Black Neon Tetra – Care, Tank Mates, Habitat & Details!

Black Neon Tetra (Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi) is a representative of the characin family. This beautiful and active fish can decorate any tropical aquarium. Black Neon Tetra prefers to stay in the upper and middle layers of the aquarium.

Quick Stats

Scientific Name: Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi
Higher Classification: Hyphessobrycon
Common Name: Black neon tetra
Tank size: more than 20 gallons (90L)
Temperament: Peaceful/Timid
Diet: Omnivorous
Temperature: 20–26 °C (68–79 °F)
pH: 6.5-7.0
Length: 4 cm (1.6 inches)

General Information

Black Neon Tetras are one of the most popular inhabitants of the aquarium. A characteristic feature of these fish is a shiny strip along the body, flashing in reflected light, like advertising neon lights on the streets of a night city.

They look especially impressive in aquariums with dark soil and a large number of aquarium plants. It is worth noting that black neon tetras are not dangerous for aquarium gardens, so they can often be found in designer aquariums.

Black neons are schooling fish characterized by a calm character. The name of the genus can be translated as “little bites”, and the species itself is named after the famous American researcher Dr. Herbert Axelrod.

For a long time, black neons were caught in nature, but now they are massively bred on special fish farms.


Black neon tetra has a low, slightly flattened laterally and elongated body. The length does not exceed 4 cm. The abdomen is silver, the back is olive. Two strips stretch from the gill covers to the tail on the sides of the body.

The lower one is wide, with a blurry lower edge, painted black, the upper one is narrow, shiny, with a bluish tint. This strip contains special pigment cells with high reflectivity, which is why it “flashes” in reflected light.

The tail is bilobed, transparent. The remaining fins are also transparent or with a slight yellow tint. Fatty fin present. The top of the iris is colored red.

Sexual dimorphism is not expressed. Females are larger with a more rounded abdomen.

The life expectancy of Black Neon Tetra is 5-10 years.


In nature, black neon tetra is widespread in the rivers of Brazil, Paraguay, and Bolivia. It was first described in 1961, then brought to Europe, where it gained great popularity.

Typical habitat of black neons are streams, small rivers, flooded forests, and sandbanks under the canopy of the rainforest.

The water in such reservoirs is soft and acidic. A large number of rotting plant debris stains it in rich brown color.

Care and Maintenance

The Black neon tetras feel comfortable in packs of 10 individuals. For so many fish, you need an aquarium of at least 60 liters. It should be equipped with a lid because the fish can easily jump out of the aquarium.

As the soil, it is best to use black sand or dark fine pebbles. Fish look good in aquariums with living plants and natural decorations (driftwood, stones). To maintain high water quality, effective filtration and aeration are necessary, the flow should be moderate.

Do not get involved in bright lighting as black neon tetras prefer subdued light. Floating plants (pistia, riccia) can help with this. Fish are thermophilic, therefore it is necessary to place a temperature regulator in an aquarium.

The black neon tetras are very poorly tolerant in fresh, unsettled aquariums, it is advised to place them into the aquarium after a few months from the moment of starting your aquarium.

To make the environment as close as possible to the natural environment in the aquarium, it is recommended to use Tetra ToruMin – a natural peat extract that will create the effect of “black water”.

To reduce the level of nitrates and phosphates, regular water changes are necessary – up to 25-30% of the aquarium on a weekly basis.

The optimal parameters of water: T = 24-28 ° C, pH = 6.5-7.5, GH = 10-20.

It is desirable that in an aquarium with black neons there should be a large number of living plants. You can pay attention to such species as echinodorus, cryptocoryne, Ceylon fern.

Black Neon Tetra Tank Mates

Black neon tetras are a great choice for a shared aquarium with peaceful tropical fish. When kept in a flock, the fish are active and absolutely harmless.

Good tankmates for black neons are zebrafish, harlequin rasbora, gourami fish, dwarf gourami, Pleco fish, Neon tetras, Pygmy Corydoras, Oto catfish, Ember Tetra, Rummy nose tetra.

As for keeping Black neon tetras with shrimp, there is more than one thing. Aquarists note that in some cases, the fish are absolutely indifferent to invertebrates, while in others they can attack young individuals.

Naturally, it is impossible to contain black neons with large and predatory fish that can enjoy the brilliant neighbors.

Feeding Black Neon Tetra

In the natural environment, black neons feed on small crustaceans, as well as insects and mosquito larvae. When kept in an aquarium, it is better to give preference to high-quality dry food in the form of flakes, chips, or small granules.

The use of live and frozen food carries the risk of infection of the aquarium with dangerous infections and parasites, and they do not contain a full range of nutrients and vitamins, not to mention the difficulties with storage.

Black neons prefer to eat food from the surface or in the water column. The following feeds have proven themselves well:

  1. TetraMin is a mixture of 7 types of cereals made from more than 40 ingredients. For decades, it remains the most popular dry food for fish. TetraMin is fully balanced and contains vitamins and probiotics.
  2. TetraPro Energy is highly nutritious food in the form of chips, made using gentle low-temperature technology, which allows you to save even more nutrients in the feed. At the center of the chips is an energy concentrate so that neons are always active.
  3. Tetra Micro Granules are mini pellets designed specifically for smallmouth fish. A balanced formula combines ingredients of plant and animal origin.

Do not forget to diversify the menu of your pets with natural delicacies in jelly – Tetra FreshDelica. Your fish will appreciate the taste of nutritious jelly with popular feed organisms – bloodworms, artemia, daphnia, and krill.


Reproduction of black neon tetra can not be called very difficult, but some practice will still be required.

Firstly, You need to find good parents: one female and two to three males. A week before the alleged spawning, they are seated and plentifully fed with high-protein food.

When the female’s abdomen is noticeably rounded, it is time to keep the fish in a separate spawning aquarium. For this, a container of 20-30 liters with a water level of about 20 cm is suitable.

The water in the spawning should be soft and acidic (GH <4, pH = 5.5-6.5). A mesh is laid at the bottom, and small-leaved plants are placed on top. It is also necessary to install a slow filter with aeration.

Spawning occurs 1-3 days after placing the fish in the aquarium. This usually happens at dawn. The fertility of a female can be up to 200 eggs.

After fertilization, the eggs fall to the bottom and sticks to the leaves of aquatic plants. After the end of the process, parents need to be left to rest so that they do not eat their own eggs.


The aquarium should be darkened on three sides, as the eggs are sensitive to light.

Incubation takes 24-36 hours, an independent larva becomes on 3-5 days. Water changes in spawning should be done more often.

Growth in fry is rapid; by the third week of life, characteristic longitudinal strips appear on the body. Fish become sexually mature at 8-11 months.

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