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lemon tetra tropical fish

Lemon Tetra Fact File: Size, Tankmates & Behaviours

If you’re looking for a new fishy friend (or 6) to add to your tank, then the Lemon Tetra may be just what you need.

These small, peaceful fish are one of the easiest freshwater species in their size range to care for and can be kept with other similar sized tankmates.

lemon tetra tropical fish
Name:Lemon Tetra
Scientific Name:Hyphessobrycon pulchripinnis
Habitat:Gently flowing shallow rivers
Adult Length:5cms
Ideal Temperature:72-82 degrees Fahrenheit
Life Expectancy:4-6 years
Behaviour & Characteristics:Peaceful
Ideal Tankmates:Community fish
Top, Middle or Bottom:Middle and bottom

Scientific Name:

The scientific name for the Lemon Tetra is Hyphessobrycon pulchripinnis, which translated means:

hyphesso meaning ‘of lesser stature’, Brycon is the genus of fish in the Characidae family.

pulcher meaning ‘beautiful’, and pinnis meaning ‘fins’. This refers to the stunning yellow and black anal fins they have.


They are a member of the Characidae family which originate in both North and South America.


The Lemon Tetra originates from the rivers in the basin of Rio Tapajos in The Amazon in Brazil.

They were first introduced to aquariums during the 1930’s.

The Lemon Tetra is deeper bodied than a lot of the other Tetras, so looks more diamond shaped rather than torpedo shaped. They have a silvery yellow body which is semi transparent.

What makes them stand out is the bright yellow stripe on the anal fin and also a lesser one on the dorsal fin.

They also have an amazing bright red colouring on the top of their eyes.

The male tends to be a more vivid colour than the female.


The natural habitat of the Lemon Tetra is shallow and slightly moving rivers and streams which are heavily planted. In the wild, they can form schools of hundreds, and even thousands. This makes it difficult for predators as so many fish all swimming in different directions can be very confusing!

Adult Length:

A fully grown Lemon Tetra will be between 4-5cms. This is just a guide as certain conditions could affect the size that your fish grows to.

Ideal Temperature:

The ideal temperature for a Lemon Tetra is between 72-82 degrees Fahrenheit. They are used to the warm, tropical waters of the Amazon in Brazil, and who can blame them!


Lemon Tetras are omnivores and appreciate a wide and varied diet. Tropical fish tend to look brighter in colour when fed the correct types of food.

They should be fed a good quality of flakes, plus occasional treats of bloodworms and daphnia. Lemon Tetras are not fussy eaters so will most likely eat anything put in front of them.

They aren’t shy about coming to the top of the tank to feed, either.

Life Expectancy:

The Lemon Tetra has one of the longest life expectancy of any of the smaller tropical fish and can live for around 6 to 8 years in captivity. Some have been known to live for a year or two longer in the right environment.

Behaviour & Characteristics:

The Lemon Tetra is a schooling fish and the more the better as far as these are concerned.

They need to be kept in a group of at least 6, but if you have room for more, then go for it. They are playful and active when in a school. If kept in small numbers, or even worse, on their own, they will become sad and stressed, and will spend a lot of time hiding.

A well planted tank, some hiding spaces and plenty of room for swimming will keep your Lemon Tetras happy and hopefully healthy.

You will need a lid on your tank as these are renowned jumpers!

You may notice that your Lemon Tetras look quite dull when first put into your tank. As they settle in to their new surroundings they will start to brighten up again.

Lemon Tetras are peaceful and sociable so won’t cause you, or any of the other fish any trouble.

group of lemon tetras

Ideal Tankmates:

Being a sociable and peaceful fish, there are lots of species that would make good tankmates for the Lemon Tetra.

They will be fine with any of the other Tetras, as well as other small fish, for example, Danios, Rasboras and some Corys.

Be careful not to put them in with bigger fish that will see the Tetras as lunch.

Top, Middle or Bottom?

These guys are lively and active and love to swim all around the middle of the tank.

They also like to mooch around the bottom of the tank, and have some quiet time in and around the plants and ornaments.


As with any fish you are thinking of adding to your tank, please make sure that there is going to be enough space.

You can check on this brilliant AQUARIUM STOCKING CALCULATOR that you have enough room and won’t be overcrowded.

You will need to know the dimensions of your tank, as well as the water capacity for the correct calculation to be made.

Related Posts:

How many tetras can go into a tank?

Can tetras change colour?

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