Emperor Tetra

Are you looking for a lovely and tranquil fish to add to your aquarium? The Emperor Tetra is a perfect choice!

These fish are native to South America, and they love to live in tanks with plenty of plants. They are a peaceful species that will add beauty and color to your tank.

In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about Emperor Tetras, including their ideal habitat, diet, and behavior.

We will also provide some tips on how to care for your Emperor Tetra so that they can live a long and healthy life.


Scientific NameNematobrycon Palmeri
Common NamesEmperor Tetra
Minimum Tank Size20 Gallons (76 Liters)
Size1.5 – 2  inches
Life SpanThey can live for around 3-5 years.
DietOmnivore eats most foods
with a pH5.0 to 7.8.
Temperature75-82°F (24-28°C)

Emperor Tetra Origins

The emperor tetra (Nematobrycon Palmeri) is a native Colombian freshwater fish that lives in the Atrato and San Juan River basins.

These fish are typically found in tiny tributaries and streams where there is a lot of movement.

Even though the emperor tetra is found in a restricted area in the wild, it has become a popular aquarium pet and is farmed for sale worldwide.

Emperor Tetra Appearance

The emperor tetra is an attractive fish with blue-gray body coloration and yellowfins.

The fins are edged in black, and the fish’s body displays an iridescent sheen.

A dark stripe runs horizontally from head to tail, and the body is lighter in color below the stripe.

These small fish can only grow 1.5 – 2  inches in length.

Is Emperor Tetra Hardy?

Emperor Tetras are a relatively hardy fish and can be suitable for beginner aquarists. They are also peaceful fish that do well in community tanks.

Emperor Tetra Availability

Though not as widely available as some other fish, the Emperor Tetra can be found in many pet stores specializing in tropical fish.

They are also sometimes available in larger chain stores. Online retailers are another option for those looking to purchase these fish.

Breeders sometimes have them available as well.

When purchasing Emperor Tetras, looking for active fish with bright colors is essential. Lethargic fish that have dull colors are likely sick and should be avoided.

It is also essential to make sure that the fish comes from a reputable source to ensure that they are healthy and free of disease.

How to Care for Emperor Tetra?

1. Tank Size

There are a few things to think about when selecting the appropriate aquarium size for your Emperor Tetras.

If you keep a single-species tank, you can house a tiny group in a modest 10-gallon tank.

However, if you plan to keep a community tank with other fish species, a 20-gallon tank is the minimum size you should consider.

2. Temperature

Emperor tetras are tropical fish that prefer warm water. Their ideal water temperature is 72 to 79 F (22 to 26 C).

3. PH Level

The ideal pH level for Emperor tetras is between 6.0 and 7.8.

They also can tolerate a range of water hardness from 5 to 25 dGH. However, they prefer soft to medium-hard water.

4. Lighting

Emperor tetras come from dark, murky waters in the wild. Because of those environmental characteristics, they prefer subdued lighting with plenty of places to hide.

You can provide this environment in the aquarium by using a dimmer switch or light-diffusing materials like floating plants. You should also avoid using bright, direct lighting that could stress your fish.

If you need to provide some light for plant growth, consider using a full-spectrum LED bulb that emits very little heat.

5. Filters

Emperor tetras are peaceful fish that thrive in groups, so it’s critical to find a filter with an adequate flow to be comfortable while not overly powerful.

From our experience, we recommend the HOB filter, which is a relatively low-cost option for keeping aquarium water clean and healthy.

Another option is the Aquaclear Power Filter. It is one of the most effective filters on the market. The Aquaclear Power Filter is an excellent choice for emperor tetras since it has adjustable flow rates to ensure that your fish are always happy.

6. Tank Decoration

As we mentioned before, these fish inhabit dark, murky waters with plenty of vegetation in the wild. When keeping Emperor Tetras in an aquarium, it’s important to recreate this natural environment as closely as possible.

One way to do this is by using a dark-colored substrate on the bottom of the tank. Gravel or dark-colored sand is ideal, as it mimics the look of a natural riverbed.

You can also add live plants for hiding spots, exploration, and shelter from the light throughout the tank. Java fern and water sprite are two good options.

Emperor Tetra Diet

The emperor tetra is primarily a predator in the wild, feeding on larvae, small invertebrates, and insects.

In the aquarium, you should provide them with high-quality flake food, with regular offerings of live and frozen foods.

One of the best flake foods for emperor tetras is Hikari Micro Pellets, designed explicitly for small-mouth fish. This food provides essential nutrients and will help the fish obtain their full coloration.

For live foods, brine shrimp and daphnia are good choices. These can be obtained from a pet store or online retailer.

Emperor tetras also enjoy frozen foods such as bloodworms and tubifex worms.

It is essential to offer a variety of foods to ensure the fish are getting all the nutrients they need. A varied diet will also help bring out their full coloration.

Emperor Tetra Compatibility

The emperor tetra is a peaceful fish that does well with a wide range of other peaceful fish.

They are particularly well-suited for tanks with dwarf cichlids, corydoras, catfish, livebearers, and most species of peaceful tetras.

Overly active fish should be avoided, as they may see the emperor tetra as prey.

Emperor Tetra Gender Difference,

The male and female fish have some noticeable differences in appearance. The most notable difference is the fins.

The dorsal and caudal fins of the male are noticeably longer and more pointed than the female.

Also, males have an extended ray in the middle of the caudal fin that gives the tail the appearance of a trident.

The female is also smaller and plumper in the body than the male.

Emperor Tetra Breeding

Emperor tetras are relatively easy to breed in the home aquarium, and the process often occurs without intervention if the fish are kept in an optimal environment.

However, you can trigger the breeding process by creating a separate breeding tank.

The breeding tank should have around 80 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

The water should be softer and have a pH balance of around 7.0. Use a filter equipped with sponges to prevent harm to the baby fish.

After you set up the breeding tank, place a pair of emperor tetras in the breeding tank to induce breeding.

The female will lay her eggs on plants or other surfaces in the tank, and the male will fertilize them.

Once the eggs are laid, remove the parents from the tank to prevent them from eating them.

The eggs will hatch in 24-48 hours, and the fry will be free-swimming a few days after that.

You can feed them small live foods or finely crushed flakes. Your fry should grow into healthy adults in a few months with proper care.

Possible Diseases and Prevention

Emperor tetras are hardy and peaceful fish species that make a great addition to any aquarium.

However, like all fish, they are susceptible to diseases that can be deadly if not treated promptly and adequately.

Some of the most common diseases that emperor tetras may suffer from include:


Also known as white spot disease, ich is a parasitic infection that attacks the fish’s skin, gills, and fins. Ich is characterized by white spots or dots on the fish’s body, which can eventually lead to death if not treated.

Fin rot

Fin rot is an infection that causes the fish’s fins and tail to become ragged and disintegrate.

Fin rot is usually caused by poor water quality or bacterial infection and can be deadly if not treated.

Swim bladder disease

The swim bladder is a gas-filled sac that helps the fish float and stays at a particular water depth.

If this sac is damaged, the fish will have difficulty swimming and may eventually drown.

You can do several things to help prevent your emperor tetra from getting sick.

First, make sure that you keep their tank clean and the water quality high.

Second, don’t overfeed them, as this can lead to digestive problems that make them more susceptible to infections.

Finally, quarantine new fish before adding them to your tank, as they may be carrying diseases that could infect your other fish.

By following these simple tips, you can help keep your emperor tetras healthy and happy for many years to come.

Last Words

The emperor tetra is a peaceful fish that makes a great addition to any aquarium.

They are relatively easy to care for and breed, and they are not known to be overly picky eaters.

We hope you have enjoyed this article as much as we did. If you still have any questions, please share them with us in the comment section below.