The diamond tetra (Moenkhausia pittieri) is a small freshwater fish in the characin family and is native to South America.
This tetra species is naturally found in and around Lake Valencia in Venezuela.
They get their common name- diamond tetra- from their array of beautiful colors and shiny, kaleidoscopic scales. When light hits their iridescent scales, they can flash of gold, orange, blue and green!
Diamond tetras are easily recognizable by their distinctive markings. They have a sleek silver body, purple anal and dorsal fins, a dark band running along their midline, and a red spot above their eye.
They are an attractive species, easy to care for, and fun to watch- a perfect addition to your aquarium whether you’re a beginner or have been keeping fish for years!
At a Glance
- Tank Size: 15 gal (56 l) or bigger
- Group Size: 5-9
- Water Temperature: 80–84°F (26–29°C)
- Water Hardness: 4–8 KH
- pH: 6.0–7.5
- Lifespan: 3–6 years
- Size: 2-2.4 inches (5–6 cm)
In this article
Diamond tetras are endemic to the inland waters of Northern Venezuela.
They prefer highly vegetated areas with abundant leaf litter, and you will commonly find them in the shallow, slow-moving streams around Lake Valencia.
Sadly, the region’s urban growth and air pollution negatively impact the species, and their numbers have dropped significantly.
The average adult diamond tetra will reach 2 to 2.4 inches long (5-6 cm). Such size makes them easy to manage, even if you only have a small aquarium.
Similarly, because they are little, they are a fun species to watch as they spend a lot of time being active and swimming around the tank.
The diamond tetra’s lifespan can vary in captivity, ranging anywhere between 3 to 6 years.
It is worth noting that the quality of care that you provide the fish with will greatly impact how long they live.
Diamond tetras are a hardy species, but they still require a good diet and a well-maintained environment to keep diseases away and stay healthy.
Non-aggressive and peaceful! That is the description every aquarium owner wants to hear when picking a new species, and it is very true for the diamond tetra.
They are a calm species that are happy to cohabit with other fish. Diamonds are not known to be fin nippers.
They will often stay in school to forage for food, and you may see the occasional bit of play fighting.
Tank setup is fairly straightforward for diamond tetras. Try to replicate their natural environment as closely as possible.
An Amazonian biotope setup is a good place to begin. This means making sure that there is plenty of plant life to mimic the bottom of a river.
Start by laying sand along the bottom of the tank to give it a natural feel.
Then continue by adding driftwood to make hiding places for the diamonds and simulate what they would find in the wild.
Filling the tank with live plants is the most important part. You can get creative and put in a mixture of foreground plants, tall stems, and floating plants.
As with the wood, the idea of the plants is to give them lots of interesting places to hide, forage and relax. It is also essential that it shelters them from any bright lights.
You can use a normal filtration system; make sure that it can cycle the water volume several times an hour to keep the nitrate and ammonia levels safe.
Make sure you chose dim lights because diamond tetras prefer low light conditions.
It is essential to have the correct environment for your fish to live comfortably in. Diamond tetras come from Venezuela, where they live in shallow, warm waters, so their water parameters must reflect this.
The water should be slightly acidic for optimal conditions, with a pH level of 6.0 – 7.5.
The water temperature needs to be warm, in the range of 80 – 84°F (26 – 29°C), and ideally soft with a KH of 4 – 8.
You will need to make sure that you have an accurate aquarium test kit to monitor the levels of your tank.
Ensuring you select the correct species to live together is an important part of keeping a healthy aquarium.
Diamond tetras make a good addition to larger tanks that already home multiple species, but you need to understand how all tank mates will interact to make sure you chose the best and safest combinations.
You should avoid keeping diamonds with large or aggressive fish as they could easily be viewed as a tasty snack!
Similarly, you should also avoid keeping shrimp in the same tank because your tetras will likely see them as food! Neither of these being the outcome you would want.
Your best bet is to pick calm species that are approximately the same size. For example, most other tetra species, guppies, peaceful bottom dwellers, cory catfish, and celestial pearl danios.
Food and Diet
Diamond tetras have an omnivorous diet in the wild. They are foragers and eat whatever they can find, including plant matter, mosquito larvae, and other small insects.
However, when they live in an aquarium environment, they are happy eating standard fish food.
The majority of their diet should be made up of dry pellets or flakes. They can benefit from having a bit of variety from other food sources such as brine shrimp, frozen bloodworms, or live daphnia.
For successful breeding to occur in an aquarium, diamond tetras require a small shaded area and should be well-fed beforehand.
They will normally spawn in the morning, and it is important to move the adults out of the tank after spawning, or they are likely to eat their eggs.
Within 36 hours, the eggs will hatch, and by day 4, the fry will be swimming around. They grow quickly and can be fed with dry food, occasionally mixed in with some live meals such as baby brine shrimp.
You may be wondering how you can tell if your Diamond tetra is male or female. When they are young, it can be not easy to tell, so you may need to wait until they are almost fully grown.
The males have much larger dorsal fins, and their scales are brighter and more reflective. The females are more rounded and not as vibrant.
Hardiness and Diseases
Luckily, as mentioned before, diamond tetras are a hardy species that can withstand a lot before it causes them health problems. Having said that, no fish is immune to disease!
Bacterial diseases and parasitic infections are the most common freshwater diseases to look out for.
The better you monitor your tank conditions and the cleaner their environment, the less likely they will suffer from diseases.
Are Diamonds For You?
Diamond tetras are beautiful aquarium species to own. They are low maintenance and easy to care for, making them the perfect choice for any aquarium owner.
Now that you have all the information, it is time to start enjoying looking after your newest aquarium member!