Lemon Tetra Care: Tank Setup, Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases & More!

If you’re looking for a colorful and peaceful addition to your aquarium, the Lemon Tetra is an excellent choice. These small, bright yellow fish are easy to care for and can be kept in groups of six or more. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Lemon Tetra care, from tank setup to feeding and breeding.

Lemon Tetras require a tank size of at least 20 gallons, water temperature between 75-82°F, and a pH range of 6.0-7.5. They are omnivores and need a varied diet of high-quality flakes or pellets, as well as occasional live or frozen foods. They are peaceful and should be kept in schools of at least 6 individuals. They also require hiding places and a well-planted aquarium.

When I first added Lemon Tetras to my aquarium, I was immediately struck by their vibrant color and playful personalities.

Over time, I learned that these fish are not only beautiful, but also hardy and adaptable.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced hobbyist, you’ll find that Lemon Tetras are a great choice for any community tank. So let’s dive in and explore the world of Lemon Tetra care!

Lemon Tetra Care 2

Species Summary


The Lemon Tetra (Hyphessobrycon pulchripinnis) is a small freshwater fish that originates from the Amazon basin in South America. They are commonly found in slow-moving streams and tributaries with dense vegetation.


On average, Lemon Tetras have a lifespan of 3-5 years in captivity. However, with proper care, they can live up to 7 years.


The Lemon Tetra has a bright yellow body with a silver iridescent stripe that runs from its head to its tail.

They have a small black spot on their dorsal fin, which distinguishes them from other tetra species. Males are generally more colorful and have longer fins than females.


Lemon Tetras are small fish, growing up to 1.5 inches in length. They are ideal for small aquariums and can be kept in groups of 6 or more.

Growth Rate

Lemon Tetras have a moderate growth rate and can reach their full size within a year.

Behavior & Temperament

Lemon Tetras are peaceful and sociable fish that thrive in groups. They are active swimmers and enjoy exploring their surroundings.

They are compatible with other small and peaceful fish, but may become aggressive towards their own species if kept in small groups.

Male vs Female

Males are generally more colorful and have longer fins than females. Females are slightly larger and have a rounder belly.

Personal Anecdote: I have kept Lemon Tetras in my aquarium for several years and have found them to be a joy to watch. They are always active and playful, and their bright yellow color adds a beautiful pop of color to my tank.

Tank Setup

When it comes to setting up a tank for Lemon Tetras, there are a few key factors to consider to ensure that your fish thrive in their new environment. Here are some important things to keep in mind:

Tank Size

The minimum tank size for a small school of Lemon Tetras is 20 gallons. However, if you want to keep a larger group, you’ll need a bigger tank.

A 40-gallon tank is a good size for a school of 10-12 fish. Remember, the more space your fish have, the happier and healthier they will be.


Lemon Tetras don’t require any special lighting requirements. A standard aquarium light will do just fine. However, it’s important to ensure that the light doesn’t overheat the water, as this can be harmful to your fish.

Filtration & Aeration

Good filtration and aeration are crucial for a healthy tank environment.

A hang-on-back filter is a good option for a Lemon Tetra tank, as it provides good water circulation and filtration. Aeration can be provided by an air stone or a bubble wand, which will help to oxygenate the water.


Lemon Tetras require a water temperature of around 75-80°F. A good quality heater is essential to maintain a consistent temperature in the tank. Make sure to choose a heater that is appropriate for the size of your tank.


A fine gravel or sand substrate is ideal for a Lemon Tetra tank. This will allow the fish to forage for food and create a natural-looking environment. Avoid using sharp or jagged gravel, as this can damage your fish.


Adding some decorations to your tank can help to create a natural-looking environment for your Lemon Tetras. Driftwood, rocks, and caves are all good options. Just make sure to avoid any decorations with sharp edges that could harm your fish.


Lemon Tetras enjoy having plenty of plants in their tank. Live plants not only provide a natural look but also help to oxygenate the water and provide hiding places for your fish.

Some good plant options for a Lemon Tetra tank include Java Moss, Anubias, and Amazon Sword.

I’ve found that setting up a tank for Lemon Tetras can be a fun and rewarding experience. Just make sure to keep these key factors in mind to ensure that your fish are happy and healthy.

Water Quality

Water Temperature

Maintaining the right water temperature is crucial for the health of your Lemon Tetras. The ideal water temperature for these fish is between 72-82°F.

Keeping the water temperature within this range will ensure that your fish are comfortable and thrive in their environment.

Water pH

The pH level of your tank water is also important for the health of your Lemon Tetras. The ideal pH range for these fish is between 6.0-7.5.

Maintaining the correct pH level will help your fish stay healthy and prevent stress-related illnesses.

Water Hardness

Lemon Tetras prefer soft to moderately hard water. The ideal water hardness range for these fish is between 4-12 dGH.

If your water is too hard, consider using a water softener or adding driftwood to the tank to help lower the hardness level.

Water Changes

Regular water changes are essential for maintaining good water quality in your tank. You should aim to change 25% of the water in your tank every two weeks. This will help remove any harmful toxins and keep the water clean and clear.

It’s important to note that sudden changes in water temperature, pH, or hardness can be stressful for your fish and can even be fatal. When making any changes to your tank water, do so gradually over a period of several days.

I once made the mistake of changing the water in my Lemon Tetra tank too quickly, and it caused my fish to become stressed and sick.

Since then, I’ve learned the importance of making changes slowly and carefully to keep my fish healthy and happy.


What To Feed

When it comes to feeding your Lemon Tetra fish, you have a few options. They are omnivorous, meaning they eat both plant and animal matter.

You can feed them a combination of flakes, pellets, and frozen foods. It’s important to make sure the food is high-quality and specifically designed for tetras.

I recommend feeding them a variety of foods, including:

  • High-quality flakes or pellets
  • Frozen or live brine shrimp
  • Frozen or live bloodworms
  • Daphnia


Lemon Tetras should be fed 2-3 times a day, but in small amounts. Overfeeding can cause health problems and pollute the water. A good rule of thumb is to only feed your fish what they can consume in 2-3 minutes.


Here are a few tips to keep in mind when feeding your Lemon Tetras:

  • Don’t forget to vary their diet – this will ensure they get all the necessary nutrients.
  • If you’re going to be away for a few days, consider using an automatic feeder.
  • Avoid feeding them too much at once – this can cause digestive issues.
  • Keep an eye on the water quality – overfeeding can cause ammonia and nitrate levels to rise, which can be harmful to your fish.

I’ve found that my Lemon Tetras are particularly fond of frozen bloodworms. Whenever I add them to the tank, the fish go crazy! It’s always fun to watch them dart around, trying to get their share of the food. Just remember to only give them a small amount at a time.

Tank Maintenance

Maintaining a clean and healthy environment for your Lemon Tetras is essential to their well-being. Here are a few tips to keep your tank in top condition:

  • Regular water changes: You should aim to change 25% of your tank water every two weeks. This will help to remove any excess waste and debris that could harm your fish. Don’t forget to use a water conditioner to remove any harmful chemicals from your tap water.
  • Vacuum the substrate: The substrate in your tank can harbor a lot of waste, so it’s important to vacuum it regularly. Use a siphon to remove any debris that has settled on the bottom of your tank.
  • Clean the filter: Your filter is responsible for removing waste and debris from the water, so it’s important to keep it clean. Rinse the filter media in a bucket of tank water to remove any excess debris, and replace it every 4-6 weeks.
  • Check the temperature: Lemon Tetras thrive in water that is between 72-82°F. Use a thermometer to check the temperature regularly and adjust your heater as necessary.
  • Test your water: It’s important to test your water regularly to ensure that the pH, ammonia, and nitrate levels are within safe ranges. You can use a test kit to do this, and adjust your water chemistry as necessary.

Personally, I’ve found that following these maintenance tips has helped me keep my Lemon Tetras healthy and happy. By staying on top of tank maintenance, you can ensure that your fish have the best possible environment to thrive in.

Tank Mates

If you’re planning on keeping Lemon Tetras, it’s important to consider their tank mates carefully. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Compatible Fish Species

Lemon Tetras are generally peaceful fish that get along well with other peaceful community fish. Some good tank mates for Lemon Tetras include:

  • Corydoras Catfish
  • Dwarf Gourami
  • Neon Tetras
  • Harlequin Rasboras
  • Cherry Barbs

Incompatible Fish Species

While Lemon Tetras are generally peaceful, they can become aggressive towards smaller fish. It’s best to avoid keeping them with fish that are too small or too slow-moving.

Some fish species that are not compatible with Lemon Tetras include:

  • Shrimp
  • Snails
  • Guppies
  • Bettas

How Many Lemon Tetras Should Be Together

Lemon Tetras are schooling fish, which means they should be kept in groups of at least 6-8 individuals. Keeping them in smaller groups can cause stress and aggression among the fish. It’s important to provide enough space in the tank for the entire school to swim comfortably.

Lemon Tetra Care

Personally, I have had success keeping Lemon Tetras with Corydoras Catfish and Harlequin Rasboras. They all get along well and create a beautiful and peaceful community tank. Remember to always research and carefully consider the compatibility of any fish species before adding them to your tank.

Common Diseases

Lemon Tetras are hardy fish that can live up to 5 years with proper care. However, they are still susceptible to various diseases. In this section, we will discuss some of the most common diseases that Lemon Tetras can get, their symptoms, treatment, and prevention.


  1. Ich (White Spot Disease) – This is a common disease among freshwater fish, including Lemon Tetras. It is caused by a parasite that attaches itself to the fish’s skin and gills. Ich appears as small white spots on the fish’s body, fins, and gills.
  2. Fin Rot – This disease is caused by bacteria that attack the fish’s fins and tail. It can be caused by poor water quality or injuries. Symptoms include frayed fins, discoloration, and a loss of appetite.
  3. Dropsy – This is a bacterial infection that causes the fish’s body to swell. It is often fatal and can be caused by poor water quality or stress.


  1. Ich – White spots on the fish’s body, fins, and gills, rubbing against objects in the aquarium, and a loss of appetite.
  2. Fin Rot – Frayed fins, discoloration, and a loss of appetite.
  3. Dropsy – Swollen body, scales that stick out, and a loss of appetite.


  1. Ich – Increase the temperature of the aquarium to 86°F (30°C) for 3 days, add aquarium salt, and treat with an anti-parasitic medication.
  2. Fin Rot – Improve water quality, remove any damaged fins, and treat with an antibiotic medication.
  3. Dropsy – Isolate the sick fish, improve water quality, and treat with an antibiotic medication.


  1. Ich – Quarantine new fish before adding them to the aquarium, maintain good water quality, and avoid overfeeding.
  2. Fin Rot – Maintain good water quality, avoid overcrowding, and provide a balanced diet.
  3. Dropsy – Maintain good water quality, avoid overfeeding, and avoid stressing the fish.

I once had a Lemon Tetra that developed Ich. I noticed the white spots on its body and fins and immediately isolated it from the rest of the fish.

I increased the temperature of the aquarium and added some aquarium salt. After a few days, I treated it with an anti-parasitic medication, and it made a full recovery.

It’s essential to keep a close eye on your fish and take action immediately if you notice any signs of illness.

Signs of a Healthy Lemon Tetra

When caring for your Lemon Tetra, it is important to know the signs of a healthy fish. Here are a few things to look out for:

1. Active Swimming

A healthy Lemon Tetra will be active and swim around their aquarium. They will not be lethargic or sit at the bottom of the tank. If you notice your fish is not swimming as much as usual, it could be a sign of illness.

2. Bright Colors

Lemon Tetras are known for their vibrant yellow color. A healthy fish will have a bright and consistent color throughout their body. If you notice any fading or discoloration, it could be a sign of stress or illness.

3. Clear Eyes

A healthy Lemon Tetra will have clear, bright eyes that are not cloudy or bulging. If you notice any abnormalities with their eyes, it could be a sign of infection or disease.

4. Healthy Fins

A healthy Lemon Tetra will have fins that are intact and not frayed or torn. If you notice any damage to their fins, it could be a sign of poor water quality or aggressive tank mates.

5. Normal Breathing

A healthy Lemon Tetra will have normal breathing patterns. They should not be gasping for air at the surface of the water or breathing rapidly. If you notice any irregular breathing, it could be a sign of poor water quality or illness.

Personal Anecdote:

I remember when I first got my Lemon Tetra, I was so worried about keeping it healthy. I would constantly check on it and make sure it was swimming around and eating well.

One day, I noticed that it wasn’t as active as usual and its fins were looking a little frayed. I immediately tested the water quality and found that the levels were off.

After doing a water change and adding some aquarium salt, my Lemon Tetra was back to its healthy and active self. It’s important to always keep an eye out for any signs of illness or stress in your fish to ensure they stay healthy and happy.

Signs Your Lemon Tetra is Sick

If you’re a new fish owner, it can be challenging to identify when your Lemon Tetra is sick. Here are some signs to look out for:

  1. Lethargy: If your Lemon Tetra is inactive and doesn’t swim around as it usually does, it may be a sign of illness.
  2. Loss of Appetite: If your Lemon Tetra is not eating, it may be a sign of illness.
  3. Faded Colors: If the colors of your Lemon Tetra are dull or faded, it may be a sign of illness.
  4. Erratic Swimming: If your Lemon Tetra is swimming erratically or struggling to swim, it may be a sign of illness.
  5. Gasping for Air: If your Lemon Tetra is gasping for air at the surface of the water, it may be a sign of illness.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s essential to take action quickly. You can start by checking the water parameters and ensuring they’re within the acceptable range.

If the water parameters are correct, you may need to quarantine the Lemon Tetra and treat it with medication.

I once had a Lemon Tetra that showed signs of lethargy and loss of appetite. I immediately quarantined it and treated it with medication.

After a few days, it started swimming around and eating again. It’s crucial to act fast and provide the necessary care to ensure the health and well-being of your Lemon Tetra.


Breeding Lemon Tetras can be a fun and rewarding experience. In this section, we’ll cover everything you need to know to successfully breed these beautiful fish.

Breeding Setup

Before you start breeding, you’ll need to set up a breeding tank. This tank should be at least 10 gallons and have a sponge filter to provide gentle filtration. You’ll also need to provide plenty of hiding places for the fish, such as plants, rocks, and caves.

How To Breed

To breed Lemon Tetras, you’ll need to start by selecting a breeding pair. Look for a male and female that are healthy and active.

Once you’ve selected your pair, you’ll need to condition them by feeding them a high-quality diet of live or frozen foods.

To encourage breeding, you’ll need to raise the temperature of the tank to around 78°F and provide a spawning mop or breeding cone for the fish to lay their eggs on. The eggs will hatch in about 24-36 hours, and the fry will become free-swimming in about 5-7 days.


After the eggs hatch, you’ll need to provide the fry with plenty of small, live foods such as infusoria and baby brine shrimp. You’ll also need to perform frequent water changes to keep the water clean and healthy for the fry.

As the fry grow, you can start feeding them larger foods such as crushed flakes and small pellets. Eventually, they will be large enough to join the main tank with the adult fish.

Personal Anecdote: When I first started breeding Lemon Tetras, I was nervous about the process. But with a little research and some trial and error, I was able to successfully breed and raise a healthy batch of fry. It was a rewarding experience that I’ll never forget.

Remember, breeding fish takes patience and dedication. But with the right setup and care, you can successfully breed Lemon Tetras and enjoy watching the next generation of these beautiful fish grow and thrive.

Product recommendations for Lemon Tetra:

  1. TetraMin Plus Tropical Flakes: These flakes are specially formulated for tropical fish and contain high levels of protein and other essential nutrients for healthy growth and vibrant coloration.
  2. Aqueon Aquarium Water Changer: This handy tool makes water changes a breeze and can help maintain a healthy environment for your Lemon Tetras.
  3. Seachem Flourish Excel: This liquid fertilizer can provide your Lemon Tetras with essential nutrients and help promote healthy plant growth in your aquarium.
  4. API Aquarium Test Kit: Regular water testing is crucial for maintaining a healthy environment for your Lemon Tetras, and this test kit can help you monitor the levels of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate in your tank.
  5. Hydor Koralia Nano Aquarium Circulation Pump: This compact and efficient pump can help improve water circulation in your aquarium and provide your fish with a more natural environment.
  6. Zoo Med Laboratories AquaSun LED Aquarium Hood: This energy-efficient LED hood can provide ample lighting for your Lemon Tetra tank and help promote healthy plant growth.
  7. Seachem Prime: This water conditioner can help remove harmful chemicals from tap water and make it safe for your Lemon Tetras.
  8. CaribSea Eco-Complete Planted Aquarium Substrate: This substrate is specifically designed for planted aquariums and can provide a natural-looking environment for your Lemon Tetras.
  9. Omega One Freeze Dried Bloodworms: This tasty treat can provide your Lemon Tetras with a high-quality source of protein and help promote healthy growth and coloration.


In conclusion, taking care of Lemon Tetras is not a difficult task, but it requires attention and dedication. By following the tips and guidelines mentioned in this article, you can ensure that your Lemon Tetras live a long and healthy life.

Remember to always provide a clean and spacious environment for your fish, with appropriate water conditions and suitable tank mates. Keep an eye on their behavior and feeding habits, and adjust accordingly.

Personally, I have found that adding a few live plants to the tank not only enhances the aesthetic appeal but also provides a natural habitat for the fish. It’s a win-win situation!

Lastly, don’t forget to enjoy the company of your Lemon Tetras. These little fish have unique personalities and can bring a lot of joy to your life. So sit back, relax, and watch your Lemon Tetras thrive!


What should I feed my Lemon Tetra?

You should feed your Lemon Tetra a variety of high-quality flake, pellet, and frozen foods. Their diet should include a mix of protein-rich foods such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, and daphnia, as well as vegetable matter like spirulina flakes and algae wafers. It’s important to avoid overfeeding your fish as this can lead to health problems and poor water quality.

How often should I change the water in my Lemon Tetra tank?

You should aim to change 25-50% of the water in your Lemon Tetra tank every week. This will help to maintain good water quality and prevent the buildup of harmful toxins like ammonia and nitrite. It’s also important to use a good quality water conditioner to remove chlorine and other chemicals from tap water before adding it to your tank.

How many Lemon Tetras can I keep in my tank?

Lemon Tetras are small fish, growing to a maximum size of around 2 inches. As a general rule, you should aim to keep no more than 1 inch of fish per gallon of water in your tank. This means that a 20-gallon tank could comfortably house around 10-15 Lemon Tetras.

Do Lemon Tetras need a heater?

Yes, Lemon Tetras are tropical fish and require a water temperature of around 76-82°F. It’s important to use a good quality aquarium heater to maintain a stable water temperature in your tank.

What kind of tank setup do Lemon Tetras need?

Lemon Tetras are peaceful fish that prefer a well-planted aquarium with plenty of hiding places. They also appreciate a gentle water flow and a dark substrate to bring out their vibrant colors. It’s important to provide good filtration and regular water changes to maintain good water quality in your tank.

Personal Anecdote

I once had a Lemon Tetra that was particularly fond of frozen bloodworms. Every time I fed him, he would dart around the tank and eagerly gobble up as many bloodworms as he could. It was always a joy to watch him eat, and he quickly became one of my favorite fish in the tank.

Reference: Wikipedia.


Hi there! My name is Jacob, and I'm the founder of this Pet people blog that talks all about aquarium and fishkeeping. I've been passionate about fish and aquatic life since I was a kid, and I've spent countless hours learning about different species, their habitats, and how to create the perfect environment for them to thrive in.

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