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Family: Characidae, Hemigrammus Clade

Common Name: Diamond Tetra

Origin and Habitat: Lake Valencia basin in Venezuela, South America. Occurs in shallow vegetated areas of the lake and in surrounding slow-flowing streams. Commercially-raised fish are frequently available.

Compatibility/Temperament: Very peaceful, well suited to a soft, acidic water aquarium with other characins, small catfish and loaches, dwarf cichlids, angelfish, discus, gourami, rasbora and danios.

Diamond Tetra Diet

Feeds on worms, crustaceans and insects in the wild; will accept most prepared foods including flake and frozen.


Attains 2.5 inches.

Minimum Tank Suggestion

36 inches in length.

Water parameters for Diamond Tetra

Soft (hardness below 12 dGH) acidic (pH below 7) water, temperature 24-28C/75-82F. Does not fare well in hard water.


In a soft, acidic water aquarium with plants along the back and swimming room in front, a dark substrate and background and subdued lighting, a shoal of this species will sparkle true to its common name, diamond tetra. Young fish such as those frequently available may not look like much in the store tank, but when mature this fish blossoms. The iridescence reflected off the scales as the fish swims is indeed beautiful.

Must be kept in a group, minimum of six but a larger group will show off the fish to its best. Males have long flag-like dorsal fins and longer ventral and anal fins, and these fins all have a violet sheen compared to the clear and smaller fins of the female. This species will readily spawn in a suitable environment in typical characin fashion.

This species was initially described by C.H. Eigenmann in 1920. Eigenmann had previously (1903) erected the genus, named to honour his friend W.J. Moenkhaus. Ahl (1935) gave the name Opisthanodus haerteli to fish subsequently determined by Zarske and Gery (1995) to be the subject species, and O. haerteli is thus a synonym of M. pittieri the valid name.

The genus Moenkhausia was previously considered within the subfamily Tetragonopterinae, but this classification, as indeed that of the entire Characidae family, has for some time been deemed incertae sedis [Latin for "of uncertain placement"]. Javonillo, et al. (2010) proposed that the subfamily Tetragonopterinae should only be used for species within the genus Tetragonopterus. J. Marcos Mirande (2009) proposed several revisions to the family Characidae based upon phylogenetic diagnosis. Some genera have been moved to a new subfamily, while others are now (temporarily) assinged to a specific clade within the family pending further phylogenetic study.


Javonillo, Robert, Luiz R. Malabarba, Stanley H. Weitzman and John R. Burns (2010), "Relationships among major lineages of characid fishes (Teleostei: Ostariophysi: Characiformes), based on molecular sequence data," Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, Vol. 54, No. 2 (February 2010).

Mirande, J. Marcos (2009), "Weighted parsimony phylogeny of the family Characidae (Teleostei: Characiformes)," Cladistics, Vol. 25, No. 6 (July 2009).

Contributing Members

The following members have contributed to this profile: Byron


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