Black Neon Tetra 101: Care, Diet, Tank Size, Tank Mates & More

The Black Neon Tetra is a freshwater species that belongs to the Characin family. They come from the Paraguay Basin and the Taquari River in Brazil.

They are a variety of another popular species and are sought after for their unique appearance. The scientific name for the Black Neon Tetra is Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi. 

These fish are pretty low maintenance and easy to care for, making them an ideal option for those who are owning fish for the first time. 

Care Guide

Although Black Neon Tetras are a hardy species, they still have certain care requirements that must be met in order for them to live a healthy life. 

Tank Size

Black Neon Tetras are schooling fish that need to be kept in groups. They are small fish that do not need a huge amount of space. As such, they should be housed in a tank that can hold a minimum of 20 gallons. 

If you plan on keeping multiple species inside your tank, you may wish to opt for a tank that has a larger capacity. This will provide them with plenty of space to swim freely. 

Tank Mates

These fish have a peaceful temperament that should always be kept in a group. They are best suited to smaller aquariums but they cope well in a community tank set up.

Due to the small size of these fish, you must think carefully about the other species that you keep them with. Those that are larger and more aggressive are likely to view them as a food source. 

In terms of compatibility, the best options are danios, rasboras, gourami, and black tetras. 

Same Species Tanks

As Black Neon Tetras are schooling fish, they must be kept in groups of at least half a dozen but more if possible. They do not cope so well when living alone and keeping less than size may affect the fish’s confidence when it comes to swimming around the tank. 

Water Parameters

Back Neon Tetras are not an overly demanding species, however, the water must be of a certain temperature and quality. In the wild, these fish are found in shallow streams, areas of flooded forests, and sandbanks where the conditions are very acidic and the water is brown from the decaying plant matter. The bodies of Black Neon Tetras will appear brighter when they are kept in soft, slightly acidic water. 

Replicating the conditions in your aquarium of the habitat where these fish are naturally found isn’t going to be overly challenging, you must simply make sure that the temperature, pH level, and hardness of the water are correct.

The ideal temperature is between 75 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit but maintaining a temperature of around 75 degrees Fahrenheit is recommended. The pH level should fall in the range of 5.0 to 7.5. Preferably the water should be soft at around 6 dGH. 

What To Put In Their Tank

To ensure that your Black Neon Tetra lives a happy and healthy life you must try to recreate the environment that it is naturally found in. Incorporate subdued lighting. This is going to enhance the color of their bodies. Add a layer of a dark but soft sand substrate such as river sand to the bottom of the tank along with some dark leaves.

The leaves are going to slightly alter the color of the water. Although these fish do not tend to venture down towards the bottom of the tank very often, sand would be found in their natural habitat. Next, you will need to introduce some vegetation to the tank. You can include a variety of live plants such as java moss.

Adding driftwood is also recommended. We would also advise you to add some rocks and caves as this will provide them with spots to rest and hide. An effective filtration system is going to be another important addition to your tank. Although Black Neon Tetras are not known to produce a lot of waste, when kept in groups over time the waste will begin to accumulate.

A filtration system will ensure that this waste does not have an impact on the ammonia and nitrate levels. Finally, Black Neon Tetras prefer a mid-level current as this is where they typically tend to swim.  

Common Diseases

Just like many other fish species, Black Neon Tetras are not completely intolerant to disease. They can suffer from many diseases that affect other tropical fish such as ich. This disease can be avoided by making sure that the correct tank conditions and water quality is maintained. Moreover, this species can suffer from a disease known as ‘’Neon Tetra Disease’’.

This is caused by a Microsporidian Parasite and while it starts mild, it can escalate into a much more severe condition. Unfortunately, this disease can transmit to other fish in the community and there is currently no cure for it. If you do not get your fish from a reputable breeder, there is a chance that they may be carrying disease into the tank which can then infect other fish.  

Food & Diet

Black Neon Tetras are an omnivorous species and they are not overly fussy eaters. They will eat a variety of frozen, live, and artificial foods. In the wild, they will usually eat crustaceans, algae, small invertebrates, and fallen fruits and plant matter. 

When choosing food for these tetras it is important to remember that they have small mouths so you should avoid choosing foods that are going to be too big for them to consume. Also, try not to overfeed them because this can lead to health issues. 

Whilst you can feed your Black Neon Tetras dry flakes or pellets, you should supplement their diet with live and frozen foods. 


The average lifespan of a Black Neon Tetra is around 5 years. Although this species may be tough, as with any other fish there is no guarantee that your Black Neon Tetras are going to live for this long. Providing that their needs are catered to, you will likely find that your fish lives to reach its maximum lifespan. 


The body of a Black Neon Tetra is shaped like a tornado while the head is round and the fins are clear. In terms of color, their bodies tend to have black, white, and greenish hues.

They also have two prominent stripes going across their bodies. The top stripe is a white-green color whilst the bottom strip is black. This stripe sets the Black Neon Tetra apart from other Tetra species. 


Black Neon Tetras grow to an approximate length of 4cm. In some rare cases, they may grow a little bit longer than this. 

Behavior and Temperament

These fish are known for their gentle and peaceful temperaments. They do not tend to display any signs of aggression towards other fish in the tank, even those that belong to the same species. You will often notice that the group of Black Neon Tetras will swim through the tank together. 


This species lays eggs and will spawn in pairs of schools. It is recommended that you set up a separate tank that is going to be used for breeding purposes. Prior to breeding, you will need to condition the pairs by giving them live foods. Make sure that you choose a healthy pair which are at least 1 year old. In regards to the ratio, you should add one male and multiple females. 

Before breeding the fish, you must ensure that the conditions of the separate tank replicate those of the main tank. Set the temperature at 75 degrees Fahrenheit before slowly increasing it to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Females can lay hundreds of eggs which they will scatter onto the substrate or the sides of the tank. The eggs will take around 22 hours to hatch and once they do you will need to remove the breeding pair because there is a risk that they will eat them. Initially, they will eat the egg sac. As they grow you can then feed them liquid dry food and baby brine shrimp. 

Gender Differences: Male vs Female

There are not hugely noticeable differences between male and female Black Neon Tetras. The females tend to have larger, rounder bellies whilst the males tend to look fitter. As such, the differences in sex can be identified by the shape and size of the abdomen. 

Fun Facts

  • Black Neon Tetras are slightly taller than the other tetra species.
  • They have a unique appearance and their glowing bodies make them stand out amongst other species inside a tank. 
  • These fish prefer to be kept in a dimly lit or fluorescent-lit tank which enhances the natural look of the aquarium. 
  • Although Black Neon Tetras are a similar size to Neon Tetras, there are differences in the appearance of these fish. They have different colored bodies and slightly different markings. This is what sets each species apart from one another.