Green Fire Tetra – Everything You Need to Know

Green Fire Tetra

Green Fire Tetra (Aphyocharax rathbuni) was on my wish list for a pretty long time. When I finally got my hands on a school of this fish, I was more than delighted. It differs from other tetra fish. Usually, tetras have blue, red, and silver coloration in their body. But Green Fire Tetra, as the name suggests, has a green hue to its body, which makes the Green Fire Tetra stand out from the various other tetra fish.

In this article, we will be dealing with all the information that you need to know to house Green Fire Tetra in your tank correctly. We will be dealing with the nature of the fish, its natural habitat, diet required, the size of the aquarium for the fish, the tank mates for the fish, and the water parameters for your fish to thrive on. And also, every other tiny detail that will aid you in keeping the Green Fire Tetra correctly and let it live it to its fullest in your tank.

Introduction To The Fish

Green Fire Tetras are a distinct species of the tetra family having a green hue to its body, which makes it stand out from the rest of the fish from the tetra family. It has a slender body with a translucent shade of green in almost all its body parts and has a little bit of red color towards its tail. The green color of the fish makes a perfect contrast with the green plants in the planted tank. And peaceful temperament of the fish makes it suitable as a tank mate with almost all fish from the tetra family.


Green Fire Tetras (Aphyocharax rathbuni) are South American tetras. They originate from the Paraguay region of South America and, to be precise – the freshwater basins of the Paraguay River basin of the South Americas. Green Fire Tetras are also widely distributed throughout the clear freshwaters of South America.

Fish Appearance

Green Fire Tetras have a slender body shape like most of the tetra fish. But the color of this fish differs from other tetra fish; it has a very distinctive translucent metallic greenish hue in its body and a splash of red color towards the anal fin region. Green Fire Tetras aren’t one of the biggest tetra fish and nor the smallest, and at its full maturity, it grows to about two inches (2″) in length.


You can easily find Green Fire Tetras abundantly on fish stores that specialize with tropical fish and also can be easily bought and delivered via the internet through different breeders.

Green Fire Tetras do not posses any threat to the natural fish nor disrupt the natural ecosystem, so you can legally keep Green Fire Tetras in almost every country of the world without any trouble.


Fish stores have priced Green Fire Tetras reasonably. Since it is readily available, you can get a pair of Green Fire Tetra for Five to Eight dollars (5$ – 8$) depending on the fish store, and as these fish are required to keep in a school of 6. And the group of 6 Green Fire Tetra is going to cost you up to 20$.

Life span

The life span of Green Fire Tetra varies quite a bit in the wild and captivity. This is due to the limited swimming space and the variation in their diet from the wild. In the wild, Green Fire Tetra can live for up to 6 years while in captivity, you can expect a life span of about 4 years.

Sexual Difference

Similar to other tetra fish, there is no surefire way of determining the sex of Green Fire Tetra. Still, a male green fire can be distinguished from the female Green Fire Tetra by the size of their body. Male fish tend to be slender and more pointed, and the female counterparts are usually rounder with the wider stomach. However, the color of the fish might also help you to distinguish the males from the females. Male Green Fire Tetras are brightly colored, and the green colors are shiny and bright while the female Green Fire Tetras are dull then the males. The green colors are not as dominant as in the male Green Fire Tetras.

Social Behaviors and Tank Mates

Green Fire Tetras are peaceful and do not tend to get aggressive towards other fish. However, it might sometimes attack the fins of fish with long veil fins. Green Fire Tetras are slow swimmers like betas and goldfish.

Choosing the correct tank mates for Green Fire Tetras is not that big of a job. You are good to put fish of similar size along with the Green Fire Tetras. Nothing can go wrong with a fish from the tetra family. Any fish from the tetra family will be good to go. However, fish like neon tetra, cardinal tetra might match the contrast with the fish and give you an extra point on the visual appeal.

For Green Fire Tetra, the tank mates are a priority, but you must keep them in a school (the group of fish is called school). So if you’re planning to keep Green Fire Tetra, you must have a school of at least Six Green Fire Tetra.

Fishkeeping Difficulty

Green Fire Tetras are relatively easy to keep. It does not require any particular water parameters, so providing it with constant water parameters and water temperature with adequate plants and swimming spaces with regular feeding should do the job. You can easily house a school of tetras without having to face any troubles if you take care of the water parameters.

Caring for the Green Fire Tetra

After you bring home your first school of Green Fire Tetras, there are somethings that you should keep in check. Things like the correct water temperature, hardness, aquascape of the tank, the plants, the size of the tank, the food you should feed them, and the interval of water changes.

For a healthy lifestyle, we as humans require various things from clean houses to live in and a healthy balanced diet. Similarly, for a fish to thrive in your aquarium, you should be able to provide your fish with clean water, the right foods, a constant parameter in the water in your tank, and spacious swimming space.

Imagine someone locked you up in a small room for the rest of your life. You would like it, would you? The same goes for the fish; the space that you provide for your fish also considers the wellbeing of your fish.

Size of the Fish Tank

The first and foremost thing you should consider before getting your fish it the size of the tank. Small tetra fish do fine in a smaller tank. But you will have more success in keeping your fish in a larger tank. A fish sized one inch should have two gallons of water equivalent for itself. For example, 6 fish of one-inch size should have a minimum of 12-gallon of free space in the tank.

A community tank requires a larger volume of water; thus, I recommend you to get a larger sized aquarium. Having a larger sized aquarium allows you to house a lot more fish and also has a very less chance of any adverse outcome as the water parameters take some time to change drastically in a larger volume of water.


Setting up the correct lights for the Green Fire Tetra can be quite confusing. The fish require dark spots to hide in and also need plenty of aquatic plants to swim through. So your best bet is to densely plant your tank so it provides the fish with plenty of hiding spots and provide enough light so the plants won’t die off light deficiency.

Decoration and Substrate

The best substrates for the Green Fire Tetra are the natural substrate from its origin. Since it is not easily available to everyone, we surely can try to replicate it in our tank. A darker shade of aquatic soil or sand will be the best choice for the substrate for the tank of Green Fire Tetra. A dark aquatic soil replicates its natural habitat and also provides the plants with required nutrition. So you can’t go wrong with a darker shade of aquatic soil.

Decorations in the tank are not as much as necessary as the choice substrate. Some pieces of hallow driftwoods can come quite handy as it allows fish to swim through it. You should plant plenty of aquatic plants with a lot of stems and large leaves throughout the tank.

Fish Diet

Green Fire Tetras are omnivorous and will feed on anything that fits their mount in nature. And they are also not that picky eater, so they accept a wide variety of food.

In the wild, they feed on small insects, dead plants, and small crustaceans. In your tank, you can feed your fish with pretty much anything, and they will accept it. The only thing you should consider is the nutritional value of the food and the size of the food, as these fish have a small mouth and cannot consume larger-sized food.

The uneaten food will pollute the water and, in-turn disrupts the balance in your tank and may result in different disease in your fish and decreased immunity in the fish. So only feed enough food that your fish will consume within 3 minutes and remove the remaining uneaten foods.

Maintain Water Quality

This is one of the most important and underrated processes in fish keeping. You should regularly change your water condition to keep your fish in a healthy condition. It is similar to maintaining hygiene in us human beings. A fish living in a good water condition will have better health and live longer than a fish living in poor water conditions.

The fish produce plenty of waste materials as they digest the food they feed on. After a while, the level of ammonia, nitrates, etc. tends to rise in the tank and cannot be filtered properly by your aquarium tank. Thus, changing some amount of water with fresh water maintains the parameters to normal and brings back the parameters to the normal level.

You can maintain the water quality with things you have laying around your house but here’s a list of things that makes your work a lot easier than it is:

  • Siphon
  • Gravel vacuum
  • Magnetic algae scrubber
  • Algae scrubber
  • pH reader

Water Temperature

Water temperature for most of the tropical fish falls under a similar range. The optimum water temperature for Green Fire Tetras is around 74°F – 78°F.

Water pH

Green Fire Tetras prefer to swim in slightly acidic water, so pH of around 6.6-7 will be optimum.


Water filtration is very important; it absorbs all the biological and mechanical waste and filters the water to give out clean water. Fish like Green Fire Tetra are small in size due to which a powerful mechanical filter would disturb its swimming pattern. Thus a filter with a gentle flow like hob or sponge filter with good biological filtration should be used.

Water Maintenance

I advise you to change 30% of the water every week or 15% of the water twice a week to maintain the proper water parameters. Water changes help a lot but, at the same time, scraping off the algae build-ups in the glass of the tank and checking the water pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate level now and then will ensure pristine water quality in your tank.

Green Fire Tetra Fish Disease

These fish have relatively good immunity and get infected very less. But sometimes due to poor water conditions, neglected water parameters, etc. their immunity gets low, and the chances of getting infected with various diseases get increased. Green Fire Tetra gets infected with ich disease and fin rot if the water quality is much degraded. If these conditions arise, you can try and cure it by doing a large water change and quickly trying to bring back the water parameters to its normal level.

Breading Green Fire Tetra Fish

Breeding Green Fire Tetra can be a lot of fun. It is not as hard as you think. You will require a separate tank if you want to breed successfully. You will have to set up the breeding tank water parameters slightly differently. I usually prefer to raise the water temperature by 2°F – 4°F. Using freshwater also encourages the fish to breed. You can also get an increased survival rate of fry by adding a lot of live plants.

Preparing the breeding pair of fish has found to be more likely to breed. Placing a couple of female egg carrying with a male Green Fire Tetra in the tank should do the job. They breed on their own and usually do so in the night time. You should place the tank in a darker place. The male fish tend to chase the female fish until it lays its egg on a flat smooth surface, and then the male fish fertilizes the eggs. I prefer to remove the parents after the breeding process is done as it allows the egg to be on its own. It takes about 36 hours for the fry to hatch out of the egg.

Care For The Fry

When the fish fry hatch out of the eggs, they are tiny. DO not feed the fish fry right away as they will be carrying food on their belly. Feed them only once they swim freely.

Fish fry has a high metabolism rate, so feed your fish fry with high protein content food that is easily digestible, which promotes its fast growth. Foods like baby brine shrimp should be fed to the newly hatched fry.


These are the things that you should keep in mind to make your fish keeping easy. If you are going to get the fish after knowing everything that it requires, the job is a lot easier and will make your fish keeping less stressful.


Image Credit: Green Fire Tetra –

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