Flame Tetra (Von Rio Tetra) – Care, Tank Mates & Full Details!

Scientifically known as Hyphessobrycon flammeus, Flame Tetra, also familiar as Von Rio Tetras, Fire Tetras, and Red Tetras, belong to the Characidae family.

This family houses famous members like Neon Tetra and Emperor Tetra, garnering universal appeal.

Flame Tetras originate from the serene, slow-moving coastal rivers of South America, specifically the tributaries of the Rio de Janeiro, Guandu River Basin, Tiete River Basin in Brazil, and beyond.

Flame Tetras were introduced to Europe in the 1920s and eventually entered the American aquarium trade in subsequent years.

Back in the 1940s and 1950s, these fish were highly coveted due to their ability to endure fluctuating temperatures.

In the era before in-tank heating became standard, Flame Tetras were preferred for their wide temperature tolerance.

Even though its fame has been somewhat overshadowed by the Neon Tetra, Flame Tetra continues to be a brilliant addition to aquariums, thanks to its manageable care requirements.

Flame Tetra, a captivating freshwater species with its fiery allure, is a treasure for every aquarium enthusiast. Recognized for its stunning appearance and straightforward care routine, it is an ideal choice for aquarists of all expertise levels.

In this exhaustive guide, we delve into the intriguing world of the Flame Tetra, covering aspects from its fascinating history to specific care instructions.

This is a fish species you’ll undoubtedly want to introduce to your aquarium community!

Quick Stats About Flame Tetra

Care Level: Easy
Temperament: Peaceful
Color Form: Silver and red
Lifespan: 3-5 years
Size: 0.8-1 inch
Diet: Omnivore
Family: Characidae
Minimum Tank Size: 15 gallons
Compatibility: Peaceful community

Appearance of Flame Tetra (Von Rio Tetra)

The allure of the Flame Tetra, or as some prefer to call it, the Von Rio Tetra or Red Tetra, is truly undeniable. It is a gem of the freshwater world, boasting a flamboyant coloration that easily distinguishes it from other tetras.

Adorned with hues of vibrant red and shimmering silver, the Flame Tetra’s body is a spectacle in its own right.

Its slender form is often bathed in bronze or silver, giving it a captivating sheen that creates a mesmerizing, twinkling spectacle as it swims gracefully through the water.

A defining characteristic that lends the Flame Tetra its fiery name is the vivid splash of red on its lower rear body. This natural transition of colors evokes the imagery of a dancing flame, making it virtually impossible to overlook this beauty in any aquarium setting.

Moreover, the fins of the Flame Tetra are also tinged with a rich red, intensifying its visual appeal. Among these, the anal fin stands out with a distinct black stripe that beautifully outlines its edge, adding an extra touch of charm to this already stunning creature.

Unlike many other tetras that boast a streamlined body, the Von Rio Tetra exhibits a trapezoidal shape. Females tend to be rounder and plumper, while males often have a brighter and more vibrant coloration.

This, combined with their small, manageable size, makes them a truly unique addition to any aquarium.

Exploring the Natural Habitat of Flame Tetra (Red Tetra)

The Flame Tetra hails from the slow-moving coastal rivers and tributaries of South America, notably Brazil. Here, they inhabit warm, blackwater environments rich in vegetation and decomposed plant material, which gives the water its distinctive dark color.

These habitats are known for their slow currents and dense canopy cover, which provides a natural shade, reducing the amount of light penetration.

As a result, the Flame Tetra is accustomed to a relatively dim-lit environment, making it a suitable choice for aquariums with subdued lighting.

Also, these habitats are teeming with driftwood and leaf litter, providing the Flame Tetra ample hiding spots and areas for foraging.

It’s therefore beneficial to replicate this environment in your aquarium to provide a sense of familiarity and comfort to these stunning creatures.

Origin and Distribution of the Flame Tetra (Von Rio Tetra)

First introduced to the aquarium trade in Europe in the 1920s, the Flame Tetra, or the Von Rio Tetra, gradually gained recognition for its resilience and captivating beauty.

Its native home lies in South America, particularly the coastal rivers of Brazil and tributaries of the Rio de Janeiro, Guandu River basin, Tiete River basin, and more.

Over time, the Flame Tetra spread across the globe, reaching the American aquarium trade and becoming one of the most popular fish species during the 1940s and 1950s.

Today, despite being slightly overshadowed by its cousin, the Neon Tetra, the Flame Tetra is still highly valued by aquarists for its low-maintenance care requirements and striking appearance.

Growth, Size & Lifespan of Flame Tetra (Red Tetra)

The Flame Tetra is a small fish species, with healthy adults usually reaching a length of around one inch. However, under optimal conditions, they can sometimes grow up to 1.6 inches.

The modest size of this species makes it possible to host a group of them in your tank without requiring a vast space.

As for their lifespan, Flame Tetras can live between three to five years, assuming they receive proper care. Despite not having an exceptionally long life compared to some larger fish species, these radiant creatures offer a lively and vibrant display in your aquarium for several years.

Remember, their lifespan can be significantly influenced by diet, environmental factors, and healthcare standards. Proper attention to these aspects can ensure your Flame Tetras live out their life span in good health.

Behavior and Temperament of Flame Tetra (Red Tetra)

Flame Tetras, known as Von Rio Tetras or Red Tetras, are social creatures and exhibit a peace-loving temperament. They are schooling fish that love to swim in groups, providing a captivating display of synchronized movement that can be a delight to watch.

The behavior of Flame Tetras is generally peaceful and harmonious, making them ideal for community aquariums. They are not aggressive or territorial, and tend to be more active when kept in groups of six or more.

Their active nature, coupled with their vibrant coloration, lends an appealing liveliness to your aquarium.

Whether they are foraging for food or exploring the confines of their tank, Flame Tetras maintain a constant buzz of activity, making your aquarium a more engaging spectacle.

Perfect Flame Tetra (Von Rio Tetra) Tank Setup

Tank Size

The Flame Tetra’s modest size and schooling nature dictate the requirements for their tank size. A 10 to 20-gallon tank can comfortably house a small school of Flame Tetras, allowing them enough space to swim freely and exhibit their natural behaviors.


For a naturalistic environment reminiscent of their wild habitats, opt for a dark substrate. Fine sand or small, smooth gravel can create an environment where Flame Tetras feel at home while also enhancing their vibrant colors.

Decorations and Hiding Spots

Flame Tetras love areas where they can seek refuge. Incorporate driftwood, rocks, and a variety of live plants in the aquarium to offer hiding spots and replicate their natural environment. Floating plants can also help mimic the dimly-lit conditions of their natural habitat.

Water Parameters

As tropical fish, Flame Tetras thrive in warm water temperatures ranging from 72°F to 82°F. They prefer slightly acidic to neutral water with a pH of 6.0 to 7.5. The water hardness should be between 5 and 20 dH.

Filtration and Aeration

Maintain clean water with a gentle flow for your Flame Tetras. A high-quality filter can help maintain water quality by eliminating waste and impurities. However, avoid strong currents, as these fish prefer slow-moving waters.


Subdued lighting is the key to making your Red Tetras feel at home. Too bright, and they might feel stressed. Use dim lights and plants to create shaded areas in the tank.

Tank Mates

Flame Tetras are peaceful and get along well with other similar-sized, non-aggressive fish species. Ideal tank mates include other Tetras, Guppies, Mollies, Corydoras Catfish, and small peaceful Barbs.


Flame Tetras are omnivorous and appreciate a varied diet. You can feed them a mix of high-quality flakes or pellets, supplemented with live or frozen foods like daphnia, brine shrimp, and bloodworms.

Feed them once or twice a day, providing only what they can consume within a few minutes.

Remember, every little detail matters when setting up a tank for your Flame Tetras.

A well-thought-out environment can ensure these stunning creatures flourish and live out their lives in vibrancy and health.

Maintaining a Flame Tetra Tank

The key to a healthy and vibrant Flame Tetra environment lies not only in the setup but also in regular tank maintenance.

Like any other fish, the Von Rio Tetra requires a clean and stable environment to thrive.

Proper tank maintenance ensures this, contributing to the overall health and longevity of these vibrant creatures.

Regular Water Changes

Regular water changes are the cornerstone of aquarium maintenance. This practice is essential to preserve the quality of the water and the health of your Red Tetras.

Aim to change around 25% of the tank water on a weekly basis. This helps in removing waste materials that the filter may not catch and prevents the buildup of harmful chemicals.

Remember to treat the new water to remove chlorine before adding it to the tank.

Cleaning the Tank and Decorations

In addition to water changes, it’s vital to clean the tank and decorations periodically. Over time, algae and other waste can accumulate on the tank walls, substrate, and decorations, creating an unsightly and unhealthy environment for your Flame Tetras.

Use an algae scrubber to clean the tank walls and a gravel vacuum for the substrate.

Decorations can be cleaned with warm water and a soft brush. Avoid using soap or chemicals, as they can harm your fish.

Filter Maintenance

Your aquarium filter plays a critical role in maintaining a clean environment for your Von Rio Tetras. Over time, it can get clogged with debris, reducing its efficiency.

Cleaning the filter regularly (about once a month) helps ensure optimal performance.

When cleaning, rinse the filter media in a bucket of tank water. Never use tap water, as it can kill the beneficial bacteria essential for nitrogen cycle management.

If the filter media is too worn out, replace it, but never all at once, to keep some beneficial bacteria in the tank.

Monitor Fish Health

Lastly, a crucial aspect of tank maintenance is monitoring the health of your Red Tetras. Regularly observe your fish for any signs of stress or disease.

Are they eating well? Do they have vibrant colors? Are they interacting with their tank mates? A healthy fish will be active, have clear eyes, intact fins, and a hearty appetite.

Taking note of any changes in their behavior or appearance can help catch potential health issues early, allowing for timely intervention and treatment.

A well-maintained tank is one of the best preventative measures against common fish diseases.

Remember, maintaining a Flame Tetra tank involves more than just feeding the fish and turning on the filter.

It requires consistent care, attention to detail, and an understanding of these stunning creatures’ needs.

Following these maintenance guidelines can go a long way in ensuring a healthy, happy life for your Flame Tetras.

Acclimating Flame Tetra

Acclimating your Flame Tetra, also known as Von Rio Tetra or Red Tetra, is a crucial step when introducing these lively little fish to their new home.

Here’s how to do it right:

  1. Start Slow: When you first bring your Flame Tetras home, keep them in their bag and float it in your aquarium. This allows them to adjust to the temperature of your tank without stress.

  2. Gradual Introduction: After about 15-20 minutes, slowly add some tank water into the bag, letting your Von Rio Tetras adjust to the water chemistry gradually. Repeat this process every five minutes for about half an hour.

  3. Safe Transfer: Once acclimated, use a net to gently move your Flame Tetras into the tank. Try to avoid transferring water from the bag into your aquarium to prevent potential contamination.

Remember, patience is key. Allow your Flame Tetras enough time to adapt to their new environment. A successful acclimation ensures your fish start off on the right fin in their new home.

Diet for Flame Tetras: Feeding Your Red Tetra

When it comes to feeding your Flame Tetras, variety is the name of the game. As omnivores, they can enjoy a mix of plant-based foods and proteins.

Here’s what a balanced diet for your Von Rio Tetras could look like:

High-Quality Flake Food or Pellets

A diet of high-quality flake food or pellets can provide the majority of nutritional needs for your Flame Tetras. They are convenient, easy to store, and available in formulations that support the health and colors of tropical fish.

Live and Frozen Foods

Incorporate live and frozen foods into your Flame Tetras’ diet to provide essential proteins. Options include brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms. Remember, these should be treats and not the main part of their diet.

Plant Matter

Flame Tetras also benefit from plant matter in their diet. Spirulina flakes are an excellent choice. They are rich in vitamins and minerals, promoting overall fish health.

Feeding Schedule

Feed your Flame Tetras two to three times a day, offering only as much as they can consume in two to three minutes. Overfeeding can lead to poor water quality and health issues.

Remember, a diverse diet is the best way to ensure your Von Rio Tetras get all the nutrients they need. A balanced, varied feeding routine will keep your Flame Tetras healthy, vibrant, and active.

Selecting Tank Mates for Flame Tetras

Your Flame Tetra, Von Rio Tetra, or Red Tetra is an amiable little fish, getting along well with many other species. When choosing their tank mates, you should go for similarly sized, peaceful species.

Here are some ideal companions for your Flame Tetra:

  1. Neon Tetras: These bright, peaceful fish are a classic choice and complement Flame Tetras beautifully.

  2. Dwarf Gouramis: With their vibrant colors and peaceful nature, Dwarf Gouramis make excellent tank mates.

  3. Corydoras Catfish: These bottom dwellers are peaceful and stay out of your Flame Tetras’ way.

  4. Platies: Their peaceful temperament and size make them a good fit.

  5. Mollies: These adaptable fish get along well with Flame Tetras.

  6. Ghost Shrimp: A small, peace-loving species, they are great tank mates for Flame Tetras.

  7. Cherry Barbs: A lively but peaceful species, Cherry Barbs coexist well with Flame Tetras.

However, there are also some species that should be avoided as they may not get along well with your Flame Tetras:

  1. Cichlids: Generally, Cichlids can be aggressive and may bully your smaller Flame Tetras.

  2. Tiger Barbs: Known to be fin-nippers, they could stress your peaceful Tetras.

  3. Red Tail Sharks: These solitary fish may be too territorial for the social Flame Tetras.

  4. Bettas: While some Betta fish may coexist peacefully, others may show aggression.

  5. Goldfish: Goldfish prefer colder water and have different dietary needs than Flame Tetras.

Remember, observing the behavior of your tank inhabitants is crucial. If you notice any signs of stress or aggression, take immediate steps to resolve the issue.

Breeding Flame Tetras and Fry Care

Breeding Flame Tetras, also known as Von Rio Tetras, is a rewarding experience. These fish are egg-scatterers, meaning they will deposit their eggs on plants or substrate for the male to fertilize.

Here’s how you can encourage breeding:

  1. Set Up a Separate Breeding Tank: A smaller tank (around 10 gallons) with soft, slightly acidic water is ideal.

  2. Provide Plenty of Cover: Dense plant cover gives your Tetras a safe place to scatter their eggs.

  3. Condition the Breeders: Feed your Tetras a diet rich in live foods to encourage breeding behavior.

  4. Lower the Lighting: Dim lighting encourages spawning.

  5. Raise the Temperature: A slightly warmer temperature (around 80°F) can also stimulate spawning.

Once the eggs are laid and fertilized, it’s best to remove the parents to prevent them from eating the eggs.

Fry Care

Caring for Flame Tetra fry requires some special considerations:

  1. Feeding: Initially, fry will feed on their yolk sac. After a few days, you can introduce infusoria or finely crushed flake food.

  2. Regular Water Changes: To keep the water clean and safe for the fry, regular, small water changes are recommended.

  3. Monitor Growth: Keep an eye on the growth of the fry. Once they are large enough, you can gradually introduce them to the main tank.

Remember, patience is key when breeding Flame Tetras. While it may take some time, the reward of watching a new generation of Tetras grow up in your tank is worth the wait.

Spotting Stress in Flame Tetras

Flame Tetras, Red Tetras, or Von Rio Tetras, like all fish, can suffer from stress, which can lead to health problems if not addressed.

Here are some signs your Flame Tetra might be feeling stressed:

  1. Change in Color: One of the first signs of stress is a loss of color. If your usually vibrant Flame Tetra starts looking dull, it might be feeling stressed.

  2. Erratic Swimming: If your Flame Tetra is darting around the tank or swimming erratically, it could be a sign of stress.

  3. Loss of Appetite: A stressed Flame Tetra may lose interest in food.

  4. Hiding: If your normally social Flame Tetra starts spending more time hiding, this could indicate stress.

If you notice any of these signs, consider checking your tank conditions. A change in water parameters or a new, aggressive tank mate could be causing the stress.

Common Health Issues in Flame Tetra

Flame Tetras can suffer from common freshwater fish diseases.

Here are some issues you might encounter:

  1. Ich: This parasitic disease causes white spots on the fish’s body. Treatment often involves raising the tank’s temperature and adding medication.

  2. Fin Rot: This bacterial disease causes fins to look frayed or decaying. Clean water and antibacterial medications can help treat this condition.

  3. Swim Bladder Disease: This condition affects a fish’s buoyancy, causing it to swim erratically. This can often be treated by adjusting the fish’s diet and water quality.

Remember, the best cure is prevention. Regular tank maintenance and proper feeding can go a long way in preventing these common health issues.

Additional Tips for a Healthy Aquarium

Maintaining a healthy environment is key for the wellbeing of your Flame Tetras.

Here are a few tips:

  1. Consistent Water Parameters: Keeping water parameters stable is essential for the health of your fish.

  2. Varied Diet: Providing a balanced diet can ensure your Flame Tetras receive all necessary nutrients.

  3. Avoid Overcrowding: Too many fish in a tank can lead to poor water quality and increased stress.

  4. Regular Observations: Regularly watching your fish can help you catch any potential issues early.

Should You Get a Flame Tetra for Your Aquarium?

Flame Tetras, Red Tetras, or Von Rio Tetras are a great choice for both beginner and experienced aquarists. Their vibrant color, peaceful nature, and relatively easy care make them an excellent addition to a community tank.

As long as you can provide the right tank conditions and diet, your Flame Tetras should thrive.

So, if you’re considering adding some color and liveliness to your aquarium, Flame Tetras could be the perfect choice!

Flame Tetra: Conservation Status

Although often seen in home aquariums, the Flame Tetra, also known as the Von Rio Tetra or Red Tetra, is currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List.

This classification means that, while they are widely distributed and generally abundant, it’s still essential to support sustainable fishing practices to ensure the continued health of wild populations.

As aquarists, we can contribute to their conservation by choosing Flame Tetras sourced from reputable suppliers who prioritize sustainable breeding practices.

Availability and Pricing of Flame Tetra

Flame Tetras are widely available in most local pet stores and online. Their popularity among hobbyists has contributed to a robust market.

As a result, they’re typically very affordable. Depending on your location and the retailer, you can expect to pay between $2 to $5 per fish. However, prices can vary based on factors such as the fish’s age, size, and overall health.

Always choose a reputable fish store or online vendor to ensure you’re getting healthy, well-cared-for fish.

Frequently Asked Questions About Flame Tetras

Q – How many Flame Tetras should be kept together?

Ans – Flame Tetras, like other Tetras, are schooling fish. They should be kept in groups of at least five to six, but a larger school is always better for their social behavior and overall well-being.

Q – What should I feed my Flame Tetra?

Ans – Flame Tetras are omnivores. They do well on a diet of high-quality flake or pellet food, along with regular servings of live or frozen foods like brine shrimp or bloodworms.

Q – Are Flame Tetras good for beginners?

Ans – Yes! Flame Tetras are hardy, adaptable, and easy to care for, making them an excellent choice for beginners. They’re also peaceful, making them perfect for community tanks.

In Conclusion: The Flame Tetra

Whether you know them as Flame Tetras, Red Tetras, or Von Rio Tetras, these vibrant and lively fish are an excellent choice for any aquarium.

They bring a burst of color and activity to any tank, making it a lively and engaging habitat. Their care needs are straightforward, making them suitable for beginners while still offering an enjoyable experience for seasoned hobbyists.

All they need is clean water, the right tank conditions, a healthy diet, and good tank mates to thrive. With the right care, these bright sparks can become the flaming stars of your aquarium!