Black Neon Tetra Care: Diet, Tank Mates & Tank Setup

Black Neon Tetras are gorgeous and have unique coloration. Still, they are more mysterious and darker than their Neon Tetra counterparts. Even if your aquarium is filled with lush plants and a sandy bottom, these Tetras will steal the show. Besides being hardy and low-maintenance, these fish also have a calm demeanor and a lively personality, making them excellent tank companions.

If you want to provide the finest possible environment for your Black Neon Tetras, this guide will show you how.

Are Black Neon Tetras Easy To Keep?

All aquarists should give Black Neon Tetras serious consideration. They are beautiful and require very little care. The care requirements are low, they have a distinct appearance, and they can coexist peacefully with most other freshwater fish.

NameBlack Neon Tetra (Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi)
Cost$3.99 Per Fish
OriginSouthern Brazil (Paraguay Basin)
Care LevelEasy
Lifespan5 Years
Size1-1.5 Inch
Tank Size20 Gallons
FeedingFish Flakes, Live Food, Blanched Vegetables
Community Tank Yes
Tank LevelMid Level
PlantsJava Fern, Anacharis, Hornwort, Amazon Sword, Java Moss
Tank MatesZebra Danios, Common Corydoras, Guppies, Honey Gourami’s, Cardinal Tetras, Dwarf Gourami’s, Kuhli Loaches, Clown Plecos, Bristlenose Plecos, Harlequin Rasboras
Breeding TypeEgg Layer


Black Neon Tetras are striking fish that look great in any setting. They are short and thin like their more colorful relatives. Their bodies are formed like torpedoes, their heads are spherical, and their fins are see-through.

The Black Neon Tetra has a primary coloration that is not particularly vibrant. They typically take on a subtle green tint. Two bright stripes contrast nicely with the base color.

  • First, there’s a shimmering white stripe. The iridescence it displays in the light is very breathtaking. One can see a darker, wider swath of black immediately below that one. The fish gets its name from the pattern on its body.
  • The fish has two stripes, and both of them are horizontal. It starts at the top of the gill cover and ends at the bottom of the tail fin.

Males Vs. Female

There are no apparent differences between males and females in black neon tetras. Typically, the female will have a fuller, rounder stomach than the male. When a female reaches sexual maturity, her lower abdomen swells with eggs.


A fully mature Black Neon Tetra will typically reach a length of about 1.5 inches. There have been recorded species measuring 1.6 inches in length. The small size of some fish makes distinguishing them from larger ones difficult.


The black neon tetra is a sociable fish that gets along with others. Always calm and peaceful, they never resort to aggression. These fish are typically found in the tank’s open areas, such as the middle and the surface. 

Black neon tetras swim swiftly and erratically because they’re very active fish. They spend their days swimming and eating and their nights resting. Your school of neon tetras will often be seen resting together at your tank’s base.

black neon tetra care sheet


Black Neon Tetras have been known to live in captivity for up to 5 years on average. The lifespan of these creatures is comparable to that of conventional Neons. That being said, nothing is guaranteed. 

Despite this species’ reputation for resilience, carelessness could significantly reduce its longevity. For your fish to thrive, you should give it the finest possible home, diet, and care.

Water Parameters

Shallow streams in Paraguay that are rich in decomposing plant materials are the primary habitat for black neon tetras. In a home aquarium, brown water isn’t essential, but you should still pay attention to the other water characteristics.

NameBlack Neon Tetra
Tank Size20 Gallons


Black neon tetra thrives in water between 5.0 and 7.5 on the pH scale. Due to their natural environment, we advise making it more acidic.


Black neon tetras thrive in water between 73 and 81°F. Temperatures about 75°F would be perfect.

Water Hardness

Black neon tetras require a water hardness of around 6-8 dGH to thrive. Excessive levels might cause stress in the fish, which is not what you want.

Tank Size

Black Neon Tetras are about 1.5 inches long and can live in a small tank. However, this is a schooling species of fish. The rule of thumb is always to maintain at least a half dozen together. These fish live happily in groups of 6, so they should be kept in a tank no smaller than 20 gallons.

Black Neon Tetra Care Pin

What Do Black Neon Tetra Like In The Wild?

Black Neon Tetras can be found in all plant and tree-rich environments in streams, rivers, and flooded forests. Decomposing plant debris in the water where black neon tetras are found also releases tannins. Adding tannin to water causes it to become acidic and darker.  

Black neon tetras generally favor dark waters due to shade, tannin, and a dark substrate. They thrive in warm, acidic water rich in aquatic vegetation and driftwood. Your black neon tetras will thrive in an environment that mimics these.

How To Setup A Tank For Black Neon Tetra

Making an environment similar to what your black neon tetra might find in nature is essential. Because of this, the black neon tetra will feel at ease in its new environment. The secret is constructing a lush aquarium with real plants, leaves, and wood decor representing the original habitat.

With that in mind, here is what you should look for:

Tank Size

First thing’s first, you’ll need a tank. But not just any tank, a minimum of 20 gallons is recommended for black neon tetras. They love to move around in groups, so giving them enough space is crucial. And when you’re purchasing a tank, make sure you aim for length over height.

Marina Aquarium Kit – 20 gallon Fish Tank – LED
  • 20 U.S. gallon glass aquarium
  • Includes a Marina Slim S20 clip on filter with quick change filter cartridges
  • Includes everything you need to get your aquatic home started
  • Measures: 24 inches L x 12.5 inches W x 16.5 inches H


Black neon tetras thrive in warmer waters, which means you’ll need a heater. Aim for a temperature between 73 and 81 degrees Fahrenheit. Remember, consistency is key here. Fluctuations in temperature could stress your black neon tetra, and even lead to temperature shock and death.

Orlushy Submersible Aquarium Heater,100W Adjustable Fish Tahk Heater with 2 Suction Cups Free Thermometer Suitable for Marine Saltwater and Freshwater
  • ★100W aquarium heater is suitable for 10 to 20 gallons aquariums,Length – 9″,voltage 110-120V, power cord is 6ft, please choose the right wattage aquarium heater according to our size chart.


Now, let’s talk about filters. Tetras prefer calm waters, so a filter with adjustable flow is your best bet. A good filtration system is essential to keep the water clean and to maintain the health of your fish. In a tank of this size, I’d recommend getting a HOB filter.

Tetra Whisper IQ Power Filter 20 Gallons, 130 GPH, with Stay Clean Technology
  • QUIET AQUARIUM FILTER: The Tetra Whisper IQ Power Filter with Stay Clean technology contains a sound shield for quiet filtration less than 40 dB.


When it comes to substrate, think natural. Dark, fine gravel or sand is perfect. It mimics the soft riverbeds that black neon tetras are accustomed to in the wild. Plus, it complements their dark neon stripe nicely.

Seachem Flourite Black Clay Gravel – Stable Porous Natural Planted Aquarium Substrate 15.4 lbs
  • GRAVEL: Seachem Flourite Black is a specially fracted stable porous clay gravel for the natural planted aquarium. Its appearance is best suited to planted aquaria, but may be used in any freshwater aquarium environment.


Adding plants to your tetra’s tank is more than just an aesthetic choice. Live plants provide cover, reduce stress, and help maintain water quality. Leafy varieties like Java fern or Anubias are both great choices.

Water Conditioner

Before introducing your tetras to their new home, it’s important to treat the water with a conditioner. This will remove harmful chemicals like chlorine that could cause harm them. Always follow the product instructions to ensure you’re using the right amount.

My favorite water conditioner has to be API Stress Coat, however, most people recommend seachem prime.

API STRESS COAT Aquarium Water Conditioner 16-Ounce Bottle
  • Contains one (1) API STRESS COAT Aquarium Water Conditioner 16-Ounce Bottle

Here’s a complete article on what the best water conditioners are recommended by over 170 fish keepers!

Testing the Water

And lastly, you need to make sure that you’re testing the water, especially if you’re tank is new. You need to be testing the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels. The ammonia and nitrites should be at 0ppm and the nitrate levels should be at 20ppm or below.

I prefer using a liquid test kit as they’re more accurate, however, if you’re looking for one that’s more affordable, then you should use a paper test kit.

API FRESHWATER MASTER TEST KIT 800-Test Freshwater Aquarium Water Master Test Kit, White, Single, Multi-colored
  • Contains one (1) API FRESHWATER MASTER TEST KIT 800-Test Freshwater Aquarium Water Master Test Kit, including 7 bottles of testing solutions, 1 color card and 4 tubes with cap

Black Neon Tetra Diet

Black Neon Tetras are omnivores and generally accept various foods without complaint. You can ensure their continued health by providing a balanced diet.

Protein-rich foods like live worms, brine shrimp, and a wide selection of flakes and freeze-dried foods would be ideal. The water quality and the Tetras’ health are both at risk from excessive feeding.

Tetra 16106 Min Tropical Flakes, Nutritionally Balanced Fish Food, 7.06-Ounce
  • TROPICAL FORMULATION: Highly digestible ingredients for use as staple food for your top- and mid-feeding tropical fish.
  • COMPLETE DIET: Nutritionally balanced for optimal health.
  • ACTIVE LIFE FORMULA: With added antioxidants for healthy cells, select proteins for growth and prebiotics for digestion.
  • CLEAR-WATER FORMULA: Won’t cloud water when used as directed.
  • LESS WASTE: Feed two to three times daily, only as much as your fish can consume within three minutes.

Black Neon Tetra Tank Mates 

Black neon tetras are calm in nature and get along with other fish. Tankmates for black neon tetras should not be too big or aggressive.

If a fish’s mouth is big enough to swallow a black neon tetra, having the two in the same tank is probably not a good idea, even if the fish is peaceful.

Some great tank mates for your black neon tetra includes:

Zebra Danios

zebra danio care sheet

Zebra danios are similar to black neon tetras in the way they look being white and black in color, apart from the fact they have more stripes. They are peaceful and calm, so they can live together with your tetras.

They both like the same water conditions and can eat the same food, so taking care of zebra danios with your Tetras is like caring for a single fish species.

Common Corydoras

Common Corydoras Care Sheet

Corydoras are bottom-feeding, non-territorial fish that don’t like to mess with black neon tetras. These catfish like to stay still at the bottom, but they get along well with other fish and are easy to care of, so they are a great friend for your tetras. They also need the same conditions in the tank, making keeping them together easy.


guppy care sheet

Since black neon tetras and guppies are calm and friendly fish, keeping them in the same tank is easy. They like the same water conditions, making keeping them together easier. Make sure your fish tank is big enough for at least six black neon tetras and at least 3 guppies.

Honey Gourami’s

Honey Gourami Care Sheet

Honey gouramis are shy and peaceful fish, that will make great tank mates for your black neon tetras. If you want to keep them together, make sure that you’re keeping the water flow low for them to be happiest.

Cardinal Tetras

Cardinal Tetra Care Sheet

Cardinal tetras are tough, can handle a wide range of water parameters, and are easy to care for, making them excellent tank mates for your cardinal tetras.

Both fish prefer, so make sure your fish tank is big enough to hold groups of both.

Dwarf Gourami’s

Dwarf Gourami Care Sheet

Most gouramis are known for being aggressive, but dwarf gouramis are shy and peaceful, so they can live happily with your black neon tetras.

Both fish need a lot of places to hide, so make sure to give them a lot of hiding spots so they can feel safe.

Kuhli Loaches

Kuhli Loach Care Sheet

Because they’re both so peaceful, Kuhli loaches and black neon tetras can live together without much trouble. Also, neon tetras and kuhli loaches like the same kind of water, so you can meet both of their needs at the same time.

Just make sure they both have enough space to swim around because kuhli loaches are big and black neon tetras need to be kept in groups.

Clown Plecos

clown pleco care sheet

Clown Plecos are one species of pleco that maintain their small size even after reaching adulthood, making them an excellent companion in the tank for black neon tetras.

They are very shy fish who hide during the day and only come out at night to eat the algae off the tank’s glass and other surfaces.  Plecos like to hide, so make sure you give them a cave or tank decorations they can hide in.

Bristlenose Plecos

Bristlenose Plecos Care Sheet

Bristlenose plecos are a great fish to add to an aquarium with black neon tetras because they are peaceful like the same water as black neon tetras.

They are so calm that they don’t care about other fish and spend the day hiding under decorations and driftwood, or spending their time eating algae.

You should remember that if you let this fish go hungry for a while, it might also eat the plants in your aquarium.

Harlequin Rasboras

Harlequin Rasbora Care Sheet

Harlequin Rasboras and black neon tetras get along great because they like the same water parameters. They’re also easy to care for and eat the same things as the black neon tetras.

Harlequin rasboras are also peaceful fish and live in the tank’s middle and upper levels, so they won’t bother your black neon tetras.

Tank Mates To Avoid

There are also some tank mates you’ll definitely want to avoid keeping with your black neon tetras. When you’re keeping black neon tetras, avoid the following:

  • Large cichlids
  • Aggressive barbs
  • Aggressive gouramis
  • Black widow tetras


To provide these Tetras with hiding and resting spots, live plants like java moss, narrow-leaf anacharis, and driftwood are great additions to the aquarium. If you want to give your fish more hiding places, you can decorate their tank with rocks and caverns. Remember that you will need a decent filtering system for your tank setup to include live plants and dark leaves. 

betta care facebook group

Black Neon Tetra Breeding

Black Neon Tetras can reproduce successfully within their social groups. If you already have some vibrant, full-grown black neon tetras, then choose the best pair from among them for the most significant results, or select a breeding group consisting of one male and several females.

Black Neon Tetra Common Diseases 

Diseases like ich, dropsy, and neon tetra disease can quickly spread to the black neon tetra, just as they have to other tropical fish. To keep your black neon tetras healthy, clean water is crucial. You can keep your fish healthy and happy by changing out 30–50% of the water in their tank once or twice weekly.

How Many Black Neon Tetra Can You Keep Together?

The Black Neon Tetras only need a little room because it is slightly bigger than an inch. However, as schooling fish, it is recommended that you maintain a minimum of 6 together, with a bigger group needing a bigger tank.

Black Neon Tetras can thrive in a tank of as little as 20 gallons.

However, if you want to add more fish species to your tank, you can always upgrade to a larger tank (about 30 gallons) to give them more room to swim.

Why Is Your Black Neon Tetra Losing Color?

Neon tetras are known for their bright neon blue stripe that runs along its body, accented by a jet-black dorsal fin. However, many fish keepers notice that their Black Neon Tetras can sometimes lose their color, becoming dull and drab. If you’re wondering why your black neon tetras are losing color, there are a few reasons.

There are several reasons why this might happen, and understanding these factors can help you prevent color loss and keep your fish healthy and vibrant.

The Cold Water

Your lack of attention could be causing your black neon tetras’ color loss. They can have cold water in their tank, and you wouldn’t know it. Because of their tropical origins, black neon tetras require warm water to survive, and the cold can cause their vibrant colors to fade.

If the heater isn’t doing its job or it is chilly outside, that could be why their tank is cold. Since a drop in temperature can cause your neons to turn white, use a thermometer in your tank to constantly measure the temperature in your tank. 

Bright Light

Black neon tetras will benefit from bright light but should not be kept in a tank with artificial light for too long. They only need 12 to 14 hours of light and nothing more. Doing so will just cause more stress for your tetras.

Stress from Abusive Tankmates

Like any other fish, black neon tetras prefer to be around friendly tank mates. Any aggressive behavior from another fish can be stressful because they like a peaceful environment. Avoiding harassment can cause your neons to become more reclusive and evasive, which is terrible for their health and could cause them to lose some of their original neon glow.


Diseases in your black neon tetras can also cause their colors to fade or change. You know they have contracted a disease if they are also lethargic and not feeding as they should. They will have a more fading color than you’re used to seeing.


It’s normal for your black neon tetras to sleep for a while daily; during this period, they may lose some vibrant colors to conserve energy. When your neon tetra fish are resting or sleeping, don’t be alarmed if you notice a dulling or deterioration of their color; this is normal behavior.

Black Neon Tetra Diet Pin

How To Deal With Black Neon Tetra Aggression

Black neon tetras are peaceful fish. They are, on the contrary, gentle, perceptive, and nonviolent. There are, however, situations in which they become aggressive.

To end fighting in fish, you must first determine the root source of the problem and eliminate it. Black neon tetras can be discouraged from fighting through various means, such as supplying them with enough food, allowing them plenty of room to swim around, separating them to reduce aggression, adjusting the water parameters, and adding plants.

Adequate Food

Frustration and fighting among tetras are frequently triggered by competition for food. So, frustration and fighting between black neon tetras can be minimized by regularly feeding fresh produce.

Tetras are omnivores that thrive on flake foods . The best food for black neon tetras are high-quality fish flakes containing at least 40% protein. Some other foods that tetras enjoy are blood worms, brine shrimp, tubifex, and daphnia.

Provide Enough Space

Low oxygen levels in your tank directly result from overcrowding. As a result, it raises stress levels and fuels aggressive behavior. You should upgrade to a larger tank to keep your tetras from getting too crowded in their tank and resorting to fighting.


If your black neon tetras show aggression, separate them into a new tank until they calm down. Only add new fish to the tank if you know they’ll get along.

Water Conditions

When kept in an aquarium, tetra fish do best in water between 68 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. It is, therefore, crucial that this temperature be kept consistent. The tank’s temperature can fluctuate, so a heater is recommended. A heater is helpful to keep your tetras at a comfortable temperature.

Maintain a clean tank in ideal conditions at all times. Also, the water’s pH level needs to be constantly checked to ensure optimal conditions.

Adding Plants

Since black neon tetras are fish that like to hide, you can put in as many plants as you like without worrying about crowding out the occupants. Add freshwater plants such as Vallisneria, moss, and Cabomba and floating plants like dwarf lettuce and frogbit. They will become less aggressive and more peaceful if you do this.


Why Won’t Your Black Neon Tetra Eat Flakes?

There could be several reasons why a black neon tetra won’t eat flakes, such as the flakes being too large, unappetizing or stale, or the fish may prefer a different type of food, such as live or frozen foods. It could also be due to stress or illness, so it’s important to observe the fish’s behavior and health and adjust feeding accordingly.

Will Black Neon Tetras Eat Plants?

Absolutely! Algae, tiny crustaceans, and plant remains make up a large portion of black neon tetras’ diet when foraging in the wild.

What Is Black Neon Tetra Shoal Size?

As active shoaling fish, the recommended shoal size for black neon tetras is a minimum of 6 individuals, but ideally, they should be kept in groups of 10 or more. Keeping them in larger shoals can help reduce stress and increase their activity levels, as well as bring out their vibrant colors.

Are Black Neon Tetras Hardy?

When starting out in the hobby, the Black Neon Tetra is a fantastic choice for its resilience and ease of care. They do well in various aquarium conditions and are easy to feed.

Are Black Neon Tetras Aggressive?

Black Neon tetras are not naturally aggressive fish. They are, on the contrary, docile and easygoing.

Do Black Neon Tetras Fin Nip?

Black Neon Tetras are peaceful creatures that rarely bite other fishes’ fins. However, any fish can turn violent if it feels threatened and may nip at the fins of other fish, especially during breeding season or times of stress.

Do Black Neon Tetras Jump?

Jumping ability is a strength of Neon Tetras in general, and the Black Neon Tetras are no exception. However, a stressful environment makes them more likely to jump. Giving them enough space may prevent them from trying to jump out. You should also have a heavy lid over your tank top.

Will Angelfish Eat Black Neon Tetras?

Angelfish can eat black neon tetras, but if you ensure your Black Neon Tetras have a secure environment in the tank and that your Angelfish are fed adequately so they won’t seek snacks and attack your Black Neon Tetras if they are hungry.

What Is The Minimum Tank Size For Black Neon Tetras?

Black Neon Tetras are quite energetic swimmers, so a tank of at least 20 inches long and, ideally, 20 gallons is recommended.

Can Black Neon Tetras Live With Neon Tetras?

Black Neon Tetras and Neon Tetras don’t like to school or interact much with each other while housed in the same aquarium. Despite their similar habits, they are two separate fish species. Regular neon tetras live mid-to-low in the water column, while black neons live far above. Black neon tetras, unlike regular neon tetras, prefer warmer temperatures.

Black Neon Tetra Care_ Diet, Tank Mates & Tank Setup


The black neon tetra may live with any other type of small, calm fish. This species’ vibrant colors and enthusiastic personalities make it a favorite among fish keepers. If you don’t plan on housing any giant or aggressive fish in the tank, black neon tetras will make an excellent addition. Black neon tetras are vivacious, flashy, and simple to care for; they would be a great addition to any aquarium.

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