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Black Neon Tetra: Everything You Need To Know

Black Neon Tetra: Everything You Need To Know

There are a variety of beautiful tetra (hyphessobrycon eques) species available that make great additions to any aquarium tank. Yet, if you’re looking for a tetra with a striking appearance and an easy care process, then Black Neon Tetras are what you need. 

Black Neon Tetras, also known as hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi, are tiny fish found in various tropical rivers and streams. These exotic and social fish thrive in the wild but can also do well in aquariums if their basic needs are met. 

In this article, I’ll go over all you need to know about Black Neon Tetras, including key facts, what they need to survive, and how they behave. I’ll also cover everything you should consider before bringing these fantastic fish home to your aquarium.  

Black Neon Tetra Overview & Origin

Although spread out across the tropical jungles of South America, Black Neon Tetras are primarily found in Brazil. Their habitats are located in warm freshwater rivers and streams where there are lots of plants present.  

  • Common name: Black Neon Tetra
  • Scientific name: Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi
  • Care level: Easy
  • Size: 3 to 4 cm (1.2 to 1.6 in)
  • Life Span: 4-5 years
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Group size: 3-6
  • Minimum tank size: 20 gallon
  • Water temperature: 70-80°F (21.1-26.7°C)
  • Water pH: 5.5 and 7
  • Water hardness: 6 dGH

Because they’re so small, they typically choose areas with a lot of shade or mud to help shield them from predators. They also thrive in areas with a lot of dark shade or places to hide in. 

Fallen leaves, aquatic grasses, and muddy banks all provide excellent territories for the Black Neon Tetras to hide in. In some cases, they will also hide in mangroves or a particular type of tree adapted to allow parts of it to survive underwater.

Black Neon Tetra Appearance & Size

Black Neon Tetras can easily be identified by the bold stripes extending from the edge of their head to their tail fins. Each fish has one white line on top of a dark black line. In some cases, the white stripe can have a gray coloring to it as well.

Additionally, Black Neon Tetras are characterized by a gray or silvery color. However, depending on their environments, some are more tan, brown, or yellow. Their eyes are a bright red color that stands out from the rest of them. 

Like many other species of tetra fish, the Black Neon Tetra is also noticed for its minimal size. Known as a nano fish, this fish only grows about 3 to 4 cm (1.2 to 1.6 in) long at their maximum maturity. They’re also very narrow, which increases their ability to hide in the tiniest of spaces they can find.

As young fish, Black Neon Tetras are usually only half this size at just under 1 cm (0.3 in). However, they do reach their full size in a few months. 

What Is the Difference Between Male and Female Black Neon Tetras? 

Male tetras are slightly smaller and brighter than the females of the species. Their stripes are also more fluorescent to enhance their ability to attract mates. 

The female fish are larger than the males, especially when actively breeding or pregnant. They also still have their stripes, but they are much duller in comparison. It is easier to tell the difference between the genders when they’re mature, not when young or just hatched.

Black neon tetras & regular neon tetras are very similar in shape. Both are torpedo-shaped nano fish, but black neon tetras have darker colors. They don’t have a bright neon-colored stripe along the lateral line like regular neons and cardinals. Instead, they have a thin stripe of white color.

Black Neon Tetra Personality & Behavior 

A Black Neon Tetra is a very social fish that prefers to form lasting group bonds with others. They are schooling fish, so I recommend you keep 3 to 6 of them together. For a small school of Black Neon Tetras, you’ll need to have a 20-gallon tank.

They have a gentle and peaceful demeanor and are not known for displaying any aggressive behavior.  Even when kept in groups, the males aren’t territorial.

When these fish form groups, they maintain a tight and synchronous bond. A study conducted in 2019 found that various types of neon tetras adapt their behavior to match and align with other members of their group. This results in a school of fish that moves and acts in a similar pattern. 

Despite the fact that these fish are usually peaceful and accepting of one another, they can turn hostile when trying to breed or are pregnant. This change in temperament sometimes results in the other fish attacking certain group members. 

If you’re keeping your own Black Neon Tetras in an aquarium tank, they’ll likely act more hostile toward other members of the species who are not in their group. In some instances, they may also charge at other tank mates of different species, but it is primarily an issue between the Black Neon Tetra fish. 

Black Neon Tetra Average Lifespan

In the wild, Black Neon Tetras can only live a few years. However, they are expected to live 4 to 5 years in an aquarium tank as long as all the right conditions are met. Many of these fish also die before they can adequately hatch or during the early stages of their life. 

Many factors play a significant role in determining a Black Neon Tetra’s ability to survive into adulthood. In the wild, they often share their ecosystem with larger fish and birds that prey on them for food. 

Black Neon Tetra Tank Set Up

Black Neon Tetras are easy fish to take care of and are great for beginners who are just starting. To ensure that they are well taken care of, you must give the best conditions that reflect their habitats in the wild. 

Tank Size

Black Neon Tetras are small, yet they still need a lot of space for swimming and hiding. You should only have 5 to 7 Black Neon Tetras as they require more room. However, you can increase it to 10 to 15 Black Neon Tetras with a larger tank. 

At a minimum, you need a 10-gallon (37.9 liters) freshwater tank, but you can go up to a 20-gallon (75.7 liter) tank if you have a lot of Black Neon Tetras. It is also recommended that you get a bigger tank if you have other species of fish present as well.

Additional 10 gallons (37.9 liters) tanks will be needed for breeding if you choose to breed your Black Neon Tetras together. How many you need depends on how many mating pairs you have present. 

Water Parameters

You should try to mimic the water conditions they come from in the wild to capture their tropical habitats 

  • Water temperature: Between 70-80°F (21.1-26.7°C)
  • pH levels: Between 5.5 and 7 to keep it semi-neutral.
  • Water hardness: 6 dGH

Make sure you change the water every 3 to 4 weeks to ensure it is clean. While a freshwater filter does help maintain the mess, the water still needs to be replaced often. 

What To Put In The Tank

To provide the best habitat for your Black Neon Tetras, you need to put enough vegetation and decorations that look like their ecosystems in the wild.

You want to include enough plants, rocks, and wood pieces that give your aquarium a nice layer of green vegetation. Overcrowding will create more stress for your Black Neon Tetras. Make sure you leave an open swimming space for your Black Neon Tetras to explore.

  • Substrate: Layer the tank with dark sand to mimic a riverbed.
  • Decorations: Driftwood, caves, and rocks are great options to provide the perfect hiding places for your Black Neon Tetra.
  • Ideal Plants: Use lots of live plants like hairgrass and java moss (Taxiphyllum barbieri) to provide a place for rest and hiding. Adding leaves to your tank will stain the water light brown to help mimic a riverbed. Make sure you replace the leaves every 2 weeks.
  • Lighting: Use subdued lighting to enhance your tetras’ unique coloring.
  • Filtration: When adding plants and leaves to your tank, you’ll need to add a good filtration system to cycle the tank water and provide a healthy environment. Black Neon Tetras don’t produce a lot of waste but when kept in groups the collective waste can have a significant effect on ammonia and nitrate levels.

Ideal Tank Mates For Black Neon Tetras

Because of their social nature, Black Neon Tetras can share a tank with many fish species. The species that they can live with include:

These fish are all excellent companions for your tank because their sizes are similar to that of the Black Neon Tetras. 

Keeping larger fish will increase the chance of unintended harm or accidental consumption of your Black Neon Tetras. Monitor the interactions between all your fish species to see if all types of creatures get along together in your tank. Doing so will ensure they are a good fit in the long run. 

Black Neon Tetra Food & Diet

Black Neon Tetras are omnivores and eat a variety of items to thrive. Plant and meat-based foods make up their entire diets. Some of the foods they eat include:

  • Green algae ‘Chlorophyta
  • Plankton ‘Cladocera
  • Brine shrimp ‘Artemia franciscana’
  • Bloodworms ‘Glycera dibranchiata
  • Pieces of hairgrass ‘Eleocharis parvula‘, leaves, or other aquatic plants

They eat pretty frequently because they have smaller stomachs. This adaptation also means they cannot consume large portions of food at once. 

If you’re feeding your own Black Neon Tetras, you’ll need to stick to a strict feeding schedule where they get controlled portions. Otherwise, they will quickly grow ill and lethargic. 

What Should I Feed Black Neon Tetras?

Even in an aquarium, Black Neon Tetras eat plant and meat-based foods. It is important to never feed them the same thing every day, or they will not get the nutrients they need. 

You can feed your Black Neon Tetras food such as:

  • Algae sheets or pellets.
  • Freeze-dried bloodworms
  • Tropical fish flakes
  • Brine shrimp

Alternate different types of food every few days. Or, offer some types of food like blood worms and algae sheets as extra treats. Regardless, you should only feed your tetras a little bit of food twice a day. 

Additionally, monitoring how your Black Neon Tetras eat their food is essential. Because they are a small species, you will likely need to divide their food into pieces to ensure they can ingest it. 

Breeding Black Neon Tetras

To reproduce, Black Neon Tetras need to form a mating bond. Once the pair dynamic is established, they can produce 80 to 100 eggs.

A female Black Neon Tetra does not lay her eggs in just one area. Instead, she scatters them all around areas with a lot of plant vegetation or rocks. From there, the eggs will stay there until they hatch 24 to 48 hours later. 

To watch a video of this interesting scattering process in action, check out this video:

The eggs are tiny and look similar to grains of rice. When the new Black Neon Tetras hatch from the scattered eggs, they are almost impossible to see because of their small size. This is especially true if the process occurs in the wild, where the water is more opaque from the muddy bottoms. 

In terms of size, newly hatched Black Neon Tetras only measure less than 1 cm (0.3 in) long. These fish take a couple of months to reach adulthood and grow into their total sizes. 

How Do You Breed Black Neon Tetras? 

It is possible to attempt to breed your Black Neon Tetras. However, this must be accomplished under a specific set of conditions to ensure a high success rate of your potential eggs. 

You can breed your own Black Neon Tetras by placing the pair you want to breed in a separate tank from the other fish. This is because their eggs are tiny and can get lost inside your main tank. Once the eggs are laid, you can leave them in the tank until they are fully mature. 

While it is not mandatory, it is advised that you separate your neon black tetras for breeding. Because they lay their eggs by scattering, these eggs will likely end up in places they are not supposed to be. Additionally, other companions in the tank may go near them as they are not confined to one area. 

Black Neon Tetras also demonstrate hostile behavior toward those not in a mating pair, which increases when breeding or pregnant. To ensure the safety of all your fish, not just your breeding Black Neon Tetras, they must be kept separate to reduce the chance of fighting. 

The separation will also provide a safe environment for the newly hatched fish. Because they are so small, neon black tetras can easily get lost in their tank if there are many other fish, plants, or decorations. 

The Best Tank Conditions for Breeding

To monitor them safely and to make sure they can grow to maturity, keep them in a different tank until they begin to develop their black and white bands. When this process occurs, they can rejoin another tank of your choosing. 

In order to ensure successful breeding, you’ll need to also check that proper water temperature is maintained throughout the entire process. The conditions must mimic the warm conditions that they experience in the wild. 

The best temperature to ensure proper breeding is between 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (21.1 to 26. 7 degrees Celsius). If the water is too cold or too hot, the Black Neon Tetras will not be able to reproduce effectively and may end up having eggs that will not hatch on time. 

Also, your tank size must be a 10-gallon (37.9 liters) freshwater tank. This size ensures that the tank is small enough to keep track of all the eggs and hatched fish but large enough to give the Black Neon Tetras room to swim in. Place some live plants and rocks around the tank to provide areas to catch the eggs as they are laid.

Common Health Issues, Treatment & Prevention

Black Neon Tetras are susceptible to a variety of diseases both in the wild and in personal aquariums. 

Fungal & Bacterial Infections

It is common for Black Neon Tetras to fall ill to fungal and bacterial infections. These will cause them to look discolored and lethargic or alter their eating and swimming patterns. 

Often, these diseases arise when too many Black Neon Tetra fish are kept in a tank, or the tank is not cleaned out enough. While these illnesses are treatable, neglecting to administer care can result in your Black Neon Tetra dying early in life.

Make sure you keep the tank clean and well-maintained and avoid overfeeding and overcrowding.

Neon Tetra Disease

Black Neon Tetras are also susceptible to an illness called Neon Tetra disease. This disease is not caused by a fungus or bacteria. It is, instead, a parasitic infection that alters the skin and bones of the fish. 

Neon Tetra disease causes changes in the color of the scales, bone deformities, and in severe cases, death. It’s a rapid illness that can spread to other fish around the Black Neon Tetras if it is not monitored carefully. 

Before adding them to any tank, it is always important to check your fish for any signs of illness. Failing to do so will result in harm to the entire ecosystem. 

Ich ‘White Spot Disease’

Also known as white spot disease, Ich is caused by a parasite called Ichthyophthirius multifiliis. Symptoms include small white spots on the skin and fins, as well as lethargy and loss of appetite. 

It can be treated with over-the-counter medications, but it is vital to maintain good water quality and hygiene to prevent re-infection.

Black Neon Tetra FAQs

How Many Black Neon Tetras Should Be Kept Together?

I recommend keeping 3 to 6 Black Neon Tetras together. They are a very social fish that prefers to form lasting group bonds with others.

How Big Do Black Neon Tetras Grow?

Black Neon Tetras grow to about 3 to 4 cm (1.2 to 1.6 in) long at their maximum maturity. They will reach their full size in a few months. They’re also very narrow, which increases their ability to hide in the tiniest of spaces they can find.

Do Black Neon Tetras Change Color?

Black Neon Tetras may display a subtle fading of their color when they spend extended periods in darkness or during nighttime. This is perfectly normal and doesn’t typically indicate any cause for concern.

Are Black Neon Tetras Aggressive?

Black Neon Tetras have a gentle and peaceful demeanor and are not known for displaying any aggressive behavior.  Even when kept in groups, the males aren’t territorial. That being said they can turn hostile when trying to breed or are pregnant.

Where Can I Buy Black Neon Tetras?

Black Neon Tetras are available in the majority of large company pet stores. You can also inquire about them with small local pet shops, aquarium specialists, or specialized online stores. Ensure you buy the right number of Black Neon Tetras, as overcrowding will almost certainly affect their overall well-being. 

Final Thoughts

Black Neon Tetras are incredible fish that are also very easy to care for. They will thrive if they are kept in a warm-watered tank, given adequate food, and provided with lots of plants. Though they may be small, these fish will make a lasting impression in your freshwater aquarium.

I’m Elle, the founder of FishHQ. I created this website to share knowledge, tips, and inspiration for beginner hobbyists to help them create a healthy, happy, and vibrant environment for their fish to thrive. Read more...