freshwater community4


Emperor Tetra

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Scientific Name:   Nematobrycon palmeri      
Min. Tank Size:   25 gallons      
Personality:   Peaceful      
Temperature:   73-82°F      
pH:   5.0-8.0/0-15°dGH      
Size:   2"      
Diet:   Omnivore      
Breeding:   Egglayer      


Best kept in schools with 6 or more of their own species; can be kept with Livebearers, Rasboras, Danios, Corydoras, Pencilfish, other Tetras and Dwarf Cichlids.

Emperor Tetra

Named for their elegant appearance, Emperor Tetras can be identified by the extended ray in the middle of the caudal fin which gives the tail an elegant, three-pronged appearance. These Tetras typically have an overall blue-gray coloration with a dark stripe running laterally from nose to tail. The fins of this species have a yellow hue and are edged in black around the outside and in red along the body. These fish are endemic to the Rio Atrato and Rio San Juan basins in Columbia. Emperor Tetras tend to inhabit slow-moving waters such as tributaries and small rivers.

Tank Set-up

Because they are so popular in the aquarium trade, Emperor Tetras are commercially bred in large numbers. As a result, these fish are generally able to adapt to a variety of tank conditions. For this reason, Emperor Tetras are an excellent choice for the beginning aquarium hobbyist. These fish prefer dim lighting and are most likely to thrive in well-maintained tanks, particularly in planted tanks. Plant the tank along the back and sides and leave plenty of open swimming area. Diffuse the lighting with floating plants and choose a dark substrate to achieve a better display of the color of this fish. Emperor Tetras are a lively, peaceful species often recommended for the general community tank. Though they can be kept with a variety of species, these fish should always be kept in groups with at least 6 of their own species.


These fish are thought to be micropredators in the wild, feeding on small crustaceans, worms and insects in addition to other types of zooplankton. In the home aquarium, however, Emperor Tetras are not fussy and will thrive on a varied diet. Offer these fish a staple diet of high-quality flakes or granules supplemented with small live and frozen foods such as Daphnia, Artemia and brine shrimp. Feed a diet consisting of a variety of foods on a regular basis to promote the best health and coloration.


Breeding Emperor Tetras is not considered difficult and they can be spawned in groups or in pairs. In order to increase the productivity of these fishes, condition a sexually mature pair of fishes on live foods and introduce them into a separate breeding tank. The breeding tank should be darkened and kept at a pH between 6.0 and 7.0 and a temperature between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Provide a spawning mop or Java moss for the female to deposit the eggs on. The eggs will normally hatch in 24 - 48 hours. After spawning, remove the adult fish from the tank so they do not eat their own eggs.

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