Black Neon Tetra – All You Need To Know - "black neon tetra Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi" by brian.gratwicke is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Black Neon Tetra – All You Need To Know - "black neon tetra Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi" by brian.gratwicke is licensed under CC BY 2.0.


Introducing the captivating world of black neon tetras, these petite freshwater fish have enraptured aquarium enthusiasts with their striking appearance and tranquil demeanor. Originating from the streams and tributaries of South America, specifically the Paraguay River basin, these tetras boast a unique combination of sleek black bodies accented by luminescent stripes, captivating hobbyists and adding a touch of elegance to any aquarium setting.

In this vibrant underwater realm, understanding their natural habitat, behavior, ideal tank conditions, and dietary needs plays a pivotal role in ensuring their well-being and showcasing their beauty. From their preferred water parameters to compatible tank mates and a diverse diet, every aspect contributes to creating an environment where the black neon tetra thrive, flourish, and enchant with their serene presence.

Embark on a journey to explore the world of black neon tetras, uncovering the nuances of their habitat, behavior, care, and the art of creating a harmonious aquatic haven for these mesmerizing creatures.

About the Black Neon Tetra

The black neon tetra, scientifically known as Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi, is a charming freshwater fish appreciated for its captivating appearance and tranquil behavior.


This tetra species showcases a sleek, elongated body with a predominantly black coloration that spans from the head to the tail. Its striking feature lies in the fluorescent stripe that adorns its midsection. This stripe is more accurately described as an iridescent silver-white or neon white band that shimmers against the deep black backdrop. This luminescent stripe extends horizontally along the sides, creating a striking contrast and adding a touch of elegance to its appearance. The fins complement the overall look with a transparent to slightly colored aspect, enhancing its beauty without overshadowing the distinct black and white contrast.


Black neon tetras are small fish, typically reaching an adult size of around 1 to 1.5 inches (2.5 to 3.8 centimeters) in length when fully grown. They are considered among the smaller species of tetras commonly kept in aquariums. This petite size of black neon tetras makes them suitable for various tank sizes and allows them to thrive in community tanks alongside other peaceful fish species.


Known for their peaceful nature, black neon tetras are social creatures that thrive in groups. They prefer the company of their own kind and feel most comfortable when in a school. These tetras tend to explore various levels of the aquarium, gracefully swimming in a shoal throughout the day. They appreciate having ample vegetation and hiding spots amidst the tank, where they can retreat or seek refuge when necessary.

During feeding times, these tetras display enthusiastic behavior, darting swiftly to catch floating food. Their agile movements and playful demeanor make them a delightful addition to any community aquarium.

For their well-being, black neon tetras require a stable and well-maintained tank environment. Consistent water quality, appropriate tank size, and suitable tank mates are essential for their health and happiness.

Overall, the black neon tetra captivates with its sleek appearance and serene behavior, making it a sought-after choice for aquarists seeking an elegant and peaceful addition to their tanks.

We’ll cover this more in the following sections.

Natural Habitat

n their natural habitat in the wild, black neon tetras inhabit the lush, slow-moving waters of South America, primarily found in the Paraguay River basin. These freshwater environments are characterized by:

  • Riverine Ecosystems: Black neon tetras are commonly found in calm, slow-flowing rivers, streams, and tributaries, particularly in areas with dense vegetation along the banks. These waters are usually clear or slightly stained due to tannins from decaying leaves.
  • Vegetation-Rich Areas: Their natural habitats are adorned with abundant aquatic vegetation. These plants provide shelter, breeding sites, and foraging grounds, fostering a biodiverse ecosystem.
  • Shallow Depths: They prefer relatively shallow waters, where they can find shelter among submerged roots, fallen branches, and aquatic plants.

Behavior in the Wild

  • Schooling Behavior: Black neon tetras are social and tend to form large schools in the wild. The safety of the group offers protection from predators, and they communicate and navigate together, exhibiting coordinated movements.
  • Feeding Habits: Their diet in the wild primarily consists of small insects, larvae, crustaceans, and plant matter. They forage among vegetation and substrate, picking at algae and small invertebrates.
  • Reproduction: Breeding occurs among the vegetation, where the females scatter eggs, and males fertilize them. After spawning, adult tetras do not exhibit parental care, leaving the eggs to hatch and the fry to fend for themselves.
  • Territoriality: While not aggressively territorial, they establish small territories within the shoal, displaying occasional minor disputes or chasing behavior, typically during breeding periods or for establishing hierarchy within the group.

Understanding their natural behavior and habitat helps in creating a suitable environment in captivity, ensuring their well-being and replicating conditions that mimic their natural instincts and tendencies.

Aquarium Setup

Setting up an aquarium for black neon tetras requires attention to water parameters, decorations, filtration, and appropriate tank size to mimic their natural habitat:

  • Tank Size: A suitable tank size for a school of black neon tetras should be at least 10 gallons (40 liters) or more. Larger tanks provide more swimming space and stability in water parameters.
  • Filtration: Use a gentle filtration system suitable for a smaller fish species like tetras. Consider a sponge or hang-on-back filter that provides adequate water flow without causing strong currents, as these fish prefer calmer waters.
  • Substrate: Use a fine gravel or sand substrate, mimicking their natural environment. Include natural decorations to create hiding spots and foraging areas.
  • Vegetation and Decor: Incorporate live or artificial plants like Vallisneria, Cabomba, Java fern, or mosses to mimic their natural habitat. Dense vegetation provides hiding places and reduces stress. Add driftwood, rocks, or caves for additional hiding spots and structure.
  • Lighting: Moderate to subdued lighting is preferable, as black neon tetras come from shaded areas in their natural habitat. Ensure the lighting isn’t too intense to reduce stress and mimic their preferred environment.
  • Water Parameters: Maintain stable water conditions with a temperature between 72°F to 78°F (22°C to 26°C) and a pH level ranging from slightly acidic to neutral (around 5.5 to 7.0). Keep ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels at safe and consistent levels through regular water testing and maintenance.
  • Water Quality: Perform regular water changes (around 20-30% every 1-2 weeks) to ensure high water quality. Adequate filtration and maintenance help to keep the tank environment healthy for the tetras.
  • Aquascape: Create a balanced and natural-looking environment with plants and decorations while leaving open swimming spaces for the tetras. Mimic the riverine setting with a mix of vegetation and open areas.

Setting up the aquarium to replicate their natural habitat is crucial for the well-being and comfort of black neon tetras, helping them thrive and exhibit their natural behaviors in captivity.

Tank Mates for Black Neon Tetras

When choosing tank mates for the black neon tetra, several considerations can help create a harmonious community within the aquarium:

  • Peaceful Species: Opt for peaceful fish that won’t harass or outcompete the black neon tetras. Avoid aggressive or fin-nipping species that could stress or harm them.
  • Similar Water Parameters: Select fish that share similar water parameter requirements regarding temperature, pH, and water hardness. Compatible species with matching preferences are less likely to experience stress due to differing environmental needs.
  • Tank Size: Consider the tank size and the swimming space available. Ensure that the tank mates and tetras have ample space to move freely without crowding, reducing territorial disputes.
  • Swimming Level: Black neon tetras predominantly inhabit the mid-to-lower levels of the aquarium. Choose tank mates that occupy different levels, such as top-dwelling or bottom-dwelling species, to utilize the entire tank space effectively.
  • Non-Boisterous Fish: Avoid species that are too large or boisterous, as they might intimidate or stress the relatively smaller tetras. Gentle and calm fish make better companions.
  • Schooling Fish: Consider other schooling or shoaling fish species, as they tend to thrive in groups. Fish like rasboras or other peaceful tetra species can create a visually appealing and harmonious community with black neon tetras.
  • Observation and Compatibility: Monitor the behavior of potential tank mates before introducing them to ensure they’re compatible. Introduce new fish gradually to reduce stress and aggression.

Some suitable tank mates for black neon tetras might include peaceful tetra species like cardinal tetras or glowlight tetras, small rasboras, peaceful dwarf cichlids like German blue rams, or non-aggressive bottom-dwellers such as Corydoras catfish or small species of plecos.

Always research the specific temperament, adult size, and compatibility of potential tank mates to ensure a peaceful and thriving community aquarium for black neon tetras.

Black Neon Tetra – All You Need To Know - "black neon tetra Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi" by brian.gratwicke is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Black Neon Tetra – All You Need To Know – “black neon tetra Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi” by brian.gratwicke is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Diet and Feeding

Black neon tetras are omnivorous fish with a diverse diet in their natural habitat. When it comes to feeding them in captivity, offering a varied diet is essential for their overall health and vibrancy.

  • Flakes and Pellets: High-quality flake or pellet food formulated for tropical fish serves as a staple diet for your black neon tetra. These should make up the base of their diet, providing essential nutrients.
  • Live and Frozen Foods: Supplement their diet with live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, daphnia, and tubifex worms. These offer variety and replicate the live foods they would consume in the wild, contributing to their overall health and vitality.
  • Vegetable Matter: Incorporate vegetable-based foods like spirulina flakes or blanched vegetables (such as zucchini or cucumber) into their diet. These provide fiber and essential nutrients, contributing to a well-rounded diet.
  • Frequency and Portion Control: Feed small amounts of food multiple times a day rather than a large quantity once a day. This helps mimic their natural feeding habits and prevents overfeeding, which could lead to water quality issues.
  • Observing Feeding Behavior: Black neon tetras are active feeders and tend to swim mid-tank to feed. Observe their feeding behavior to ensure they’re consuming food and adjust the quantity accordingly.
  • Rotation of Foods: Rotate their diet regularly to prevent nutritional deficiencies and keep them interested in their meals. A varied diet also helps replicate their natural feeding behavior.
  • Consideration for Fry: If breeding black neon tetra, offer finely crushed flake food or infusoria to newly hatched fry until they are large enough to consume regular-sized foods.

Remember to remove any uneaten food after feeding to maintain water quality. Providing a balanced and varied diet is key to keeping black neon tetras healthy, vibrant, and thriving in an aquarium setting.


Black neon tetras, with their striking appearance and peaceful nature, make captivating additions to freshwater aquariums. Their sleek black bodies adorned with luminescent stripes create an eye-catching display, while their social behavior and tranquil demeanor add a sense of harmony to any tank.

Understanding their natural habitat helps recreate an environment in captivity where they can thrive. Mimicking their preferred conditions with suitable tank size, gentle filtration, appropriate decorations, and stable water parameters contributes to their well-being and allows them to exhibit their natural behaviors.

Careful consideration when selecting tank mates ensures a harmonious community, promoting a stress-free environment. Offering a diverse diet comprising flakes, pellets, live/frozen foods, and vegetable matter contributes to their health and vitality.

Ultimately, providing a nurturing habitat, a compatible community, and a varied diet allows these petite yet captivating fish to flourish, showcasing their beauty and grace in aquariums while delighting fish enthusiasts with their peaceful presence. With proper care, black neon tetras can thrive and bring vibrancy to any aquatic setting.