Information, Characiformes (Characins), Freshwater fish, Species, Tetras

Lemon tetra (Hyphessobrycon pulchripinnis)

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by Jason Matthews



The Lemon Tetra, scientifically known as Hyphessobrycon pulchripinnis, is a small and vibrant freshwater fish that has long been a favorite of pet fish keepers. It is no surprise that this species has captured the hearts of many because of its striking lemon-yellow color and peaceful behavior. The Lemon Tetra is an excellent addition to any home aquarium, whether you are a beginner or an experienced fish owner. 

In this article, we will delve into the world of the Lemon Tetra, investigating its origin, appearance, size, behavior, and other aspects. Join us as we learn about the secrets of this beautiful and fascinating species and how to properly care for and maintain a healthy Lemon Tetra in your tank.


Scientific Name: Hyphessobrycon pulchripinnis
Common Names: Lemon tetra
Life Expectancy: 5-8 years
Adult Size: 2 inches (5 cm)


HabitatSouth America, Amazon Basin
OriginSouth America
Care LevelEasy
DietOmnivorous, flakes, frozen or live foods
Tank LevelMid-dweller
Minimum Tank Size10 gallons
Water pH5.5-7.5
Water Temperature22-28°C (72-82°F)
Water Hardness5-19 dGH
Tank MatesPeaceful fish of similar size and temperment

Fun Fact Corner

One interesting fact about Lemon Tetras is that their bright yellow coloration is caused by a pigment called xanthophore. This pigment is only found in lemon tetras and a few other fish species, making them a truly one-of-a-kind addition to any aquarium. Furthermore, the lemon tetra is known for its peaceful nature, making it an excellent choice for community tanks.


The Lemon Tetra first appeared in the tributaries and rivers of South America, specifically Brazil and Paraguay. The Lemon Tetra is a wild-type species that hasn’t undergone any kind of selective breeding in captivity.

They prefer the calm currents of rivers like the Paraguay, Apa, and Aquidauana, which are all a part of the larger Paraguay-Paraná river system. Water clarity, sandy and clay bottoms, and lush vegetation are all hallmarks of this region’s environment. The Lemon Tetra has evolved under these conditions to become a hardy and versatile species. The Lemon Tetra is popular among fish keepers because it does well in captivity if given the proper treatment.


The Lemon Tetra’s unique appearance makes it stand out among other tetra varieties. Like its namesake, this fish is a bright lemon yellow all over, from its head to its tail fin. The fish’s long, lean body and clear dorsal fin give it a graceful appearance. The anal fin is elongated, and the tail fin is slightly forked, giving the fish an elegant and powerful appearance in motion. Big, dark eyes give this fish an alert and expressive look. 

Male and female Lemon Tetra look very similar, but men have slightly smaller bodies and more elongated dorsal fins. Around 2.5 cm in length is their utmost potential. The Lemon Tetra is a stunning addition to any aquarium because of its striking appearance.


The Lemon Tetra is a tiny freshwater fish that grows to no more than about 5 centimeters in length. They are one of the more diminutive tetra species, making them a good choice for smaller aquariums or for use as schooling fish in larger tanks. While they may be undersized, they still need plenty of room to swim and thrive in the tank. They need to be housed in a tank with at least 10 gallons of water, but a larger tank is always preferable. Lemon Tetras can only develop to their full size and beauty potential when kept in ideal tank conditions.


Male and female Lemon Tetras look different because the species is sexually dimorphic. Generally speaking, males are smaller and have more pointed dorsal fins than females, who are more round and have rounded dorsal fins. Females are typically a tad larger than males. Also, when a female carries eggs, you’ll notice that she’s a little rounder than a male. A large sample size is necessary to distinguish between male and female Lemon Tetras, but this is relatively easy.

It is possible to tell a Lemon Tetra’s sex simply by watching how it acts during mating season. Male Lemon Tetras will swim actively around females and flaunt their fins as a form of courtship behavior.


The Lemon Tetra is popular for group aquariums because of its calm but lively demeanor. Keeping at least six of these fish together is recommended due to their social nature as a schooling species. This not only improves the fish’s health and well-being by reducing stress but also encourages them to act more like themselves.

Since Lemon Tetras swim and play together in large schools in the wild, keeping several in a tank will foster this behavior. They swim vigorously and frequently can be seen circling the tank in perfect unison. They’re curious and won’t be afraid to swim in the open areas of the tank, so they’ll have a great time checking out the ornaments and other features of the aquarium.

Lemon Tetras are known for their calm demeanor when kept with other peaceful fish species. They get along well with other tetras and other friendly, small fish. They will not harm any other fish in the tank, and they tolerate those of different species.


When selecting tankmates for Lemon Tetras, look for fish that thrive in conditions analogous to their own. Since Lemon Tetras are docile, they can be housed with other fish of the same temperament. They get along well with other fish, so feel free to put them in a community tank.

Here are some good tankmate options for Lemon Tetras:

While Lemon Tetras are gentle in nature, their small size and fragility mean that they shouldn’t be housed with fish that are more dominant in size or temperament. It’s also important to remember that Lemon Tetra are lively fish that benefit from having companions of their own kind.

Tank conditions

To keep Lemon Tetras healthy and happy, it is important to provide them with the appropriate tank conditions. Since they are native to warmer climates, the ideal water temperature for their tank is between 72 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. The pH level should be kept at a neutral range of 6.0–7.5. Lemon Tetra is sensitive to water quality, so regular water changes are essential to maintain a clean and healthy environment.

They require a tank that can hold at least 10 gallons of water, but a tank that can hold more is preferable. Lemon Tetras can only develop to their full size and beauty potential when kept in ideal tank conditions.

They do best in a tank with low lighting and plenty of cover from plants and caves. They also do well in a planted aquarium with a sandy bottom. A variety of plants, as well as caves, rocks, or other decorations that offer concealment and safety, will be greatly appreciated.


Regarding diet, Lemon Tetras are considered omnivores, meaning they will consume both plant and animal-based foods. They eat small insects, worms, crustaceans, and plant matter in their natural habitat.

Flakes, pellets, frozen or freeze-dried bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia are all acceptable foods to feed them while they are in captivity. It’s also a good idea to include vegetables like blanched spinach, lettuce, or peas.

Lemon Tetras should be fed small, frequent meals throughout the day rather than just one or two large feedings. This is because they are small fish with small stomachs and cannot consume large amounts of food at once. Overfeeding can cause water pollution and health problems, so it’s critical to keep track of how much food they’re eating and adjust their feeding schedule accordingly.


When breeding Lemon Tetras, the novice aquarist may need help finding it. These fish can be challenging to breed in captivity because they require specific water conditions and a proper diet to reproduce.

To breed Lemon Tetras, you must create a breeding tank separate from the main tank. The breeding tank’s water should be slightly acidic, with a pH of 6.0-6.5, and the temperature should be between 72 and 78°F. It’s also critical to provide plenty of hiding spots and cover in the breeding tank so that the fish feel secure and are more likely to breed.

To encourage breeding, it’s important to feed the fish various foods, including live foods like brine shrimp, daphnia, and infusoria. When the fish reach breeding age, they form pairs and spawn in the early morning.

The eggs hatch in about 24 hours and the fry are free to swim in four to five days. Small amounts of infusoria, baby brine shrimp, or crushed flakes should be fed to the fry until they are large enough to eat adult food.


Lemon tetras are not particularly susceptible to diseases, and the general consensus is that they are hardy. It is essential, however, to keep the aquarium clean and healthy to prevent the spread of disease, as is the case with any fish. Ick, Fin Rot, and Columnaris are diseases that can affect Lemon Tetras. There are white spots all over an infected fish’s body, fins, and gills due to the parasitic infection known as Ich. The deterioration of a fish’s fins is called “Fin Rot,” caused by a bacterial infection. Columnaris is another bacterial infection that can cause white patches on the fish’s body and fins.

Keep your tank’s water quality at a high standard to avoid spreading these illnesses. Maintenance for Lemon Tetras consists of regular water changes, testing the water for pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels, and maintaining a stable temperature. Observe unusual behavior, a lack of appetite, or drowsiness as possible indicators of illness. If you see any of these signs, it’s best to quarantine the fish and consult a professional aquarist or veterinarian.

In addition, you should make sure that your Lemon Tetras are not being harassed by other fish or the conditions in their tank. Fish are more vulnerable to illness when stressed, which can be brought on by overcrowding, incompatible tankmates, or poor water quality. You can aid in keeping your Lemon Tetras happy and healthy by providing them with a healthy diet and habitat and keeping an eye on their overall health.


Jason Matthews

My name is Jason Matthews, and welcome to my website. When other kids were bragging about how their dog could sit and roll over, I was bragging about my latest Betta Fish and the cool sea castle I just added to his aquarium. 

Jason aquariume

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