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Maximum size : 4 cm

Flame Tetra - Hyphessobrycon flammeus : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

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The Flame Tetra (Hyphessobrycon flammeus) is not only a low-maintenance fish, but it is also a gorgeous addition to any aquarium. These Tetras are active, peaceful, and thrive in a wide range of water parameters. They are perfect for beginners with a basic knowledge of fish-keeping, as they require minimal care and can survive in simple living conditions. To show off their vibrant colours, a well-furnished aquarium with live plants and dark substrate is recommended. Driftwood roots and branches are also great additions, as they create natural-looking arrangements with soft, sandy substrates. Dried leaf litter can enhance a biotope-style aquarium, as it simulates natural conditions and adds a touch of authenticity to the tank. Flame Tetras prefer floating vegetation and dim lighting, which promotes a healthy and stress-free environment. However, clean water is crucial for their well-being, and weekly water changes are necessary. These Tetras are intolerant to the accumulation of organic pollutants, so a biologically mature aquarium is a must. Identified by their elongated and slightly compressed high body, Flame Tetras have a golden yellow head, an orange upper body with two dark vertical bars, and a fire-red body underneath the spine and above the pelvic fins. Their dorsal fin base is red with a white leading edge, while the anal and pelvic fins are a deeper shade of red at the root and fade towards the edges. The caudal fin can vary from red to almost transparent, and the pectoral fins are colourless.

Flame Tetra Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

Distinguishing between male and female Flame Tetras can be a challenging task as the two sexes bear a striking resemblance to one another. However, there are subtle differences that can be observed. Male Flame Tetras can be identified by their hooked anal fin tips and black pectoral fin tips, while females exhibit less red coloration and darker pectoral fin tips. Additionally, male Flame Tetras have a slender body shape compared to the plumper, more rounded physique of females.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameHyphessobrycon flammeus
Year Described1924
Other NamesRed Tetra, Rio Tetra, Red Flame Tetra, Von Rio Tetra, Fire Tetra
Max Size4 cm
Aquarium LevelMiddle - Top
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asGroups 6+
Lifespan3 - 5 years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
PH5.5 - 7.5
GH3 - 15
TDS18 -215
72 - 82
22.2 - 27.8

Natural habitat

The Flame Tetra is a native of the Paraiba do Sul and Guandu River Basins in Sao Paulo, as well as the Rio de Janeiro in the Guanabara bay region in eastern Brazil, South America. In their natural habitat, these Tetras prefer shallow, slow-flowing creeks, river tributaries, streams, and backwaters that are covered in dense vegetation. Sadly, the Flame Tetra is a rare and endangered species, mainly due to habitat loss, pollution, and the introduction of new species. The majority of Flame Tetras available in the aquarium trade are now captive-bred, including selectively bred variations such as golden, orange, and albino, which differ from the original wild type.

How to breed the Flame Tetra

To successfully breed Flame Tetras, it is recommended to prepare a separate breeding tank with mature water and a low level of light, accompanied by plenty of plants or spawning mops. Additionally, conditioning the breeders with live or frozen food, such as mosquito larvae or bloodworms, can serve as an inducement for reproduction. When the female Flame Tetra is ready to spawn, she will display more vigorous swimming behaviour while the male will bump into her. The female will scatter her eggs amongst the plants, while the male swims alongside or behind her, fertilizing the eggs. During a single spawning, the female can lay up to 500 eggs, which usually stick to the plants or may drop to the bottom of the tank. Once the breeding process is complete, it is recommended to remove the adult Flame Tetras from the breeding tank as they will consume the eggs. It is also advisable to keep the lights off and the tank dark as Tetra eggs and fry are sensitive to light. The eggs will typically hatch in a day or so depending on the temperature and conditions, and the fry will become free-swimming around three to four days later. Keeping the tank lights off for the first week or so, then gradually increasing the lighting, can be beneficial for the newly hatched fry. They will initially feed on their yolk sac, and after consuming it, providing them with infusoria and rotifers can be helpful.

Diet & feeding

To maintain optimal health and striking colours of the Flame Tetra, it is essential to provide them with a varied and nutrient-rich diet. Along with high-quality flakes, granules, pellets, or tablets, supplement their diet with frequent servings of live or frozen foods such as bloodworm, brine shrimp, mosquito larvae, or daphnia. These Tetras also enjoy grazing on organic matter such as algae or detritus, which can be provided through the addition of live plants or the use of specialized foods. It is recommended to feed them several times a day in small amounts that they can consume quickly, ensuring that there is no leftover food in the aquarium that can contribute to poor water quality. By providing a diverse diet, these Tetras will thrive and display their most vibrant colours.

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