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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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... (more)  melissa

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, it has a marvelous 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. It is also known as Pittier's Tetra and Diamond Characin.

This tetra is a very hardy and long lived fish once its in an aquarium to its liking. Large well planted tanks are best. It doesn't do well in a tank with hard water. Rather it likes 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.

This 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. The Diamond Tetra 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. 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
  • 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)
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner
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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 Lake Valencia, Rio Bue, Rio Tiquiriti, and 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.  Because of pollution from human agricultural and industrial activities have caused the water quality that these fish inhabit to be very poor.  The Diamond Tetra shows a preference for 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 - 6 years in the aquarium. It has attractive silvery violet scales and they have green and gold, or orange iridescents which give this fish a sparkling appearance. This 'diamond' effect is develops as it matures, so while it is a juvenile it is rather bland. The eye has a red spot on top.

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

Fish Keeping Difficulty

The Diamond Tetra is a moderately hardy fish that is good for the beginner 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 everyday. Feed brine shrimp (either live or frozen) or blood worms as a treat. Besides its regular fare, its diet should also be supplemented with some vegetable foods, like lettuce leaves.

  • Diet Type: Omnivore - This fish should be well fed, preferably with a vegetable or leafy diet supplement as well, 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 on size all need some maintenance. Over time decomposing organic matter, nitrates, and phosphate build up and the 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 - 50% of the tank water should be replaced every other week.

  • Water Changes: Bi-weekly

Aquarium Setup

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

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. The leaves should be removed and replaced 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 a shadowy dark tank decor brings out the best iridescence on this species.
  • Temperature: 72.0 to 82.0° F (22.2 to 27.8° 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 Tetras are generally a good community fish but will be happiest if its kept in a school of 5 or more of its own kind. The best tankmates with 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 - 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 (): Safe
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Safe - not aggressive
    • Plants: Monitor - Keep well fed as they may snack on soft plant matter and new shoots it they get hungry.

Sex: Sexual differences

The dorsal fin of the male is long and flowing. It is also more pointed and is sickle shaped. The female becomes full bodied while the male remains more slender.

Breeding / Reproduction

The Diamond Tetra are egg layers. They are considered moderately easy to breed, with the biggest challenge being getting proper pairs together. They must be paired with the same size and age. Most breeding failures have been a result of mismatched pairs. Recommended conditions: less than 4° dGH. Start with a dark tank and gradually increase the light level to induce spawning. For a description of breeding characin fish, see Breeding Freshwater Fish: Characins.

  • Ease of Breeding: Moderate

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 bring disease to your tank. Not only other fish but plants, substrate, and decorations can harbor bacteria. Take great care and make sure to properly clean or quarantine anything that you add to an established tank so 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 you deal with it 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 give them a well balanced diet. The closer to their natural habitat the less stress the fish will have, making them healthier and happy. Stressed fish are more likely to acquire disease.

As with most fish they are prone to skin flukes, parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.), ichthyobodo infection, parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.), bacterial infections (general), and bacterial disease. It is recommended to read up on the 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 is moderately priced.

References

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

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.
Reply
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.

Reply
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...
Reply
Da Funk - 2013-03-09
I have a guppy, molly, and colored skirt tetra in a 20 gallon tank. I'm ready for more fish, I want diamonds but I am worried about the compatability between them and the guppy. Is it OK to mix these two? Thanks in advance.

  • Jeremy Roche - 2013-03-10
    Should be just fine.  They do however do best in groups of 5 or more.
Reply
Jared - 2010-09-14
Hey- Today is Tuesday and I got my first tank on Saturday. The fish came on Sunday, 2 of them being diamond tetras. We were told that these fish would be OK with the other choices of fish we had(4). But, this morning, one of the diamond's was found dead on the bottom of the tank. Since we got them into the tank, they haven't really eaten, been active, or swam forcefully. They just kind of lag around and float in a pair. We need to know why!! We can't get any more until the Nitrogen Cycle ends, but we would like to know if getting more diamond's is a good choice based on what happened 2 days after getting them.

  • Michael - 2010-11-12
    Diamonds are a fine choice but I wouldn't add anything until the nitrogen cycle is fully working. I highly recommend fishless cycling. It's really easy with a test kit, a bottle of ammonia, and some time.
  • Johann - 2010-11-18
    I think your problem would be putting fish in the tank too soon. You should let the tank cycle, without any fish, for at least a couple weeks.
  • Jeremy Roche - 2012-10-17
    Tank should be cycled a bit longer before adding any fish. Mollies are always a good fish to cycle with.
Reply

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