Tetras are amongst the most popular aquarium fishes. There are probably more than 150 distinct species of tetra from which the aquarist may choose and this includes a large number of visually stunning fishes that are bound to enhance any home aquarium.
Is the Diamond Tetra a good community fish? The Diamond Tetra is an excellent community fish and gets on with most species. It is an ideal species for relatively inexperienced aquarists and is readily available. The Diamond Tetra is a “rhomboid” Tetra in shape. The Diamond Tetra is quite easy to sex because the male tends to have longer, more ornate finnage.
|Common name(s)||Diamond Tetra – also known as:|
|Scientific name||Moenkhausia pittieri|
|Originate from||Northern area of Venezuela in the state of Carabobo in South America|
|Care required||Easy to care for and hugely popular|
|Temperament||Placid, shoaling fish|
|Colour & Form||Largely lilac/silver body with clear finnage and rhomboid form|
|Lifespan||Up to 5 years|
|Adult size||2.5 inches|
|Diet||Omnivorous – eat aquatic insect larvae in nature|
|Aquarium size||36 inches in length or greater|
|Compatible with||Most other Tetras, Barbs, Danios, Guppies and other livebearers, dwarf cichlids, smaller Gouramis, catfish and loaches|
|Avoid keeping with||Large and/or aggressive species & fin-nippers|
|Breeding||Easy if you put the fish in the right environment.|
|Water temp||73 – 82 Fahrenheit|
|Water pH||5.5 to 7.0|
|Water hardness (dGH or dH)||1 to 12 dGH|
Origins of the Diamond Tetra
Tetras, as a “family” of fishes belonging to the biological family Characidae are found in nature in Africa, Central America and South America.
The Diamond Tetra originates from the northern area of Venezuela in the state of Carabobo in South America. The vast majority of Diamond Tetras available to aquarists are captive-bred and the species is hugely popular.
Characteristics of the Diamond Tetra
As you can see, the Diamond Tetra is characterized by its very tall, slender, silver body. The Diamond Tetra will grow to up to 2.5 inches in the aquarium and live for around five years.
Diamond Tetras prefer fairly neutral water with a pH of 5.5 to 7.0 with a temperature range between 73 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit and up to 12 dGH.
The Diamond Tetra is a shoaling fish and should be kept as a group of at least six fish, though a shoal of, say, ten or more fish is highly recommended. Having plenty of vegetation to break up lines of sight will also help to protect your Diamond Tetras from predation but it is obviously advised that Diamond Tetras are not kept with predatory species.
The eyes of the Diamond Tetra are typically a metallic silver in colour with an orange/red highlight over to top of the iris.
The adult Diamond Tetra shows, gold, green and orange flashes of its lilac/silvery body so it becomes more attractive as it matures.
The fins of the Diamond Tetra are generally clear (hyaline). It is easy to distinguish between the sexes of the adult Diamond Tetras, as the male has longer, more flowing dorsal and anal fins. Females tend to grow a little smaller than males but, in general, the easiest way to differentiate between the sexes is when the female is carrying eggs (gravid), as her lower abdomen will become more distended than the male.
The Diamond Tetra has a much deeper body than, for example, a Neon Tetra, being much more rhomboid in shape.
The Diamond Tetra tends to inhabit the middle and lower areas of the aquarium (top to bottom). That said, it is a vigorous fish when breeding and will readily traverse the entire aquarium.
The Diamond Tetra is, by nature, a shoaling fish and it is generally recommended to purchase six or more fish, as their nature is to swim together as a shoal and they will tend to thrive much better as a shoal. Diamond Tetras are excellent community fish and are ideal for aquarists with moderate experience, as they don’t tend to have aggressive tendencies towards other species. It is advised not to include Diamond Tetras in an aquarium containing predatory species, as their wellbeing may rapidly deteriorate. Similarly, avoid fin-nipping species.
Diamond Tetras, like most rainforest species, prefer a shaded and well-planted tank, as they can hide from predation, so consider including floating leaves and/or allowing vegetation to grow so that it floats on the surface of the water to provide shade.
It is generally advised that the minimum tank size for Diamond Tetras should be one of 36 inches in length or more due to the size and shoaling nature of the species, which will enable a small shoal to move around freely. The tank should be well-planted but with clear areas where the fish can swim freely. The water should only have gentle movement.
The general rule for Tetras is that by keeping six or more of the same species in an aquarium they will be fully aware of which is male and which is female and they will act accordingly.
Most (but not all) Tetras have an additional fin which identifies them as being Tetras and the Diamond Tetra is no exception. If you look between the dorsal fin and the caudal (tail) fin of the Diamond Tetra you will observe a tiny, additional fin, known as the adipose fin. The purpose of this fin is not fully understood but, if it is present on a freshwater tropical fish then you can be pretty certain that the fish is a Tetra.
Tetra comes from the Greek word “Tetragonopterus” which means square-finned and appears to relate to the four fins on vertical plane of the fish (dorsal, adipose, caudal and anal fins) which span the central line of the fish (when viewed from above or below, front or rear) and are not present as a pair (e.g. the pectoral or pelvic fins).
Diamond Tetra – Video
How do Diamond Tetras breed?
Tetras, in general, will scatter eggs by laying them over fine plants such as Cabomba, Fontanalis or Java Moss.
Diamond Tetras, like most species, are noted to leap above the water surface during breeding and in general, so it is advised that the tank should be covered to mitigate the risk of losing fish.
As the female Diamond Tetra becomes ripe with eggs, the difference between the sexes becomes even more evident. If you plan to attempt to breed Diamond Tetras then it is recommended that you have a breeding tank prepared. Such a tank can be empty but you may wish to include a mesh or grid under which the fertilized eggs will fall and/or a sterilized breeding mop.
That said, Diamond Tetras will breed in a community tank and, if the tank is well planted, it is likely that at least a few fry may survive to reach adulthood.
Some say that a novice may find it difficult to breed Diamond Tetras but, in my experience, by understanding the conditions that are ideal for breeding, most species will breed quite readily, as it is natural for them so to do and, in general, nature finds a way.
I have observed Diamond Tetras breeding readily and vigorously in quite soft, acidic water (pH 5.5 to 6.0) and less than 4 dGH.
The female will swim vigorously around the tank and, if you include two males then they will encourage her to lay her eggs by bumping into her. She will lay her non-adhesive eggs which will immediately be fertilized by the male(s) and will fall to the bottom of the tank (preferably through the mesh or trap). Once spawning is complete, remove the adults, as they are likely to consume the eggs, given the chance, and take no further parental responsibility. A mature female may lay up to 350 to 400 eggs.
Spawning usually takes place in the early morning. In nature, Diamond Tetras spawn at the start of the rainy season.
Breeding tank for Diamond Tetras
You should prepare a tank of around 30 gallons in size with mature water. The water should be at a pH of around 5.5 to 6.0, maintained using an aquatic peat filter and with a low level of light.
You may wish to introduce mosquito larvae or bloodworm as an inducement to reproduction.
The female will swim amongst the plants, laying her eggs whilst the male will swim alongside or behind her and fertilize the eggs as they are laid. Typically, the female can lay around about 350 to 400 eggs during a spawning, which may adhere to plants or will sink to the bottom of the tank.
Once the female has scattered her eggs and the male has fertilized at least some of them then the adults should be removed carefully from the breeding tank because they will have nothing more to do with the eggs but they may simply eat them.
Keep the lights off and the tank dark because Tetra eggs and fry are particularly sensitive to the light.
The eggs will hatch typically in around two to three days or so depending on tank temperature and conditions and the fry will become free-swimming after around five to seven days after hatching. Keep the tank unlit for the first week or so then gradually increase the lighting.
The newly hatched fry will firstly feed on their yolk sac but, once free-swimming, can be fed infusoria (particularly rotifers) and will also thrive on egg yolk during the first two to four weeks. It is worth mentioning that immediately after hatching, fry seem quite vigorous but will soon go into a resting state before they become free-swimming so please don’t mistake this initial stage as being free-swimming.
After around four days or so add baby brine shrimp. Once the fry are sufficient in size not to be treated as a snack then they can be introduced into the community tank where they will join the existing shoal. Before moving the adolescent fish into the community tank ensure that you have balanced the water temperatures to mitigate the risk of White Spot or other diseases being triggered.
Should your Diamond Tetras have a special diet for breeding?
Adult Diamond Tetras don’t need any particular inducement to breed. That said, it has been suggested that adding mosquito larva may encourage them, presumably because the addition of a new food may “fool” the fish into thinking that it is breeding time. From my own experience, I would always recommend keeping all of your fish in the best possible condition at all times, as this is good for the wellbeing of your fish.