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 is often overlooked and outshone more by its more well-known cousins, the cardinal tetra or regular neon 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 looks like a neon-tetra (Paracheirodon neesi) because it has two pearly white horizontal stripes and a black one at the bottom. But technically, it belongs to the same genera as ember and serpae 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 black neon is known for its striking black and white stripes and red eyes.
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. Although they are acidic fish, they can tolerate pH levels from 5-8 to moderately hard water. They are most at home in a dark substrate and their red irises pop against the greenery.
How should we keep our black neon tetras together? Like most schooling fish, more is better. In our fish store, we get to see their natural behavior when you put a hundred of them together, and their synchronized swimming is truly an amazing sight to behold. 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.
Can black neon tetras be a companion for fish? We have managed to keep ours with large community fish such as angelfish, Geophagus Eartheaters, gouramis, and Geophagus eartheaters. They also get along with smaller, peaceful fish like rasboras, other tetras, and corydoras. Black neon tetras will usually leave the adult dwarf shrimp alone but will eat any babies that they find.
Black neon tetras do well in planted community tanks with other peaceful tank mates.
What do Black Neon Tetras Eat?
In the wild, they enjoy an omnivorous diet of zooplankton, tiny worms, crustaceans, and plant matter. Black neon tetras are known for their swimming patterns and prefer to eat at the top and center of the water column. However, they can eat just about anything that is dropped into the tank. We offer them a variety of small foods, including krill flakes and nano pellets.
How to Breed Black Neon Tetras
These tetras, like most egg layers, are easy to spawn but can be difficult to raise. Add several catappa leaves to a 10-gallon aquarium that has no other animals. Allow the leaves to decay for several weeks to lower the pH, darken the water, and create mulm and biofilm for the fry to feed on. You can also cover the ground with a lot of java moss or Easter basket grass and then cover it completely with craft mesh. The plastic mesh has holes that are large enough for the eggs to fall through but small enough to prevent the adults from predating 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. You can condition the adults to breed by giving them high-quality food such as micro worms and baby brine shrimp. Once spawning is complete, take out the adults. Give the babies tiny food like vinegar eels and infusoria. Within a couple of weeks, they should be large enough to switch to live baby brine shrimp, which is the best superfood for fry.
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.