Flame Tetra Tank Mates – An Easy Going Bunch

In this post, we’ll share a few Flame Tetra Tank Mates that will be sure to create an awesome community tank as well as a few care tips and some fish to avoid.

Fish keepers and aquarists revere most tetras for their beautiful appearance, active nature, and peaceful temperament. Their presence in a community tank adds a lot of activity and color, and their easy-going nature and hardiness make pairing them with other community fish relatively easy.

Just like other members of its family, the vibrant little Flame Tetra is also hardy and peaceful fish that can live happily alongside several different species—provided they are not boisterous, aggressive, or large enough to swallow the flames. Flame Tetras are active and curious, but the presence of bullying or territorial fish might stress them out.

Having flames in your aquarium sounds very poetic, and maybe that’s what the people responsible for naming this little tetra thought. But evidence suggests that it had more to do with the fish’s appearance. Flame tetra has a thin body, mostly shiny grey in the front half of the body. In the back half, the area before the caudal fin has a bronze hue at the top, which turns to red moving towards the anal fin that also has a black strip at the bottom edge (only on male flames). Caudal fins are almost transparent in males and have a pinkish hue in the females.

The Flame Tetra ( Von Rio Tetras)

Flame tetras also known as the Von Rio Tetras is very hardy and peaceful. It can survive in a wide range of water parameters and usually grows up to a size of 1.6 inches (4 cm).The colorful patch of the tetra looks like it’s bathed in flame from the bottom. It might not be an apt analogy, especially for a fish that is in an aquarium and not on a stick, but maybe that’s what got it its name. It has other names as well: Fire tetra, Von Rio tetra, Rio tetra, and red tetra.

Quick Care Tips

  • Care level: Beginner
  • Size: 1.6 inches max
  • Ideal tank size: 10 Gallons (If you are only keeping the Flame Tetras)
  • Temperature range: 72 – 82 °F
  • PH range: 5.5 – 7.5 (Ideally, between 6.5 to 7.0)
  • Hardness range: 3-15 GH

The Flame Tetra requires minimal care, and if you are prompt about your water cleaning and set up the right tank for it, it will survive and thrive without requiring much attention. It’s native to Brazil, and its natural habitat includes slow-moving creeks, backwaters, and river tributaries. So it won’t need a pump and will appreciate a less aggressive filter.

Equipment You Might Need For Your Flame Tetra

  1. Aqua Clear – Fish Tank Filter
  2. NICREW Classic LED Aquarium Light
  3. Fluval M Aquarium Heater
  4. Python Pro-Clean Gravel Washer and Siphon Kit
  5. Marina Algae Magnet Cleaner
  6. API Freshwater Master Test Kit

It’s a schooling fish, so keep a group of at least six of them. Since it’s a shy fish by nature, it doesn’t do well in brightly lit aquariums. The best set up for it would be dark gravel (preferably river sand to mimic its natural habitat), heavy plantation but with lots of swimming space left, and a few hiding places. It’s also a good idea to keep driftwood or twisted roots on the gravel to make it feel more at home. And if you don’t mind slightly tinted water in your tank, some decomposing leaves would help the flames feel at ease. But your other fish might not take kindly to the low visibility situation.

Flame tetra fits especially well with other tetras its size. But the tankmate choices for your Flame Tetras aren’t limited to other tetras.

Here Are A Few Flame Tetra Tank Mates – An Easy Going Bunch

1. Guppies

older guy 22feb08

Guppies are a long-standing freshwater sweet-heart fish. They are hardy, beautiful, and peaceful.

  • Care level: Beginner
  • Size: 0.6 to 2.4 (males: 0.6 to 1.4 and females 1.2 to 2.4)
  • Ideal tank size: 10 Gallons (can live in five if there are only guppies)
  • Temperature range: 75 – 82 °F (76 °F is ideal)
  • PH range: 6.8 to 7.8

Guppies, also known as rainbow fish and million fish (they neither cost nor give that much), were named for the person who discovered them. They are native to South American countries but have been introduced to many other places as well. And not because of their beautiful and hardy temperament, they have been introduced in waters around the globe as natural mosquito control. They love eating mosquito larvae, and their dietary tendencies have helped them fight the spread of malaria in many places.

They spend most of their time frolicking in the middle or at the top, so don’t mind the substrate. But they do love plants, especially long-leaf plants like Amazon swords. As an omnivore, they will eat almost anything, but mixing things up with live feed, frozen feed, and vegetables like peas is a good idea. Don’t feed them more than what they can eat in two minutes.

They come in a variety of colors and patterns. Their most distinct visual characteristic is their brightly colored and fan-like tail. They are not particularly schooling in nature, but if you keep more of them, they will school out of sheer habit. Since males are more beautiful than females, many aquarists keep only males. But if you want to keep both, make sure the male to female ratio is 2:1.

2. Pencil Fish

It’s a peaceful fish found in many river systems in South America.

  • Care level: Beginner
  • Size: 2 inches max
  • Ideal tank size: 10 Gallons minimum
  • Temperature range: 72 – 82 °F
  • PH range: 5.5 to 7.0

Pencil fish are long and thin and have black stripes running from mouth to caudal fins (not unlike the graphite in a regular pencil). The name pencil fish was originally given to only two particular species, but now, all the fishes belonging to genus Nannostomus is called pencil fish. It’s a peaceful fish and usually sticks to the middle. A planted tank (preferably floating plants) with lots of hiding places is perfect for keeping it happy.

It’s a schooling fish, so try and keep a school of at least six of them (always more females than males). They are hardy and don’t add much to the biomass with their mess. As an omnivore, you don’t have to worry too much about food. Some good quality pellets and flakes with occasional treats will be fine. They won’t fight for food. In fact, they are so peaceful, that if the other fish are aggressive gluttons, your pencils might die of hunger, standing in line for the food. The pen might be mightier than the sword, but these peaceful pencils are no match for swordfish (if you can fit one in the tank that is). So when you feed them, make sure that each pencil had enough.

Their sicknesses mostly stem from stressful situations. Make sure the tank has everything they need to feel at home and peaceful tank mates. It will keep your pencils sharp and living a long life.

3. Panda Cory

It’s as peaceful as a Panda, but not as lazy.

  • Care level: Beginner
  • Size: 2 inches max
  • Ideal tank size: 10 Gallons minimum
  • Temperature range: 68 – 77 °F
  • PH range: 6.0 to 7.0

Panda Cory is a peaceful bottom dwelling catfish that accommodates well with the Flame Tetras and doesn’t add too much to the biomass. And like the flames, it loves sandy substrate littered with hiding places and driftwood. And if you are willing to add some dry leaves, it will complete the perfect picture of both fish’s habitat.

As the name suggests, they have white bodies, with black strips on eyes, black dorsal fins, and a large black patch near the base. They like to be with other pandas, at least three or four, but ideally more. As bottom-feeding scavengers, they will be good with leftovers (provided the flames at the top are leaving something in the first place and not snapping every morsel up before it hits bottom). Like other catfish species, they are hardy but require a clean tank to thrive.

4. Cardinal Tetra

Cardinal Tetra
It’s a misleading name; the fish is not religious at all.

  • Care level: Beginner
  • Size: 2 inches (most stay around 1.2 inches)
  • Ideal tank size: 10/20 Gallons
  • Temperature range: 73 – 81 °F
  • PH range: 6.0 – 7.0

The name actually reflects its appearance: An iridescent bluish line bisecting its body from mouth to the cardinal fin. And everything below it is vivid red that is akin to the cardinal bird. It’s a schooling fish (so keep at least six) and likes to stay in the middle or at the top. In its natural habitat, it exhibits predatory behavior and likes to feed on larvae and insect eggs. In tanks, they act like typical omnivores: feeding on anything they can fit in their mouths. But if the diet is not varied and enough, the fish won’t show their true colors and activity and might get weak and stressed. They should be fed twice a day, but for two minutes at most.

Like Flame Tetras, they love a planted tank that and peaceful tank mates. They get stressed around boisterous fish, and it reflects in their paling appearance and eating habits. When caring for cardinals and flames in a tank, keep a lookout for Neon Tetra disease. It’s a parasitic infection with no known cure, and it starts with introducing infected fish or infected food in the tank. If you see any of your tetras showing lack of colors or cysts, remove them to another tank before they infect other tetras.

5. Endler’s livebearer

Amazon Sword Plant In 10 gallon tank
Amazon Sword Plant In 10 gallon tank

It’s a small fish with a long name.

  • Care level: Beginner to intermediate
  • Size: 1.5 inches
  • Ideal tank size: 10 Gallons minimum
  • Temperature range: 75 – 85 °F
  • PH range: 7.0 – 7.5

Endler’s livebearer is a peaceful and hardy Venezuelan fish that love planted tanks. It usually dwells in the top and the middle, and have interesting sleeping behavior. It usually falls asleep at the top and drifts down to the bottom. But only if they feel that the bottom is safe. If your bottom dwellers are keen on snacking on peaceful and sleepy livebearers, Endler’s stay asleep on top and middle levels. They mostly do well in warmer waters.

It’s important to note that they are very easy to breed, and can interbreed with guppies. Unless you are looking to turn your aquarium into a fry nursery (or a live feast for fry eaters), take precautions against it. Maybe keep only females, they are more peaceful than the males.

They have small mouths, so either pick a feed made up of small particles or crush the feed into tiny pieces that they can fit in their mouths. Its temperament, parameters, and tendency to like planted aquariums help it accommodate well with the Flame Tetras.

6. Platy

Baby Platy Fish
If your tank has slightly harder and alkaline water, Platies can be an amazing option.

  • Care level: Beginner
  • Size: 3 inches max
  • Ideal tank size: At least 10 Gallons
  • Temperature range: 68 – 82 °F
  • PH range: 6.8 to 8.0

These fish like to live alone, or in a “harem” configuration if you are mixing the genders. That means one male for three or four females. This stocking keeps them relatively peaceful. They come in a wide variety of colors and patterns, so you can take your pick and match them aesthetically with your tank and Flame Tetras. Platies are generally hardy, but they don’t do well in very soft waters.

Technically, they are omnivores, but their eating behavior is better described as vegans who eat meat. Pallets and flakes with more vegetable content will make a good main course choice, occasionally combined with live and frozen feed. You can also feed them chopped vegetables. They prefer to stay in the middle of the tank.

7. Dwarf Anchor Catfish

It’s another small bottom feeder that pairs well with Flame Tetras.

  • Care level: Beginner
  • Size: Around 1.6 inches
  • Ideal tank size: 10 Gallons for a solitary fish, larger tank for a school
  • Temperature range: 64 – 77 °F
  • PH range: 5.5 and 7.5

It’s one of the few fish with a formal name cooler than the common one. It’s called Hara Jerdoni, and it’s a small bottom-dwelling catfish. Like others of its species, it’s pretty hardy. It comes from the slow-moving rivers and streams of India and Bangladesh.

It mostly has a brown body, with marble-like patterns on the skin and dark stripes on the back half of the body. It’s not a typically pretty and vibrant coloration, but it has its own appeal. Hara Jerdoni is one of the fish that adds character to a tank. As a bottom feeder, it will appreciate a sandy or fine gravel substrate. Like Flame Tetras, it thrives in heavily planted tanks, with many hiding places and driftwood for decoration. It can be kept alone, but a pair of more of them would be better.

It needs a protein-rich diet. If you can’t afford frozen or live feed as the primary source, look for protein-rich pellets or flakes.

Other Contenders

Some other fishes that might make good tank mates to your Flame Tetras in a planted tree are:

  • Dwarf Gourami
  • Many other tetra species (match the size and water parameters)
  • Julii Cory
  • Ram cichlid
  • Kuhli Loaches
  • Otos
  • Marbled or silver hatchet fish

Final Words

Are flame tetras aggressive?

Yes, Flame Tetras can be aggressive and are very active fish. That said if kept in big enough schools the aggression can be kept to a minimum.

Are flame tetras fin nippers?

Flame Tetras are fin nippers, however as with most tetra species they can be a great addition to any community tank provided they are kept in schools with enough area to call their own.

Novice and beginner aquarists need to understand that when we say a fish is “hardy,” it doesn’t mean you can throw them in a tank and forget about them. Even the hardiest of fish are susceptible to sickness and stress if the water becomes polluted or parameters change rapidly.

So when you are building a planted tank around your Flame Tetras, make sure it has a strong filtration system. Develop a routine for partial water changes. Make sure to feed them a few times a day, but only as much as they can eat in less than three minutes. If you give them a balanced diet, a planted tank, good companions, and clean water, the Flame Tetras will show their true (and pretty) colors and a lot of activity to liven up your tank.

Flame Tetra Tank Mates – An Easy Going Bunch
Jack Dempsey
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