Flame Tetra (Von Rio Tetra): Diet, Habitat, Compatibility & Breeding

Hyphessobrycon flammeus.

The Flame tetra, also known as the Von Rio tetra, makes a captivating addition to any aquarium. This widely popular fish is most notably admired for its red-orange coloration and resiliency. Relatively speaking, Flame tetras are easy to keep, as they are adapted for a wide range of environments.


The scientific name of the Flame tetra is Hyphessobrycon flammeus. In Greek, Hyphesso means “slightly smaller, and brycon for “to bite”. The second part of its name, flammeus, stands for “flame-colored” in reference to its red-orange coloration.


Von Rio Tetra.
Credits: Roter von Rio, Thomas Siems, CC BY-SA 2.0, Flickr.

The flame tetra is an adorable addition to any aquarium. While flame tetras may not show strong coloration, they remain one of my favorite tetras.

The front of the flame tetra is silvery with two vertical scintillating stripes. Past the gills, the body of the flame tetra is bronzish or reddish.

Like many other tetras, the dorsal, pectoral, pelvic fin, and anal fins are very lightly colored and in the case of Flame tetras, with a mixture of black and bronze.

Flames are sexually dimorphic. Females are generally bigger and rounder than their male counterparts. Males will have tiny little bony hooks on their anal and pelvic fins, which can be seen if you look very closely.

Flame tetras are quite small, ranging between 2 to 2.5 centimeters in size, or .80 to 1 inch.

Habitat & Tank Condition

Flame tetras in the wild typically occur in slightly acidic water. In the aquarium, fishkeepers should maintain the pH within the range of 6.5 and 7.5. This is achieved with Indian almond leaves, pH buffers, or blackwater extracts. 

The Flame tetras are adapted for tropical waters, within the range of 22 and 26 degrees Celsius or 72 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on where you live, you might need to get a heater for your aquarium.

If this is the case, there are many different brands of heaters available to you. However, we are partial to a few, particularly EHEIM and Fluval.

The Flame tetra is a schooling fish. This means that your tetras need to be kept in groups (of the same species) of at least 6. To house at least 6 flame tetras, your aquarium should be able to hold at least 10 gallons of water.

As with all other fish, you should equip your tetra tank with a filter. This is primordial if you want to maintain the health and happiness of your fish.


Flame tetras can eat a variety of things. As omnivores, they will eat both plant-based and protein-based foods. Providing your Flames with a varied diet is important for their health.


Plant-based foods include dry foods, like granules, wafers, crisps, pellets, and of course, flakes. Protein-based nutrition, you can include frozen or freeze-dried foods like daphnia, earthworm, infusoria, tubifex, and brine shrimp.

It is recommended that you break up the food in tiny pieces to help the tetras eat their foods.

Tetras are small fish, so make sure that the food you give them is small enough to enter their mouth. My tetras struggle with certain foods, so when necessary, I will break up their food into tinier pieces. If you are feeding fry, this is especially important, as their mouth may not be big enough to eat certain foods.

Give your tetras enough food to feed them for less than 5 minutes. If after 5 minutes of feeding your fish are not done eating everything, then that a sign that you have given them too much food. Overfeeding can lead to serious issues, like illness and polluted water, so you should always aim to feed just the right amount of food.


Flame tetras are peaceful fish and can generally be added to a community without any issues. In some cases, they can even be paired with more aggressive fish. For example, you may be able to pair them with betta fish, who are well known to be aggressive fish. However, you should maintain caution and monitoring the fish’s behavior.


Flame tetras are oftentimes fickle and will not always spawn even in optimal settings. Finding a pair keen to breed is key, which may require patience on behalf of fishkeepers.

Setting up a breeding tank where the breeding pair can be left alone will increase your chances of success. This will allow for the fish to be at ease and undistracted by other fish in the aquarium.

Dim lighting through the entire breeding process is extremely important. The pH levels should be set between 5.5 and 6, while water hardness below 1.5 dGH.

When first introducing the parents to the breeding tank, close the light of your aquarium. Leave them in the dark for 1 to 2 days. Then, turn on the light of your aquarium at the lowest setting possible. Every day, increase the dimness of the light, as this will encourage spawning.

The eggs of Flame tetras are adhesive. To increase the chances of successful spawning, add java moss or spawning mops on which the tetras can attach their eggs onto.

Once the fish have spawned, remove the parents from the aquarium. This will prevent them from eating their own eggs.

The female will spawn between 50 to 100 eggs per batch, with a 25 to 50% hatch rate.

Generally, the eggs will hatch within 24 to 36 hours, however, the fry will remain close to the eggs for a few more days.

Once the fry begins to swim around the aquarium, you may begin to feed them smalls foods. This can be infusoria or commercially available prepared foods for fry. Only a few later will you be able to feed them bigger foods like brine shrimp.

Make sure to keep the lights of the aquarium dim through the breeding process. The fry of Flame tetras is extremely sensitive to light.


Scielo.br. 2014. Redescription Of Hyphessobrycon Flammeus Myers, 1924 (Ostariophysi: Characidae), A Threatened Species From Brazil. [online] Available at: <https://www.scielo.br/pdf/ni/v12n2/1679-6225-ni-12-02-00247.pdf> [Accessed 26 December 2020].

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