You can only keep one male betta in a tank, but some bettas do get lonely and bored if they’re not provided with a little company. Also, a community tank can be much more aesthetically pleasing to look at than just one betta all on his lonesome.
There are quite a few fish that can live with bettas, but what about Ember tetras? In this guide, we take a look at the beautiful Ember tetra to find out whether these gorgeous little fish would make good tankmates for bettas.
Can tetras live with betta fish?
There are over 100 species of tetras, many of which are not suitable for life as the companions of a betta fish. For example, some tetras are confirmed as fin nippers that would make your poor betta’s life a misery, hassling him and nipping at his flowing finnage. That would be bad news for your betta fish, as he would become stressed and could retaliate or even become sick.
Also, tetras are schooling fishes, and you need to keep a group of at least five or six tetras for them to feel secure and safe. Unfortunately, a shoal of brightly colored fish swimming together into your betta fish’s territory can spell big trouble and lead to aggression on the part of your betta buddy.
So, let’s find out more about the Ember tetra to see if this species would be tankmates for bettas.
Ember tetra overview
The Ember tetra, scientific name Hyphessobrycon amandae, is also known as the Fire tetra. These recently discovered little fishes are members of the Characidae family and come from the slow-moving waters of Central-Western Brazil, having first been discovered in the Mato Grosso State.
Ember tetras are a very popular alternative to Neon tetras thanks to their bright coloration, lively behavior, and peaceful nature. These fish are also very easy to care for, making them a good choice for a beginner. If cared for properly, Ember tetras can live for up to around two to four years.
Ember tetras can make excellent betta tank mates if you’re looking to create a bright and beautiful community tank.
These little fish grow to just under one inch in length with elongated body shape. Female specimens do appear slightly fatter than males during the breeding season. The anal fin is merged, the dorsal fin is small, and the caudal fin is larger with a slightly grey or black marking.
These striking little fishes are fiery red in color, occasionally having a saturated orange gradient. The fish’s eyes are often orange-rimmed, and the top of the head is sometimes a reddish color. The scales of the body and head are very compact and close together, giving the fish a slightly transparent appearance.
So, as you can imagine, when teamed with a bright blue or red betta fish, a small shoal of Ember tetras will look absolutely amazing!
The Ember tetra originates from a heavily forested region, and the waters in which the fish live are often full of driftwood, fallen logs, and thick vegetation, all of which provide excellent hiding places and breeding grounds for the fish.
Once settled in their new home, these fish are not shy, despite their size, and they’re fast, active swimmers. They generally hang out in the middle areas of the water column or swim among plants and decorations. It’s very important to keep this species in a school of at least five or six, preferably more. If you keep fewer specimens than that, they may be shy and spend much of their time hiding away.
Do betta fish and Ember tetras share the same likes and dislike when it comes to tank conditions? Let’s find out!
Although bettas and tetras are both nano species and community fish, make no mistake, they both need plenty of space to be happy! For one betta fish and a school of six Ember tetras, you need a tank of at least 15 gallons, preferably larger. For community tanks that include both these species, a 10-gallon tank is really too small.
The tank shape should be long, rather than tall. Bettas are surface feeders and labyrinth breathers, so they need to get to the surface to eat and take gulps of air when they need to. Encumbered by trailing finnage, your betta will become stressed if he can’t swim easily to the water surface.
Tetras need plenty of swimming space, and they tend to inhabit the middle area of the water column. So, a long tank is much more suitable for this species’ behavior than a tall one.
So, bettas and Ember tetras are both freshwater fishes that inhabit slow-moving waters. In fact, betta fish struggle to swim in a tank with a moderate to strong flow. So, use a filtration system that’s adjusted to provide a gentle flow rate or buffer the flow with plants and decorations
Bettas favor a water temperature in the range of 75° to 81° Fahrenheit with a pH of between 6.5 and 7.5, and a water hardness of 3 to 4 dGH. Ember tetras prefer a water pH of 5.5 to 7.0, water hardness of below 18dGH, and a temperature range of between 68° to 82° Fahrenheit. So, you can see that the two species are quite compatible when it comes to water parameters.
Both Ember tetras and bettas live in heavily planted environments and relatively “green” riverbeds, and you should try to recreate that in your home aquarium. Plants that suit both species include Java moss, Anacharis, and java fern. That said, although both species like to hide and explore among the plants, you must leave plenty of swimming space too. Floating plants are also useful, as they can help to dim the lighting in the tank and provide the perfect place for your betta to build a bubble nest.
Although the tetras won’t bother too much with decorations such as caves and driftwood, your betta needs these in his environment so that he can build his territory around them. Bettas also like to hide inside caves and rest on flat pieces of driftwood.
A gravel substrate is fine for both species, and a dark-colored substrate really does help to show off the sparkling colors of the tetras and your betta. You might also want to consider adding some dry almond leaves to the tank bottom, as these can leave a lot of beneficial bacteria behind them as the leaves decompose.
Diet and nutrition
When it comes to feeding bettas and ember tetras, they share pretty much the same dietary requirements, although betta fish do need plenty of meaty protein in their diet.
In nature, Ember tetras eat mainly zooplankton and small invertebrates, although they also enjoy grazing on plants, scraping up colonies of microbes that inhabit the plants’ leaves. You can also feed the tetras on dry flakes or mini pellets, and the addition of frozen bloodworms, brine shrimp, and live daphnia or grindal worms is beneficial.
Bettas enjoy the same basic diet, which is handy, although you need to observe the fish carefully to make sure that they don’t squabble over the food. Fortunately, bettas are surface feeders, whereas the tetras will grab food as it drifts down through the water column. For both species, providing a diverse diet is the way to go. Generally, the higher the quality of the diet, and the more variety that you provide, the brighter the colors of your fish will be.
Both tetras and bettas do eat a small number of algae, so you can leave some growing on the glass or decorations if you want to. The addition of a couple of algae eaters, such as Amano shrimp, will also add to the diversity and interest of the community setup. Both bettas and tetras generally get on fine with shrimp, too.
Feed the fish two or three times each, offering small portions that will be cleared up in a couple of minutes.
Introducing Ember tetras to a betta tank
Before introducing Ember tetras to your betta tank, there are a few things to consider to ensure that everything goes smoothly.
As with any new fish that you’re planning on adding to your main display tank, always quarantine the fish for at least two weeks first. Observe the fish during that time period for signs of disease and treat any problems appropriately right away. Once the fish have recovered and appear to be in good health, you can add them to your main tank.
Like many small fish species, tetras can easily get stressed, especially after transportation and being introduced to a new environment, and that’s a particular risk if you buy your fishes online. Stress can compromise the fishes’ immune system, leaving them vulnerable to attack by common freshwater fish diseases, such as Ich, velvet, fin rot, and other bacterial infections. The last thing that you want to do is introduce those diseases to your fish tank, so always quarantine new fish first.
Add water from your main aquarium to your quarantine tank to help acclimatize the fish, rather than using all conditioned water.
Betta or tetras first?
If you’re setting up your tank from scratch, we recommend that you add the Ember tetras first. Once the tetras have settled into their new home, and you’re confident that the tank is fully cycled, you can introduce the betta fish.
That strategy often works better than adding new fish to an existing betta tank. How so? Well, as previously mentioned, betta fish are fiercely territorial. A solitary betta will quickly map out his patch, often regarding the whole tank as his territory and becoming very aggressive toward any new fish that are added. To avoid potential carnage, always introduce the betta to a tank that already contains Ember tetras. That way, the betta will not feel that he has to defend his territory from incomers if he’s the newbie on the block!
Also, make sure that you provide plenty of caves, floating logs, and other suitable hiding places that the betta can adopt as his territory. It’s unlikely that the tetras will bother with caves and the like, so your betta won’t feel threatened, and peace should reign!
When buying tetras, try to choose mature specimens that have almost reached their adult size. Bettas are opportunistic feeders and may gobble up a tiny juvenile Ember tetra.
If you observe your tetras nipping your betta’s fins, there are a few things that you can do to stop that behavior.
First of all, consider if the tank is big enough. Overcrowding is a prime cause of fin nipping, especially in schooling fish. Ember tetras need plenty of space in which to roam, and if your tank is too small, they may begin nipping. Ideally, your tank should be at least 15 gallons, although 20 gallons is better if you have space.
A bigger school?
Fin nipping can also happen if the school of tetras is too small. So, if you catch your tetras nipping your betta (or each other), try adding a few more fish to the shoal. That can help to reduce stress levels and keep the tetras calm.
As a last resort, you could return the individual tetra that’s persisting in harassing your betta to the fish store or perhaps rehome it with a friend who has a community tank.
Betta nipping ember tetras?
Sometimes, it’s not the tetras that are the problem, but the betta fish. Every betta fish has his own distinct personality. Some are laid-back dudes who just want a quiet life, whereas others are feisty individuals who simply won’t tolerate having other fish in their faces.
If your betta chases the tetras around the tank, it can be tricky to solve the problem. First of all, do nothing. Watch your betta for a week or so to see if he stops the behavior. That often happens once the betta has established his territory and told the other fishes who’s the boss in the tank.
If things don’t settle down in the aquarium, you could try using a tank divider. Put the divider in the middle of the tank and separate the warring parties, so that the betta is on one side of the “fence” and the tetras are on the other side.
Bye, bye betta
If none of these tactics work, the only option left is to rehome either the tetras or the betta, either by returning them to the fish store or setting up another tank.
So, on the face of it, there’s no need for your betta fish to be lonely or bored if you choose a small shoal of Ember tetras to be his tankmates. Even though tetras are tiny fishes, a very small tank isn’t suitable, as these are extremely active fish and bettas like their own space, too. Make sure that you have an aquarium of at least 15 gallons or larger, and stock it with plenty of lush planting, driftwood, caves, and at least six Ember tetras.
Luckily, both species share very similar natural environments and diets, so the only potential issue is if you have a tetra that nips fins or a betta that’s especially aggressive and territorial. However, generally, Ember tetras and betta fish do get along well, and they make a stunning display, too.