Diamond tetras are beautiful freshwater fish that don’t get enough attention. We have been fans of this species for years and would definitely recommend them to anyone!
They are beautiful, easy to care for and so much fun to watch. This makes them a great beginner fish. However, this is a great option if you are experienced and also want a low maintenance freshwater species.
In this guide, we’ll go over the basics of diamond tetra care to help you prepare for ownership. You will learn everything you need to know!
The Diamond tetra or Tetra Diamante (scientific name: Moenkhausia pittieri) is a striking species that goes by many other names. It is sometimes called a diamond character or timanttitetra. Whatever you call it, there’s no denying the beauty of this freshwater fish.
Native to inland water bodies in South America, the Diamond Tetra prefers to live in shallow, slow-moving tributaries. These fish are typically found in the Rio Bue, Rio Tiquiriti, and Lake Valencia.
Like other fish in this region, the Diamond Tetra does very well in captivity. It is a common sight in the pet trade and remains a favorite with fish lovers around the world.
The Diamond Tetra is one of the most robust types of tetras out there. It is slightly larger than most tetras, but still has the same laterally compressed body.
The fish gets its common name from the magnificent finish of its scales. Most of the body takes on a silvery hue. However, the scales have an iridescent sheen that can cast orange, blue, green, and gold colors. The iridescent finish becomes more vibrant as the fish ages, peaking once the fish matures.
The fins are usually semi-transparent and have a subtle violent hue. Like other tetra species, the diamond tetra has a long anal fin. The dorsal fin also deserves special attention.
For females, the dorsal fin is quite short. For their part, the males have long, pointed fins that are easy to identify. As a result, this species is relatively clearly sexually dimorphic, which is useful during the breeding season.
One last noteworthy feature of the Diamond Tetra is the eyes. The eyes feature a subtle hint of red in the upper half, creating a unique accent.
Author’s Note: While this may not sound like much, it really does stand out (even when these fish are swimming). It really adds to her overall beauty!
Average size of the Diamond Tetra
The size of the average Diamond Tetra is about 2 to 2.4 inches long as adults. That makes them quite small and easy to handle even if you don’t have room for a larger aquarium.
We think this size makes them even more fun to watch. They look like little shiny torpedoes fired around the tank.
The average lifespan of the diamond tetra is between three and six years in captivity. However, there are never any guarantees when it comes to the lifespan of a fish (as you probably know).
Author’s Note: The quality of care you provide will have a huge impact on the lifespan of these freshwater fish. While hardy, diamondback tetras still need a well-maintained environment and a top-notch diet to avoid disease and stay healthy.
Diamond Tetra Care
For the most part, diamond tetra care is fairly straightforward. These freshwater fish are surprisingly hardy, making them great choices for beginners and novice aquarists alike.
But as always, there are some important care guidelines to follow if you want to help your fish thrive and reach their full potential. Once you become familiar with their requirements, owning them will be a piece of cake.
The first thing to consider? The size of your tank!
Diamond tetras are on the smaller end of the size spectrum when it comes to freshwater fish. We recommend a tank size of at least 15 gallons when keeping these fish. That should be enough to support a smaller group of three fish.
That said, more space is never a bad thing. These little creatures are peaceful, but they can also be very active. A larger tank will create more room to swim while making it easier to maintain water conditions.
Speaking of water conditions, it is important to create the right environment for the fish in terms of parameters.
Diamond tetras hail from shallow rivers and streams in South America and prefer warm water that is slightly neutral. This species can survive in alkaline waters thanks to its hardy nature, but a slight acidity can go a long way to help bring out its beauty!
Below are the main water parameters you should aim for.
- Water temperature: 72°F to 82°F (around 75 to 76 degrees is ideal)
- pH levels: 6.0 to 7.5 (aim for a touch below neutral)
- Water hardness: 4 to 8 KH
Author’s Note: Be sure to go out and purchase an aquarium test kit that is reliable and accurate. This will be your lifesaver when it comes to monitoring the status of your tank and knowing what adjustments to make.
Setting up the interior of your tank
When you are decorating the tank, try to replicate its natural habitat as closely as possible. Diamond tetras do best in an Amazon biotope setting. That means they are used to living in environments teeming with plant life, so do your best to achieve something similar.
Start with a layer of sand substrate. Diamond tetras won’t venture too far, but they help provide that natural feel. Add some driftwood and twisted branches to simulate all the hiding places fish have in nature.
Now add live plants. Feel free to get creative here, as there are no strict requirements in terms of plant cultivars. Mix and match foreground plants, tall stem plants and floating plants.
The goal here is to give the fish plenty of places to hide and relax. Plants must provide adequate shelter from light, as these fish do not like bright lights.
Diamond tetras work well with standard filtration systems. You can use hanging models or container models. Regardless of what you choose, make sure you can circulate the volume of water several times an hour to keep ammonia and nitrate levels undetectable.
Possible common diseases
For diamond tetras, getting sick is usually not a big problem. This is a hardy species that can go a long way before succumbing to health issues (which is another reason they are great for beginners).
That said, no fish is immune to disease! Diamond tetras suffer from all the common freshwater ailments. Some common problems to watch out for include ich, parasitic infections, bacterial diseases, and more.
Fortunately, most common illnesses are easy to avoid if you stay aware of water conditions.
Check the water parameters regularly. Also, do a 25 to 50 percent water change every two weeks.
Author’s Note: The great thing about diamond tetras is that their hardiness often limits the spread of disease. As long as you catch the problem early on, you can quarantine the fish and mitigate the spread to other members of the community.
Food and Diet
Diamond Tetras are easy to please! These fish are natural omnivores that will eat everything from plant matter to small insects in the wild. They are not picky so finding suitable meals should be a doddle!
Dried flakes or granules should be the main staple of the diet. Choose a balanced formula that meets your nutritional needs. You can also opt for a product with vitamins that enhance the natural coloration of the fish.
Occasional plant-based and protein snacks are good too! For vegetables, diamond tetras like simple snacks like lettuce. For protein, choose dry, freeze-dried, or live foods. They especially like brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms.
behavior and temperament
If you are looking for a peaceful community fish that can cohabitate with others, the Diamond Tetra is a great choice! A schooling fish, diamond tetras prefer to stay with a small group.
Interestingly, they like odd social groups. At a minimum, keep three fish together. However, five or seven is even better!
These fish will group together throughout the day to explore the tank and forage for food. You may see some fun fights here and there, but aggression is generally not something you need to worry about with diamond tetras.
Diamond Tetras are great additions to larger multi-species tanks. However, you should give some thought to his tankmates.
You should never keep these guys with super aggressive species. Larger fish are also out of the question. They can quickly become food for larger species!
Many owners have had success using diamond tetras as dither fish for medium-sized cichlids. But we don’t recommend trying that unless you have some experience.
Instead, stick with peaceful fish that are about the same size as this species. Here are some good diamond tetra tank mates to try:
- celestial pearl danios
- molly fish
- Most tetra species
- cory catfish
- Peaceful bottom dwellers
Author’s Note: Shrimp are a tank mate to avoid if you have a diamond tetra. These fish will definitely see your shrimp as a snack!
Breeding diamond tetras can be unpredictable! The biggest challenge aquarists have to overcome is matching the fish.
These fish can be a bit finicky in that regard. They only spawn with other fish of the same size and age. So it may take some trial and error to get things right. But once you do, it’s easy to navigate from there.
Diamond tetras are best raised in a separate tank approximately 20 gallons in size. Make the pH level a little more acidic. Also, keep the hardness low.
Add some spawning mops or clumps of java moss to the bottom of the tank. Diamond tetras are egg layers. Once the female releases her eggs, they will drop onto the mops to ward off hungry adults.
Turn off all the lights in the tank and add your fish. You can raise them in single pairs or in larger groups of 12. Once all the fish are inside, slowly increase the light level. This should induce spawning.
The females will release their eggs while the males fertilize them. After all the fish have finished spawning, remove the adults!
The eggs should hatch in about 24 to 36 hours. The fry will survive in the egg sac for a few more days. After they become free swimmers, provide food to fry, such as infusoria or brine shrimp.
Young fish will have a duller coloration than their adult counterparts. But, the iconic iridescent sheen will begin to develop around nine months of age.
Diamond tetras are a fascinating freshwater fish that more owners should consider. With its incredible beauty and low maintenance care requirements, this is a species that anyone can enjoy!
If you have lingering questions about diamond tetra care that weren’t answered in this guide, feel free to send them to us. We are more than happy to help!