Hemigrammus pulcher or the Garnet tetra is a lovely little tetra. It is popular with fish enthusiasts since it is a sturdy breed that is an excellent addition to a novice hobbyist’s tank.

This species delights aquarists since it is a lively, peaceful community fish and inexpensive, too. A group of these active, copper-toned fish makes a beautiful display in your community tank as they glitter in the light.

This guide has put together all the information you may need to help you care for the Garnet tetra. Read on to learn how to set up the tank, feed this species, and the best way to prepare them for breeding.


Scientific name Hemigrammus pulcher
Common name(s) Garnet Tetra – also known as Pretty Tetra; Black Wedge Tetra
Family Characidae
Origin South America
Care Easy
Temperament Calm, shoaling fish
Lifespan Up to 2 years
Adult size 1.2 inches
Diet Omnivorous
Aquarium size 24 inches or larger
Compatible with Barbs, Danios, Guppies and other livebearers, other Tetras, dwarf cichlids, smaller Gouramis, catfish, and loaches
Avoid keeping with Large, aggressive fish
Breeding Easy

Origin and Habitat of Hemigrammus pulcher

Hemigrammus pulcher, also called the “Pretty tetra,” belongs to the Characidae family. Their native habitat is in South America, where it lives in slow-moving streams in the forest.


The Hemigrammus pulcher has a deep, disc-shaped body. As they move around under the lights, the color of this dainty fish changes from violet to copper. The belly is much paler or even yellow sometimes. Also known as the Black Wedge tetra, this species has two bright garnet patches, one behind the gill cover and the other between the dorsal and adipose fins.

The Garnet tetra has a brilliant red iris. Their fins are transparent, while the dorsal fin is large and tall. This species will grow from 1.5 to 2 inches in the tank, and its life expectancy is about two years.

The Hemigrammus Pulcher looks best in a well-planted and dimly lit aquarium where its colors pop up!

Hemigrammus Pulcher Care

The Hemigrammus pulcher sold in pet shops or online are captive bred, so they adapt well to living in most tanks. The Pretty Tetra is a schooling fish, and it would be best to have a group of at least six fish, though ten or more fish is even better. You could even set up a biotope tank if you like.

Since the Garnet Tetra is a shoaling species, we suggest a minimum tank size of 15 gallons or 24 inches long or more, so your group of fish can swim around freely. Hemigrammus pulcher are a rainforest species and live in rivers with dense vegetation, so a shaded and well-planted tank would be ideal. Be sure to leave open areas for the fish to move around.

Having plenty of plants in the aquarium is essential. It will allow your Garnet Wedge tetra to establish their territory as well as protect them from predators. However, it is advisable not to keep these tiny fish in a tank with any aggressive species as they are very timid.

Start with a substrate of river sand and add a few driftwood branches and twisted roots. Add some floating and naturally decomposing Indian Almond leaves. The floating leaves will provide shaded areas for the Pretty Tetra, while the tannins from the decomposing leaves will create the natural “blackwater” environment of the Garnet Tetra.

Once the wood and leaves have stained the water to the color of weak tea, replace the old leaves with new ones every few weeks to prevent them from rotting and polluting the water. Hemigrammus pulcher prefers lower pH levels, so you can add a small net bag filled with aquarium-safe peat to the filter to maintain the softness and acidity of the water.

The Garnet Tetra prefers the middle area of the aquarium. It is vital to get a close-fitting top on the aquarium. Otherwise, your fish will likely jump out, as it’s a natural jumper.

– Water parameters for Hemigrammus pulcher

Garnet Tetras are happiest in relatively neutral or acidic water.

  • Temperature range                 72 to 82 F
  • pH                                           5.0 to 7.0
  • Hardness                                 12 dGH

We suggest you use a peat filter for your tank when keeping Black Wedge Tetras.

– Hemigrammus Pulcher Diet

Hemigrammus pulcher is not a picky eater. They are primarily omnivores and micro predators and eat aquatic insect larvae, worms, small crustaceans, and plants in their natural habitat.

In the tank, they will accept dried flakes, granules or micropellets. We suggest including live and frozen foods such as brine shrimp, mosquito larvae, daphnia, and bloodworm for a well-balanced diet.

Hemigrammus Pulcher Tank Mates

Hemigrammus pulcher is a very peaceful and active tetra that does well in a community aquarium. It will make a good tank mate for most livebearers, danios, rasboras, and other tetras. Some compatible tank mates are:

  • Characins
  • Small catfish
  • Loaches
  • Rasbora
  • Danios
  • Angelfish
  • Dwarf cichlids
  • Gouramis.

The Garnet tetra can also live in a tank with peaceful bottom dwellers such as smaller Loricariids or Corydoras since it likes the middle areas of the aquarium. These fish are quite timid, so keeping them with larger or more robust species is not wise.

If you have a biotope tank, you could populate it with Hemigrammus pulcher, other Hemigrammus or Hyphessobrycon species, as well as pencil fish and Apistogramma dwarf cichlids.

– Sexing Hemigrammus Pulcher

It is easy to tell the male and female adult Garnet Tetras apart as the male is generally smaller and slimmer than the female. When these fish are ready to breed, the copper-red color in the male’s anal fin becomes more intense. The female’s abdomen becomes enlarged when she is carrying eggs.

The Pretty tetra’s skin is somewhat translucent, so it is possible to see the swim bladder. The male’s swim bladder is pointed while, while that of the female is rounded.

Breeding Hemigrammus Pulcher

Breeding Hemigrammus pulcher is relatively straightforward. You can spawn them in a group, with four or six of each sex. Offer them plenty of small live foods such as baby brine shrimp, bloodworm or mosquito larvae, or bloodworm to condition them for spawning.

Another method is to spawn them in pairs. Keep the males and females in separate tanks for conditioning. When you see the females are full of eggs, choose the plumpest female and the male with the brightest coloring and move them to the spawning tank in the evening. They usually spawn in the early morning.

– Preparing the Spawning Tank

A 10-gallons or 18 x 10 x 10 inches tank is quite suitable. Fill it with soft and acidic water with a pH between 5.0 to 6.0 and a temperature around 80 to 84 F. You will need to put fine-leaved plants such as java moss for the Garnet tetra to lay their eggs. Alternatively, use a spawning mop or a mesh large enough so the eggs can fall through it but fine enough so the adults can’t reach the eggs.

Keep the tank dimly lit and use a small air-powered sponge filter for gentle movement.

The female will swim vigorously amongst the plants to lay her eggs. The male will either swim next to her or behind her, fertilizing the eggs. The female may lay up to 200 eggs during spawning. These will either stick to the plants or sink to the bottom of the tank.

Once spawning is complete, gently remove the adults from the tank; otherwise, they may eat the eggs.

– Caring For The Fry

The eggs will hatch typically within twenty-four to thirty-six hours, depending on the tank temperature. The fry will become free-swimming in two to three days. We suggest keeping the tank as dark as possible for the first week because Tetra eggs and fry are very sensitive to light.

Initially, the newly hatched fry will feed on their yolk sac but, once they are free-swimming, you can feed them infusoria. Although the fry may appear quite active immediately after hatching, they will soon go into a resting state before they become free-swimming. Four days after they are free swimming, you can add baby brine shrimp to their diet.

Once the fry is larger, you can transfer them to the community tank. It is crucial to balance the water temperatures before moving the young fish into the community tank to reduce the risk of White Spot or other diseases.


Hemigrammus pulcher is appropriately called the “Pretty tetra” because of their lovely copper color. This species is ideal for beginner aquarists.

  • They are a lively, peaceful community fish
  • This species is hardy
  • The Pretty tetra has a brilliant red iris
  • They are not fussy eaters
  • Small live foods will maintain their health and enhance their coloring
  • The female can lay up to 200 eggs
  • The fry go into a resting state after hatching

If you are looking for a tiny, sturdy breed to add to your dimly lit and planted community aquarium, we hope you consider the gentle Pretty tetra.

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