Adonis Tetra Species Profile and Care Guide

adonis tetra
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Last Updated: March 25, 2023 by Flora Gibbins

Did you know that the Adonis Tetra is one of the smallest species of tetra in the world, reaching only about an inch in length?

But don’t let their size fool you – these tiny fish pack a big punch in terms of color and personality. Adonis Tetras are known for their vibrant red fine red dots in the front of their body that gradually increase into larger red splotches towards the back. Their scales also have a pearlescent quality, giving them a beautiful, iridescent sheen.

In this blog post, we’ll explore everything you need to know about this species as well as what you need to know about Adonis Tetra Care.

Adonis Tetra Facts and Overview

  • Common names: Adonis Tetra, Adonis Characin, Adonis Fish
  • Scientific name: Lepidarchus adonis
  • Adult size: Up to 1 inch (2.5 cm)
  • Lifespan: 3-5 years
  • Colors and Markings: Red dots and splotches, silver pearlescent sheen on their scales
  • Origin: West Africa

Origin and Distribution

Adonis Tetras are native to West Africa, specifically in Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Sierra Leone. They are found in slow-moving rivers and streams with sandy or rocky substrates, and prefer clear, well-oxygenated waters. They prefer shaded and dimly lit environments, as they are typically found in areas with overhead vegetation that filters the sunlight.

Adonis Tetras were first introduced into the aquarium hobby in the early 1900s and have since become a popular fish species for home aquariums around the world. But it’s important to keep in mind that these fish have specific care requirements to thrive in captivity. Keep reading to learn all about it.


Adonis Tetras are known for their unusual patterning, which makes them a popular choice for aquarium enthusiasts. These small fish typically reach only about an inch in length and have a slender body shape. Here are some key physical characteristics of Adonis Tetras:

  • Coloration: Adonis Tetras have a bright red coloration with fine red dots in the front of their body that gradually increase into larger red splotches towards the back. Their scales have a pearlescent quality, giving them an iridescent sheen.
  • Fins: These fish have a dorsal fin that is triangular in shape and a tail fin that is forked. The anal and pelvic fins are also present and can be used to distinguish males and females, with the males’ being longer and the females’ shorter and rounder.
  • Shape: Adonis Tetras have a streamlined and slender body shape, which allows them to move quickly through the water. They have a slightly pointed head and a curved body that tapers towards the tail.
  • Size: Adonis Tetras are one of the smallest species of tetra, reaching only about an inch in length when fully grown.

Behavior and Temperament

Adonis Tetras are known for their peaceful and social nature, making them a great addition to community aquariums. They are active swimmers, but not overly active, preferring to spend most of their time near the middle and bottom of the tank.

In the wild, Adonis Tetras are a schooling fish, and they prefer to be kept in groups of six or more in the aquarium. Keeping them in larger groups can help reduce stress and promote natural behaviors, such as schooling and shoaling.

Adonis Tetras are generally not aggressive towards other fish, but they may become nippy if kept in a small group or if their aquarium conditions are not suitable. They may also be intimidated by larger or more aggressive fish, so it’s essential to choose compatible tank mates.

When keeping multiple Adonis Tetras, it’s recommended to have a ratio of at least 2-3 females per male to reduce aggressive behavior and promote natural breeding behavior. In general, the ideal number of males and females depends on the size of the aquarium and the number of other fish in the tank. As a general rule, it’s best to avoid overcrowding and ensure that each fish has enough space to swim and thrive.

Adonis Tetra Tank Mates

Adonis Tetras are peaceful fish and can coexist with a wide variety of tank mates as long as their requirements are compatible. Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing tank mates for Adonis Tetras:

Compatible Fish Species

Adonis Tetras can coexist with other peaceful fish, especially other tetras that are not too large or aggressive. Good tank mates for Adonis Tetras include other small species such as Neon Tetras, Harlequin Rasboras, and Cherry Barbs. They can also coexist with small corydoras species, such as the Pygmy Corydoras.

Tank Mates to Avoid

It’s essential to avoid keeping Adonis Tetras with large or aggressive fish, as they may become intimidated or attacked. It’s also important to avoid keeping them with fin-nipping species, such as Tiger Barbs, as they may damage the Adonis Tetra’s fins.

adonis tetra art
by FlickFordFishPrints on Etsy

Tank Setup

When setting up a tank for Adonis Tetras, it’s essential to replicate their natural habitat as closely as possible. A well-maintained and appropriately decorated tank can help Adonis Tetras thrive and promote natural behaviors such as schooling and shoaling.

Here are some things to keep in mind when setting up a tank for Adonis Tetras:

Tank Size

Adonis Tetras are small fish and can be kept in relatively small tanks, but it’s important to provide enough swimming space for them. A tank of at least 10 gallons is recommended for a small group of Adonis Tetras.

What to Put in Their Tank

Adonis Tetras prefer a dimly lit aquarium with plenty of hiding places and vegetation. Live plants, driftwood, and rock formations can provide cover and create a natural environment for the fish. Adding a dark substrate, such as black sand or gravel, can also help enhance their colors and reduce stress.


A suitable filter is necessary to maintain good water quality and prevent ammonia and nitrate buildup. A gentle filter with adjustable flow is recommended to avoid creating strong currents that can stress the fish.


Adonis Tetras prefer a substrate that is soft and dark in color. A substrate of sand or fine gravel is recommended, as it mimics the natural environment of the fish and allows them to root around for food.


In terms of heating, Adonis Tetras prefer a temperature range of 74-78°F (23-26°C), so a heater may be necessary to maintain a stable temperature in the tank.

Water Parameters

Adonis Tetras are a hardy fish and can tolerate a range of water conditions, but it’s important to maintain stable and appropriate water parameters to keep them healthy and happy. Here are some recommended water parameters for Adonis Tetras:

  • Temperature: 74-78°F (23-26°C).
  • pH: 6.0-7.5.
  • Hardness: 5-15 dGH.
  • Ammonia and Nitrite: at or near zero
  • Nitrate: below 20 ppm (parts per million).
  • Chlorine and Chloramine: These are often present in tap water. It’s important to use a dechlorinator to neutralize these substances before adding water to the aquarium.
  • Other elements: Adonis Tetras require trace amounts of minerals and elements to maintain good health, including calcium, magnesium, potassium,

It’s important to monitor the water quality of your tank regularly to ensure that it meets the requirements of Adonis Tetras. Regular water changes of 20-30% every two weeks can help maintain good water quality and reduce the buildup of harmful substances. It’s also important to avoid overcrowding the tank and to provide adequate filtration to prevent the accumulation of waste and debris.

wild adonis tetra Lepidarchus adonis

Diet and Feeding

Adonis Tetras are omnivores and will eat a wide variety of foods in the aquarium. To keep them healthy and happy, it’s essential to provide a balanced and varied diet. Here are some recommended foods and feeding tips for Adonis Tetras:

  • Pellets and Flakes: High-quality pellet and flake foods are a good staple diet for Adonis Tetras. Look for foods that are specifically formulated for tetras and contain a mix of protein and plant-based ingredients. It’s important to feed only what the fish can consume in a few minutes to avoid overfeeding and prevent waste buildup.
  • Live and Frozen Foods: Adonis Tetras also enjoy live and frozen foods such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, and daphnia. These foods can provide additional nutrition and help promote natural feeding behaviors. However, it’s important to avoid feeding live foods from unknown sources to prevent the introduction of diseases or parasites.
  • Vegetables: Adonis Tetras will also graze on vegetables such as blanched spinach, zucchini, and cucumber. These foods can provide essential vitamins and minerals and help prevent constipation.
  • Feeding Schedule: Adonis Tetras should be fed small amounts multiple times per day, rather than one large feeding. This can help prevent overfeeding and ensure that the fish receive a balanced diet.

It’s important to monitor the feeding habits of your Adonis Tetras and adjust their diet as needed. Overfeeding can lead to obesity and health problems, while underfeeding can lead to malnutrition and stress.

Common Diseases

Adonis Tetras are generally hardy and resistant to disease, but they can still be susceptible to various health problems in the aquarium. Here are some common diseases that may affect Adonis Tetras:

  • Ich: Ich is a common parasitic infection that causes white spots on the fish’s body and fins. It’s caused by the Ichthyophthirius multifiliis parasite and can be treated with medication.
  • Fin Rot: Fin rot is a bacterial infection that affects the fish’s fins and can cause them to deteriorate. It’s often caused by poor water quality or stress and can be treated with medication and improved aquarium conditions.
  • Dropsy: Dropsy is a condition that causes the fish’s body to swell and become bloated. It’s often caused by bacterial infections and can be difficult to treat. It’s important to isolate affected fish and maintain good water quality to prevent the spread of the disease.
  • Swim Bladder Disorder: Swim bladder disorder is a condition that affects the fish’s ability to swim and maintain buoyancy. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including poor diet, bacterial infections, and genetics. Treatment options vary depending on the cause of the disorder.
  • Velvet: Velvet is a parasitic infection that causes a gold or rust-colored dusting on the fish’s body and fins. It’s caused by the Piscinoodinium pillulare parasite and can be treated with medication.

It’s important to monitor your Adonis Tetras regularly for signs of illness and provide prompt treatment as needed. Maintaining good water quality and providing a balanced diet can help prevent many common diseases and promote good health in your fish. If you notice any unusual behavior or symptoms in your Adonis Tetras, consult with a veterinarian or experienced aquarist for diagnosis and treatment options.

Breeding Adonis Tetras

Breeding Adonis Tetras can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience for aquarists. Here are some things to keep in mind when breeding Adonis Tetras:

Gender Differences

Adonis Tetras are sexually dimorphic, which means that males and females have physical differences that can be used to tell them apart. Male Adonis Tetras have more elongated dorsal and anal fins compared to females. They also have a more pointed and elongated body shape, while females tend to have a rounder body shape, and shorter, rounder fins.

Males may also exhibit brighter and more intense red coloration, especially during the breeding season. It can be challenging to distinguish males from females in some cases, especially when they are young or not in breeding condition.

The Breeding Process

Adonis Tetras are egg-scatterers, which means that they lay their eggs on various surfaces in the aquarium. To encourage breeding, it’s important to provide a suitable breeding environment that mimics their natural habitat. This can include dim lighting, a gentle flow, and plenty of cover and hiding places. You can also condition the fish by feeding them high-quality live and frozen foods.

Once the female is ready to spawn, she will release her eggs and the male will fertilize them. The eggs will then fall to the substrate or other surfaces in the aquarium. After spawning, it’s important to remove the adults from the breeding tank to prevent them from eating the eggs or fry.

Breeding Tips

Here are some additional tips for breeding Adonis Tetras:

  • Use a breeding tank that is at least 10 gallons in size and has a sponge filter or other gentle filtration system.
  • Provide plenty of cover and hiding places in the breeding tank, such as plants or spawning mops.
  • Keep the temperature of the breeding tank between 78-80°F (26-27°C) to promote breeding activity.
  • Condition the fish by feeding them high-quality live and frozen foods for several weeks before breeding.
  • Remove the adults from the breeding tank after spawning to prevent them from eating the eggs or fry.

Related Species

Adonis Tetras belong to the family Alestidae, which includes many other popular aquarium fish species. Here are some related species to Adonis Tetras:

African Tetras

African Tetras (genuses Brycinus, Alestes, Phenacogrammus) are a diverse group of small to medium-sized fish that are closely related to Adonis Tetras. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors and require similar water conditions and diet.

Congo Tetras

Congo Tetras (Phenacogrammus interruptus) are a beautiful and peaceful fish species that are often kept with Adonis Tetras. They have a distinctive orange and black coloration and prefer similar water conditions and diet.

Longfin Tetras

Longfin Tetras (Brycinus longipinnis) are a small and colorful tetra species that are closely related to Adonis Tetras. They have a distinctive black and silver coloration with long, flowing fins and prefer similar water conditions and diet.


Payara (Hydrolycus scomberoides) are a large and predatory fish species that are sometimes kept with Adonis Tetras. They have a distinctive fang-like teeth and require larger tanks and specialized care.


Hatchetfish (family Gasteropelecidae) are a group of fish species that are known for their unique shape and behavior. They are often kept with Adonis Tetras and require similar water conditions and diet.

By learning about related species to Adonis Tetras, you can expand your knowledge and appreciation for the diversity of the Alestidae family and make informed choices when selecting compatible tank mates for your aquarium.

FAQs on Adonis Tetras

Can Adonis Tetras jump out of the aquarium?

Yes, like many other fish species, Adonis Tetras are capable of jumping out of the aquarium if they feel stressed or threatened. It’s important to provide a tight-fitting lid or cover on the aquarium to prevent them from jumping out.

Can Adonis Tetras be kept with shrimp or snails?

Adonis Tetras are generally peaceful and can be kept with some species of shrimp or snails, as long as they are not aggressive or predatory towards them. It’s important to research and choose compatible species that share similar water conditions and diet.

Do Adonis Tetras require any special water flow or current in the aquarium?

Adonis Tetras do not require any special water flow or current in the aquarium, but they do prefer gentle water movement and should not be kept in a tank with strong water currents.

Are Adonis Tetras Right for Your Aquarium?

Adonis Tetras are a beautiful and peaceful fish species that can make a great addition to a home aquarium. They are relatively easy to care for and can thrive in a well-maintained aquarium with suitable tank mates and appropriate water conditions.

If you are considering adding Adonis Tetras to your aquarium, it’s important to research their natural habitat, behavior, and care requirements to ensure that you are providing the best possible environment for your fish. With proper care and attention, these beautiful fish can provide years of enjoyment and satisfaction to any aquarium hobbyist.

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