Diamond Tetra (Moenkhausia pittieri): Ultimate Care Guide

Common NameDiamond Tetra
Scientific NameMoenkhausia pittieri
Water Temperature72-82°F
Water pH6.0-7.5
Maximum Size2.4 inches
Minimum Tank Size15 gallons
Lifespan3-6 Years
Tank MatesDiamond Tetras, Congo Tetras, Angelfish, Betta fish
Diamond Tetra (Moenkhausia pittieri)
Diamond Tetra (Moenkhausia pittieri)

Diamond Tetra (Moenkhausia pittieri) are one of the most alluring species you can have in your aquarium! These fish derive their name from the iridescent shimmer of their scales. When illuminated by natural sunlight, they shine like diamonds! Other names for these flashy fish include Pittier’s Tetra and Diamond Characin.

This beautiful species is endemic to the bodies of freshwater in South America. They were first recorded by researcher Carl Eigenmann in 1920. The Diamond Tetra can be found in the shallow, warm, and highly vegetated waters of Rio Vue, Rio Tiquiriti and Lake Valencia in Venezuela.

While they are not currently listed in the IUCN Red List as a vulnerable or endangered species, the populations found in Lake Valencia face imminent environmental threats. Lake Valencia is located in a valley. This mountainside topography causes increased water pollution. Runoff and water contaminants have impacted PH levels and caused eutrophication in parts of the lake. This impaired water quality threatens the well-being of the Diamond Tetra species.

Today, these fish have grown very popular among the global aquarium community. The Diamond Tetra’s peaceful temperament, hardy nature, and general adaptability make them a great choice for beginner and experienced fishkeepers alike.

Diamond Tetra Appearance

The Diamond Tetra has silver, iridescent scales that shimmer or glitter. In certain lighting their scales can also give off hues of blue, green, orange, and even gold! As fry their colors are more subdued, but around nine months they begin to develop their trademark silvery tint. Their coloration will become more saturated as they age.

The Diamond Tetra typically grows to about 2 to 2.4 inches in length.  They have unique eyes. The upper portion is tinted red. Tetras are a type of fish characterized by an internal row of teeth. They can have five or more teeth on each side of the mouth. The Diamond’s body tends to be more bulky and less streamlined than other tetras. However, they share the same lengthy anal fins as others species in this category.

Diamond Tetra Care

Smaller groups of Diamond Tetras can live comfortably in a fifteen gallon tank. However, purchasing a tank that’s a bit larger in volume can be a rewarding choice. This species is energetic. They enjoy having room to explore and move about freely. And, you will enjoy watching them!

Your tank’s water temperatures should be on the warmer side. 76°F is considered to be an optimum temperature. You should always keep your water between 72-82°F. PH levels should be kept just below neutral. These fish do best in water that has a pH range of 6.0-7.5.

Diamond Tetras prefer an Amazonian biotope setup. Their natural habitat is in slow moving, shallow water, where they are surrounded by lots of vegetation and biodiversity.

To create the ideal aquarium atmosphere for your new Tetra friends, begin with a sandy substrate or dark gravel. Use this to line the bottom of the tank. Next, incorporate loose structures that provide comfortable hiding spaces. Driftwood and tangled branches are excellent choices. These structures will allow your fish to hide and feel secure if needed.  Diamond Tetras enjoy abundant light, but it should not be overly bright or too direct.

Once you’ve incorporated these steps, it’s time to add some live plants to your tank! Exercise your creative freedom for this step! You can vary the plants in size and species. Floating vegetation, foreground plants and stemmed plants can all be used. The Diamond Tetra doesn’t enjoy sparsely decorated environments, so don’t be afraid to go all out!

These fish thrive with standard filtration systems. You should plan to change 50% of the water on a bi-weekly basis.

Diamond Tetra Food & Diet

The Diamond Tetra is an omnivore, meaning they eat a variety of both plants and proteins. Store bought pellets and flakes can make up the bulk of their diets in captivity. If you choose a food substitute with added vitamins it has been found to enhance the beautiful shine in your fish’s scales.

These fish have a tendency to eat slowly, but make sure that they have adequate food supply. If they are hungry they may be inclined to eat the plants in the tank. Supplementing their pellet of flake diet with occasional snacks can help balance nutritional needs and improve their overall health. Lettuce is a great option as is brine shrimp, bloodworms or daphnia.

Diamond Tetra Tank Mates

The Diamond Tetra is a schooling fish. They prefer to cohabitate with others of their kind. They enjoy living in smaller schools. Some studies have suggested that they prefer to be housed in odd numbered groups. At a minimum they should be kept in groups of three, though their social nature makes them suitable for groups of 5-7. Any more than this in a smaller tank, and your tetras may begin to feel stressed. Limit overcrowding by keeping 15 gallon tanks to no more than 10 organisms.

One of the many reasons why Diamond Tetras are so popular, is that they make great additions to multi-species aquariums. The ideal tank mates for these fish are similar in size and personality.  Angelfish, Betta fish and Congo Tetra are all good options. Due to their more passive nature, it is paramount to keep them away from larger and aggressive species. They should also not be housed with shrimp, as they may mistake them for food!

Overall, you will find that these fish are very peaceful and hospitable. You’ll have fun watching them swim throughout their tank and occasionally even find them playing with one another.

Diamond Tetra Breeding

Breeding the Diamond Tetra can present some challenges. But, with the proper conditions and some extra care, breeding can be successful. This species is quite selective when it comes to finding a partner to spawn with. They prefer to spawn with fish that are similar in both age and size.

If you’re interested in breeding your tetras, it will require an extra tank. The ideal size of the breeding tank is 20 gallons. The water temperature in this tank should be a bit warmer. 79-84° Fahrenheit is best. Before adding fish to the spawning tank be sure to turn all of the lights off.

At the bottom of your breeding tank, lay out some Java Moss. When the female releases her eggs they will fall into the moss. In addition to serving as a cushion for the eggs, the moss will hide them from hungry adults. Now it’s time to  add your Tetras!

Diamond Tetras have very noticeable sexual dimorphism. The dorsal fins in females are shorter than in males. The male dorsal fin is also more pointed.  A mature female will be easy to spot as she will have a rounded belly. When choosing her male counterparts try your best to pick the fish that are most colorful.

Diamond Tetras can be bred in a single pair or groups as large as 6. Once your selected fish are in the tank you can turn the lights on. This change in lighting will instigate spawning. Females will release their eggs into the water and males will fertilize them. After you sense the fish are done, you should relocate the adults to their original tank.

The fertilized eggs will hatch in about  24 to 36 hours. It will take another 3 to 4 days for them to become free-swimming fry. You can feed the fry infusoria for baby brine shrimp. As mentioned previously, the young Diamond Tetras will appear duller in coloration. Not to worry, they are healthy and will eventually develop their trademark shimmer around nine months of age.

Diamond Tetra Disease

One of the many reasons that the Diamond Tetras are great for beginners is that they are a very resilient and hardy species. These tetras don’t usually experience  health complications or high rates of disease. However, as with any living organism, it is possible that they may fall ill. Maintaining a healthy water quality and diet is very important.

Freshwater fish like these are susceptible to parasitic infections, bacterial diseases, and Ich. Below you can read more about what to do if you suspect your fish is suffering from Ich. 

Ich (White Spot Disease)

Ich is an easily identifiable disease caused by a parasite called Ichthyophthirius Multifiliis. This protozoan causes small white dots to appear on the fills, body or fins of your Cichlid. Other symptoms may be less obvious. These can include clamped fins, respiratory trouble, appetite loss or the tendency to rub against objects in the tank. This disease is highly infectious so it is important to treat all organisms in the tank. Treatment options include a salt bath, increasing water temperatures, or increasing tank potassium levels.

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