Black Neon Tetra: The Ultimate Care Guide – Diet, Lifespan, Thank Mates & More

The black neon tetra is a beautiful and unique fish that will add color and life to your aquarium without huge maintenance requirements.

Black Neon Tetra – Quick Facts

In a rush? Check out the quick facts about Black Neon Tetra below.

Fish Info

Scientific NameHyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi
Common NamesBlack Neon Tetra
AppearanceThe Black Neon Tetra has a leaf-shaped body. The front end of this fish is rounded, and they have transparent fins. They have a base color that is slightly silver. Running along the length of this fish is one black stripe and one neon green stripe.
DifficultyThe difficulty of caring for black neon tetra is moderate, provided their water is kept clean.
DistributionThe black neon tetra is distributed in southern brazil, in the Paraguay basin. These fish can be found in streams, creeks, and flooded areas.
LifespanThe average lifespan of black neon tetra is 5-6 years.
ShoalingYes, black neon tetras are shoaling fish.
TemperamentThe temperament of black neon tetra is gentle and passive.
Keep in Groups of5 or more
Tank MatesCory catfish, zebra danio, red lizard, rasbora, tiger barb, dwarf gourami, hatchet fish, common plecostomus
DietThe diet of black neon tetra includes small invertebrates, plants, and often crustacea and filamentous algae.
LengthThe length of the black neon tetra is approximately 1.5 inches.
Sexual DimorphismFemales are thicker and have a more plump belly.
Breeding DifficultyIt is difficult to breed black neon tetra because they need specific water conditions to start breeding.

Water/Tank Recommendations

Water TypeThe black neon tetra is a freshwater fish.
Water TemperatureThe ideal water temperature for black neon tetra is 22-28°C (72-77°F).
Water pHThe ideal water pH for black neon tetra is between 5.5 and 7.0.
Water HardnessThe ideal water hardness for black neon tetra is 10-15 dH.
Tank sizeMinimum tank size for black neon tetra is 10 gallons. Recommended tank size is 20 gallons.


Black neon tetra are fascinating freshwater fish that add a unique element of color to your tank.

When it comes time to take care of these fish, you need to have a firm understanding of what they need in terms of habitat and diet (more on that later). However, once you’re past that point, there’s not much else you need to worry about!

About Black Neon Tetra

The Black Neon Tetra is a stunning freshwater fish in the Characidae family. It has an eye-catching pattern of black and neon green stripes, which can be quite mesmerizing to watch as they swim around your tank.

This particular species originates from the Paraguay basin in southern Brazil. They are most commonly found in small tributaries, creeks, areas of flooded forest, and sandbanks.

Black Neon Tetras have been bred extensively for sale in the aquarium trade since the 1960s. They’re still one of the most popular varieties available today!


The Black Neon Tetra is a strikingly beautiful species. As with the standard neon tetra, this fish has two vivid stripes that run horizontally along its body. One stripe is black, and the other is a vibrant greenish-blue hue.

The base color of these fish can vary quite a bit between individuals. However, most take on an overall dull gray or greenish tint to their bodies (which makes those bright stripes even more eye-catching).

Their Length

Black Neon Tetras are not very long. They barely reach 1.5 inches in length, making these fish perfect for smaller tanks (those with a capacity of 20 gallons or less).

Note: One thing to keep in mind if you’re thinking about keeping a larger tank is the current. These fish prefer calm waters, so they might not be suitable for large aquariums that contain rocky bottoms or deep water.


The average lifespan of black neon tetra is 5-6 years. This is a decent length of time for such a small fish, but it’s not uncommon to see them live even longer.

As with any other fish species, the quality of care you provide will have an impact on their overall health and lifespan.

A poorly maintained environment will expose them to disease, which can shorten their lives dramatically.

Sexual Dimorphism

The easiest way to distinguish male and female fish is by their size when fully grown.

Males tend to be thinner, while females have a more plump belly and are overall thicker (due to them carrying eggs).


The black neon tetra is a type of fish that thrives best in densely packed groups. They live naturally in small tributaries, creeks, and flooded forests throughout the Paraguay basin of southern Brazil.

In captivity, they do well when kept with other black neon tetras. The group dynamic helps to promote confidence and reduce stress levels for all individuals within the group.

These fish prefer habitats that have plenty of vegetation. The plants help to break up the light, creating a more secure environment for them. Black Neon Tetras can also be kept in tanks without any live plants at all.

Caring for Black Neon Tetra

Black Neon Tetras are very easy to care for and can adapt well to a variety of tank conditions. They’re tough fish that do just fine with the most basic needs, making them an excellent choice for novice aquarists!

However, it is important to keep these fish healthy by maintaining their habitat (more information on how to do that below).

Like most other fish, Black Neon Tetra prefer some current movement in the water tank. You don’t need intense filtration or even an aquarium filter if you want to keep your fish healthy; standard filters that include sponges and pads are fine for them too!


Black Neon Tetras are omnivores that eat almost anything in their natural habitat. They’ll snack on, insects, and small plants like duckweed.

In captivity, this species does well with a balanced diet of dry flakes or pellets and live foods every once in a while. It can be hard to track down the precise balance between pellet-based foods and live food, but it can be important for maintaining good health (not to mention keeping them happy).

Black Neon Tetras also enjoy protein-rich snacks like bloodworms or brine shrimp regularly. However, these should only be fed as occasional treats because they have more nutrients than simple flakes!

How Often & How Much to Feed Them

Black Neon Tetra fish will eat up to three times a day, so feed them accordingly. However, feeding your fish twice a day is fine for proper growth and development.

A balanced diet of commercial pellets or dried food works best. Because these fish are small and active, stick with smaller-sized foods. You can offer bloodworms, brine shrimp, Daphnia, and tubifex worms as treats on occasion.

Note: It’s important to never feed your fish too much food. This can lead to several long-term health issues that you don’t want them to suffer from.

Possible Diseases

Black Neon Tetras are susceptible to all the same diseases as other tropical fish. The biggest concerns are parasitic infections and fungal afflictions.

Fungal disease is usually caused by poor water conditions, which can also lead to secondary bacterial infections if not addressed quickly. Some of these issues include Ich (white spot), fin rot, and more.

One of the most common diseases, though, is fin rot. This disease can be caused by bacteria or fungal infections and will eat away at the fins until it spreads to other parts of the body. It’s highly contagious, so quarantine tanks are a must for infected fish.

Tank Setup

Black Neon Tetras are not hard to please when it comes to tank setup. Basic is fine!

These fish do well in natural-style tanks filled with plants, driftwood, and rocks for them to explore. Black Neon Tetras prefer living among vegetation, where they can hide if needed. They also like having open spaces so that they can swim freely as a group.

Whether you’re going for something simple or more elaborate doesn’t matter much when it comes to this species (as long as the water parameters are good). As we mentioned earlier, their coloration looks better against darker hues than lighter ones. Thus, dark gravel is preferable over white, but only for visual reasons.

Aquarium Size

The minimum tank size for black neon tetra is 10 gallons. Recommended tank size is 20 gallons.

Note: As with all fish species, the minimum and recommended aquarium sizes are just that – an easy starting point for beginner aquarists. Black Neon Tetras can be kept successfully in established tanks of almost any dimensions.

Water Conditions

One of the key ingredients to a healthy fish is keeping the water conditions suitable. Black neon tetra thrive best in natural environments, which means you’ll have to pay close attention to the parameters of their tank habitat.

Here are some recommended water parameter ranges for this species:

  • Water temperature: 22°C-28°C (72°F – 77°F)
  • pH levels: 5.5-7.0
  • Water hardness: 10-15 dH

While these parameters are important, it’s just as crucial to monitor the condition of your tank. Your black neon tetras will be more prone to suffering from stress and disease when the water conditions start to get out of whack.

  • Monitor ammonia and nitrate levels regularly.
  • Perform partial water changes every two weeks or so.


As mentioned earlier, the black neon tetra isn’t too fussy about pH levels. The fish can tolerate a range of 5.5 to 7.0 without any issues at all.

That being said, it is a good idea to keep your tank within that recommended range to maximize their health and lifespan.


Black Neon Tetra can handle a range of temperatures, but the recommended tank temperature is between 72°F and 77°F. This means that you have some wiggle room when it comes to finding suitable conditions for this fish in your home aquarium.

Keeping them within this range will help ensure that they are not stressed out by extreme shifts in water temperature. Even subtle changes like those caused by heaters or filters could put undue pressure on these fish, leading to illness and death.


A water hardness that lies between 10 and 15 dH is more than sufficient.

This level of hardness will also help your fish avoid the potential health problems that come with soft water.

Of course, if you want to keep them with other species, they need to be able to tolerate this as well. You don’t want your Black Neon Tetra getting sick or developing infections due to water conditions they can’t tolerate.


A good filtration system is essential when caring for black neon tetra. The fish are very sensitive to dirty water, so a filter that keeps the tank clean without overworking is needed.

A standard hang-on-back filter works well as long as it’s capable of producing at least 30 gallons per hour. A canister filtration system would be even better because it offers more flexibility and holds much more media than a hang-on-back model.

Note: Some aquarists have reported successfully using biofilters with black neon tetras. However, we don’t think this is a reliable or sustainable option.

Aquarium Plants

A good way to enrich the life of your fish and create a more natural environment for them, is by adding plants into your aquarium. Black Neon Tetra love living in rivers that have vegetation.

You can add a variety of small plants such as vals or Java ferns, but you need to make sure they are secure so that the water will keep flowing smoothly.

Behavior and Compatibility

Black Neon Tetras are gentle and easy-going fish. They don’t cause trouble or harass other species in the tank.

In fact, these fish prefer to stay out of the way! The only time you might see them swim around is if they’re part of a large school. Otherwise, they may spend most of their time resting near plants or hiding in caves.

These fish are a shoaling fish so we strongly recommend keeping them in a group instead of by themselves.

How Many to Keep Together

Black Neon Tetra should be kept in groups of 5 or more. This is because they are a shoaling species that needs to stick together for safety and confidence.

If you keep these fish alone, they can become shy and start spending most of their time hiding out at the bottom of the tank. They may also show signs of aggression toward other fish. When there’s a group, however, Black Neon Tetras will swim around being playful!


The Black Neon Tetra is a gentle and peaceful fish that doesn’t want any trouble. It won’t cause problems with other species or show signs of aggression.

The exception to this is when there are too many in the same tank. In those instances, they could become more territorial as they compete for space.

Tank Mates

The best tank mates for Black Neon Tetra are other black neon tetras. These fish do best in large groups, as they are shoaling fish that need to stay with others of their own species.

In addition to more black neon tetras, you can keep these freshwater fish with similar-sized nonaggressive species like rasboras and gouramis (like the Dwarf Gourami). They also get along quite well with Cory Catfish and Apistogramma.

They don’t bother any tanks mates whatsoever and will peacefully coexist without causing problems. You might even see them swimming together periodically!


While it’s possible to breed black neon tetra, you must meet certain conditions first. In the wild, these fish spawn in shallow waters that have a lot of vegetation growing in them.

To recreate that habitat for breeding purposes, set up a separate spawning tank and fill it with fine-leaf plants such as hornwort or Java moss. Those plants will provide shelter for the eggs once they are fertilized.

After adding those decorative materials, lower the water levels slightly by using your filter outlet tube (or a siphon). This mimics seasonal flooding and encourages spawning behavior without causing harm to the fry after they hatch.

Are Black Neon Tetra Fish a Good Choice For Your Tank?

Overall, Black Neon Tetra fish are a great choice for just about any freshwater tank.

They’re beautiful and easy to care for. They don’t require special conditions or equipment (although we always recommend adding plants).

These fish do best in schools of at least 5-6 fish. So if you want them to thrive and not stress out from loneliness, be sure to keep that in mind when planning your aquarium setup!

Overall, we think the Black Neon Tetra is a great fish for aquarists of all skill levels. It’s fun to watch their bright colors glisten in the light!


Black Neon Tetras are beautiful fish that can add a lot of color to your tank. This species is quite colorful even when compared to other kinds of tetra.

Their colors are very vibrant, making them really stand out in the right lighting conditions. Thanks to their iridescent scales, these fish look especially stunning at night!

These fish also stay small and don’t need a ton of space (which is great for those who aren’t keen on keeping large tanks). They’re easy-going and gentle, which makes them good additions to community tanks as well.


The biggest problem with keeping black neon tetras is the similar appearance to their cousins, the neon tetras. While these two species do have some obvious differences (such as body shape and color), it’s easy to mix them up if you don’t pay close attention.

As a result, many hobbyists end up purchasing the wrong fish! That could appear unimportant at first. But when you realize that crossbreeding could potentially lead to genetic defects in future generations, things can get serious fast.


As you can see, the Black Neon Tetra is a great freshwater fish that anyone can care for. It doesn’t matter if you have experience or not!

We highly recommend this species and hope that this guide encouraged you to give them a shot. This is one of our favorite fishes and we know other aquarists who feel the same way!

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