Black Skirt Tetra Tank Mates – What You Should Know - "fishtank" by Mycatkins is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.
Black Skirt Tetra Tank Mates – What You Should Know - "fishtank" by Mycatkins is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.


Black skirt tetras (Gymnocorymbus ternetzi) are popular and attractive freshwater fish that originate from the rivers of South America. Known for their striking black markings on their body, they have become a sought-after species in the aquarium hobby.

While black skirt tetras can thrive in community aquariums, it is essential to carefully consider their tank mates. The choice of black skirt tetra tank mates plays a vital role in creating a harmonious and stress-free environment for these tetras. Selecting suitable companions can enhance their natural schooling behavior, reduce anxiety, and promote overall well-being.

Finding proper tank mates involves taking into account factors such as compatibility, size, temperament, and water parameter requirements. By choosing the right companions, aquarium enthusiasts can ensure a vibrant and thriving community tank, providing an enjoyable and visually captivating experience for all its inhabitants.

Finding Proper Black Skirt Tetra Tank Mates

When selecting tank mates for black skirt tetras, it’s essential to consider their behavior, compatibility, size, and water parameter requirements. Here are some considerations to keep in mind:

  • Similar Size: Choose fish that are of a similar size to the black skirt tetras. Avoid very small fish that the tetras might see as potential prey, and avoid large, aggressive fish that could intimidate or harm the tetras.
  • Peaceful Community Fish: Black skirt tetras are generally peaceful community fish, so look for other non-aggressive species. Good tank mates could include other peaceful tetra species (like neon tetras or cardinal tetras), rasboras, small peaceful catfish (e.g., Corydoras species), and some smaller peaceful gouramis.
  • Avoid Fin Nippers: Since black skirt tetras have long flowing fins, it’s best to avoid fish species known for nipping fins. Fin-nipping can cause stress and harm to the tetras. Some culprits to avoid are tiger barbs and some barb species.
  • Swimming Level: Consider fish that occupy different levels of the aquarium to avoid competition for space. For example, you can have some species swimming near the top, some in the middle, and some at the bottom.
  • Water Parameters: Try to find species that have similar water parameter requirements to the black skirt tetras. These fish generally prefer slightly acidic to neutral pH (around 6.5 to 7.5) and water temperature between 72°F to 82°F (22°C to 28°C).
  • Schooling Fish: Black skirt tetras are schooling fish, so it’s better to keep them in groups of five or more. When choosing black skirt tetra tank mates, consider species that also prefer to be in schools. The presence of multiple schools can create a more dynamic and natural-looking aquarium.
  • Behavioral Observation: Before introducing any new fish to the tank, observe their behavior in the store or quarantine tank (if possible). This can give you an idea of how they interact with other fish and whether they display any aggression or fin-nipping tendencies.
  • Introducing New Fish: When introducing new fish, always do so gradually and monitor their interactions. If any aggression is observed, be prepared to provide a backup plan to separate the problematic fish or rearrange the aquarium.
  • Tank Size: Ensure you have an adequately sized tank to accommodate all the fish comfortably. Overcrowding can lead to stress and aggression among the fish.

Remember that individual fish can have their own personalities, so while these guidelines can help, there’s no guarantee that all individuals will get along. Always be prepared with a backup plan in case any issues arise, and be ready to rehome fish if necessary for the health and well-being of the inhabitants.

Black Skirt Tetra Tank Mates – What You Should Know - "fishtank" by Mycatkins is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.
Black Skirt Tetra Tank Mates – What You Should Know – “fishtank” by Mycatkins is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Aquarium Setup

Setting up an aquarium to accommodate black skirt tetras and their tank mates requires careful planning to ensure the well-being of all the fish. Here are the steps and considerations to create a suitable environment for them:

  • Tank Size: Black skirt tetras are active swimmers and prefer to be kept in schools. For a community tank with black skirt tetras and their tank mates, a minimum tank size of 20-30 gallons (80-120 liters) is recommended. Larger tanks are even better as they provide more swimming space and allow for a more stable environment.
  • Filtration: Proper filtration is crucial for maintaining water quality. Use a filter that can handle the tank’s volume and provides mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration. Regular maintenance, including water changes, will help keep the water parameters stable.
  • Substrate: Choose a fine-grained substrate to mimic their natural habitat. A dark-colored substrate can help enhance the tetras’ colors and reduce stress.
  • Plants and Decorations: Provide plenty of plants, driftwood, and other decorations to create hiding spots and add visual barriers. Black skirt tetras appreciate having places to retreat and feel secure. Live plants can also help maintain water quality and provide additional hiding places.
  • Water Parameters: As mentioned, aim for slightly acidic to neutral water conditions with a pH range of around 6.5 to 7.5. The water temperature should be between 72°F to 82°F (22°C to 28°C). Use a reliable thermometer and consider a heater to maintain stable temperatures.
  • Lighting: Use moderate lighting to simulate natural daylight. Avoid intense lighting, as it can cause stress to some fish species and encourage algae growth.
  • Schooling: As mentioned earlier, keep black skirt tetras in groups of five or more. This will help reduce stress and encourage their natural schooling behavior.
  • Tank Mates: Choose tank mates that are peaceful, similarly-sized, and have compatible water parameter requirements. Refer to the previous answer for suitable tank mate suggestions.
  • Introducing New Fish: When introducing new fish to the tank, do it gradually to minimize stress and potential aggression. Use a quarantine tank to observe and acclimate new fish before introducing them to the main tank.
  • Feeding: Provide a varied diet for all the fish in the tank. Black skirt tetras are omnivorous and will eat a mix of high-quality flakes, pellets, and frozen or live foods. Ensure that all fish receive adequate nutrition without overfeeding.
  • Water Quality: Regularly test the water parameters to ensure they remain within the appropriate range. Perform regular partial water changes to maintain good water quality.
  • Monitoring: Observe the fish regularly to ensure they are behaving normally and show no signs of stress or illness. Address any issues promptly to maintain the health of the tank inhabitants.

By following these guidelines, you can create a harmonious and thriving community tank for black skirt tetras and their compatible tank mates. Remember that each fish is an individual, and some adjustments may be necessary based on their specific behaviors and preferences. Always be prepared to make changes or rehome fish if any compatibility issues arise.