site logo

Main Index > Detailed Fish Profiles > The Tetras > Pristella Tetra
21 visitors reading profiles


This page will give a completely detailed profile of the selected fish, from A to Z. The profiled fish will be chosen randomly by Badman, and will come from the complete genre of tropical fish. New profiles are added on a regular basis. If you would like to submit a profile for the site please contact me. Don't forget to let us know you experiences with this fish by filling out the

  comment form.
This profile was written by Gallons of fun an active contributor to the site.  

South America


Pristella maxillaris

Pristella maxillaris


    Pristella maxillaris is one of the more popular tetras in the hobby. A hardy species, it can tolerate a wide range of water conditions. This makes the Pristella a good community fish for new aquarists.

Quick stats:

    Listed tank sizes are the minimum
    Size: Up to 1.75 in (4.5 cm)
    Tank: 15 gallons (57 litres) or larger for a proper school
    Strata: Mostly middle but will go everywhere.
    PH: 6.0 - 8.0
    Hardness: Soft to medium: dh range 4.0 - 35
    Temperature: 75°F to 82°F (23°-28° C)


    Order: Characiformes
    Family: Characidae
    Subfamily: Cheirodontinae
    Genera: Pristella (Incertae sedis)
    Species: maxillaris


Common name:

    Pristella Tetra, X-ray Tetra
Image gallery:
    Additional species photographs


    Badmans' Forum


    South America: Native to coastal waters of Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana and northern Brazil.

General Body Form:
    Medium tall and compressed. Females are larger and more full bodied.

Sexing & Coloration:
    Other than the silver body-sack covering internal organs, the Pristella has a translucent body, hence their other common name of X-ray Tetra. The tail is red and the other fins (especially dorsal and anal) are white, black and yellow barred. There's a selectively-bred "golden" color strain available which is a semi-albino fish. Care is the same as for the standard color form.

    The Pristella Tetra is a great choice for beginner fishkeepers as they are fairly hardy and can tolerate a wide range of water parameters. It is important to keep a group of at least 6 for it to feel at home. The Pristella tetra is very peaceful and in a school, is quite lively. However, it won't compete well with highly active, or large fish. It combines well with other South American species, such as other small tetras, pencil fish, hatchet fish, dwarf cichlids such as Apistogramma, Corydoras and small Loricariids. In a more general community, ideal tankmates are smaller rasboras, barbs, livebearers, loaches, Anabantoids and West African dwarf cichlids.
Pristella maxillaris

    The Pristella Tetra's natural diet is mostly small insects and planktonic animals. In the home aquarium, it will relish frozen/freeze dried brine shrimp, daphnia, bloodworms, and tubifex worms. It will also accept high quality flake food.

    The Pristella spawns rather easily, but the fry can be more difficult to raise. You'll need to set up a special breeding tank if you want to be successful. A tank measuring 18" x 10" x 10" is sufficient. It lighting should be very dim and the females will need a safe place to deposit her eggs (300 - 400 eggs per spawn). Java moss or other fine-leaved plants are satisfactory. Ideally, the water should be soft and acidic in the range pH 5.5-6.5, gH 1-5. You can achieve soft water by filtering it through peat. The only filtration necessary is a small air-powered sponge filter. Because the adults will eat the eggs, they should be removed as quickly as possible after the spawn. The eggs will hatch between 24-36 hours later. The fry should be fed infusoria for the first few days, until they're large enough to eat freshly hatched brine shrimp or microworm.

    DIt lives in clear water streams and tributaries in the dry season. However, when the rains come, the heightened water allows it to move to into flooded savannah, where it spawns in the middle of the submerged vegetation. Unlike most other characins, it is tolerant of (and sometimes found in) slightly brackish water.

    Pristella maxillaris - X-ray Tetra
    Pristella Tetra - Pristella maxillaris
    X-ray tetra - Pristella maxillaris
    Fish base
    Pristella maxillaris
    Pristella Tetra Pristella maxillaris, Ulrey, 1895
    X-Ray Pristella Tetra
    Pristella Tetra

Your comments:

From: Devakalpa G.
I have 8 in my 29 gallon jungle with other tetras, and they are beautiful. Tolerant of a wide variety of pH and hardness, these hardy tetras should be more popular. Give them good water, a planted set up and light diffused by floating plants - they gleam.






Privacy Policy | Contact Badman's Tropical Fish
Copyright ©
All rights reserved. Reproduction of any portion of this website's content is forbidden without written permission.