Are you planning on having your first aquarium? If so, then lemon tetras are perfect for you! With a price range of $5.99 per bulk buy, these tetras are easy to care for and will bring color into your tank.
Although, are you not sure how to take care of lemon tetras? Read on, and you will be ready to have these colorful fishes swimming in your tank in no time!
What Is A Lemon Tetra?
The lemon tetra is a freshwater fish with the largest size of 2 inches. These fishes have served as the oldest among modern aquarium fishes since 1937. They are native fish in Brazil, where they live in clear waters with moderate currents.
Lemon tetras that are available nowadays are commercial-bred, wherein some developed a color morph — albino. In rivers, these fishes stay in huge shoals. To confuse predators, tetras group and use their coloring, which proves to be quite a headache for any threat.
Commercially-bred tetras adapt very well to their surroundings, especially in well-maintained aquariums. These fishes love to show off their colors when there are many plants in the middle of their tank. They also love to have dim lighting and a few hiding areas.
Lemon tetras have small and transparent bodies. You can see their lemon color if you maintain their tank in good condition and given live foods. Their anal and dorsal fins have black and yellow colors where you can see their vibrance.
In female tetras, the black line you can see in their anal fin has a pencil-thin characteristic. For males, you can see that black border as prominent and bold. This fin is also reliable for identifying the sex of a tetra fish. Females have compressed dorsal fins, and their color is duller than males.
The eyes of lemon tetras make them stand out because of the bright red color on their upper half. The color dulls and deepens depending on their health. Their eyes don’t match their body color, but that’s what makes them unique and attractive.
Size and Lifespan
Full-grown lemon tetras have an average of 2 inches in their length. Their small size makes it convenient even if you give them a lot of room. With this size, they appear like a streak of lightning when they start to exhibit bright colors.
Their average lifespan is between four to eight years, depending on how healthy they are. If you take great care of them, you might see them outlive their expected lifespan.
Without proper care, their overall health may suffer. When the tetra’s habitat doesn’t have enough plants, they may experience diseases, stress, and early death.
You may find these fish in the Iquitos region of the Peruvian Amazon in South America, around the Tapajos River Basin. The water in this area has high mineral content and more transparent water than other rivers. Flooded forests and smaller rivers are more likely to be favored by tetras.
1. Tank Size
The tanks for tetras have at least 15 to 20 gallons for 6 of them, considering they are the only fishes in the aquarium. They generally need a big tank because of their schooling preferences. Big tanks are comfortable for them and are where they tend to show their best coloration.
Keeping them in a tank with six or dozens may also contribute to them showing off their colors. You may also keep lemon tetras in community tanks with Corydoras catfish or other tetras. Several groups of this fish can also make your tank look stunning!
2. Water Conditions
Mimicking the lemon tetra’s natural environment is the best way to keep them healthy. Tetras do well in clear water with a moderate flow, unlike the many species found in the Amazon. Aiming for the middle range of conditions ensures their comfortable wiggle room.
It would be best if you kept the water temperature for lemon tetras between 72 to 82-degrees Fahrenheit. It is best to keep the water temperature between 75 to 78.8-degrees Fahrenheit when encouraging spawning.
Replace the aquarium’s water twice a week. This process helps the fishes adapt to the changing conditions when their tank becomes stocked. You should change 25% to 50% of the tank’s water.
The hardness level ranges from 3 to 20 dGH, while the pH level for this type of freshwater fish lies between 5.5 and 8.0. With a higher dGH, the tetra’s color is more likely to fade, so it is best if you keep the hardness level at a lower level.
Aquariums with many plants and decorations give the fish a chance to display their best coloration. Lemon tetras do well if you maintain their tank clean and well-cared. They need places to hide when they feel vulnerable, so they need dense planting and caves in their tank.
Tetras are schooling fish, which means they need a lot of open space for swimming. It would be best if you planted around the sides and the back of the aquarium, leaving the front side open for swimming space.
The substrate must be identical to the setup of their natural habitat — the Amazon river. It must consist of river sand with twisted roots, driftwood, and dried leaves. The leaves play a massive role in replicating their natural habitat since they stain the water.
4. Nutrition and Diet
Lemon tetras feed on crustaceans, plant matter, and invertebrates. In captivity, they accept any food offered to them. Although this may be the case, you should still track their diet. It must consist of high-quality food, together with regular feedings of frozen or live food.
Feed tetras several times every day, with enough food to last them for minutes on each feeding. You may rely on their colors to know if they ate the right amount of food. Their colors are more vivid and intense when satisfied with what they are eating.
If you want to improve your tetra’s coloration, you may give them freeze-dried, live, or frozen snacks. Provide them with bloodworms, daphnia, mosquito larvae, and brine shrimp as they are into these foods. Keep your tetra’s diet diverse to give them the nutrients that they need.
5. Behavior and Tank Mates
Tetras are easy-goers, and they like to maintain peace among their fellow tetras and other species. Aside from this, they are also very playful and active, so you may see them zoom around your tank while playing with other fishes.
You may see them swim together in groups of 6 or more, which helps them avoid being anxious. Grouping your tetras with peaceful fish species is the best option. If they share a tank with a semi-aggressive fish, they consider it a threat. Your tetras may feel anxious and scared, which may lead to health problems.
Avoid putting slow swimmers and slow eaters in a tank together with your tetras. They may out-compete them when feeding, and this won’t end well for the slow swimmers. Lemon tetras consider crabs, snails, and shrimps safe for them. Avoid putting shrimp if you plan to own a tank with less than 80 gallons of water.
The following are tank mates that your lemon tetra may get along with:
- Small danios
- Smaller types of rasboras
- Cory catfish
- Other tetra species
Breeding your lemon tetras is an exciting activity. They lay eggs up to hundreds or thousands because they are community breeders! When they have the right conditions, they are eager to lay a lot of eggs.
Before breeding them, prepare a separate tank for the process. Put delicate leaf plants in the aquarium because they scatter their eggs. When they get hungry, they eat their eggs, so the plants can give them protection from hungry tetra adults.
Place your female and male tetras in two different tanks one week before you start breeding. After one week, add them to your breeding tank. You may then slowly raise the water temperature to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Spawning will start when the male tetras are put on shows for the females. Once done, they will have a sudden burst of eggs and sperm in the tank. The eggs will gradually fall to the bottom of the tank.
Place them back to their original tank to give the eggs time to develop. These eggs will hatch after three to four days. After a couple more, the fry is ready to feed on powdered fish food, shrimp, and others.
Your lemon tetras will remain healthy as long as you maintain the tank clean. Dirty aquarium water leads to stressed fish. This process makes them vulnerable to fungus development, bacterial infections, and many others.
Just like humans, you must quarantine your new specimens for a week before adding them to the tank with your tetras. This process makes sure whether the unknown sample is disease-free.
The same goes for new plants and decorations. Rinse them with a basic aquarium antibacterial treatment before adding them to the tank.
Lemon tetra is best known for their vibrant colors and how easy they are to breed. This type of freshwater fish is playful and active, yet they are not aggressive. They are easy to care for, which makes them the best choice for a beginner.
Remember to keep your lemon tetra’s tank water clean. Make it identical to their natural habitat, and you will undoubtedly have an aquarium with a vibrant school of fish!