Black Neon Tetra 101: Ultimate Care Guide & Species Profile

Dr. Mollie Newton
Published by Dr. Mollie Newton PHD| Senior Editor
Last updated: July 15, 2024
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Is your fish tank looking a bit boring? Add some excitement with the **Black Neon Tetra**! Discover the magic of these enchanting swimmers, known for bringing energy and color to any aquarium. Say goodbye to plain tank setups and embrace the fun of having these friendly and eye-catching fish. Get ready to fall in love with the charm of the Black Neon Tetra as your tank turns into a mesmerizing underwater show!

Article Summary

  • The Black Neon Tetra (Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi) is a small freshwater fish native to South America, commonly found in the Paraguay Basin in Brazil.
  • Their unique coloration features a sleek black body with two vivid stripes—an iridescent white stripe above a thicker black stripe, creating a glamorous opalescent coloring.
  • Black Neon Tetras are peaceful schooling fish and should be kept in groups of at least six individuals.

Species Summary

The black neon tetra, scientifically known as Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi, is a small freshwater fish native to South America. Black neon tetras are commonly found in the Paraguay Basin in Brazil, inhabiting small tributaries, floodplains, and rivers that flow through dense forests.

In captivity, the black neon tetra has an average lifespan of up to 5 years. They are relatively small fish, growing only up to 1.6 inches long. Their slender bodies have a torpedo-like shape with transparent fins. While they may resemble traditional neon tetras at first glance, their appearance is much darker and more striking.

The primary color of the black neon tetra is subdued, featuring two vivid stripes—an iridescent white stripe above a thicker black stripe. These stripes give them a glamorous opalescent coloring that includes shades of black, white, and green neon. They possess a sleek black body with a vibrant blue stripe running horizontally along their sides.

Due to their captivating appearance, the black neon tetra has become incredibly popular among aquarium enthusiasts. Their unique coloration adds depth and vibrancy to any tank setup. They can be kept in pairs or groups within a community tank setting.


Black Neon Tetras, scientifically known as Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi, were named after the renowned tropical fish expert Herbert Axelrod.

Habitat and Tank Requirements

Black neon tetras, native to the Amazon River basin in South America, have specific habitat and tank requirements. Understanding these conditions is crucial for providing them with a suitable environment in captivity.

In their natural habitat, black neon tetras are found in flooded forest areas, small creeks, and sandbanks with acidic water stained brown by decaying plant matter. To replicate this environment in an aquarium, it is important to consider certain factors.

The minimum tank size for the black neon tetra is 10 gallons. While they can be kept in smaller tanks temporarily, a larger space allows for better swimming room and reduces stress. Black neon tetra prefer freshwater with dim lighting and live plants. The presence of plants not only provides hiding spots but also mimics their natural habitat.

A Black Neon Tetra hiding in plants

Maintaining appropriate water conditions is vital for the well-being of black neon tetra. They thrive in well-maintained aquariums with a temperature range of 72-82°F (22-28°C). It is advisable to use a heater to maintain tank water at a consistent temperature within this range.

These fish prefer soft, slightly acidic water conditions. Aim for a pH level between 5.5 and 7.0 and water hardness of about 6 dGH. Achieving these parameters can be done through various methods such as using specific substrates or adding natural buffers like almond leaves or peat moss.

To ensure the comfort of black neon tetra, provide ample hiding places within the aquarium setup. This can be achieved by incorporating plants or driftwood into the tank design. These hiding spots not only make them feel secure but also mimic their natural environment where they seek shelter among vegetation.

Tankmates and Temperament

Black Neon Tetra are peaceful schooling fish..

Black neon tetra are beautiful fish that make a great addition to any aquarium. Black Neon Tetra are peaceful schooling fish that should be kept in groups of at least six individuals. These tiny fish have a gentle and passive temperament, making them an ideal choice for community tanks.

Compatible Companions

Black neon tetra get along well with other small, peaceful fish. Some suitable companions include barbs, danios, rasboras, and other tetras. These species share similar temperaments and can create a harmonious environment within the tank. The black neon tetra’s peaceful nature is further emphasized by their tendency to move in unison as a group during the day, creating an eye-catching display for aquarium enthusiasts.

If you’re looking for specific recommendations for tank mates, consider adding the following species to your aquarium:

Chili Rasbora

Chili Rasboras are small, peaceful fish that make excellent tankmates for Black Neon Tetra. They share similar water parameter requirements and prefer to live in a well-planted aquarium. Both species are non-aggressive and will not compete for resources, making them compatible tankmates. The vibrant red coloration of Chili Rasboras adds a striking contrast to the black neon tetra, enhancing the overall visual appeal of the tank.

Harlequin Rasbora

Harlequin Rasboras are another suitable tankmate for Black Neon Tetras. They have a peaceful temperament and thrive in similar water conditions. Harlequin Rasboras are known for their striking orange and black coloration, which complements the black neon tetras beautifully. Together, they create a visually captivating display of contrasting colors and patterns in the aquarium.

Celestial Pearl Danio

Celestial Pearl Danios, also known as Galaxy Rasboras, are peaceful and small-sized fish that can coexist harmoniously with Black Neon Tetras. Both species prefer well-planted tanks with similar water parameters. The vibrant blue and red spots on the Celestial Pearl Danios’ bodies create a stunning contrast when paired with the sleek black bodies of Black Neon Tetras, making them an ideal tankmate choice.

Red Eye Tetra

Red-eyed tetras and black neon tetras are compatible species that can coexist in a well-maintained aquarium. With similar care requirements including water parameters and peaceful behavior, they can thrive together in a tank of at least 20 to 30 gallons. Providing hiding spots and maintaining groups of at least 6 to 8 individuals for each species helps ensure their comfort and reduces the potential for minor aggression. Monitoring their behavior upon introduction and maintaining stable conditions will contribute to a harmonious coexistence.

Rummy Nose Tetra

Rummy Nose Tetras are another peaceful species that make great tankmates for Black Neon Tetras. Both species have similar water parameter requirements and enjoy swimming in the middle to upper levels of the aquarium. The vibrant red coloration of Rummy Nose Tetras adds a beautiful contrast to the black and silver hues of the Black Neon Tetras, creating an eye-catching display in the tank.

Neon Tetra

Neon Tetras are often considered as suitable tankmates for Black Neon Tetras due to their peaceful nature and similar care requirements. Both species are small, active swimmers that prefer to be kept in schools. The combination of their vibrant colors, with the Neon Tetras’ blue and red stripes contrasting against the Black Neon Tetras’ black bodies, creates an aesthetically pleasing and visually appealing display in the aquarium.

Small Freshwater Catfish

Small freshwater catfish, such as Corydoras species , can be compatible tankmates for Black Neon Tetras. These catfish are bottom-dwellers and help to keep the tank clean by scavenging for leftover food and debris. They have a peaceful temperament, which complements the calm nature of Black Neon Tetras. The catfish’s presence also adds diversity to the tank, both in terms of appearance and behavior. Specific species like the Rocha’s Catfish and Bonehead Cory adds biodiversity and allure to your community tank.

Other compatible tankmates include gouramis (Honey, Dwarf, Sparkling, Pearl) and freshwater aquarium snails. These compatible tank mates will not only add variety but also enhance the overall aesthetics of your aquarium.

Beware of Larger Fish

It’s essential to avoid housing black neon tetras with larger fish or aggressive fish that may intimidate or prey on them. The small size of these tetras makes them vulnerable to potential aggression from bigger species. To ensure a safe and stress-free environment for your black neon tetras, choose tank mates carefully.

Health and Dietary Requirements

Black Neon Tetras, like many other fish species, have specific health and dietary requirements that need to be met in order for them to thrive. Providing the fish fry the right food and maintaining good water quality are essential aspects of their care.

Diet for Black Neon Tetras

Black Neon Tetras are omnivores..

Black Neon Tetras are omnivores, which means they can consume both plant matter and small organisms. To ensure their nutritional needs are met, it is recommended to provide them with a varied diet consisting of high-quality flake foods, freeze-dried or frozen brine shrimp, daphnia, and micro-pellets.

A varied diet offers numerous benefits for these vibrant fish. It helps prevent nutritional deficiencies while promoting optimal growth and coloration. Incorporating live foods such as brine shrimp or bloodworms into their diet provides enrichment and mimics their natural feeding behavior.

Feeding Recommendations

To maintain the health of your black neon tetras, it is important to avoid overfeeding. Overfeeding can lead to digestive issues and negatively impact water quality in the aquarium. A general guideline is to feed them only what they can consume within two minutes during each feeding session. This ensures they receive enough sustenance without causing any harm.

It’s worth noting that not all fish have the same appetite or metabolism. Observing your black neon tetras’ eating habits will help you gauge the appropriate amount of food required for their satisfaction without excessive waste accumulation.

Water Quality Maintenance

Regular water changes play a crucial role in maintaining the overall health of black neon tetras. These fish thrive in clean water conditions with stable parameters. Aim for weekly partial water changes of around 25% to remove accumulated toxins and maintain optimal conditions.

When performing water changes, ensure that new water added to separate tank matches the temperature and chemistry of the existing aquarium water. Sudden changes in temperature or pH levels can stress the fish and compromise their well-being.

Common Diseases and Prevention

Black neon tetras are susceptible to various diseases, including ich, fin rot, and the notorious “Neon Tetra Disease.” This parasitic infection can be devastating if left untreated. To prevent such diseases from affecting your fish, it is crucial to maintain excellent water quality and promptly address any signs of illness.


Perform regular visual inspections of your black neon tetras for any physical abnormalities or behavioral changes.

If you notice symptoms like white spots on their bodies, tattered fins, or loss of appetite, take immediate action by isolating affected individuals and seeking appropriate treatment options.

Black Neon Tetra Breeding

Breeding black neon tetras can be an exciting and rewarding experience for fish enthusiasts. By providing them with the right conditions, you can successfully breed these beautiful fish in your own aquarium. is important to replicate their natural habitat as closely as possible..

To begin with, it is important to replicate their natural habitat as closely as possible. Black neon tetras are native to the soft, acidic waters of South America. Therefore, maintaining similar water conditions is crucial for successful breeding. Aim for a pH level between 5.0 and 7.0 and keep the water temperature around 75-82°F (24-28°C). Using a dark substrate in the breeding tank mimics subdued lighting of their natural environment and helps create a comfortable setting for spawning.

Separate breeding tanks should be set up to ensure optimal conditions for successful reproduction. These tanks should be equipped with fine-leaved plants such as Java moss or floating plants like Amazon Frogbit. These plants provide hiding spots for the eggs and protect them from being consumed by adult fish.

When ready to breed, introduce a well-conditioned breeding pair, or a breeding group of black neon tetras into the breeding tank. It is recommended to have at least two males per female to avoid excessive aggression towards a single female. The male will display courtship behavior by chasing the female and performing elaborate fin displays.

Once courtship is complete, the pregnant female will lay hundreds of eggs on plant leaves or other surfaces within hours after spawning takes place. These eggs are tiny and transparent, making them difficult to spot initially. However, they will darken over time as they develop.

Within 22-26 hours after being laid, the eggs will hatch into fry that are extremely small and delicate. At this stage, it is crucial to provide appropriate nutrition for their growth and development. Baby worms and brine, shrimp or infusoria serve as excellent food sources for the fry. These can be obtained from specialized pet stores or prepared at home using appropriate techniques.

To ensure the survival of the fry, it is essential to remove the parents from the breeding tank immediately after spawning. Adult black neon tetras have a tendency to consume their own eggs or newly hatched fry. By separating them, you greatly increase the chances of successfully raising a healthy brood.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Black Neon Tetras friendly?

Black Neon Tetras are known for their friendly and peaceful nature. These delightful little fish are highly social and get along well with other non-aggressive tank mates. Their amiable disposition makes them an excellent addition to community aquariums, where they add a touch of vibrancy and harmony to the aquatic environment.

How many Black Neon Tetras should be kept together?

To ensure a thriving and happy school, it’s recommended to keep Black Neon Tetras in groups of one or two males and at least six individuals. These schooling fish feel more secure and exhibit their natural behaviors when kept in larger numbers. Maintaining a sizable group also helps reduce stress and promotes a visually captivating display of their striking colors and synchronized swimming patterns.

What does Black Neon Tetra eat?

Black Neon Tetras are omnivores, meaning they consume a varied diet. In their natural habitat, they primarily feed on small insects, crustaceans, and plant matter. In a home aquarium, you can provide them with a balanced diet that includes high-quality flakes, pellets, and occasional live or frozen foods like brine shrimp, daphnia, or bloodworms. Supplementing their diet with vegetable-based foods ensures they receive all the essential nutrients for optimal health and coloration.

What is the difference between neon tetra and Black Neon Tetra?

The key difference between neon tetras and Black Neon Tetras lies in their appearance. While both species share the signature neon blue horizontal stripe along their sides, the Black Neon Tetra features an additional striking black stripe just below the neon one. This dark stripe gives them a more dramatic and visually captivating appearance compared to the regular neon tetras.

Why are they called Black Neon Tetras?

Black Neon Tetras are aptly named due to their distinct black stripe that complements the classic neon blue stripe along their sides. This striking coloration sets them apart from other tetra species, adding an elegant touch to their appearance. The combination of vibrant neon and deep black hues makes these fish truly captivating and sought after by aquarium hobbyists around the world.

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