The Popular Lemon Tetra
The Lemon tetra - Hyphessobrycon pulchripinnis - is very popular with tropical fish hobbyists. It is a very small fish, rarely if ever exceeding 1.5 inches in length. In fact the record size for a Lemon tetra measured in the wild is exactly 1.5 inches. A few have been known to grow slightly larger when in captivity. Most Lemon tetras weight slightly over 1 gram. It is a colorful little fish, it rarely bothers other fish that may reside in the same aquarium, and it can be placed in with any type of fish that isn't apt to eat it.
The Lemon tetra is native to one of the tributaries of the Amazon River and is found nowhere else in the world. It is almost always observed in schools, some of which can be quite large in size, numbering in the hundreds, and in some cases in the thousands. Having others of its kind nearby keeps the Lemon tetra in its comfort zone and it is recommended that if you plan to have add a Lemon tetra to your aquarium you should get at least a half dozen of them. The aquarium of course needs to be sufficiently large to accommodate a half-dozen or more fish even though they are quite small.
Safety In Numbers - Small enough to be threatened by numerous predators the Lemon tetra finds safety in numbers, as when a predator approaches the school of tetras will swim and thrash about in unpredictable patterns, making it very difficult for the predator to stay focused on any one fish. A single Lemon tetra, or even two or three in as aquarium will probably feel insecure and quite stressed and may become quite shy, even if no other types of fish are present. A half-dozen or more of these fish will make an aquarium their home and spend much of the time swimming around at a medium depth or near the surface. Tetras like an aquarium habitat featuring plenty of plant life, but do need an open space for swimming around.
Food And Water - The Lemon tetra is not particularly fussy in its feeding habits. Although it does have a preference for blood worms, it will get along just fine on a diet of tropical fish flakes. It doesn't mind a little variety in its diet however.
Lemon tetras are not overly fussy about the water they are kept in though it needs to be kept filtered and clean. The pH can range anywhere from 5.5 to 8.0 and the fish, whose native habitat is a hot and humid region of Brazil, is usually quite content if its aquarium water is kept at room temperature or slightly higher, a range of 73 to 83 degrees being about right.
Notable Characteristics - The shape of the Lemon tetra is similar to other tetras except it is perhaps not quite as narrow. It has a translucent body which is a pale yellow in color. The front fins are a brighter lemon yellow, and the other fins are black. A very noticeable characteristic of the Lemon tetra is the bright red color of the upper half of the eye.
Breeding - The Lemon tetra is a prolific breeder, but to have any luck both sexes of course have to be represented in the school, with at least one male being present. It is virtually impossible to tell the sexes apart. The female of the species is often a bit smaller, but not all that much. The best way, and sometimes the only way to find out if a Lemon tetra is a female is once she starts filling with eggs she will become noticeably wider than her tank-mates.
While not as large and dazzling as many other tropical fish, the Lemon tetra is nevertheless attractive and having a school of them can be quite entertaining.