Care Guide for Black Neon Tetras – Our Fav Underrated Schooling Fish
One of the unsung heroes of the freshwater aquarium hobby is the humble black neon tetra. It often gets overlooked and outshone by its more popular cousins, the regular neon tetra and cardinal tetra. Yet they are one of our favorite fish to work with at the Aquarium Co-Op retail store. They are a strong and healthy fish that we recommend to everyone who is looking to set up a tank. Their nano size makes them accessible to people with smaller aquariums, while their cheap price is appealing to aquarists wanting to fill up a large tank with tons of schooling fish.
What are Black Neon Tetras, you ask?
Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi may look like a neon tetra (Paracheirodon innesi) because of the two pearly white and black horizontal stripes running down its side, but it is technically in the same genus as ember, serpae, and lemon tetras. Because of their hardiness, activity level, and toughness, this South American fish is very popular in fish shops.
Are neon tetras larger than black neon? Both fish are approximately the same length at 1-1.5 inches (2.5 to 3.8 cm), but the black neon is slightly longer due to its higher body depth. In general, black neon tetras tend to be bolder and swim in the upper half of the aquarium, while neon tetras can be a little shyer and stay in the lower half.
The striking black and white stripes of the black neon are well-known.
How to Set Up an Aquarium for Black Neon Tetras
This fish is easy to handle and can live in a wide range of water temperatures. Though they originate from acidic waters, they do well in pH levels anywhere from 5-8, as well as soft to moderately hard water. They look great in a tank with a darker substrate. Their red irises stand out against the greenery.
How many black neon tetras should be kept together? As is true with most schooling fish, the more the merrier. When you have a hundred of them, their natural behavior is visible in our fish shop. The synchronized swimming display is truly amazing. A minimum of six could be kept in a 10-gallon aquarium. However, you can get 10-15 fish for a larger 20-gallon tank.
What fish will live with neon tetras in their tank? They are larger than neon tetras so we have kept them with gouramis and Geophagus, medium-sized fish that can be used as community fish. They also get along with smaller, peaceful fish like rasboras, other tetras, and corydoras. Black neon tetras usually leave adult dwarf shrimp alone, but they will opportunistically eat any babies they find.
Black neo-neon tetras thrive in peaceful community tanks.
What does the Black Neon Tetra eat?
In the wild, they enjoy an omnivorous diet of zooplankton, tiny worms, crustaceans, and plant matter. Because of their swimming patterns, black neon Tetras prefer to be fed at the top or middle of the water column. But they are not picky, and will eat anything you put in the tank. We offer them a variety of small foods, including krill flakes and nano pellets.
How to Breed Black Neon Tetras
Like most egg layers, these tetras are easy to spawn, but their tiny fry can be harder to raise. Add several catappa leaves to a 10-gallon aquarium that has no other animals. The leaves will slowly decay over several weeks, lowering the pH and darkening the water. This will create biofilm and mulm for the fry to eat. Also, put a bunch of java moss, Easter basket grass, or spawning mops on the ground, and cover the spawning material entirely with a sheet of craft mesh. The holes in the plastic mesh are big enough to allow eggs to fall through, but not so small that adults can’t predate on them.
Get a group of at least six black neons so you have a better chance of having at least one male and one female. Feed the adults high-quality food, including micro worms or baby brine shrimps to prepare them for breeding. Once the spawning process is completed, you should remove the adults. Give the babies tiny food like vinegar eels and infusoria. They should be able to eat live baby brine shrimp within a few weeks.
Catappa leaves gradually acidify and tint the water, making it more comfortable for the black neons to breed.
While Aquarium Co-Op does not sell fish online, you can check out our preferred online retailers to see the latest species they have in stock. Plus, keep reading to learn about the top 10 tetras that we love to add to our community aquariums.