The flame tetra or Von Rio tetra is one of the most entrancingly beautiful of all aquarium fish, especially when it is in its full breeding colors. At one time, almost no community aquarium was complete without this fish. In the 1940s and 1950s, it was among the best sellers of all characins. One reason for its overwhelming popularity was the ability to survive in a wide temperature range. Before the days of affordable heating for the home aquarium, this went a long way towards making it the first choice as a first fish.
They are found in South America in coastal rivers in eastern Brazil and around Rio de Janeiro in the Guanabara bay region, Paraiba do Sul, and Guandu River basins as well as Sao Paulo in the upper Tiete River basin. These tetras prefer slow-flowing creeks, river tributaries, and backwaters. Flame tetras were first imported to Europe in 1920 and the U.S. soon afterward.
For some reason, this seemingly eternal community aquarium favorite waned in popularity over the last three decades and was almost rare at the turn of the millennium. Its popularity today is again growing, and the Von Rio tetra can now be found in most tropical fish retailers.
Colors and Markings
This fish’s body is elongated, slightly compressed, about 1.5 inches long and shiny gray in color. Its sides are bronze to red, and its back is brilliant red as are the majority of its fins. The anal fin has a black leading edge and tip.