Diamond Tetra

Pittier's Tetra, Diamond Characin

Family: Characidae Diamond Tetra, Moenkhausia pittieri, Pittier's Tetra, Diamond CharacinMoenkhausia pittieriPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough
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Can anyone tell me how many eggs you would expect a 1-2 year-old Diamond Tetra to lay? The first surprise breeding left us with 9 live babies. The next time we... (more)  Stpehanie

The Diamond Tetra sparkles like a diamond due to the opalescent shine of its scales!

The Diamond Tetra Moenkhausia pittieri is considered the beauty of its genus. It is also one of the flashiest of all the tetra species. With green and gold or orange iridescents on its attractive, silvery-violet scales, this fish has a marvelous, sparkling appearance. You must be patient to fully appreciate this fish's beauty, however, as the colors do not fully develop until it reaches adulthood. The Diamond Tetra is also known as Pittier's Tetra and Diamond Characin.

This tetra is a very hardy and long-lived fish if kept in an aquarium to its liking. Large, well-planted tanks are best. It does not do well with hard water and prefers soft, peat-filtered water with subdued lighting. Use a dark gravel substrate with some floating plants above, and you'll have a most satisfactory enviroment for this fish.

The Diamond Tetra is a good community fish that is very peaceful but also very active. Being on the go all day, this fish gets hungry. The Diamond Tetra must be kept well fed, or it may resort to munching on aquarium plants. It is a good eater, though, and as long as it is doesn't get hungry, it will leave the plant decor alone. Like most tetras, it will appreciate a school of 5 or more of its own kind.

For Information on keeping freshwater fish, see:
Freshwater Aquarium Guide: Aquarium Setup and Care


  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Characiformes
  • Family: Characidae
  • Genus: Moenkhausia
  • Species: pittieri
Diamond Tetra

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Diamond Tetra in a Planted Aquarium

The most beautiful fish of its genus (Moenkhausia) due to the opalescent shine of its scales, the Diamond Tetra sparkles like a diamond! With green and gold, or orange iridescents on its attractive silvery violet scales, the Diamond Tetra or Pittier's Tetra has a sparkling appearance. You must be patient to fully see this effect however, as this fish doesn't get all of its coloring until it is an adult. The Diamond Tetra likes soft peat filtered water with subdued lighting. Once it is established, this fish is extremely hardy and long-lived. It is a good community fish that is very peaceful, but it is also very active. Being on the go all day this fish gets hungry. It must be kept well fed or it may resort to munching on the aquarium plants. It is a good eater and as long as it is doesn't get hungry it will leave the plant decor alone.

Diamond Tetra - Quick Aquarium Care
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner
  • Size of fish - inches: 2.4 inches (5.99 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 15 gal (57 L)
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
  • Temperature: 72.0 to 82.0° F (22.2 to 27.8° C)
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Habitat: Distribution / Background

The Diamond Tetra Moenkhausia pittieri was described by Eigenmann in1920. This species is not listed on the IUCN Red List. They are found in South America in the waters of Rio Bue, Rio Tiquiriti, and Lake Valencia in Venezuela. Other common names they are known by are Pittier's Tetra, Diamond Characin, Brillantsalmler, and Timanttitetra. They swim in schools and feed on worms, crustaceans, and insects.

Lake Valencia is Venezuela's 2nd largest lake and sits between two mountain ranges where pollution from human agricultural and industrial activities have caused the quality of the water these fish inhabit to be very poor. The Diamond Tetra prefers the shallow, vegetated parts of the lake as well as slow-moving tributaries.

  • Scientific Name: Moenkhausia pittieri
  • Social Grouping: Groups
  • IUCN Red List: NE - Not Evaluated or not listed

Description

The Diamond Tetra is a stockily-built tetra species with a laterally-compressed body. This fish will reach about 2 1/3 inches (6 cm) in length and has a lifespan of about 3 to 6 years in the aquarium. Its attractive, silvery-violet scales feature green and gold or orange iridescents, giving this fish a sparkling appearance. This 'diamond' effect develops as it matures, so while a juvenile, it is rather unremarkable. The Diamond Tetra's eye has a red spot on top.

  • Size of fish - inches: 2.4 inches (5.99 cm)
  • Lifespan: 6 years - This characin has a lifespan of about 3 to 6 years.

Fish Keeping Difficulty

The Diamond Tetra is a moderately hardy fish that is good for the beginning fish keeper. These fish are mass produced and can tolerate a variety of water conditions, within reason.

  • Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner

Foods and Feeding

Since they are omnivorous, the Diamond Tetra will generally eat all kinds of live, fresh, and flake foods. To keep a good balance, give them a high quality flake food every day. Feed brine shrimp (either live or frozen) or blood worms as a treat. Supplement its diet with some vegetable foods, like lettuce leaves.

  • Diet Type: Omnivore - This fish should be well fed, preferably with a vegetable or leafy diet supplement to discourage it from eating aquarium plants.
  • Flake Food: Yes
  • Tablet / Pellet: Yes
  • Live foods (fishes, shrimps, worms): Some of Diet
  • Vegetable Food: Some of Diet
  • Meaty Food: Some of Diet
  • Feeding Frequency: Several feedings per day - With multiple feedings per day, offer only what they can consume in 3 minutes or less.

Aquarium Care

Diamond Tetras are not exceptionally difficult to care for provided their water is kept clean. Aquariums are closed systems, and regardless of size, all need some maintenance. Over time, decomposing organic matter, nitrates, and phosphate build up and water hardness increases due to evaporation. To combat these ever-changing conditions, water should be replaced on a regular basis, especially if the tank is densely stocked. At least 25 to 50% of the tank water should be replaced every other week.

  • Water Changes: Bi-weekly

Aquarium Setup

The Diamond Tetra needs an aquarium that is at least 15 gallons or larger. This adaptable species will thrive in most well-maintained tanks. The lighting should be fairly dim and the tank well-planted. The Diamond Tetra doesn’t like brightly lit or sparsely decorated environments. It will look its best in a densely planted tank where it will develop some really intense colors.

The Diamond tetra prefers an Amazonian biotype setup. Use a substrate of river sand and add a few driftwood branches and twiststed roots. A few handfuls of dried leaves will give the tank a natural feel. Allow the wood and leaves to discolor the water to the color of weak tea. Remove the leaves and replace them every few weeks.

  • Minimum Tank Size: 15 gal (57 L)
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: Yes
  • Substrate Type: Any
  • Lighting Needs: Low - subdued lighting - Low lighting and shadowy, dark tank decor bring out the best iridescence on this species.
  • Temperature: 72.0 to 82.0° F (22.2 to 27.8° C)
  • Breeding Temperature: 79.0° F - These fish will spawn at 79 to 84° F (26 - 29° C).
  • Range ph: 5.5-7.5
  • Hardness Range: 2 - 15 dGH
  • Brackish: No
  • Water Movement: Moderate
  • Water Region: All - These fish will swim in all areas of the aquarium.

Social Behaviors

The Diamond Tetra is generally a good community fish but will be happiest if kept in schools of 5 or more of its own kind. The best tankmates for this tetra are their own kind, most livebearers, danios, rasboras, other tetras, and peaceful bottom dwellers.

  • Venomous: No
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species - conspecifics: Yes - This fish will appreciate a school of 5 or more of its own kind.
    • Peaceful fish (): Safe
    • Semi-Aggressive (): Threat
    • Aggressive (): Threat
    • Large Semi-Aggressive (): Threat
    • Large Aggressive, Predatory (): Threat
    • Slow Swimmers & Eaters (): Monitor - Tetras can out compete them for food.
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Safe - not aggressive
    • Plants: Monitor - Keep these fish well fed, or they may snack on soft plant matter and new shoots.

Sex: Sexual differences

The dorsal fin of the male is long and flowing and more pointed and sickle-shaped than the female's. The female becomes full-bodied while the male remains more slender.

Breeding / Reproduction

Diamond Tetras are egg layers. They are considered moderately easy to breed, and the biggest challenge is getting proper pairs together. Pairs must be the same size and age, and it may take several tries to find a compatible pairs. Most breeding failures are a result of mismatched pairs.

A separate breeding tank will help to get the best number of fry. Set up a 20-gallon spawning tank with a temperature of around 79 to 84° F (26 - 29° C). Provide clumps of spawning mops or java moss, so the female has a place to deposit the eggs. A layer of mesh also works as long as the spaces are wide enough for the eggs to pass through and small enough to keep the parents out. The water should be soft and slightly acidic with a pH 5.5 - 6.5 and a hardness of 4° dGH or less. A small, air-powered sponge filter is needed for filtration and to provide a gentle water flow. Filtering the water through aquarium-safe peat is also helpful.

They can be spawned in pairs or in groups of about 6 individuals of each sex. To optimize success, it's best to condition the males and females in separate tanks prior to breeding. Feed them a rich diet and plenty of small, live foods for about 7 to 10 days. Then select a breeding pair or small group and transfer them into the breeding tank. A mature female's belly will become nicely rounded when she is full of eggs. Choose males that are the most colorful.

Start with a dark tank and gradually increase the light level to induce spawning. They may spawn immediately or after a day or two. The male will follow the female around, and when the female releases her eggs, the male releases sperm to fertilize them. Once a successful spawn has been achieved, remove the parents, or they will eat the eggs.

The eggs will hatch within 24 to 36 hours with fry becoming free-swimming 3 to 4 days later. For the first few days, feed the fry infusoria-type foods until they can feed on microworm or brine shrimp nauplii. The fry grow quickly and will soon look like miniature adults. However, they will not obtain the brilliant coloring of adult fish until they are about 9 months old. See Breeding Freshwater Fish: Characins for a general description of breeding processes, and see Fish Food for Fry for information about types of foods for raising the young.

  • Ease of Breeding: Moderate - They are moderately easy to breed, but the challenge is finding compatible pairs.

Fish Diseases

Diamond Tetras are extremely hardy and disease is not usually a problem in a well-maintained aquarium. That being said, there is no guarantee that you won't have to deal with health problems or disease. Anything you add to your tank can introduce disease. Not only other fish but plants, substrate, and decorations can harbor bacteria. Take great care and make sure to properly clean or quarantine anything you add to an established tank so as not to upset the balance.

A good thing about Diamond Tetra is that due to their resilience, an outbreak of disease can often be limited to just one or a few fishes if dealt with at an early stage. When keeping more sensitive types of fish, it is common for all fishes to be infected even before the first warning signs can be noticed. The best way to proactively prevent disease is to give your Diamond Tetra the proper environment and a well-balanced diet. The more closely their environment resembles their natural habitat, the less stress the fish will have, making them healthier and happier. Stressed fish are more likely to acquire disease.

As with most fish, tetras can be prone to skin flukes, parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.), ichthyobodo infection, parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.), bacterial infections (general), and bacterial disease. Aquarists should read up on common tank diseases. Knowing the signs and catching and treating them early makes a huge difference. For information about freshwater fish diseases and illnesses, see Aquarium Fish Diseases and Treatments.

Availability

The Diamond Tetra is readily available and moderately priced.

References

Author: Clarice Brough CFS, David Brough CFS, Jeremy Roche
Lastest Animal Stories on Diamond Tetra


Stpehanie - 2015-05-21
Can anyone tell me how many eggs you would expect a 1-2 year-old Diamond Tetra to lay? The first surprise breeding left us with 9 live babies. The next time we found six. We just intentionally bred a pair in a separate tank and think that we have 10-15 possible eggs. We are guessing at what the eggs look like (small white specks) based on the fact that I had just bleached the plant matter before putting it in the tank. Mating them has been surprisingly easy. It seems that warming the tank from 75 to 81F and setting the light cycle to a continuous 12 hours was all it took the first time. This time, doing it deliberately, we set the temperature at 78 (I am having issues with my heaters and couldn't land the 81F), put the fattest female off by herself for a few days then added the slowest male that we got lucky enough to catch. They acted stressed for around 20 minutes until I added a freshly cleaned bushy plant, then they went at it for a couple of hours and we saw around 6 specks on the leaves. Since the eggs are supposed to take a few days to swell and hatch, we left the fish together for three days and have a few more specks to report. They did not appear to eat anything that we identified as a possible egg (probably waiting for them to hatch and wiggle). We shall see what happens. Caution: avoid using a particularly spiky plant in the main tank if you are not using a separate breeding tank. We lost a mother that way when she dove into the plant to eat the live babies and got stuck. The one they seem to like has little heart shaped leaves. Go figure.

  • Clarice Brough - 2015-05-22
    That's some great info on breeding these fish. I tried to find a resource that gave their clutch size. Basically all I have found is that Characins from the Amazon average between 30-60 eggs. Characins do start eating their eggs as soon as they are done scattering them about, so that could account for why your are seeing 10-15.
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melissa - 2014-07-09
I have seen diamond tetras in my local aquarium and think they are mesmerising. I have a 90L tank with six corydora leopards, four otocinclus and two rams. Would five or six diamond tetras be okay with my other fish and would they be okay with my two rams?

  • Clarice Brough - 2014-07-22
    I have kept diamond tetras, and they truly are mesmorizing! I don't see any problem with your fish mix, and your tank is definitely large enough to house them. You didn't mention if you have any decor, but plants will also help with the mix, providing places for retreat as well as psychological comfort.
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Angie Higgs - 2014-06-21
I have nine Diamond Tetra's and they are my favourite fish of all time, they are just beautiful to look at in the tank. I am so proud of them, they have bred in my Community Tank and I had four Fry survive from the breeding. To this day the fry have grown up to healthy Diamond Tetra's the First fry that I saw in the tank is now a Beautiful Male with long flowing fins' the other three born a little later are coming along very well. When I go up to my Community Tank it is always them that come up to me too say hello, my other tetra's are not as friendly. Yes the Diamond Tetra is my Favourite Fish and I hope they breed again, they are Lovely Fish.

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Tiffany - 2013-10-18
I have a 55 gal with 3 diamond tetras, 4 red tetras, 2 catfish and a silver shark. When I was feeding the fish this morning I noticed one of my diamond tetras was spinning around in the tank. The fish ate when fed, but continue to spin. It looks cool to watch, but has me worried. Is it suppose to act like that or is something wrong?

  • Sophia - 2013-12-04
    It may be a kidney issue. The kidney balloons up making it unable for the fish to fully control it's movements. Some fish do recover, but most don't. It is probably going to die though if you have a silver shark, they will nip at them when floating around until dead. Put that fish in a quarantine tank, that may help...
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