Can Neon Tetras and Ember Tetras Live Together

So, you want to keep a pair of neon tetras and an ember tetra in the same tank. Should they live together? If yes, how do you make it work? This article will explain the factors affecting the compatibility of these two species as well as tips on how you can combine them.

Can Neon Tetras and Ember Tetras Live Together?

Yes, neon tetras and ember tetras can live together. However, when considering whether or not to keep a pair of these species in the same aquarium, it is important that you take into consideration their different requirements. Yes, they are both beautifully colored. However, the care required by each makes them optimal for separate species tanks only: neon tetra requires much more light while ember tetra needs just as many plants and places to hide as an established tank can provide.

Photo showing a freshwater tropical aquarium fish tank with red cherry shrimp foraging for food amongst the grains of coral sand and sea shells. Of note, the Latin name for this variety of freshwater shrimp is: Neocaridina davidi var. red.

What Are the Compatibility Factors of Neon Tetras and Ember Tetras?

To make sure that the two fish are safe from each other and provided for properly, keep these factors in mind:

Water Parameters

Neon Tetras have a large range of water parameters compared with ember tetra. For instance, they might need more frequent water changes than your ember tetra because neon’s natural environment is often dirty. It’s also important to remember that it can be difficult to know whether you have neon tetra or ember tetra without purchasing a light on your hand, but you can find out by running both of these species through at least one aquarium filter.


Neon tetras are often more aggressive and prone to killing other fish. If your tank holds anything bigger than small algae eater, then it’s likely that two neon males will spar constantly. This may prove fatal for many other species inside your tank. Ember tetras, on the other hand, are much less dangerous and tend to be timid in general. They usually live among plants or hiding places – both of which means that they can hide from potential predators better than neon tetra. Pretty as they may look alone, ember tetra need lots of really good algae food sources versus the one single piece floating formula they like to eat in neon tetras’ natural habitats.


Neon Tetras thrive in lots of different temperatures and water chemistry ranges. Embers, on the other hand, need an aquarium at quite a bit lower temperature range than neon tetra (70-81°F. Neon tetra is almost always found near or around their own species naturally anyway – so it should be really easy to create them in your aquarium by adding several specimens from lot after purchase and keeping care of your own healthy group or purchasing the way-cross compatible group of neon tetras only.

Water Conditions

For both neon tetras and ember tetras, pH level must be stable and low (around 6-7). Higher water chemistry generally stresses fish out – so lower pH levels are best suited for discussion purposes of the tank. Water changes once every 2 weeks are safe enough, with a 35% larger aquarium volume being more appropriate if you add several neon tetras per aqua scape.


At the onset, neon tetra needs low lighting options alongside a medium sized school. Lighting of both groups must be increased as these fish reaches certain lengths though it can adapt to tank lightings up to 10 watts per gallon/11 watt-per-liter if you keep healthy individuals in sufficient number and maintain stable water chemistry.

Tank Size

Ember tetra prefers short tanks or even jars with a minimum depth requirement of 2 inches. However, neon tetras will exhibit their full potential when offered spacious aquatic environments which can accommodate the multitude of plants and places to explore it in near vicinity. Most importantly, if there is plenty of open space for ventilation, then this species would be fine without any substrate layer as they are accustomed to adapting water flow that comes from natural springs on land.

School Size

The school size of ember tetra is around 10 individuals, while neon tetras walk in minimalistic schools with a total of 6-8 fish. The best aquaculture group would have six mature adults and at least eight juveniles or less youngsters in their own beds – which allows the symbiotic relationship to persist.


Mostly plant-free tanks are fine for neon tetra particularly when they are well maintained but it would be nice to have some floating plants and rock placements. Regarding non-plant aquariums, a good set of references is given out on the habitat requirements of ember tetras in our section about their optimum conditions. Refer to meet their needs by providing this fish with a dense array of various aquatic foliage, while placing it in a fully filtered aquarium that can support its appetite.

Photo showing a freshwater tropical aquarium fish tank with red cherry shrimp foraging for food amongst the grains of coral sand and sea shells. Of note, the Latin name for this variety of freshwater shrimp is: Neocaridina davidi var. red.

Can All Tetras Live Together?

There are many varieties of tetra. Each has specific requirements to ensure that they live healthy lives in the water homes being one’s family tank cleaners or a division between tanks depending on their size but it is vital to be careful as some can live longer than others. Some breeds don’t come with very big populations slowing them down when trying out new fish; owing  to the fact they are used to a different environment and not in the same climate.

Tetras are best kept in shoals of at least 8 or more so that they have enough room for them all and can still be active. If you only wanted a few neon tetras to start out with, then it would be better to keep them together with other compatible fish. You should have around ten or more for the best diet. You can also keep neon tetras with Livebearers, Siamese fighting fish and damsels; but you cannot mix them together as a group because different species of tetra will get along differently, requiring for more factors to consider.

What Are Other Tankmates Suitable for Both Neon Tetras and Ember Tetras?

Neon tetras and ember tetras will be kept by themselves because of their extreme differences in size. However, many aquarists believe that it’s best for both species to share the same tank. Aside from being compatible tankmates to each other, neon tetras and ember tetras are also suitable to other species like Dwarf Gourami, dainty guppies and other small neons. In addition, they can also live with Longnose Rasbora and Catfish; but these are all the bigger species so a larger aquarium size is required.