Pristella Tetra 101: Care Tips and Comprehensive Guide

pristella tetra profile
Dr. Mollie Newton
Published by Dr. Mollie Newton PHD| Senior Editor
Last updated: July 16, 2024
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Got a boring aquarium? The **Pristella Tetra** might be the perfect addition. Let’s explore these amazing schooling fish together and see how they can transform your home tank. **Get ready for a splash of color and fun** that will keep your love for aquatics vibrant!

Article Summary

  • The Pristella Tetra is a small freshwater fish native to South America.
  • They are known for their striking appearance with a silver body and a black horizontal stripe bordered by two thinner red stripes.
  • They should be kept in groups of at least six individuals for a more comfortable and visually appealing display.

Species Overview

Pristella tetra, also known as the X-ray tetra, is a small freshwater fish native to South America. These small tetras have a distinct silver body with a black horizontal stripe running from their eyes to their tail. They are peaceful and active swimmers, making them popular choices for community aquariums.

The Pristella Tetra, scientifically known as Pristella maxillaris, is a small freshwater fish that is native to the Amazon River basin in South America. It belongs to the family Characidae and is commonly found in slow-moving rivers, streams, and flooded areas with dense vegetation.

Size and Physical Characteristics

The Pristella Tetra is a small fish that typically reaches a size of about 2 inches (5 cm) in length. It has a slender body shape and a slightly flattened appearance. The fish has a translucent body with a silver coloration that is accentuated by a black horizontal stripe that runs from its nose to the base of its tail. This stripe is bordered by two thinner red stripes, giving the Pristella Tetra a vibrant and eye-catching appearance.

The dorsal and anal fins of the x ray tetra are transparent and can have a yellow or orange tint, adding to its overall colorful appearance. Overall, the Pristella Tetra is a visually striking fish that adds beauty and vibrancy to any freshwater aquarium.

Growth Rate and Lifespan

Factors such as water quality, diet, and tank conditions can influence the lifespan of pristella tetra.

The average lifespan of the ray tetra ranges from 4 to 8 years. They mature relatively quickly but may take several months to reach sexual maturity.

Factors such as water quality, diet, and tank conditions can influence the lifespan of pristella tetra. Providing them with an appropriate environment and diet will help ensure they live a healthy life.

Tank Set Up and Water Parameters

Pristella tetras, also known as X-ray tetras, are beautiful freshwater fish that require specific tank set up and water parameters for their optimal health. Here’s what you need to know:

Water Parameters

Maintaining the right water conditions is crucial for the well-being of your pristella tetra. Pay attention to the following factors:

Temperature: These tropical fish are accustomed to living in coastal rivers, where the water temperature ranges between 72°F and 78°F (22°C – 26°C). Keep the water temperature within this range in the aquarium to mimic their natural habitat. This can be achieved by using a reliable aquarium heater and regularly monitoring the temperature to make any necessary adjustments.


Tank Set Up

Pristella tetras thrive in well-established planted tanks with ample hiding spots. They require larger tanks for more swimming space and to maintain stable water conditions. The minimum tank size recommended for Pristella tetras is 10 gallons.

pH Levels: These x ray fish thrive in slightly acidic to neutral environments, with pH levels ranging from 6.5 to 7.0. It is crucial to maintain this pH range in the tank to provide optimal conditions for their health and well-being. Avoid creating brackish water habitats, as these ray tetra are freshwater fish and do not tolerate salinity well. Regularly test the water’s pH level using a reliable test kit and make any necessary adjustments to ensure the desired acidity or neutrality.

Water Hardness: Water hardness refers to the mineral content in the aquarium water, specifically the concentration of calcium and magnesium ions. Pristella tetras prefer moderate levels of water hardness to thrive and remain healthy. To determine the hardness of your aquarium water, it is recommended to use a water test kit specifically designed for this purpose.

Lighting and Substrate

It is recommended to provide moderate lighting intensity that emulates natural conditions. This means avoiding extremely bright or dim lighting, as it can be stressful for the fish. By providing moderate lighting, you can create a more natural environment and comfortable habitat for the x ray tetra.

Opt for sand substrate combined with driftwood and aquatic plants. Incorporate live plants into the tank setup as they offer hiding spaces and contribute to a natural habitat. Live plants not only add aesthetic appeal to the tank, but they also offer important hiding spaces for the fish. Pristella tetras are known to seek shelter among plants, so having live plants in the tank can provide them with a sense of security.

pristella tetra profile in soft lighting

Consider adding dried leaves like Indian almond leaves or oak leaves to improve water conditions. Use rocks, driftwood, and plants to create additional hiding spaces for pristella tetras. These x ray fish appreciate having various nooks and crannies to explore and hide in. By strategically placing rocks and driftwood, you can create a more natural-looking environment that mimics their natural habitat. This will not only provide them with hiding spaces but also add visual interest to the tank.

By ensuring proper tank set up and maintaining appropriate water parameters, you can provide a thriving environment for your pristella tetra, allowing them to display their vibrant colors and active behavior.

Tankmates and Temperament

Pristella tetras, also known as peaceful, active schooling fish, thrive when kept in groups of at least six individuals. Their peaceful temperament makes them ideal tank mates for other small, non-aggressive species in the aquarium. When considering suitable tank mates for Pristella Tetras, it is important to choose fish species that are of similar size and temperament.


Pristella tetras exhibit a peaceful temperament and are best kept in groups as part of a school or community. Keeping them in shoals allows them to feel secure and reduces stress levels. As social creatures, they rely on the presence of other Pristella Tetras to exhibit their natural behavior and thrive in the aquarium habitat.

Compatible Tank Mates

When selecting tank mates for Pristella Tetras, consider species that will coexist peacefully with these freshwater fish.

When selecting tank mates for Pristella Tetras, consider species that will coexist peacefully with these freshwater fish. Some suitable options include:

Neon Tetras: These small, colorful fish are peaceful and share similar water requirements with Pristella Tetras. They create a stunning display when kept together.

Corydoras Catfish: Corydoras catfish are bottom-dwelling fish that are known for their peaceful nature. They are great tank mates for Pristella Tetras as they occupy different areas of the tank.

Dwarf Gouramis: These beautiful and peaceful fish make excellent companions for Pristella Tetras. They come in a variety of colors and add a touch of elegance to the aquarium.


While these species are generally compatible with Pristella Tetras, individual fish may have different temperaments. It is always a good idea to monitor the tank closely after introducing new fish and be prepared to make adjustments if necessary.

Harlequin Rasboras: Harlequin Rasboras are peaceful and active fish that get along well with Pristella Tetras. They are known for their striking colors and make a great addition to a community tank.

Cherry Barbs: Cherry Barbs are small and peaceful fish that can coexist harmoniously with Pristella Tetras. They add a splash of red color to the aquarium and are relatively easy to care for.

Otocinclus Catfish: Otocinclus catfish are small algae-eating fish that are compatible with Pristella Tetras. They help to keep the tank clean by consuming algae and are non-aggressive towards other freshwater tank inhabitants and mates.

Tank Mates to Avoid

It is important to avoid housing Pristella Tetras with larger or aggressive fish that may intimidate or prey on them. To ensure their well-being, steer clear of such tank mates that could cause harm or stress to the Pristella Tetras.

Aggressive or fin-nipping fish: Avoid keeping Pristella Tetras with aggressive species such as Tiger Barbs or Red-Tailed Sharks. These fish are known to nip at the dorsal and anal fins of other fish, which can cause stress and injury to the Pristella Tetras.

Large and predatory fish: Pristella Tetras are relatively small and peaceful fish, so it’s important to avoid keeping them with larger predatory species. Fish like Oscars, Arowanas, or Pike Cichlids may see the Pristella Tetras as potential prey and may try to hunt or eat them.

Slow-moving or long-finned fish: Pristella Tetras are active swimmers and can be quite fast. It’s best to avoid keeping them with slow-moving or long-finned fish that may struggle to keep up or become targets for fin-nipping. Examples of fish to avoid include Angelfish, Guppies, or Fancy Guppies.

Highly territorial fish: Pristella Tetras are peaceful and social fish that thrive in a community setting. Therefore, it’s important to avoid keeping them with highly territorial species like Convict Cichlids or Jewel Cichlids. These fish may become aggressive towards the Pristella Tetras, causing stress and potential harm.

Pristella Tetra Care

Pristella tetras are relatively easy to care for, making them suitable for beginners.

Pristella tetras are relatively easy to care for, making them suitable for beginners. They have a moderate care level, requiring basic maintenance and attention.

Food and Diet

Pristella tetras are a species that primarily feed on small insects, worms, and plant matter in their natural habitat. To ensure their optimal health in captivity, it is important to provide them with a varied diet. This can be achieved by offering a combination of live, frozen, and dried foods.

Suitable live food options for Pristella tetras include brine shrimp and bloodworms, which can be purchased or cultured at home. Frozen foods such as baby brine shrimp and bloodworms are also a good choice and can be easily found in pet stores.

Additionally, high-quality flake foods are available in dried form and can serve as a convenient and nutritious option for their diet. It is important to feed them multiple times a day to ensure they receive the necessary nutrients. However, it is crucial to avoid overfeeding, as this can lead to waste buildup and compromise water quality.

profile of a healthy pristella tetra

Common Diseases

Keep an eye out for symptoms such as loss of appetite, abnormal swimming behavior, or visible parasites, as these may indicate that your tetras are unwell. Additionally, there are several common freshwater fish diseases that can affect Pristella tetras, so it is crucial to monitor their health regularly.

Another aspect to consider is stress-related color changes, which can be an indication of underlying health issues. By staying observant and proactive, you can ensure the well-being of your Pristella tetra and address any potential health concerns promptly.

Care Recommendations

Maintaining proper water conditions is crucial for the overall health and disease prevention of Pristella tetras. To ensure their well-being, it is essential to keep the water clean through regular water changes. By performing regular water changes, you can maintain good water quality and create optimal conditions for your tetras.


Additionally, using appropriate filtration systems is highly recommended to further enhance the water quality and provide the best environment for your fish. By following these care practices, you can help keep your Pristella tetra healthy and thriving.

Breeding the Pristella Tetra

Breeding the Pristella Tetra is relatively easy, making it an ideal choice for beginner aquarists. Breeding Pristella Tetras can be a rewarding experience for aquarists of all levels. By following the appropriate breeding techniques and providing optimal care for the fry, you can enjoy the beauty of these vibrant yellow-striped tetras in your own aquarium.

Breeding Tank Set Up

To initiate successful breeding, it is important to set up separate breeding tanks with specific conditions. Soft acidic water, along with fine-leaved plants, encourages egg deposition. Maintaining nutrient content and temperature triggers further stimulate breeding behavior.

Breeding Process

Once a suitable pair has been identified, the female will scatter adhesive eggs among the plants while the male fertilizes them externally. It is important to provide a conducive environment that mimics their natural habitat during this process.


Differentiating between male and female Pristella Tetras is crucial when planning for successful breeding. Males typically display longer fins and more vibrant colors compared to females. By observing these physical characteristics, you can easily identify potential breeding pairs within your aquarium.

Fry Care and Diet

After spawning, it is recommended to remove adult fish from the the x ray fish breeding tank to prevent them from consuming both eggs and fry. This ensures higher survival rates for the newly hatched fry.

As the fry hatch and grow, their diet becomes crucial for their development. Feeding them with nutrient-rich options like brine shrimp or water goldfinch will support their growth and overall health.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Pristella tetras aggressive?

Pristella tetras are generally peaceful and not considered aggressive. They are known for their calm temperament, making them suitable for community aquariums with other non-aggressive fish species.

How many Pristella tetras should be kept together?

To provide a comfortable and visually appealing display, it’s recommended to keep Pristella tetras in groups of at least six or more. They are social fish that thrive when in larger schools, which enhances their natural behavior and colors.

Will Pristella Tetra eat shrimp?

Pristella Tetras are omnivores, and while they primarily feed on small invertebrates and aquatic insects, they generally don’t pose a significant threat to larger shrimp. However, very tiny or baby shrimp may be at risk.

How big does a Pristella Tetra get?

Pristella Tetras are small fish and typically grow to around 1.5 to 2 inches (3.8 to 5 centimeters) in length when fully mature. Their petite size makes them suitable for smaller aquariums and community tanks.

What are the other names for Pristella Tetra?

Pristella Tetras are also commonly referred to as X-ray Tetras due to their translucent bodies. Additionally, they may be called Pristella maxillaris, a former scientific name for this species.

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