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X-ray tetra - Pristella maxillaris

X-ray tetra - Pristella maxillaris

Scientific name: Pristella maxillaris

Common name: X-ray tetra

Family: Characidae

Usual size in fish tanks: 4 - 5 cm (1.57 - 1.97 inch)


Recommended pH range for the species: 6 - 8

Recommended water hardness (dGH): 4 - 18°N (71.43 - 321.43ppm)

0°C 32°F30°C 86°F

Recommended temperature: 24 - 28 °C (75.2 - 82.4°F)

The way how these fish reproduce: Spawning

Where the species comes from: South America

Temperament to its own species: peaceful

Temperament toward other fish species: peaceful

Usual place in the tank: Middle levels


South America; X-ray tetras are found in Venezuela and Brazil.


The expected life span for Pristella maxillaris is 5 years.

Short description

The X-ray tetra is a very peaceful species and will do well in a community tank. They make a great addition to a South American species tank but make sure that the other tank mates are of a similar size and temperament. If kept in the correct conditions they will display a beautiful colouration, their finnage is outstanding with the yellow, black and white stripes but if kept in poor water quality the colouration can fade as they start to lose their top health. They are tolerant of a wide range of water parameters and are classed as reasonably hardy but as with all species of fish they do require good water quality so use a suitable filtration system and back this up with regular water changes on a weekly basis. These fish are best kept in small groups of 6 fish or more. If you are adding these to a SA biotope then use a sandy substrate and add plenty of wood, if using bogwood allow it to release tannins into the water as this will give a much more effective realism to the biotope.

For a general community setup you can add plenty of plants at the side and rear of the aquarium but allow for open swimming areas at the front.

Food and feeding

X-ray tetras will accept all foods offered. Use a quality flake for the staple diet and give them treats of blood worm, brine shrimp or white worms.


Males will have a more slender body shape than the females, when a female is ripe you should be able to see the eggs inside her.


Provide a tank planted with fine leaved plants or Java moss for breeding. The water should be soft and acidic, adding peat to the substrate can help with this, avoid mains powered filters it is much better to use an air driven sponge filter to keep the water current down but still maintain a high water quality. Sometimes it may be difficult to get these fish to pair but not impossible, when they do spawn, the eggs will be scattered around the tank and they should hatch in 24 hours. It is best to remove the parent fish as soon as the eggs are laid or they will see the eggs as food, it is easier to do this than try to syphon out the eggs into another tank. The fry should be free swimming a couple of days after hatching and will need to be fed on infusoria until they are large enough to digest newly hatched brine shrimp.


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X-ray tetra, image 1 X-ray tetra, image 2 X-ray tetra, image 3 X-ray tetra, image 4

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