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

The Black Neon Tetra (Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi), often regarded as the darker counterpart of the common Neon Tetra, is a captivating species that flaunts a noticeably darker coloration.

Notwithstanding, these freshwater fish are equally as enchanting and straightforward to care for!

Originating from Brazil’s Paraguay Basin, Black Neon Tetras have a natural habitat that stretches across several hundred kilometers.

They are found in small tributaries, floodplains, and rivers flowing through dense forests.

Most of the Black Neon Tetras available in the fish trade are captive-bred. They readily breed in captivity, fueling a robust market for aquarists seeking a high-contrast, visually striking fish for their aquariums.

Black Neon Tetras represent an intriguing blend of beauty and low-maintenance care, making them a compelling addition to any aquarist’s collection. Although they are a variation of a highly popular species, they are frequently underestimated.

However, these fascinating fish are worthy of far more attention!

Renowned for their unique aesthetic, compatibility with a diverse range of freshwater tank companions, and easy-care needs, they make a splendid choice for novice and experienced aquarists alike.

This comprehensive guide will delve into all facets of Black Neon Tetra care, equipping you with the knowledge required to confidently raise and care for these fascinating creatures.

Quick Stats About Black Neon Tetra

Care Level: Easy
Temperament: Peaceful
Color: Iridescent white, green, or black
Lifespan: ~5 years
Size: Up to 1.6 inches
Diet: Omnivore
Family: Characidae
Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
Tank Set-Up: Freshwater, dim lighting with plants
Compatibility: Peaceful, shoaling species

Black Neon Tetras are undeniably captivating, offering a distinctive touch of elegance and mystery to freshwater aquariums.

Let’s embark on a journey to understand these aquatic beauties in depth.

Appearance of Black Neon Tetra

One of the many reasons why the Black Neon Tetra (Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi) stands out from other fish species is their distinctive coloration and shape.

Their sleek, torpedo-like bodies are predominantly muted, with a subtle greenish tinge, perfect for showcasing their defining features.

Their body is adorned with two distinctive horizontal stripes. The top stripe, an iridescent white, appears to shimmer, bringing a touch of light to their otherwise dark appearance.

Directly beneath this luminous line runs a thicker black stripe, which inspired their name. This black stripe stretches from the gill cover to the base of the tail fin, giving them a striking contrast.

Black Neon Tetras also possess transparent fins, an intriguing characteristic that adds to their mesmerizing allure.

Regarding sexual dimorphism, females often have a fuller, more rounded belly compared to males, especially during breeding season.

Natural Habitat of Black Neon Tetra

The fascinating beauty of Black Neon Tetras is undoubtedly a reflection of their vibrant natural habitat.

Originating from the Paraguay Basin in Brazil, they dwell in shallow tributaries, floodplains, and rivers cutting through dense, lush forests.

These fish have adapted to tea-stained blackwaters, colored by the rich concentration of fallen leaves.

The Black Neon Tetras’ natural environment plays a crucial role in their well-being, influencing their lifestyle, diet, and behavior.

This habitat is abundant in decaying plant matter, which not only colors the water but also creates an ecosystem teeming with small crustaceans and algae.

Black Neon Tetra: Origins and Distribution

The history of the Black Neon Tetra traces back to the vast freshwater expanses of South America. Their initial discovery in the Paraguay Basin led to their introduction into the aquarium trade.

Today, most Black Neon Tetras available in the pet market are captive-bred.

Their easy spawning behavior in captivity has allowed for a healthy, flourishing trade, allowing aquarists across the globe to appreciate these high-contrast fish in their tanks.

Growth, Size, and Lifespan of Black Neon Tetra

A full-grown Black Neon Tetra typically reaches up to 1.5 inches in length, with some specimens extending to a slightly more considerable 1.6 inches.

Despite their petite size, their striking colors and vibrant energy create a noticeable presence in any aquarium.

When it comes to their lifespan, these fish are known for their robust nature.

With optimal care, a balanced diet, and a favorable environment, Black Neon Tetras can live up to five years, often matching the lifespan of regular Neon Tetras.

While Black Neon Tetras exhibit hardiness and adaptability, neglecting their basic requirements can drastically shorten their lifespan.

Hence, as an aquarist, your focus should be on providing them with the best possible environment, diet, and care, allowing them to flourish and enrich your aquarium for years to come.

In the subsequent sections, we’ll delve deeper into the various aspects of Black Neon Tetra care, including tank setup, disease potential, diet, behavior, ideal tank mates, and breeding practices.

Behavior and Temperament of Black Neon Tetra

Black Neon Tetras are known for their active and peaceful nature. They are shoaling fish, which means they prefer the company of their own species and thrive in groups.

A group of at least six Black Neon Tetras is recommended to ensure their happiness and reduce stress.

Their active nature is a sight to behold as they energetically swim in the middle and upper layers of the tank, adding a dynamic element to your aquarium.

Despite their active nature, these fish are quite timid and will retreat to hiding spots when feeling threatened or stressed.

Hence, providing an environment that mimics their natural habitat can promote healthy behaviors and enhance their overall well-being.

Tank Setup for Black Neon Tetra

Proper tank setup plays a pivotal role in maintaining a healthy Black Neon Tetra. Let’s explore the various aspects of this crucial task.

Tank Size

For Black Neon Tetras, a 20-gallon tank serves as a minimum starting point considering their preference for group living. Larger tanks offer more space for swimming and establishing territories, ensuring a happier, stress-free environment for these lively fish.


Given their natural habitat, a dark-colored substrate can help mimic their blackwater environment. Soft sandy substrate is recommended, as it closely resembles the riverbeds of their home in the Paraguay Basin.

Decorations and Hiding Spots

Include plenty of plants, driftwood, and hiding spots to mimic the dense vegetation of their natural habitat. Live plants not only offer shelter but also contribute to the water’s health by absorbing excess nutrients and releasing oxygen.

Water Parameters

Black Neon Tetras thrive in water with a temperature between 72°F and 82°F, a pH level of 6.0-7.5, and a hardness of 4-8 dGH. Regular monitoring of these parameters ensures a healthy environment for your Tetras.

Filtration and Aeration

A quality filter is a must-have to maintain water purity. It removes harmful chemicals and excess food, maintaining optimal health for the Black Neon Tetra. Adequate aeration, often provided by filters, is also essential for these oxygen-loving species.


Black Neon Tetras are used to the shaded waters of their natural habitat. So, moderate to low lighting is ideal for these fish. This, combined with dark substrate and plant cover, can mimic the subdued light of their native environment.

Tank Mates

Being peaceful fish, Black Neon Tetras are compatible with a variety of tank mates. Ideal companions include other peaceful Tetras, Guppies, Mollies, and Corydoras. Avoid aggressive or overly large species, as they can stress or harm your Tetras.


Black Neon Tetras are omnivorous, consuming a diet of plant matter and small crustaceans in the wild. In captivity, they can be fed a balanced diet of high-quality flake food, supplemented with live or frozen foods like daphnia, brine shrimp, and bloodworms.

Regular feeding times and careful portion control are key to maintaining the health and vibrancy of your Black Neon Tetra.

Remember, a balanced diet ensures a happier and healthier fish, enhancing the lively atmosphere within your aquarium.

By following these guidelines, you can create a thriving environment for your Black Neon Tetras, ensuring their health and longevity, and adding an eye-catching allure to your home aquarium.

Tank Maintenance for Black Neon Tetra

Keeping a tank clean and well-maintained is paramount for the overall health of Black Neon Tetras.

Let’s delve deeper into these essential routines to create a thriving environment for your fish.

Water Changes

Regular water changes play a vital role in maintaining the tank’s water quality. It’s recommended to change about 25-30% of the tank water every week. This practice helps keep nitrate levels low and ensures that the water stays fresh and safe for your Tetras.

When doing a water change, make sure the new water’s temperature and pH match the tank’s conditions to prevent stress or shock to the Tetras.

Cleaning the Tank and Decorations

Cleanliness is crucial in an aquarium setting. Debris and leftover food can build up over time, leading to poor water quality and potential health issues for your Tetras. Therefore, regular cleaning of the tank and its decorations is required.

When cleaning decorations and tank walls, use a soft cloth or brush to gently remove any algae build-up. Remember to clean them in the tank water you’ve removed during a water change to avoid killing beneficial bacteria with tap water chlorine.

Filter Maintenance

A clean, fully functional filter is integral for a healthy aquarium. The filter should be checked regularly to ensure it’s working properly. Depending on the type of filter you use, maintenance can include rinsing the filter media, replacing cartridges, or cleaning the impeller.

However, avoid cleaning all parts of the filter at once as it can destroy the beneficial bacteria that help maintain the nitrogen cycle. Instead, aim to clean one part of the filter at a time.

Monitor Fish Health

Monitoring your Tetras’ health is a crucial part of tank maintenance. Pay attention to their behavior, eating habits, and physical appearance. Any changes can be early signs of stress or disease.

Common signs of stress or illness include lethargy, refusal to eat, spots or patches on the skin, and abnormal swimming. If you notice any of these symptoms, take steps to identify the issue and treat it accordingly.

In summary, maintaining a healthy environment for Black Neon Tetras involves regular water changes, tank cleaning, filter maintenance, and health monitoring.

By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll ensure your Black Neon Tetras enjoy a clean, healthy habitat and a long, happy life.

Acclimating Black Neon Tetra

Acclimating your Black Neon Tetras to their new home is a step you can’t afford to skip. This process involves gradually introducing your fish to the water conditions of your aquarium.

Not to be rushed, acclimation should ideally take about an hour.

Start by leaving the bag containing your Tetras to float in the aquarium for 15-20 minutes. This helps equalize the temperature inside the bag with the tank water.

After the temperatures have balanced, slowly add small amounts of tank water into the bag every 10 minutes or so. This method allows the Tetras to gradually adjust to the water’s pH and hardness.

Once the bag is mostly filled with tank water, gently release the Tetras into their new home.

Be cautious to not allow any bag water into your tank, as it might carry disease or harmful elements. With patience and care, your Black Neon Tetras should acclimate nicely to their new surroundings.

Black Neon Tetra Diet and Feeding

When it comes to diet, Black Neon Tetras are not picky eaters, making feeding them a relatively simple task.

They are omnivorous, meaning their diet includes both plant-based and animal-based food.

However, providing a varied diet ensures their nutritional needs are fully met. Here’s a detailed feeding guide for your Black Neon Tetras:

Quality Flakes or Pellets

Commercially prepared flake or pellet foods make an excellent base for your Tetras’ diet. These are specifically formulated to contain a balanced mix of nutrients. However, make sure the pellets or flakes are small enough for your Tetras to eat comfortably.

Live Foods

Live foods like daphnia, brine shrimp, and bloodworms are an excellent source of protein and can be included in the diet to enhance the Tetras’ color and vitality. However, be cautious about the source, as live foods can sometimes carry diseases.

Frozen or Freeze-dried Foods

As an alternative to live foods, frozen or freeze-dried foods, such as bloodworms and brine shrimp, are safer options and still provide a good protein source.


Black Neon Tetras will also appreciate the inclusion of some plant matter in their diet. Spirulina flakes are a good choice, or you can blanch vegetables like spinach and peas, then cut them into small, manageable pieces.

In terms of feeding frequency, it’s best to feed your Tetras two to three times a day, giving them only as much food as they can consume in 2-3 minutes.

Consistency and variety are key to ensuring your Black Neon Tetras get a balanced diet for a healthy life.

Black Neon Tetra Tank Mates

Black Neon Tetras are peaceful and sociable fish that do well in community tanks with other non-aggressive species.

The key to picking tank mates is to select other peaceful fish that won’t bully the Tetras or compete too aggressively for food.

Here are some suitable tank mates for Black Neon Tetras:

  1. Harlequin Rasbora: These are peaceful fish that love being in schools, making them a great match for Black Neon Tetras.

  2. Corydoras Catfish: Their peaceful nature and bottom-dwelling habit make them ideal tank mates. They won’t compete with Black Neon Tetras for food or space.

  3. Guppies: Guppies are small, peaceful, and colorful fish that make a great addition to a Black Neon Tetra tank.

  4. Mollies: Known for their peaceful demeanor, Mollies are compatible with Tetras.

  5. Platies: These are calm fish that cohabitate well with Black Neon Tetras.

  6. Cardinal Tetras: They are similar in size and nature to Black Neon Tetras and can easily share the same tank.

  7. Zebra Danios: Fast swimmers and non-aggressive, they coexist well with Tetras.

  8. Ghost Shrimp: These small, transparent shrimps are peaceful and make for intriguing tank mates.

However, there are certain fish you should avoid housing with Black Neon Tetras due to their aggressive nature or size disparity.

These include:

  1. Cichlids: Most Cichlid species are too aggressive and can harm Tetras.

  2. Tiger Barbs: Known to be fin-nippers, they may harass your Tetras.

  3. Oscar Fish: Their large size and predatory nature can pose a threat to Tetras.

  4. Arowanas: They can easily eat small fish like Tetras.

  5. Piranhas: These predatory fish are not suitable for a peaceful community tank.

Breeding Black Neon Tetra and Fry Care

Breeding Black Neon Tetras can be a rewarding experience. To successfully breed and care for Black Neon Tetra fry, follow these steps:

Setup a Separate Breeding Tank

Setting up a separate breeding tank ensures a safe space for the eggs and fry. A 10-gallon tank with soft, slightly acidic water (pH around 6.5) and temperature about 77°F is ideal.

Dim lighting and dense vegetation or a spawning mop are crucial as Black Neon Tetras prefer to lay their eggs on plants.

Choose Healthy Breeding Pairs

The fish should be healthy and well-fed. A balanced diet rich in live foods can help condition them for breeding. Males are slimmer and brighter, while females are rounder due to carrying eggs.

Spawning Process

Once moved to the breeding tank, the pair will usually spawn in the morning. The female will lay hundreds of eggs, which the male will then fertilize.

Post-Spawning Care

After spawning, promptly remove the parents to prevent them from eating the eggs. The eggs will hatch in about 24 hours.

Caring for the Fry

Once hatched, the fry will feed on their yolk sacs for a few days. Once they start swimming, you can feed them infusoria or commercially available fry food. As they grow, they can be fed micro-worms or brine shrimp nauplii.

Remember to keep the lighting dim and maintain optimal water parameters. With care and attention, you will see your Black Neon Tetra fry grow into healthy adults.

Breeding these Tetras can be a challenge but is equally rewarding for dedicated aquarists.

Signs of Stress in Black Neon Tetra

Black Neon Tetras are relatively easy to care for, but like all aquatic creatures, they can experience stress.

Understanding the signs can help you address any issues quickly.

  1. Color Loss: Black Neon Tetras are vibrant, and any dulling of their colors could be a sign of stress.

  2. Erratic Swimming: If your Tetras are darting around the tank or swimming in an odd pattern, they could be stressed.

  3. Loss of Appetite: If your Tetras are not eating as they normally do, this can be a clear indicator of stress.

  4. Isolation: Tetras are social fish. If one is keeping away from the group, it might be stressed.

Common Health Issues and Treatments for Black Neon Tetra

Despite their hardiness, Black Neon Tetras are prone to some health issues:

  1. Ich: It’s a common parasitic disease characterized by white spots on the fish’s body. Raising the tank temperature slightly and treating with an Ich medication can help.

  2. Fin Rot: Identified by frayed or disintegrating fins, it’s often caused by poor water conditions. Improving water quality and applying an antibacterial treatment can help recover the affected Tetra.

  3. Fungal Infections: Fungal spores in the water can cause these infections. Anti-fungal treatments can help, but maintaining clean water is the best prevention.

  4. Neon Tetra Disease: Although not as common, this fatal disease can affect Black Neon Tetras. There’s no cure, but removing the affected fish immediately can help prevent it from spreading.

Additional Tips for a Healthy Aquarium

  1. Regular Testing: Regularly test the water parameters to ensure the conditions are ideal for your Tetras.

  2. Variety in Diet: Offering a variety of high-quality flake food, live, and frozen food ensures your fish get all the nutrients they need.

  3. Avoid Overcrowding: Overcrowding can cause stress and disease among fish, so ensure your tank has enough space for all its inhabitants.

  4. Provide Plenty of Hiding Spots: Fish like to have places where they can hide, so provide plenty of plants and decor.

Should You Get a Black Neon Tetra for Your Aquarium?

If you are looking for a vibrant, peaceful fish that’s relatively easy to care for, then Black Neon Tetra is a great choice. Their unique appearance and social nature make them a delightful addition to most freshwater tanks.

However, as with any pet, they require proper care and attention.

If you can provide a healthy environment, suitable tank mates, and a balanced diet, your Black Neon Tetras should thrive, bringing beauty and life to your aquarium.

Conservation Status

As of my knowledge, The Black Neon Tetra is not considered a threatened species. It is plentiful both in its native habitat in South America and in aquariums worldwide.

However, its health in the wild can be impacted by changes in its environment such as deforestation or pollution.

Sustainable practices in the pet trade and responsible ownership contribute to the continued wellbeing of this species.

Availability & Pricing

Black Neon Tetras are widely available in most pet stores due to their popularity in the aquarium hobby. They are also sold through various online platforms.

The pricing for a single Black Neon Tetra is usually affordable, making them a great choice for hobbyists on a budget. However, remember that they are social fish and should ideally be bought in groups, which will increase the initial cost.

Additionally, prices can vary based on the size of the fish and the location of the store.

Frequently Asked Questions About Black Neon Tetra

Q – Are Black Neon Tetras aggressive?

Ans – No, Black Neon Tetras are peaceful and enjoy being in groups.

Q – How many Black Neon Tetras should be kept together?

Ans – It’s best to keep a school of at least 6 Black Neon Tetras, although they will be happier in larger groups.

Q – What is the ideal tank size for Black Neon Tetras?

Ans – A 20-gallon tank is typically suitable for a school of Black Neon Tetras.

Q – Can Black Neon Tetras live with other fish?

Ans – Yes, they are community fish and get along well with other peaceful, similarly-sized species.

Q – What do Black Neon Tetras eat?

Ans – They are omnivores and enjoy a varied diet of quality flake food, brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms.


The Black Neon Tetra is a stunning addition to any freshwater aquarium. Its captivating appearance, coupled with its calm demeanor and relatively easy care requirements, makes it a favorite among both novice and experienced aquarists.

Providing a healthy environment, including suitable tank mates, balanced diet, and consistent maintenance, will ensure your Black Neon Tetras thrive, bringing joy and life to your underwater world.

Remember, responsible fishkeeping contributes to the overall sustainability of this fantastic species.