Can Neon Tetras And Ember Tetras Live Together?

When starting as an aquarium hobbyist, you always want to find cool-looking fish that are easy to care for. Plus, you may not want your own aquatic version of Wild Kingdom. Therefore, tank mates that are docile, friendly, and peaceable are desirable.

Tetras are excellent for this as they are famous for their easy-going natures and simple care. But is it a good idea to house Ember Tetras and Neon Tetras together? Yes, they can live quite well together. You just have to make sure their tank conditions stay in prime ranges.

Can Neon Tetras And Ember Tetras Live Together?

Since Ember and Neon Tetras are so calm, hardy, and peaceful, they can live well together. They aren’t very picky about substrates either, which is what makes them ideal for beginning aquarists.

Plus, both fish originate from South America’s vast freshwater systems, where Embers come from the Araguaia River, and the Amazon is home to Neons. So, even though they don’t live together in the wild, they have similar feeding requirements and water parameters.

What Are Their Temperaments?

Both Neon and Ember Tetras are very docile, but there are some marked differences. Out of both species, Neons tend to be more aggressive than Embers under specific circumstances.

Ember Tetras

For a nifty splash of color that looks like a school of red or orange bullets in your aquarium, Ember Tetras are the best. They’re very curious and love to traverse the tank as a group. It’s entertaining to watch them interact with other tank mates, and they aren’t shy or aggressive about it at all. 

They’re perfect for a community tank, but Embers will take cover in plants for protection and a cozy resting place. 

Neon Tetras

Neon Tetras are mostly peaceful. But, due to their small size, they tend to be shy, afraid, and a little aggressive. Their behavior and activity depend on how many comprise their school. The more fish, the more exploratory they are.

Neons have a very interesting and intriguing way they move. They dart around but do this as part of a cohesive group. It’s amazing how they retain grace as a whole while acting independently of one another.

What Habitat And Tank Requirements Do They Need?

In a community tank with both Neon and Ember Tetras, study their natural habitats to ensure you get the best of both worlds. But, there are other intricacies in water parameters to take note of to ensure you get as close as possible.

These details include pH (alkalinity/acidity), temperature, water pressure/current, light exposure, and hardness. Plus, decorations, like plants and driftwood, will play a key role in mimicking their native habitat.

As an example, the Amazon River doesn’t have the same pH balance throughout its whole system. If your Neon Tetra comes from the colorless streams of the Tapajós River basin, the fish will need a pH of 4.39. But if its natural home is the Juruá River basin, then it will need a pH of 7.27.

Ember Tetras

When it comes to easy-care Tetras, Embers are at the top. As long as you supply these fish with all the basics, they will thrive beautifully. Be meticulous about checking water quality once or twice per week with a quality aquarium test kit.

They don’t need much light and prefer to stay in the middle to lower portions of the tank. They come from the blackwater areas of the Araguaia River basin and like a little tannin with their water. The following is a list of the most recommended tank conditions and water parameters for Ember Tetras:

  • Aquarium Size – at least 10 gallons per six to 10 fish
  • Decorations – Plants and vegetation like Java Moss, Anarchis or Hornwort; but don’t overcrowd the tank
  • Hardness – five to 17 dGH
  • pH – five to seven, but 6.5 is most ideal
  • Temperature – 73°F to 84°F

Neon Tetras

Neon Tetras, like Embers, come from blackwater areas. But, the difference is that Neons come from the Amazon River. They like some tannin with mild water currents and not a lot of light. They will come to the surface for food, but Neons often hang out in the middle of the tank.

A standard sponge filter is perfect for Neons. You should change the water about 25% per week to keep things stable. When you bring Neons home, always put them into a well-established tank and not a fresh one.

  • Aquarium Size – 20 gallons or more to fit the entire crew
  • Decorations – Plants, vegetation, driftwood and other hiding spots
  • Hardness – 10 dGH maximum
  • pH – seven or less
  • Temperature – 70°F to 81°F

Creating The Right Balance

Because there is a slight variation in parameters for Neon versus Ember Tetras, you will have to devise a balance to keep both of them happy. Since Neons have pickier requirements, make the conditions more favorable to them, so long as you stay in the right ranges for Embers. The following points below are a guide to care for both fish:

  • Keeping the tank temperature between 72°F to 75°F will be ideal for both fish and check it daily to keep it that way.
  • Depending on the specific area of the Amazon where you Neon comes from, pH balance will vary. If you don’t know that detail, keeping the pH at around six should be fine and pay close attention to the Neons.
  • You can raise it by adding a teaspoon of baking soda per five gallons of water. But, when you do this, also pay attention to how it affects the Ember Tetras.
  • The water’s hardness should stay in a maximum range between five and 10 degrees so that both Neons and Embers will be happy and stress-free.
  • Have at least six of each fish for their respective schools in a 20 to 30 gallon tank. This will give everyone the room they need to move, hide and swim around.
  • Ensure the lighting stays fairly low and don’t put them in a spot where they’ll get direct sunlight for several hours a day.
  • In regards to decorations, Neons like dense plants and vegetation but Embers, while they do like some plants, can’t have too many.
  • To provide hiding spaces while putting a little tannin in the water, consider adding some driftwood.

What Are Their Dietary Requirements?

Both Ember and Neon Tetras require a varied and well-balanced diet. Ensure you don’t overfeed either fish too. Overfeeding can cause internal health issues and destroy water quality.

Ember Tetras

Embers love flake, frozen or freeze-dried foods. They will eat fresh Daphnia and Brine Shrimp along with a nibble or two on the plants. Feed them two to four times per day and avoid overfeeding to prevent them from getting sick or upsetting the water balance.

Neon Tetras

Neons aren’t very picky about food. In the wild, they eat dead vegetation, crustaceans, and insect larvae. But, in captivity, they can eat live food, frozen proteins, flakes, or pellets. For live food like Brine Shrimp and Bloodworms, ensure the food is of high quality. If not, it could lead to fatal parasitic diseases.

When they’re juveniles, they should eat about two times per day. But, as Neons age, bring their feeding down to once per day. Also, their food should be in teeny pieces because of how small their mouths are.

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Will Aggression Occur And How Can You Reduce It?

Under certain circumstances, Neon Tetras will be aggressive toward Embers. Although not a frequent occurrence, it does happen in cases of feeding, breeding, territorial battles, stress, and tank size.

Tank Size

If the aquarium is too small, this will bring on aggressiveness from Neons to Embers. They feel the need to be territorial against anything that could pose a threat to their space. Ember Tetras will be the target if they’re together in a tank of less than 20 gallons.


When under stress, whether caused by a change in water parameters or due to disease, Neon Tetras will nip at the fins of Embers.


In the event you have Neon Tetras in the process of breeding, they can be aggressive toward Ember Tetras. They’ll nip at fins and engage in other territorial behaviors so that their breeding ground remains uninterrupted.


If there isn’t enough food, Embers will be the subject of a Neon Tetra’s aggression. Since both breeds are opportunistic feeders, they don’t have to fight over resources like other fish in the wild. But, in captivity, if there’s no food, they will battle.


When Neon Tetras are the only fish in the tank and you decide to introduce a new breed, like Embers, they may very well show aggressive behavior. Of course, this will depend on the size of the tank and the type of fish, but they will feel forced to mark their territory.

Suggestions & Tips for Successful Cohabitation

So, even though you can keep Neons and Embers together, there are some things you have to be mindful of:

Introducing Fish

If you can, get the Ember Tetras first and let your tank mature. Then get the Neon Tetras and gradually introduce them to their new home. If you have the Neons first, it’s likely they’ll be aggressive to any new species, including Embers.


To ensure both Neons and Embers are happy, they should be part of a school. It’s crucial to have at least six for either Tetra but no more than eight if you can’t have a 20 to 30-gallon tank.

Tank Size

It’s important to have at least a 20-gallon tank if you hope to have both types of fish. They must have plenty of room to swim, move, sleep and interact with their environment. Both Neons and Embers need this to feel comfortable in their schools without disturbing each other.

Water Parameters

Always make sure the water conditions are at prime ranges for both fish. This will reduce stress and thus reduce any aggression. Use a good aquarium test kit once or twice per week, check the temperature every day, and ensure the heater is in good operation.


The moment you notice any malaise with the fish, remove them right away. Put them in a quarantine tank and, if need be, call the vet for help.

Breeding Neons

Because Neon Tetras are so territorial when breeding, set up a new fry tank. This will reduce their aggression toward other Embers and won’t stress out about protecting the eggs.

Feeding Both

Proper feeding will be tantamount to a peaceful tank. Remember, if Neons don’t have enough food, they will become aggressive with Embers. Feed them about two times per day and ensure the food is small enough for the fish to consume within a couple of minutes.


Will They Form a School with Each Other?

Neons and Tetras only form a school together when they feel it necessary. If they do, they base it on similarities in size and color or when predators outnumber them. Also, they will school together if there are none of their own kind around.

Can Neon Tetra and Ember Tetras Breed?

These fish can breed together, but it’s extremely difficult. This is because, even in normal breeding conditions, most young don’t survive. If interbreeding is successful, it’s a pure accident.


When keeping fish for the first time, it’s good to go for ones that will be peaceful. Most Tetras are an excellent choice for this. But, when keeping Neons and Embers together, you want to ensure they both have what they need with food and water quality.

By controlling things that foster aggression in Neons, your tank will be a happy and thriving environment. Be smart about introducing new fish, check water parameters regularly, and handle any problems that arise right away.

If you can do all these things, Neon and Ember Tetras are wonderful additions to any aquascape and will live quite peaceably together.