Emperor Tetra

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Nematobrycon palmeri - Eigemann, 1911
Emperor Tetra

A species that may require extra care and feeding initially, this is an elegant schooling fish with an unusual three-pronged tail. JJPhoto.dk


The Emperor Tetra is a very handsome fish and a favorite of tetra enthusiasts. In the male, there is an extended black ray that runs horizontally to the end of a tail that resembles a three-pronged fork or trident. Newly imported fish in less-than-top condition may require careful feeding and conditioning time in a quarantine tank to restore their strength.

Family: Characidae

Other common name(s):

  • Rainbow Tetra

Native range:

Habitat: Emperor Tetras prefer dense vegetation and subdued lighting. A dark substrate and background will go a long way toward making them feel at home.

Maximum length: 5 cm (2 in)

Minimum aquarium size: 76 L (20 gal)

Water: Freshwater 22 °C (72 °F) - 26 °C (79 °F)

General swimming level: Midwater.


Omnivore. Nematobrycon palmeri will readily accept flake, freeze-dried and frozen meaty foods. Live foods, such as Daphnia and brine shrimp, are especially relished. Herbivore flakes containing Spirulina and color-enhancing rations should be offered regularly.

Aquarium Compatibility

Although somewhat territorial, the Emperor Tetra is a relatively hardy, peaceful species that should not be combined with more active species and makes a good community tank resident. Keep only one male with two or more females. Males may establish territories and pick on non-spawning females.


Scatters eggs in fine-leaved plants. Not easy to spawn.


They will thrive in even moderately hard water as long there are regular water changes. Provide them lots of swimming room to stretch their fins.

Reference: 101 Best Tropical Fishes
Image credit: JJ
Text credit: KW