Diamond Tetra: Ultimate Guide (Care, Breeding, Diet & More)

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Written By Matt Stevens

Hi, I'm Matt! I've been obsessed with fishkeeping for over 15 years now and created this site to share my knowledge with others.

Diamond Tetra is an alluring freshwater fish that every aquarist should consider if they need a super peaceful species to add plenty of interest to their aquarium.

For a long time, beginner-level aquarists have been overtaken by the beauty and resilience of the standard Neon Tetras. But if you need a calm, low-maintenance species to add style and a natural flair to your aquarium, we can’t think of any better options than the little Diamond Tetras.

But with such a sparkling appearance like a colored diamond, it’s easy to overlook the Diamond Tetra’s most important care guidelines at home. So, this guide will break down everything you should know to master the basics of Diamond Tetra care. 

Specifically, it will cover the fish’s origin, lifespan, tank size, diet, behavior, tank mates, and breeding among the rest.

Species Overview

Moenkhausia pittieri, commonly known as Diamond Tetra, is an eye-catching freshwater species with South American roots.

They have other exciting names within the fishkeeping community, such as the Timanttitetra, Pittier’s Tetra, and Diamond Characin.

Typically, Diamond Tetras belong to the Characidae family and originally inhabited the lakes, rivers, and other water bodies in South America. These fish occupy shallow, slow-flowing waters in the wild and can be found in Lake Valencia, Rio Tiquiriti, and Rio Bue.

With their resilience in the wild, acclimatization is never an issue to Diamond Tetras. Even when other species may find it challenging to adapt to a new environment right away, Diamond Tetras will readily feel comfortable in their new home provided they have right conditions.

For fish lovers and aquarists of all levels, Diamond Tetras won’t just be an excellent choice as a pet. They are just as effective as part of interior home decoration.

ColorSilver, with sparkling fins and scales
LifespanUp to 3-6 Years
Care LevelEasy
Behavior & TemperamentPeaceful
CompatibilityPeaceful fish, similar size
Food and DietOmnivores
Size2.5 Inches
Tank SetupFreshwater, plants, caves
Tank Size (Minimum)15 Gallons


In captivity, Diamond Tetras will have an average lifespan of 3-6 years. But just like any other freshwater fish, everything depends on the actual environmental conditions.

Given their short lifespan, everything can go south easily if you provide a lackluster environment. To put that into perspective, Diamond Tetras are more vulnerable to reduced water quality and poor diet that can easily expose them to life-threatening diseases.


Some aquarists believe Diamond Tetras are the most beautiful freshwater species everyone should have at home.

Others have argued that not even the picture-perfect, smooth blue-green coloration of their Green Neon Tetra cousins can match the aesthetic appeal of the little Diamond Tetras. So, where do we start?

Well, if you were to shine a bright light onto your little Diamond Tetra, you would see shimmering scales like the actual diamond. This is because of the iridescent scales, giving it the all too famous Diamond name.

But it doesn’t stop there. Diamond Tetras have larger bodies than many Tetra varieties and are slightly compressed towards the edges. 

Generally, these species will have a beautiful silvery hue all over their bodies, with the lustrous scales complemented by green, orange, blue, or gold shades.

The juvenile fish will have a more faded look, with the beautiful iridescent coloration only appearing in maturity.

Speaking of the beautiful configuration, the adult fish will have semi-transparent fins with gorgeous violet shades.

What’s more, these fish have long anal fins, with a captivating dorsal fin to capture your attention either as a thriving community or as the only species inside the tank.

You can distinguish the males from the female species by body configuration and appearance. While the males will have long, pointed fins, female Diamond Tetras possess shorter fins that won’t be noticeable in some species. 


Generally, a typical Diamond Tetra will grow up to 2 to 2.4 inches in length in captivity. And that supports their classification among the most popular small freshwater species.

There’s no denying the fish’s small size could be a complete turnoff if you crave the sight of a larger species in your aquarium. But, we have a completely different view about Diamond Tetra’s body size.

Being such a small species, Diamond Tetras will have manageable care requirements regardless of your level.

As an advanced aquarist, Diamond Tetras will be a sight to behold in your home aquarium. And for novice hobbyists, you will love them even more for their peaceful behavior and ease of care.

Diamond Tetra Care

Interestingly, Diamond Tetras are also one of the easiest species to care for. They are a resilient species whose care guidelines will be straightforward even to novice aquarists.

And everything should be smooth once you have a solid grasp of the basics. Let’s see what every aspect entails;

Tank Size

Of course, the size of the tank is one of the most important aspects when caring for Diamond Tetras at home.

Remember, they are a small species that will do well with a smaller tank if all the conditions are right. And for a start, a 15-gallon capacity appears to be the best option to keep a small group of happy Diamond Tetras.

But the priority should never change even with a larger population because they will still need an ample swimming space with the right tank decorations. It’s essential to increase the tank size as you increase the fish population.

Even with a small number of fish, don’t be mistaken to think Diamond Tetras will remain passive inside the tank. They are little and highly active buddies that demand a suitable environment to thrive.

Water Parameters

On the ideal water conditions, never forget that Diamond Tetras originate from the shallow, slow-moving tributaries of South America.

They prefer warm waters with slightly neutral pH for optimal growth but will have no problem living in slightly alkaline conditions if they have to.

That being said, here are the vital water parameters to keep in mind if you keep the Diamond Tetras in captivity;

  • Water Temperature: 72°F-82°F
  • Water Hardness: 4-8 KH
  • pH Levels: 6.0-7.5

We’ve always stressed the need to maintain the tank water conditions at the right levels, which still applies to the Diamond Tetras.

And sometimes, all it takes is a simple adjustment to the tank water conditions to keep a thriving Diamond Tetra community even as a novice aquarist

So, this will be the right time to purchase a suitable aquarium testing kit to ensure every parameter stays within the recommended range.

What to Put in Their Tank?

If you already understand the actual environmental conditions in Diamond Tetra’s original habitat, you could be on course for the best experience with your peace-loving Tetra buddies.

That begins with introducing a smooth layer of sand as a suitable substrate. Look, Diamond Tetras may not be a true bottom-dwelling fish, but your priority should be to recreate a natural-looking environment for them, just like in the wild.

And speaking of a natural feel, you can use branches and driftwood to create as many hiding spots as possible. Diamond Tetras are only secure and more confident with enough hiding places.

For the live plants, we can’t think of much better options than having the right mix of floating, tall stem, and foreground plants. Here, a few excellent options include java moss, Hornwort, and water wisteria.

You will want to leave enough swimming space when introducing live plants to the fish’s habitat because that’s what matters most to your Diamond Tetras.

Also, the same plants could help with shielding your Diamond Tetras from direct sunlight as they don’t enjoy bright light. 

To conclude, your Diamond Tetras will be fine with a standard filtration system like a canister and hang-on filter. If it’s powerful enough to eliminate the toxic waste without endangering the fish’s lives then it’s good enough for your Diamond Tetras.

Common Diseases

Diamond Tetras are resilient enough to survive different environmental conditions in captivity. However, they can succumb to a range of ailments associated with freshwater fish.

And some of the possible conditions you will want to keep away from a healthy community include Ich and common bacterial and parasitic infections.

Even though most of these conditions are easily managed with the right antibiotics, you can take a huge step towards keeping a healthy community by prioritizing water quality.

This starts with frequent monitoring of the tank water status to ensure the hardness, pH, and temperature are all within the recommended levels. In addition, you should prioritize changing at least 25-50% of the total tank water every week to be sure it matches the health standards.

In many cases, the safest way to approach a disease outbreak in the Diamond Tetra community is to detect it as early as possible. And, when you do that successfully, be sure to quarantine the affected fish to limit the disease spread to the healthy population.

Sometimes, you may be forced to seek an expert’s advice if the symptoms don’t go away even with antibiotic usage.

What Do Diamond Tetras Eat?

Diamond Tetras are omnivores with a strong appetite for tiny insects and plant matter in the wild. In captivity, you can go for anything that provides your fish with important nutrients as long as it’s healthy and safe for consumption.

Pellets and dry flakes are the staple food choices making up a Diamond Tetra’s regular diet. But to maintain a balanced diet, you can introduce occasional supplements such as brine shrimps, bloodworms, and daphnia.

For vitamin sources, plant-based options such as blanched vegetables are the most suitable options for your Diamond Tetras. Here, lettuce is the best option.

Behavior & Temperament

Don’t second guess your options if you crave a peaceful community with Diamond Tetras taking center stage. They are a gentle species that are good for any aquarium.

Diamond Tetras are schooling fish and more secure in groups of 5-7 species in the same tank.

Often, Diamond Tetras will want to pair up when exploring the tank or swim in small groups, creating a stunning pattern in the process.

Unfortunately, their playful nature is sometimes confused with aggression, even when we know the beautiful Tetras are never a violent species. 

Diamond Tetra Tank Mates

Diamond Tetras are a magnificent addition to any aquarium. But, you must be cautious when introducing new tank mates to the same territory.

As expected, peaceful Diamond Tetras will never live together with more aggressive species or larger fish that could threaten their peace in a cramped environment. 

A common trait with small peaceful fish is that they mind their own business in captivity. And, the Diamond Tetra is no exception.

So, here are some of the best tank mates you will want to try out with them in the same tank;

And by the way, you should never keep Diamond Tetras together with your shrimps, because they will eat the little invertebrates right away.   


Breeding Diamond Tetras in captivity is best described as a case of trial and error. Sometimes, it’s achievable. But many a time, it’s impossible to pull off.

Usually, the biggest challenge in successful breeding is not selecting the suitable species but rather pairing them in captivity.

Even in small groups, Diamond Tetras will be insanely picky when it comes to choosing a swimming partner. So, it will be even more challenging to pair them up for successful breeding. If you don’t put in the effort and patience, you’d better not try it altogether.

If breeding were to happen, the specific breed would love to do so with another fish of equal size, age, and maybe even shape. So, everything else becomes a breeze if you can pull this off.

You should create a separate breeding tank to house the adult fish during spawning. This should be at least 20-gallon capacity, with a slightly acidic pH level, as the primary tank.

Then, introduce the correct breeding elements such as spawning mops and suitable plants like java moss to complete the bottom layer of the tank.

With everything in place, the females will lay many eggs to be fertilized by the animated male. You will have the freedom to breed Diamond Tetras as single species, in small groups or larger groups of up to 10 species.

Also, lighting is an important aspect when it comes to breeding. And at this stage, you may consider turning it off altogether to complete the spawning process.

The eggs will take as little as 24-36 hours to hatch, and the larvae will be happy to survive on the egg sacs during the initial stages of their development.

Later, you can introduce them to baby brine shrimps and infusoria, depending on their health and growth rate. The young Diamond Tetras have a more faded coloration, and even the famous iridescent body won’t appear until at least nine months of age.

Final Thoughts

Diamond Tetras are a likable species and easy to care for if you need a low-maintenance freshwater fish. With their matchless beauty and peaceful temperament, it’s unimaginable that these fish haven’t gained the deserved attention in the fishkeeping community.

After reading this guide, we hope you will be happy to rally fellow aquarists towards a common goal; keeping a good-looking species with straightforward care requirements at home. At that point, it will be interesting to hear your amazing story with Diamond Tetras at home.