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

Flame Tetra (Hyphessobrycon flammeus) also known as Von Rio Tetra and Red Tetra is a freshwater ray-finned fish from the Characin family. Hyphesson comes from the Greek word, ‘small size, and Flammeus comes from the Latin reference,’ flame color’.

This species was recognized as an aquarium fish in 1920 by C. Bruening in Hamburg, Germany.

It originates from the reservoirs of South America and can be found in Paraiba do Sul and the Guandu River. Often found under other names – fiery tetra, flaming tetra, etc.

Quick Stats

Family: Characidae
Scientific Name: Hyphessobrycon flammeus
Origin: South America, Brazil, coastal rivers
Social Behaviour: Peaceful
Tank Level: All areas
Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallon
Diet: Omnivore
Breeding: Egg-layer
Care: Easy
pH: 5.5 to 7.5
Hardness: 3 to 15 dGH
Temperature: 72 to 82 F (22 to 27 C)

General Information

This species is found in most household aquariums. A significant decline has been noted in the wild due to pollution, change in natural habitat, the introduction of new species, etc.

Flame Tetra is a peaceful schooling species that is perfect for keeping in tropical aquariums. These fishes are beautiful and relatively unpretentious in keeping, which makes them recommended species for novice aquarists.

The Tetras grow well in slow-moving and shallow waters like streams and tributaries.


The first thing that captivates the Von Rio Tetra is its small size. Adult Flame Tetra grows up to a maximum of 4 cm, which allows keeping these fish even in nano aquariums. Von Rio Tetras have a silver hue color on their body with flame-like fins.

These fishes are diamond-shaped have a two-lobed tail almost transparent in color. They have a small mouth and large eyes with a blue ring.

The males have a well developed anal fin colored in red. The pelvic and dorsal fins are small and the adipose fin is absent. They have a bony hook used for breeding.

They have comparatively small bodies and their size narrows down towards the tail. On the other hand, females have large bodies with a thick belly. They look more round at the time of spawning.

The females can become fertile at age of 6-8 months whereas, males get ready for breeding within 8-12 months.

The color of the fish directly depends on the conditions of keeping. If the tetra is under stress, it turns noticeably pale.


Flame Tetras live in coastal areas and can be found in the Sao Paulo region, mainly due to commercialization by the breeders. This breed was introduced in America in the early ’90s and has been a popular aquarium fish since then.

The typical habitat of Tetra is a shallow stream with a slow current and dense thickets of aquatic plants. The water can be clear or black.

Fish loves shallow depths (up to 50 cm) and a sandy bottom. They can survive in both high and low temperatures which makes them a likable choice. However, they prefer dim lighting.

Flame tetras can feed on worms, small insects, and crustaceans as well as various plant food.

Flame Tetra Aquarium Setup

This Tetra belongs to the schooling fish category, so they should never be kept alone. The absence of others like themselves is a severe stress for the fishes, which will definitely affect their health and color.

A 40-liter aquarium will suffice for a flock of 6 individuals. These fishes have a great jumping ability so there must be a lid.

The aquarium can be set up with different types of soil suitable for plants and be decorated with pebbles, stones, and driftwood. Dry brown leaves can stain the water and make it look rustic and natural in the aquarium.

There must be also free space for the fishes to swim and a few hiding places are fun for these Tetras.

You can use Tetra ToruMin Conditioner which will give water a characteristic ‘tea’ shade and make water a little acidic, favorable to Tetras.

Flame Tetra Care

Flame Tetra demands good care of their water. The aquarium water must be changed at least once a week as they are prone to catch bacterial and fungal injections.

Also, placing organic substances like dry leaves, driftwood, etc rot over time and release nitrogen compounds making the water hard and unfit.

These fishes become anxious, lose appetite, and may even try to jump out of the tank.  The aquarium should be equipped with a filter, a compressor and maintain the thermostat to a suitable temperature.

Use processed water for the aquarium and avoid tap water which is harmful to the fishes. Use the Tetra AquaSafe conditioner which removes chlorine, heavy metals, and adds beneficial vitamins and protective colloids to the water.

Flame Tetra Tank Mates

Flame Tetra is ideal for keeping up in a community aquarium. The fishes live peacefully and do not disturb their tank mates. Do not keep them with larger fishes as these Tetras are vulnerable and might become food for them.

The best tank mates for Flame Tetra are Neon Tetras, Black Skirt Tetra, Rummy Nose Tetra, Ember Tetra, Harlequin Rasbora, Celestial Pearl Danio, Various Types of Barbs, Apistogramma, etc.

The Flame Tetras are omnivorous and can feed on whatever they can find. Their diet consists of small invertebrates (crustaceans, larvae, worms), algae, and even detritus.

To maintain a good balance, feed them high-quality dry food every day. The rich vitamin and mineral content in these foods ensure their good health and longevity.

The Flame Tetra should be fed multiple times a day in the right proportions.

Packed dry food is easy to store and there is no danger of infection in the aquarium. Tetra Rubin or TetraPRO Color Multi-Crisps are excellent choices for feeding the fishes.

A good alternative is TetraMin Flakes, the “classic” flakes for all ornamental fish. Tetra MicroFood line of food specially designed for fish with small mouths.

After a few weeks of feeding, you will notice that your pets are much brighter.

Breeding Flame Tetra

The fishes are kept in groups, you should be able to spot the male and the female fish in the group. The male is slender, smaller, and brighter in color.

Females have a black tip on the pectoral fin. The parent fishes should be kept separately for a week before spawning. This can be done by separating the tank into two sections with a net.

The best way to spawn these fishes is in groups of 12 with 6 males and 6 females. Feed them in small portions.  It is best to set up a separate tank for breeding to get the best number of fry.

The temperature of the spawning tank should be 80 degrees Fahrenheit before introducing the female fishes.

You can introduce the female fishes in the tank at noon and the male ones sometime before dark. Breeding will take place the next morning. The females may lay between 150-500 eggs at a time.

The parents can eat their own eggs so a separate mesh and bundles of Javanese moss or glass balls are placed at the bottom of the aquarium

Flame Tetra Fry

Eggs will hatch within 24 to 36 hours and the Fry can be seen hanging on the glass, pebbles, and sand for about two days. These baby Tetras resemble tiny shards of glass. They enough to swim free by the third day.

They should be fed infusoria, paramecium, or 5 – 50 micron-sized dry food the first week followed by baby brine shrimp, micro worms, commercial food, or artemia nauplii the next week.

The baby  Tetras grow enough to feed on anything though they mostly stay at the bottom of the tank by the third week. Four months later, they grow up to half the size of their parents.

Flame Tetras are an excellent choice for pets. They are easily available and affordable.

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