Emperor Tetra

Emperor Tetra

Emperor Tetra is one of the species of tetra fish. We will comprehensively discuss its origin, types, food, breeding, appearance, and diet, etc. 

Emperor Tetra is a tiny fish that is ideal for a home aquarium. It looks amazing when playing with other fish in the tank, their maximum size is less than 2 inches. The slow-moving, moderately hard, and warm water is best for them. Nematobrycon Palmeri and Nematobrycon amphioxus are the scientific names of emperor tetra.

Everything About Emperor Tetra

They do not remain very popular among other tetras. Emperor tetra deserves more consideration and attention.                   

Emperor tetra profile

Emperor tetra has a discrete, understated beauty and shines when you look at them. They are easy to keep at home because their care and maintenance do not require much effort and are not hardy.

You can often find them in big community tanks. You can keep them in a group along with other fish. They are the best choice for beginners. 

Scientific Name  Nematobrycon Palmeri and Nematobrycon amphiloxus
Common names Emperor tetra, Rainbow tetra
Family Characidae
Origin  Colombia
Diet  Omnivore but prefer to eat most foods
Adult Size 2 inches (5 cm)
Tank Level Mid dweller
Temperament Peaceful and calm
Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
Care Intermediate, normal
Temperature 72-81 F (23-27 C)
pH 5.5 to 7.5
Hardness  25 dGH
Breeding Egg layer
GH 3 to 9
Water condition Freshwater
Shoaling Yes
Maximum Size up to 4.5 cm
Aquarium level Bottom to middle
Longevity 5 to 6 years
Volume 150 L / 33 imp / 40 US gal

Origin and history of emperor tetra fish

They originate all over Colombia and, the biotope is Amazonian. Emperor tetra was revealed in San Juan and Atrato river basins. They are available in large numbers and can easily find at multiple pet stores.

They are not many eye-attractive types of tetra family, but they have a decent look can live in a proper environment. They were exposed to the aquarium trade in 1960. They can found in small streams, rivers, tributaries, or slow-moving water with temperature ranges from 72 to 81 degrees Fahrenheit.

They live in low current standing reservoirs. More research or study is required to know about this species. There are insufficient data and little research to determine the status of emperor tetra. The emperor tetra breeding is fastly and readily.

 You must decorate the aquarium with the best plants. An aquarium should be large enough and well decorated. 


They like to live in the subdued lighting and thick vegetation to the Colombia Rivers they invent. Dense planted and solid substrate will provide them a feeling as they live in their home. They look so beautiful and like a natural environment, help to provide them brilliant colors.

They can live in community tanks with other fish, but you should avoid fish with long fins. The emperor tetra fish prefer calm or quiet habitat same as Neon or Cardinal Tetra.

You would also keep them with other fish that have the same water requirements. They are a very harsh and active class that looks obvious and noticeable in the tank. Their water hardness ranges from 8 to 351 ppm. 

Tank requirements and water conditions for emperor tetra

They are easy to keep and love the natural environment. You have to keep plants or vegetations for them. Make sure to choose the plants that are right for them. You would avoid larger plants as they create trouble while swimming.

They need aquarium size ranges from 20 to 40 gallons or that contain 80L water. They can swim in almost any water level because they are a shoal class of tetra. You can keep them in a mutual tank.

They become territorial over time and age. They prefer to swim in a spacious or large aquarium. Their tanks should contain a lot of plants or vegetables, a hiding place, and dimmed light. Their water should be clean and high oxygenated.

They do not want rapid partial water alteration. You would place a couple of emperor tetra in about 10 gallons capacity aquarium. You should manage the aquarium and place more than six fish with 20 to 40 gallons of water space.

You should cover the aquarium with a glass or metal lid cover. They can jump out from the water and should keep the distance from aquarium water and top lid.

Their PH is about 5.5 to 7.5 and, KH is around 4 to 8 dKH. Aquarium water temperature affects fish behavior. The high temperature will help to enhance the metabolism of fish. Fish become lazy and lethargic in low temperatures. Their organs can not perform well. 

Emperor Tetra Care

 Tetra fish care is easy and meek. Their maintenance does not require hard and fast rules since they are the best and popular with aquarists. They have not only a good looking body but have low preservation.

These types of fish are robust and sturdy. They accept every kind of food that you will offer because they are undemanding with foods.

You should stable the water and other things in the tank as much as possible. You should not frequently change the aquarium water and do not equip power filtration in the tank. You should place dark colored sand and live plants all over the tank.

These plants are best to provide them shelter, hiding spots, and exploration places. You can also add water sprite, java fern, and floating plants that have several leaves. You can decorate the substrate top with ornaments, driftwoods, sand, and rocks.

After some time, your fish tank environment will become toxic due to remaining foods, poop, and dead vegetables or plants. Their water hardness will increase because of evaporation. You should change 10% of fish aquarium water.

Like every fish, emperor tetra also requires the best care; if you do not take care, your aquarium will become poisoned or septic. You use an automatic heater or thermometer to maintain tank temperature. 

The appearance of Emperor Tetra

These fish species have several defining features and have an appealing appearance. They have slender, slim, or long shape body. 


The primary color of emperor tetra is bluish-gray. The scales of this fish have an iridescent quality. Their base color has specious black strips. These black strips spread from the face to the tail tip.

When you see more closely at the fish, you may notice the little shimmering and blue line on the topmost of black strips. It seems more deceptive in the low light environment.

 Both male and female fish has a yellow tint with black edges. Where feathers join the body, they have a red hue. These fish has a light color from the backside of the stripes. The purple color creates an attractive sheen. 


Their size is almost 1.4 to 1.7 inches. Their size is known as the large size from the tetra family. Their standard purchase size is from 3/4 to 1.5 inches. Their body is laterally compacted and almost 39 mm deep. Their head length is about 20 mm. 


The average lifespan of emperor tetra is up to 6 years with good care. However, the lifespan of every living thing depends on care, food, and environment, etc. The fish that are not looking after substandard aquarium conditions will likely be disposed to diseases and stress.

Like all other species, they also need the best care, attention. You should fulfill their basic needs and requirements. You can also get fish from a reputable seller. It will decrease the probability that fish mostly has genetic or health issues.

It depends on the owner or caretaker; that how they can increase the lifespan and promote their lifestyle and health. 


In a wild or barren, they mostly eat crustaceans, shrimp, worms, and caterpillars. Emperor tetras are omnivores, which means they can eat vegetables, plants, and animals, but prefer foods most. They can eat frozen foods, flake foods, and solid dried foods.

They can eat live foods like brine shrimp, daphnia, frozen bloodworms, and mosquito larvae, live foods best in the breeding process. They also accept artificial foods. 

Are Emperor Tetras aggressive?

No, they are not aggressive. They are very peaceful and calm. You may also combine these fish with non-aggressive fish. They mostly swim in the bottom and middle of the water. They less stay at the bottom.

They are quiet and peaceful fish and do not show aggression or violence. Their violence usually occurs with males when they fight.

Males often do fight to get dominance among smaller aquariums. Their competition does not cause any chief physical harm or injury. You should take care and avoid the aggressors from their tank. 

Which fish can live with emperor tetra?

They can also keep in the group of dwarf cichlids and gouramis. You should avoid larger fish, as they nip or nibble the small fish and seems as it is food. These emperor tetra fish can live with other fish types such as Rasboras, Livebearers, tetras, Corydoras, danionins, and Loricariids.

They can combine with Apistogramma, calm natured tetras, and pencil fish. You should avoid combining emperor tetra with larger fish such as green terror or flowerhorn. They are a peaceful, quiet, active, and charming appearance that can keep with zebra danio, guppies, and swordtails. They are region-dependent fish.

You choose that fish species that have dissimilar or a contrast color to the emperor tetra. You can make a school of 5 to 6 emperor tetras with one alpha male fish. It prevents any violence and hostility. Your tanks will remain composed and peaceful. Here is the list of suitable tankmates for emperor tetra: 

  • Ember tetra
  • Dwarf gourami
  • Celestial pearl danio
  • Platies
  • Pearl gourami
  • Guppies
  • Cory catfish
  • Apistogramma
  • Pencil fish
  • Serpae tetra
  • Honey gourami
  • Sparkling gourami
  • Rasboras
  • Cories

Differences between male and female emperor tetra

They are calm and modest to differentiate between female and male emperor tetras. The male has caudal and dorsal fins that are larger and has sharper than the female. The female has a plumper and a smaller body than the male fish.

Male and female emperor tetras both have distinguished eye color. Male fish have metallic blue and, the female emperor tetra has a metallic green eye color.

The male fish have brighter colors in contrast to the female; the colors are not very optimistic. Female emperor tetra fish have plumper abdomen that aids them in carrying eggs. 

Suitable plants for emperor tetra

There are few suitable plants for this type of fish. They are best to offer enough hiding places for emperor tetra. Your fish like to swim in an aquarium that provides them natural habitat.

These plants are best in the breeding process because female fish require them to hide behind the plants and protect them from male fish. They are not too expensive to buy and are conveniently available. These plants can rise in low to medium lightings. 

Ludwigia Repens; these plant’s care is easy and, they are fast-growing plants. Their fantastic colors will help to increase the beauty of the aquarium. They require 2 to 3 watts of lighting for one gallon. They have two colors, deep red or deep green.

Cost of emperor tetra

The emperor tetras require to keep in a group of 5 to 6 fish. So the price of 6 emperor tetra is up to $20. It also depends on the fish size, gender, and local pet stores. You can get them at reasonable or affordable prices.

When you buy a single fish, it will cost more than buying pairs of fish. It has a negative correlation when you increase the quantity of fish; the price will decrease. Here is the complete profile of emperor fish cost. 

Fish Quantity Price
1 $3.50
More than one fish $3.25
More than five fish $3
More than ten fish $2

Common diseases

There are not certain diseases of emperor tetra, but some common illnesses affect fish species. There are various diseases like viral infections, Ich, and gill flukes. 

  • Gill flukes can affect these tetra species. These diseases latched their gills. You can notice it on their body and, it might have the risk of fatal if not treated quickly.
  • Ich is another disease that is a parasite. It creates white on their whole body. It is a transmittable illness that is rapidly distributing in the ecosystem. You can treat Ich with copper-based medications. 
  • The other most common disease is viral infections that are visible by swelling, inflammation, and rashes. All three diseases are curable and are trigger by stress, food, and living environment. 

Emperor tetra fish breeding

Their breeding is so simple and does not contain a rigid process. In the of 6 months, their reproduction starts. You may need a 60 cm spawning aquarium for three females and one male.

You should keep more than one fish with one male because when female fish are preparing for spawning, the male might murder her. When you place multiple females in an aquarium, male attention will divert to other females.

During the breeding process, water hardness should about 1 to 5°, the acidity level ranges from 6.0 to 6.8, and the water temperature should almost 24 to 28°C. The egg develops in more lenient and acidic water, but later it is not suitable for juveniles.

You may keep the alpha male separate from the female emperor tetra fish before spawning for a couple of weeks. You can keep the female fish in the spawning aquarium. You can place the dense floating plants, dim lighting, and spawning mop during the breeding process.

It will help to clean or come out of baby fish when they develop. The breeding method; starts at dawn. Females lay their eggs one by one But, they produced fifty to a hundred eggs.

You can separate the adult fish from the tank when the breeding process has finished. Sometimes they consume their eggs. You should place the sponge filter and should change aquarium water once a week.

You may cover the breeding tank when females lay their eggs. The young emperor tetra fish appear within one to 2 days and start moving or swimming after 4 to 6 days. You can give juveniles only ratifier infusorian in the initials. 

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