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Family: Characidae, Hemigrammus Clade

Common Name: Ember Tetra, Amanda's Tetra

Origin and Habitat: Araguaia River basin in the Mato Grosso, Brazil. Occurs in quiet tributaries off the river channels and in backwaters and oxbow lakes where it inhabits areas of aquatic, marginal or overhanging vegetation.

Compatibility/Temperament: Very peaceful, but due to its very small size must be kept with small and/or peaceful fish such as hatchetfish, pencilfish, Corydoras and small catfish, rasbora, similar tetras. Must be kept in a group of at least six but preferably more.

Ember Tetra Diet

Will accept most prepared foods, but consideration must be given to the small mouth. Frozen daphnia as a treat, or live baby brine shrimp.


Maximum size less than 20mm (4/5 of an inch).

Minimum Tank Suggestion

15 inches in length.

Water parameters for Ember Tetra

Soft (hardness to 10 dGH) acidic (pH below 7.0) water, temperature 24-28C/75-82F. It will not maintain good colouration unless the water is acidic and soft.


A brightly coloured and active "dwarf" tetra, a gem in a well-planted aquarium with suitable tankmates or on its own in a group. Available fish are likely wild-caught, so care must be paid to the water parameters. Floating plants to shade the tank are advisable, both to add to the fish's sense of security and also to show off the brilliant orange-red colouration.

Females are stockier than males, but there are no other external sexual traits. Spawning can be achieved and is similar to most species in the genus. Parents will eat the eggs so the fish must be removed after spawning. Eggs are deposited into fine-leaf plants.

This attractive little fish was discovered in 1986 by Heiko Bleher, and described and named in honour of his mother, the explorer Amanda Bleher, by Gery and Uj in 1987. There is a second colour form of lemon yellow which is not found in company with the described fish and thus may possibly be a distinct species.

The genus Hyphessobrycon--the name from the Greek hyphesson [believed to mean "slightly smaller"] and brycon [=to bite]--was erected by C.H. Durbin in 1908 and presently contains more than 100 described species. The classification is deemed incertae sedis [Latin, "of uncertain placement"]. It was formerly considered within the Subfamily Tetragonopterinae, but Javonillo (2010) suggest that this subfamily should be restricted to species within the genus Tetragonopterus since they do not share physiological characteristics with species in other genera such as Hyphessobrycon.

Authors that have recently studied the systematics of the genus Hyphessobrycon have unanimously pointed out that the group is not well defined and its monophyly is yet uncertain. [A monophyletic genus is one wherein the species share a common ancestor, thus linking them together physiologically.] Mirande (2009) for example has 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) assigned to a specific clade within the Family pending further study. The recognition of groups of species [clades] within Hyphessobrycon is based primarily on similarities of color patterns; an hypothesis of its intra-relationships is currently unavailable, except for the rosy tetra clade proposed as monophyletic by Weitzman & Palmer (1997).

Hyphessobrycon has until recently been differentiated from Hemigrammus solely on the basis of the fish in Hemigrammus possessing a scaled caudal fin; this however is now known to be unreliable, since it occurs in intermediate conditions (de Lucina, 2003).


de Lucena, Carlos Alberto Santos (2003), "A new characid fish, Hyphessobrycon scutulatus, from the Rio Teles Pires drainage, upper Rio Tapajos system (Ostariophysi: Characiformes: Characidae)," Neotropical Ichthyology 1 (2), pp. 93-96.

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).

Weitzman, Stanley H. & Lisa Palmer (1997), "A new species of Hyphessobrycon (Teleostei: Characidae) from the Neblina region of Venezuela and Brazil, with comments on the putative 'rosy tetra clade'," Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters volume 7 (no. 3), pp. 209-242.

Contributing Members

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