sure to keep the water clean and well-maintained.

If you notice any signs of illness, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, or discoloration, take action immediately. Quarantine any sick fish and treat them with appropriate medication. With proper care, your Flame Tetras can live for up to 5 years or more.

Overall, Flame Tetras are a great choice for anyone looking for a low-maintenance, beautiful fish to add to their aquarium. With the tips and information provided in this guide, you can give your Flame Tetras the best possible care and enjoy their company for years to come.