Diamond Tetra 101: Complete Care Guide (2022)

With a hint of green sparkling at the edges of its sleek, silver body, it’s no wonder scientists chose the name Diamond Tetra.

This easy to care for, beautiful warm water fish can make a good fit in many different aquarium setups with its generally peaceful nature.

Whether you’re just getting started with a diamond tetra or simply looking for more information about these beautiful animals, read on to see just what is to love about the Moenkhausia pittieri.

The diamond tetra is a member of the Characoid family, originating in Africa and South America.

Characins are notable for their common possession of teeth on either bottom or top of the mouth, and or an adipose fin which is located between the dorsal and tail fin towards the back of the fish. In this instance, diamond tetras have both teeth and an adipose fin.

Diamond Tetra (Moenkhausia pittieri)
(1) Diamond Tetra (Moenkhausia pittieri)

NOTE

Diamond tetras aren’t normally an aggressive fish in their natural environment, but in some instances may still nip as many toothed fish do. This happens seldomly, and will rarely if ever progress into actual fighting.

These fish share several common characteristics with the carp family (Cyprinidaeand may be easily mistaken for them at first, but as one learns what to look for it becomes much easier to differentiate.

Carp possess neither adipose fins nor teeth in the jaws, making them tricky to distinguish, but not impossible.

Relatively angular in shape, with pointed fins and a laterally compressed body, the diamond tetra shares its stout shape with many other Characoids.

These freshwater fish are incredibly hardy and can be quite long lived for a fish of its size, around 3-6 years in most well maintained tanks.

What Color Are Diamond Tetra?

Diamond tetra can be described as pearly in coloration, with a silver body interspersed with pigments of green to gold. As they swim, these colors flash in the sunlight, creating a lovely glittering movement.

The underside of the fish is a shade of blue, which stands out vividly against the bright red color of their eyes. This red is especially visible on the top half of the eye, with the bottom being a more golden color.

NOTE

Young diamond tetras start out relatively dull in color, and will gradually come into their full splendor at around 9 months old.

Size

Diamond tetras are a small freshwater fish, growing to a maximum of around 2½” in length. Juveniles fry start as eggs around 0.3 inches in size, and will quickly grow to their full size after a period of 5-6 months.

Unique Features

The diamond tetra is uniquely notable for its prominent, pointed dorsal fin and dazzling display of colors. Unlike certain other species of Characin, they possess both teeth in their jaws and a small, round adipose fin on their back.

Males and Females

Diamond Tetra with long fins
(2) Diamond Tetra

After reaching adulthood after 9 months, diamond tetra fry will begin to show sexual differentiation. Males generally have longer dorsal fins, with those of females being shorter and less sharply defined.

Can diamond tetras lose color?

As with most other fish species, the vivid colors of the diamond tetra are by no means static. As your fish ages, it’s color will naturally begin to fade as the color producing pigments lose their capacity to continue functioning.

Additionally, fish who are suffering from stress, shock from temperature or water conditions shifting, issues with diet, or bacterial infection may show a loss of color.

Returning conditions in your tank to their normal state will do wonders at getting your fish back to their original color.

RECOMMENDATION

If you suspect that your fish is ill, I recommend isolating them in a separate quarantine tank until you can seek a proper veterinarian and determine a course of treatment.

Are Diamond Tetras Aggressive?

Diamond tetras make good neighbors for a variety of fish. That being said, those who tend to be more aggressive or territorial will not make good tank mates with them. These fish will not initiate fights and are not outwardly aggressive, but will defend themselves if provoked.

NOTE

If you’re already caring for a known aggressor such a betta or tiger oscars, I recommend considering the use of a separate tank. It may be a bit more of a hassle to maintain two, but separate tanks will ensure that neither fish is injured or killed in an altercation.

What fish can live with Diamond Tetras?

Diamond tetras are schooling fish in their natural habitat, and do well in groups of up to 5 at a time. These are a good community fish, and will only rarely come into conflict with one another.

In addition to other diamond tetras, fish with similar dispositions and habits such as danios, rasboras and other tetra varieties make for a good match.

Suitable tank mates for diamond Tetras

When it comes to tank mates, diamond tetras get along well with other livebearers, medium sized cichlids, and peaceful bottom dwellers like plecos or catfish can be an excellent fit.

Additionally, invertebrates such as snails and shrimp will see no trouble from these amicable tank mates.

Tank Size

A minimum of 15 gallons is a good place to start for a smaller group of 2-3 diamond tetras. Beyond this, you’ll want to consider looking at a larger tank and aquarium stand so that they do not become crowded and vie for space with other species.

20 Gallon Fish Tank
20 Gallon Fish Tank

A good rule of thumb here is 1 inch of fish per gallon of water in your tank. So for an additional two tetras beyond the first three, look at an additional 5 gallons, (2½” per fish x 2 fish = 5 gallons) of tank space.

NOTE

When it comes to proper tank size, bigger is generally always better provided you can maintain adequate tank water parameters. If you’re having trouble keeping conditions in your tank stable and clean with a smaller tank, it may be time to consider upsizing.

Water Temperature

These tropical fish prefer things on the warmer side when it comes to water temperature. They prefer a range of between 70 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

As a hardy species they are somewhat adaptable to shifts, but seeing a rapid temperature rise or fall will likely lead to a sick fish suffering from the effects of temperature shock.

Lighting

Lake fish like the diamond tetra enjoy a dark, calm environment. Providing dim lighting, darker substrate, and floating plants above will allow your tetras to feel safe and secure, along with providing foreground plants for them to hide in and break light of sight.

Creating a consistent day and night cycle for your fish can help them reduce stress and create a sense of stability in your tank. Allow for a period of 8-12 hours each day with a completely dark tank to give your fish ample time to.

NOTE

Alternatively, providing constant, overly bright lights can rapidly stress your fish. A fish suffering from the effects of stress is much more susceptible to the effects of common freshwater diseases such as dropsy and fin rot, meaning some simple planning can do much for their long term health.

Consider adding a timer to your tank accessory arsenal to make keeping a consistent cycle easier on you, the aquarist.

Filtration

As with most fish, diamond tetras require a fully adequate and functional filtration system in order to thrive. Even sparsely decorated environments free of leaf litter will need filtration to prevent the occurrence of parasitic infections and bacterial diseases.

Additionally, be sure to consistently be changing your water. A rate of 10-15% total water volume change per week, or 20-25% every two should be adequate to keep things in good shape.

pH Level

The diamond tetra prefers a pH more in the slightly acidic direction at between 5.5 and 7.5. A neutral tank (anything around 7pH) will suit them just fine, however, meaning that they can get along well with a variety of freshwater fish.

Water Hardness

A water hardness level of between 2 and 15 dGH should suffice for these and other tetras, which refers to the concentration of metal ions such as calcium and magnesium per gallon of water.

Decorations

Planted Aquarium
Planted Aquarium

A general amazonian biotope setup is the general idea of what you want to aim for, with warm water, plenty of plants, and some good decorations to help bring everything together.

Having a few driftwood branches that have been well sanitized will be a great addition for your diamond and other tetras…

Having a few driftwood branches that have been well sanitized will be a great addition for your diamond and other tetras to hide in and feel right at home compared to the slow moving tributaries of their natural environment.

Plants

Diamond tetras live with plenty of plant matter in the lakes and streams of their natural habitat.

When trying to design the most comfortable space for these freshwater fish, aquarium plants such as java ferns and nubias will help give them space to hide, create natural shading inside your tank, and can even provide a snack in a pinch.

NOTE

That being said, keeping your diamond characin well fed should keep it from munching on your java moss and other plant matter too often.

What Do Diamond Tetra Eat?

These freshwater fish are omnivores, meaning that when it comes to diet diamond tetras need a good balance of animal protein and vegetation to remain healthy.

Feeding them fresh or frozen brine shrimp, blood worms, and mosquito larvae, supplemented with leafy greens like lettuce is a great way to ensure that you meet their dietary needs.

Fish flake food
Fish flake food

Additionally, a high quality flake food is a great choice for your fish food. Make sure to choose one that has been specifically formulated for fish like tetras, as other fish may have different requirements than your Moenkhausia pittieri.

How Often To Feed Diamond Tetra

Multiple feedings of around 3 times a day should suffice for these hungry fish. The trick is to make sure that you aren’t overfeeding with foods like pellets or baby brine shrimp, so only provide as much food as they can eat within a 3 minute period.

NOTE

A good rule of thumb for preventing feeding from interfering with your water quality is to remove any uneaten food within a half an hour of feeding. This will ensure that leftover food doesn’t have time to break down, meaning your fish can remain healthy and happy without swimming through dirty water.

Providing a live, free swimming option like live brine shrimp or worms can help to engage the natural predator instinct of your diamond tetra. They’ll chase their fish food around a bit before eating, allowing them to expend energy and generally be more active while they eat.

Live foods can be somewhat more expensive and harder to keep, but should be easily available from most pet stores.

How To Breed Diamond Tetras

Diamond Tetras in Aquarium
(3) Diamond Tetras in Aquarium

To start with, decide if you’d like to focus more on a single breeding pair or rather a small group of up to 6 pairs of males and females.

Pairing success is largely determined by similarities in size and age, so don’t be surprised if it doesn’t occur on the first go around.

Separate Tanks

Next, you’ll want to prepare a separate breeding tank for the fry, along with one for each of the sexes of your fish.

The fry tank should have plenty of java moss and spawning mops along the bottom, to provide room for these egg layers to deposit their newly fertilized eggs.

Temperature and Lighting

In order to induce spawning, you’ll want a dim tank and a temperature of between 79 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit. This warmer temperature will speed up the metabolism of your tetras, and ensure that the eggs have a comfortable environment in which to develop.

Food for Breeding

Feed your tetras plenty of rich foods and live options to get them in a good condition for breeding. After a day or so of good feeding, add your pairs together in the breeding tank.

From Eggs to Fry

After one to two days after fertilization, the eggs should hatch. These tiny fry will grow quickly and need special foods for young fish such as microworms or baby brine shrimp.

After a few weeks they should be a large enough size to consider adding into your main tank, and will develop their classic iridescent scales after around 9 months.

For additional information and tips about breeding diamond tetras, watch this video below.

HOW TO BREED DIAMOND TETRAS

Conclusion

Throughout today’s article, we’ve looked at the many facets of the diamond characin. We’ve looked at how to set up a tank with regards to tank mate, conditions, and even breeding, along with providing a well balanced diet for your fish.

Diamond tetras can be a rewarding fish without much challenge to take care of, once your tank care routine is well established.

Feel Free To Share

As always I hope that you’ve enjoyed today’s post and that it has answered all of your diamond tetra care questions.

Feel free to share this information with any other fish fanatics you may know, and I wish you the best of luck on your continued aquarium adventures!

For more of my other reviews such as this one on cichlid food, look around my site!

(1) “Diamond Tetra” by kevitra is marked with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
(2) “Newport Aquarium 06-15-2018 30 – Diamond Tetra” by David441491 is marked with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
(3) “Newport Aquarium 06-15-2018 29 – Diamond Tetra” by David441491 is marked with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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Mollie Newton
Mollie Newton
Founder of PetMeTwice. I love all types of animals from fish to fluff-balls! I also enjoy writing short stories and helping train animals 🤩