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Hyphessobrycon amandae GÉRY & UJ, 1987

Ember Tetra


Hyphessobrycon: from the Ancient Greek υπελάσσων (hyphesson), meaning ‘of lesser stature’, and used as a prefix in this case, plus the generic name Brycon.



Order: Characiformes Family: Characidae


Type locality is ‘Rio das Mortes, some 100 km before its confluence with the Braço Maior of the Rio Araguaia (the western border of the Isla do Bananal). State of Mato Grosso.’

The das Mortes is a principal tributary of the Araguaia, itself the major affluent of the rio Tocantins within the lower Amazon basin in central and western Brazil, although the full range of H. amandae within the Araguaia system is unclear.


Little information appears to exist but presumably inhabits minor tributaries, backwaters and oxbow lakes rather than main river channels.

In the Araguaia drainage such habitats typically contain soft, weakly acidic water with the substrate covered by a layer of fallen leaves and branches.

Maximum Standard Length

15 – 20 mm.

Aquarium SizeTop ↑

Aquarium base dimensions of at least 45 ∗ 30 cm or equivalent are suggested.


Should ideally be kept in a heavily-planted set-up, preferably with a dark substrate.

Floating plants are a useful addition as are driftwood branches and dried leaf litter, the latter in particular driving establishment of microbe colonies as decomposition occurs.

Such microorganisms can provide a valuable secondary food source for fry, whilst the tannins and other chemicals released by the decaying leaves are also thought beneficial.

Filtration need only be gentle with an air-powered sponge-style unit normally adequate, although a degree of water movement is acceptable.

Water Conditions

Temperature20 – 28 °C

pH5.0 – 7.0

Hardness18 – 179 ppm


Probably a micropredator feeding on tiny invertebrates and other zooplankton in nature.

In the aquarium it will accept dried foods of a suitable size but should also be offered daily meals of small live and frozen fare such as Artemia nauplii, Moina, grindal worm, etc.

Behaviour and CompatibilityTop ↑

Very peaceful and will not  compete well with very boisterous or much larger tankmates.

In a community it’s best kept with similarly-sized, peaceful characids, smaller callichthyid or loricariid catfishes and sedate surface-dwellers such as hatchetfishes.

It also makes an ideal dither fish for Apistogramma spp. and other dwarf cichlids since  it tends to inhabit the middle-to-upper regions of the tank, and does not normally hunt fry.

In a more general community set-up it can be combined with smaller rasboras, barbs, anabantoids, etc.

It’s gregarious and naturally forms schools meaning a minimum of 8-10 specimens is the recommended purchase since the fish will be less shy and display more interesting behaviour.

Sexual Dimorphism

Adult males are more intensely-coloured, especially when in spawning condition, while females are noticeably rounder-bodied.


An egg-scattering free spawner exhibiting no parental care.

When in good condition adults will spawn often and in a mature aquarium it’s possible that small numbers of fry may start to appear without intervention.

However if you want to maximise yield a more controlled approach is required.

The adult group can still be conditioned together but a smaller aquarium should also be set up and filled with mature water.

This should be very dimly lit and the base covered with some kind of mesh of a large enough grade so that the eggs can fall through but small enough so that the adults cannot reach them.

The widely available plastic ‘grass’-type matting can also be used and works well, as does a layer of glass marbles.

Alternatively filling much of the tank with a fine-leaved plant such as Taxiphyllum spp. or spawning mops can also return decent results.

The water itself should be of slightly acidic to neutral pH with a temperature towards the upper end of the range suggested above.

An air-powered sponge filter or air stone(s) should also be included to provide oxygenation and water movement.

When the adult fish are well-conditioned a single pair or group comprising one or two males and several females can then be introduced to each container and left in place for 2-3 days before being removed, shortly after which and the first fry should be visible.

Initial food should be Paramecium or a proprietary dry food of sufficiently small (5-50 micron) grade, introducing Artemia naupliimicroworm, etc., once the fry are large enough to accept them.

NotesTop ↑

This species is also traded under the names ‘Amanda’s’, ‘dwarf red’, ‘red’, and ‘fire’ tetra.

Characiformes is among the most diverse orders of freshwater fishes currently including close to 2000 valid species distributed among 19 families.

This tremendous taxonomical and morphological diversity has historically impaired the ability of researchers to resolve their genetic relationships with many taxa remaining incertae sedis.

A further limiting factor has been that in many cases exhaustive study of these on an individual basis is the only way to resolve such problems.

Modern phylogenetic techniques have allowed some headway, though, and a molecular investigation of characiform relationships by Calcagnotto et al. published in 2005 revealed some interesting hypotheses.

Their results suggest that Hyphessobrycon is a member of a clade also containing the genera Astyanax, Astyanacinus, Moenkhausia, Inpaichthys, and Hemigrammus, of which all species possess five or more teeth in the inner series of the premaxilla.

A more extensive analysis by Oliveira et al. (2011) placed Hyphessobrycon in a much larger clade containing 29 genera including all those listed above.

This clade was one of three large clades, plus the genus Spintherobolus which was recovered as sister to all other characids, that formed the authors’ revised Characidae family.

Hyphessobrycon was raised by Durbin in Eigenmann (1908) as a subgenus of Hemigrammus, differing from the latter by the absence of scales on the caudal-fin.

The grouping was revised by Eigenmann (1918, 1921) while Géry (1977) created artificial groups of species based on pigmentation patterns, and these definitions are still widely used today, e.g., the H. aghula group, the H. heterohabdus group, etc.

Weitzman & Palmer (1997) hypothesised the existence of a monophyletic assemblage within the genus based on colour pattern and male fin morphology that they termed the ‘rosy tetra clade’.

They did not offer any hypotheses regarding relationships between the remaining species although Hyphessobrycon has long been recognised as a polyphyletic lineage and thus is likely to be split into several genera in the future.

De Carvalho (2011) redescribed H. compressus, type species of the genus, and conducted a molecular phylogeny incuding 227 taxa.

He concluded that Hyphessobrycon sensu stricto should be restricted to a monophyletic group of 24 species which share the unambiguous synapomorphy of the Weberian apparatus being orientated dorso-horizontally though the dorsal margin of the operculum with other defining characters comprising a black spot in the dorsal-fin and lack of visible lateral-line except in some specimens of H. pulchripinnis.

This group contains H. compressus, H. pulchripinnis, H. hasemani, H. haraldschultzi, H. troemneri, H. cf. troemneri, H. copelandi, H. takesei, H. minor, H. micropterus, H. rosaceus, H. megalopterus, H. bentosi, H. eques, H. sweglesi, H. werneri, H. epicharis, H. socolofi, H. pyrrhonotus, H. erythrostigma, H. khardinae, H. georgetta, H. roseus and H. simulans.


  1. Calcagnotto, D., S. A. Schaefer, and R. DeSalle, 2005 - Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 36(1): 135-153
    Relationships among characiform fishes inferred from analysis of nuclear and mitochondrial gene sequences.
  2. de Carvalho, F. R., 2011 - unpublished PHD Thesis: i-xxiii + 1-365
    Sistemática de Hyphessobrycon Durbin, 1908 (Ostariophysi: Characidae).
  3. Oliveira, C. A., G. S. Avellino, K. T. Abe, T. C. Mariguela, R. C. Benine, G. Orti, R. P. Vari, and R. M. Corrêa e Castro, 2011 - BMC Evolutionary Biology 11(1): 275-300
    Phylogenetic relationships within the speciose family Characidae (Teleostei: Ostariophysi: Characiformes) based on multilocus analysis and extensive ingroup sampling.
  4. Reis, R. E., S. O. Kullander and C. J. Ferraris, Jr. (eds), 2003 - EDIPUCRS, Porto Alegre: i-xi + 1-729
    Check list of the freshwater fishes of South and Central America. CLOFFSCA.

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