Black Skirt Tetras: Care Tips and Comprehensive Guide

black skirt tetra profile
Dr. Mollie Newton
Published by Dr. Mollie Newton PHD| Senior Editor
Last updated: June 16, 2024
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Ever thought about the **fascinating** history of the Black Skirt Tetra? Wondering how to care for them? Here’s your ticket to their **interesting past**, care tips, and the special charm they bring. Dive into the **enchanting** world of these fish, becoming a confident and informed fish keeper.

Article Summary

  • Black Skirt Tetras, also known as Gymnocorymbus ternetzi, are members of the Characidae family and are native to South America, specifically Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, and Paraguay.
  • These fish thrive in slow-moving rivers, streams, and flooded areas in their natural habitat.
  • Black Skirt Tetras are social fish and should be kept in groups of at least five to six individuals to reduce stress and enhance their coloration.

Black Skirt Tetra Species Summary

The Black Skirt Tetra, also known as Gymnocorymbus ternetzi, is a fascinating member of the Characidae family. With its darker coloration and unique features, this species stands out among its relatives.

Native to South America, particularly Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, and Paraguay, these fish have various names and origin variations.

The Black Skirt Tetra goes by several names due to its distinctive appearance. Some of these names include Blackamoors, Petticoat Tetras, Skit Tetra, and Black Widow tetras. These different aliases reflect the diversity in how people refer to this captivating species.

Originating from South America, the Black Skirt Tetra thrives in natural habitat characterized by streams and shaded waters within countries like Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, and Paraguay. Their preference for the water column makes them a remarkable sight in their natural environment.


The most distinctive feature of this fish is its deep black coloration..

The black skirt tetra is a small freshwater fish known for its striking appearance. It has a sleek and elongated body, typically reaching a length of about 2 inches.

The most distinctive feature of this fish is its deep black coloration, which covers its entire body. The black skirt tetra also has a rounded belly and a small mouth.

Its fins are transparent and delicate, adding to its overall elegance. Additionally, this species is characterized by its long, flowing tail fin, which adds a graceful touch to its appearance.

These tetras are known for their striking appearance with jet-black bodies and flowing white or red fins. Their active nature adds liveliness and movement to the aquarium, enhancing its overall appeal. Their contrasting colors create a beautiful visual display in any aquatic setup.


Male black skirt tetras and female Black Skirt Tetras exhibit slight differences in appearance. Males tend to have longer fins compared to females. This distinction in male fish often allows enthusiasts to identify the gender of these fish when observing them closely.

Size Range, Lifespan, and Growth Rate

Black Skirt Tetra typically reach a size range of 1-2.5 inches when fully grown. It’s important to note that individual variations may occur within this range.

With proper care and maintenance, these tetras can live for an average of 3 to 5 years. Factors such as water conditions, habitat quality, and stress levels play a crucial role in determining their lifespan.

Maintaining a stress-free environment is vital for the well-being of black widow tetra. By ensuring optimal water conditions and providing a suitable habitat, enthusiasts can support healthy growth and maximize the lifespan of these captivating fish.

Habitat and Tank Conditions

The black skirt tetra, a popular freshwater fish in the aquarium trade, originates from slow-moving rivers, streams, and flooded areas. To provide them with a suitable environment in captivity, it is essential to understand their natural habitat and replicate it as closely as possible.

When setting up a tank for black skirt tetra, it is crucial to consider the minimum tank size and the need for ample swimming space. These active swimmers require enough room to explore their surroundings comfortably.

black skirt tetra with its flowing fins, profile

A tank size of at least 15 gallons is recommended, but if possible, a 20-gallon tank would be preferable. Providing larger tanks not only accommodates their active behavior but also promotes better overall health.

Water Quality and Filtration

Maintaining suitable water parameters is crucial for the well-being of black skirt tetras. They thrive in temperatures between 72-79°F (22-26°C) and prefer slightly acidic to neutral water conditions with a pH range of 6.5-7.5.

Regular water changes and monitoring water quality are essential aspects of their care routine. Regular water changes are necessary to maintain good water quality.

By replacing a portion of the aquarium water regularly, you can remove accumulated waste products and keep the environment clean for your fish. Aim for weekly or bi-weekly partial water changes depending on your specific setup.

Substrate and Simulating Natural Habitat

Creating an aesthetically pleasing environment for your black skirt tetra involves carefully selecting substrate and decorations that mimic their natural habitat. Opt for gravel or dark sand as substrate options since they resemble riverbeds where these fish typically dwell.


Including driftwood, rocks, caves, and live plants will provide hiding spots while adding visual interest to the tank. Consider taller plants that reach mid-level height to accommodate their swimming patterns effectively.

Black skirt tetra appreciate having hiding spots within their aquarium. You can achieve this by incorporating plants or caves into the tank design. These hiding places not only provide a sense of security but also create a more natural and stimulating environment for your fish.

When designing the aquascape for black skirt tetra, keep in mind their preference for open swimming space. Avoid overcrowding the tank with too many decorations, as it may restrict their movement.

Adequate lighting is crucial to enhance the vibrant colors of these fish and create an appealing visual display.

Behavior and Temperament of Black Widow Tetra

Black Skirt Tetras are active schooling fish that thrive when kept in groups of at least six. These charming tetras exhibit a peaceful temperament, making them suitable for community tanks.

However, it is important to note that they may nip at the fins of long-finned tankmates. This behavior is more likely to occur if the tetras are stressed or if the tank becomes overcrowded.

To ensure their well-being, keep a decent-sized group of Black Skirt Tetras together. When housed in larger numbers, these fish feel more comfortable and confident, resulting in reduced stress levels and better overall health. A group of six or more tetras is ideal for creating an engaging and vibrant display within your tank.


During the breeding season, female black skirt tetra may become slightly more aggressive. It is essential to provide ample hiding spots and plants in the aquarium to reduce any potential conflicts among tank inhabitants. Maintaining a balanced ratio of males to females can also help minimize aggression during mating.

Tank Mates

When selecting tankmates for black skirt tetras, it’s crucial to consider compatibility and peaceful coexistence. Avoid pairing black skirt tetra with aggressive fish or those with long flowing fins susceptible to nipping.

Similarly, long-finned species are more likely than other fish to be targeted by the tetras, which can result in damaged fins and stress for the affected fish. Opt for other peaceful species that share similar water temperature preferences and care requirements. Some suitable companions include:

Neon Tetras

Neon Tetras are known for their vibrant colors, which can add a beautiful contrast to the black skirt tetras’ dark coloration. They are also schooling fish, so it is recommended to keep them in groups of at least six to eight individuals.

This can create a sense of security and reduce stress for both the neon tetras and black skirt tetras.

Corydoras Catfish

Corydoras catfish are known for their ability to clean up leftover food and debris from the substrate, which can help maintain good water quality in the tank. They are also social fish and prefer to be kept in groups, so it is recommended to have at least three to four corydoras catfish in the tank.

This can provide companionship for both the corydoras catfish and black skirt tetras. However, it’s important to note that corydoras catfish have delicate barbels, so care should be taken to provide a soft substrate to prevent any damage.

a pair of black skirt tetras

Dwarf Gouramis

Dwarf Gouramis can be compatible tank mates for black skirt tetras, but some caution is advised. While they are generally peaceful, dwarf gouramis can sometimes display territorial behavior, especially during breeding.

It is recommended to provide ample hiding spots and visual barriers in the tank to reduce any potential aggression. Dwarf gouramis are known for their vibrant colors and beautiful flowing fins, which can create a visually striking contrast with the black skirt tetras.

Harlequin Rasboras

These small, peaceful fish are known for their shoaling behavior, meaning they prefer to be kept in groups of at least six. By adding Harlequin Rasboras to the tank, you can create a lively and active presence that complements the black skirt tetra’s peaceful nature.

Black Skirt Tetra Care

Black Skirt Tetras are a popular choice for aquarium enthusiasts due to their stunning appearance and easy care requirements. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced fish keeper, these tetras are a great addition to any tank.

To keep your black skirt tetra happy and healthy, it is crucial to create a stress-free environment for them. Monitoring the temperature between 72°F to 79°F (22°C to 26°C) ensures they thrive in optimal conditions. Sudden changes in water parameters should be avoided as they can cause stress.

Maintaining clean water is vital for the well-being of black skirt tetras. Regular water changes help maintain stable water parameters while preventing the buildup of harmful substances. It’s also important to regularly test the water quality using appropriate kits available at pet stores.

Food and Diet

In the wild, black skirt tetras primarily feed on insects and plants. To ensure their optimal health in captivity, it is essential to provide black skirt tetra with a balanced diet that mimics their natural food sources.

These tetras have versatile feeding habits and readily accept various types of frozen and live food.

High-quality flakes and pellets designed specifically for tropical fish make an excellent staple diet. Supplementing your skirt tetra diet with live or frozen foods such as shrimp or bloodworms can provide enrichment and enhance their color vibrancy.

Common Diseases and Prevention Strategies

Stress-related Ich is a common ailment among these fish species..

Black skirt tetras are susceptible to diseases such as Ich, fungal infections, and bacterial infections. Stress-related Ich is a common ailment among these fish species and can be caused by fluctuations in water conditions or poor water quality.

Regular monitoring of water parameters through tests helps identify any imbalances that may lead to stress-related diseases. Prompt treatment with appropriate medications is crucial in preventing disease outbreaks.

Maintaining good water quality through regular cleaning routines significantly reduces the risk of infections.

Breeding the Black Skirt Tetra

Breeding the Black Skirt Tetra can be an exciting and rewarding experience for fish enthusiasts. This guide will walk you through the breeding process, from setting up a separate breeding tank to caring for the fry.

Preparing the Breeding Tank

To successfully breed Black Skirt Tetras, it is crucial to provide them with the right environment. Start by setting up a separate breeding tank with proper water parameters and cover. Lowering the water level slightly and increasing the temperature can help stimulate spawning.


Introduce fine-leaved plants into the tank to create hiding places for eggs. The Black Skirt Tetra prefers laying their eggs on these plants. Adding accessories like rocks or PVC pipes can offer additional protection for both eggs and fry.

Monitoring Behavior and Conditioning

Before breeding, it is essential to monitor the behavior of your tetras closely. Separate males and females into different tanks for conditioning.

This separation allows them to develop optimal mating conditions before introducing them into the breeding tank.

Once you have a bonded pair, ensure they are well-fed with a balanced diet rich in protein. High-quality flakes or pellets supplemented with live or frozen foods like baby brine shrimp will keep them healthy and ready to reproduce.

Egg Scattering and Fertilization

During mating season, female Black Skirt Tetras scatter their eggs among fine-leaved plants in the tank. The male then fertilizes these eggs by releasing milt over them.

It’s fascinating to observe how black stripes become more pronounced on both male and female during this process.

After spawning, promptly remove the parents from the breeding tank as they may eat their own eggs if left unattended.

Egg Hatching and Fry Development

Once hatched, you will notice tiny fry clinging to the plants..

The incubation period for Black Skirt Tetra eggs typically lasts around 24-48 hours depending on water temperature.

Once hatched, you will notice tiny fry clinging to the plants or any available cover. At this stage, it is crucial to provide them with suitable food sources.

Transitioning fry from their egg sacs to newly hatched brine shrimp can be an ideal first food option. As they grow, you can gradually introduce finely crushed flakes or powdered fry food into their diet.

Ensure a well-balanced and varied diet for optimal growth and development.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many Black Skirt Tetras should be kept together?

Black Skirt Tetras are social fish that thrive in groups. To provide a comfortable and natural environment, it’s recommended to keep them in schools of at least five to six individuals.

This group size helps reduce stress, encourages their natural behavior, and enhances their vibrant coloration.

Are Black Skirt Tetras aggressive?

Black Skirt Tetras are generally peaceful fish, but they can display occasional territorial or nipping behavior, especially when they feel crowded or if there’s competition for resources.

Providing them with adequate space, hiding spots, and a well-maintained aquarium can help minimize aggression. They are considered one of the more peaceful tetra species.

What do Black Skirt Tetras eat?

Black Skirt Tetras are omnivores with a varied diet. In the wild, they feed on small aquatic insects, crustaceans, and plant matter. In captivity, they readily accept high-quality flake or pellet food designed for tropical fish.

To keep them healthy and vibrant, it’s advisable to supplement their diet with occasional treats like frozen or live foods such as brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms.

What do Black Skirt Tetras need?

Black Skirt Tetras require a well-maintained aquarium with stable water conditions. They prefer slightly acidic to neutral water (pH 6.5-7.5), a temperature range of 72-79°F (22-26°C), and good filtration.

Adequate swimming space and hiding spots like plants or caves are essential. Regular water changes and monitoring water quality are crucial for their well-being.

Why are they called Black Skirt Tetra?

Black Skirt Tetras are named for their distinctive appearance. They have a dark, almost black, horizontal stripe that runs along the lower half of their bodies, resembling a “skirt.”

This striking marking is a key characteristic that distinguishes them from other tetra species and lends them their common name.

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