The pristella tetra (Pristella maxillaris) is a small fish native to the coastal waters of Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana and northern Brazil. This small fish only grows to an adult size of about 2 inches long. Adult females are noticeably larger and more full bodied than males.
Wild caught pristella tetras are very rarely seen for sale as they are bred in huge quantities for the aquarium trade. There is also a semi albino golden form and a semi transparent x ray form.
The pristella tetra should be maintained in an aquarium of 20 gallons or larger. A dark colored soft, sandy substrate (CS6631) is a good choice. Driftwood (ZM2000) and live or artificial plants may also be incorporated.
The pristella tetra prefers a temperature of 72°F to 82°F, a pH of 6.0 to 7.5, and a hardness of of up to 2 to 20°H.
The pristella tetra is a very peaceful species that will not compete well with very boisterous or much larger tank mates. It is best kept with other South American species, such as other small tetras, pencil fish, hatchet fish, dwarf cichlids including Apistogrammas, Corydoras and small Loricariids. In a more general community set up, it can be combined with smaller rasboras, barbs, livebearers, loaches, Anabantoids and West African dwarf cichlids. It is a shoaling species that should be kept in groups of at least 6, but more is always better.
In the wild, the pristella tetra is a micropredator feeding on small aquatic crustaceans, worms, insect larvae and other zooplankton. In the aquarium it will readily accept most prepared foods. Good choices include flakes (AL165) and frozen bloodworms (SF4792) or brine shrimp (SF6777). For maximum color, growth, and health these fish will look their best when given probiotics (AL169) in addition to a balanced diet.