Freshwater Fish

Black Neon Tetra Care: Tank Requirements and Temperament

Imagine adding a mesmerizing touch of elegance to your aquarium with the stunning Black Neon Tetra. Vibrant and captivating, this delicate fish boasts a sleek black body accented by a radiant neon blue stripe. A true standout in any aquarium, the Black Neon Tetra brings life and beauty to your underwater world. Dive into the world of this captivating fish as we explore its unique characteristics, care requirements, and the joy it can bring to your aquatic paradise.


The Black Neon Tetra, also known as Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi, is a small and stunning fish that adds a touch of elegance to any aquarium. With its dark body and vibrant neon blue stripe, it is truly a sight to behold. The body of the Black Neon Tetra is a deep black, which provides a beautiful contrast to the neon blue stripe that runs horizontally along its body. This stripe starts at the eye and extends all the way to the base of the tail. With their streamlined body shape and sleek fins, these fish are incredibly graceful swimmers and are sure to catch your eye.


As their name suggests, the Black Neon Tetra’s characteristic black body is one of its most defining features. The black coloration of their body is quite striking and serves as a perfect backdrop for the vibrant neon blue stripe that runs along their midsection. This combination of colors makes the Black Neon Tetra a visually captivating fish that instantly grabs attention. The intensity and brilliance of these colors may vary slightly among individuals, but they generally maintain the same eye-catching appearance.


The Black Neon Tetra is a small fish, typically reaching a maximum size of about 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) in length. Despite their small size, they make a big impact in an aquarium with their striking coloration and lively behavior. Their petite size also makes them a great choice for nano and community tanks, as they won’t outgrow the space or overshadow other inhabitants.


The Black Neon Tetra has a slender, elongated body that is perfectly designed for swift swimming. Their streamlined shape allows them to move effortlessly through the water, creating a mesmerizing display for observers. With their dorsal and anal fins blending seamlessly with the rest of their body, these fish have an overall sleek appearance. Their fins are delicate and flow gracefully, adding to their elegance.


Natural Habitat

The Black Neon Tetra is native to the clear, slow-moving waters of the Amazon River basin in South America. In the wild, they are typically found in densely vegetated areas, such as flooded forests and lagoons. These habitats provide them with plenty of hiding spots and cover from predators. The water in their natural habitat is often stained with tannins, giving it a dark tinge.

Tank Requirements

To recreate the natural habitat of the Black Neon Tetra, it’s important to provide them with a well-planted aquarium. They will feel most at home in a tank that mimics the densely vegetated areas they come from. Consider adding floating plants, such as Water Sprite or Amazon Frogbit, to provide shade and cover. It’s also recommended to include some driftwood or dried leaf litter to release tannins into the water and replicate the natural dark water condition they are accustomed to. Providing plenty of hiding spots, such as caves or dense vegetation, will help make them feel secure.

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Water Parameters


The Black Neon Tetra thrives in warmer water temperatures, ranging from 75-82°F (24-28°C). It’s important to maintain a stable temperature within this range to ensure the health and wellbeing of these fish. Using a reliable aquarium heater is essential to regulate the temperature and prevent any fluctuations that could stress the fish.

pH Level

In their natural habitat, the water in which Black Neon Tetras reside tends to have a slightly acidic to neutral pH level. Aim for a pH range of 6.0-7.0 to provide the most comfortable conditions for these fish. Consistency in pH is crucial, as sudden changes can be detrimental to their health. Regularly testing the water parameters and making any necessary adjustments will help ensure a stable environment.

Water Hardness

The Black Neon Tetra prefers soft to slightly hard water conditions. A general water hardness level of 4-8 dGH is suitable for these fish. It’s worth noting that these tetras may show their best colors in softer water, as it allows the neon blue stripe to really pop. Using a water conditioner to remove any harmful chemicals and adjust the water hardness is recommended.

Tank Setup

Tank Size

A tank size of at least 10 gallons (38 liters) is recommended for a small group of Black Neon Tetras. However, a larger tank will provide them with more swimming space and allow for a greater number of individuals. It’s essential to consider the overall size and compatibility of the tankmates when determining the appropriate tank size.

Aquarium Decorations

To create a suitable environment for the Black Neon Tetra, a well-planted aquarium is essential. Provide a variety of live plants, such as Java fern, Anubias, and Cryptocoryne, to create a lush and natural setting. Floating plants can also be added to provide shade and replicate the dim lighting these fish prefer. Adding pieces of driftwood or arranging dried leaf litter can help recreate the dark water conditions they thrive in. Additionally, creating a few hiding spots with rocks, caves, or dense vegetation will make these fish feel secure.


Maintaining a clean and well-filtered aquarium is crucial for the health of the Black Neon Tetra. A combination of mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration is recommended to keep the water quality optimal. Using a sponge or internal filter is a great choice, as it won’t create a strong current that could stress these delicate fish. Regular water changes are also essential to remove any accumulated waste and maintain pristine water conditions.


Black Neon Tetras prefer dimly lit environments, mimicking the lighting conditions of their natural habitat. Indirect or diffused lighting is ideal to create a subdued ambiance that enhances the colors of these fish. A combination of low to moderate light intensity will allow any live plants in the aquarium to thrive and create a beautiful natural backdrop.


Live plants play a vital role in creating a suitable habitat for the Black Neon Tetra. Not only do they provide hiding spots and create a natural environment, but they also help maintain water quality by absorbing excess nutrients. Plants like Amazon Sword, Java Moss, and Vallisneria add not only aesthetic value but also contribute to the overall well-being of the fish. Ensure that any plants you choose are compatible with the soft to slightly hard water conditions preferred by these tetras.

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Carnivorous Diet

The Black Neon Tetra is a carnivorous species that primarily feeds on small invertebrates and insect larvae in the wild. In the aquarium, they readily accept a variety of commercially available foods. Their diet should consist of high-quality flakes or pellets specifically designed for tropical fish. It’s essential to provide them with a varied diet to ensure they receive all the necessary nutrients.

Feeding Recommendations

Offering a mix of dry and frozen foods will keep the Black Neon Tetra healthy and vibrant. High-quality flake or pellet foods serve as a staple diet and can be supplemented with freeze-dried or frozen options such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, or daphnia. Feed them small portions two to three times a day, ensuring they consume the food within a few minutes. This feeding regime will help replicate their natural foraging behavior and maintain their overall health.


Schooling Behavior

Like many tetra species, the Black Neon Tetra is a social fish that exhibits a strong schooling behavior. They feel most secure and confident when swimming in a group of five or more individuals. When kept in smaller numbers or alone, Black Neon Tetras may become stressed and display timid or erratic behavior. Watching a school of these fish gracefully swim together is truly a sight to behold and adds a sense of liveliness to any aquarium.


Black Neon Tetras are generally peaceful and rarely display any aggressive tendencies. They are a great addition to community tanks, as they get along well with most other peaceful fish species. However, as with any fish, there can be exceptions to this general behavior. Occasionally, territorial disputes or fin nipping may occur, especially if they feel overcrowded or threatened. Providing ample space and hiding spots will help reduce any aggression or stress.


When choosing tank mates for Black Neon Tetras, it’s essential to consider their peaceful nature and small size. Opt for similarly sized and peaceful community fish that share their preference for soft to slightly hard water conditions. Good tank mates include other tetras like Cardinals, Rummy Nose Tetras, or Ember Tetras, as well as small peaceful catfish species such as Corydoras or Otocinclus. Avoid housing them with aggressive or larger fish that may view them as potential prey.


Spawning Behavior

Breeding Black Neon Tetras can be a rewarding and fascinating experience for aquarium hobbyists. These fish are relatively easy to breed, and with the right conditions, they will readily spawn in a well-maintained aquarium. During the breeding process, males and females will actively court and display vibrant coloration to attract a mate. The female will scatter adhesive eggs among plants or other submerged surfaces, while the male will then fertilize them.

Breeding Setup

To encourage successful breeding in Black Neon Tetras, it’s important to provide the appropriate breeding setup. A separate breeding tank or a well-planted section within the main tank can be used. The water in the breeding setup should be slightly softer and more acidic than the main tank. Maintaining a temperature of around 78-80°F (25-27°C) can also stimulate breeding. Provide plenty of well-conditioned plants for the female to lay her adhesive eggs on, ensuring that the plants have fine leaves or mesh to prevent the eggs from falling through.

Fry Care

After spawning, the eggs will typically hatch within 24 to 48 hours. Once the fry are free-swimming, they can be fed infusoria or commercially available liquid fry food for the first few days. As they grow, their diet can be transitioned to newly hatched brine shrimp or powdered fry food. Keeping the water quality pristine and providing hiding spots, such as floating plants or fine-leaved plants, will give the fry the best chance of survival. As the fry develop, they will begin to display the iconic neon blue stripe, gradually growing into their distinctive adult coloration.

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Health and Disease

Common Diseases

The Black Neon Tetra is generally a hardy fish, but they can still be susceptible to common aquarium diseases. One of the most common diseases that may affect these tetras is Ich, which presents as small white spots on the body and fins. Other diseases to watch out for include fin rot, fungal infections, and bacterial infections. It’s essential to carefully observe their behavior and appearance and take immediate action if any signs of illness are detected.


Maintaining a clean and well-maintained aquarium is key to preventing disease in Black Neon Tetras. Regular water changes, proper filtration, and a healthy diet will go a long way in keeping these fish in optimal health. It’s also crucial to avoid introducing any new fish or plants without proper quarantine procedures. Quarantining new additions helps prevent the spread of potential diseases to an established tank.


If disease is detected, swift action should be taken to ensure the health of the affected fish. Many common diseases can be treated with over-the-counter medications specifically designed for tropical fish. Follow the instructions on the medication carefully, and consider removing any sick fish to a separate quarantine tank to prevent further spread of the disease. Quarantine tanks can also be used to administer specific treatments, such as salt baths or antibiotic medications, to target the disease more effectively.

Interesting Facts

Selective Breeding

For aquarium enthusiasts, the art of selective breeding has resulted in various color variants of the Black Neon Tetra. Through careful breeding practices, hobbyists have developed strains with enhanced colors, such as the “Diamond Neon Tetra” with a vibrant diamond-like sheen. These selectively bred strains add even more diversity and beauty to the Black Neon Tetra species.

Black Neon Tetra vs Regular Neon Tetra

While the Black Neon Tetra and the regular Neon Tetra (Paracheirodon innesi) may seem similar in appearance, there are distinct differences between the two. The black body of the Black Neon Tetra sets it apart from the red body of the Neon Tetra. The neon blue stripe on the Black Neon Tetra extends to the base of the tail, whereas it stops midway on the Neon Tetra. Additionally, the Black Neon Tetra tends to be slightly larger in size compared to its close relative.

The Black Neon Tetra is a highly sought-after fish in the aquarium hobby due to its striking appearance and peaceful nature. Its contrasting colors and graceful swimming behavior make it a beautiful addition to any community tank. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced hobbyist, the Black Neon Tetra is sure to captivate and delight with its unique charm.


With its captivating coloration, graceful swimming style, and peaceful demeanor, the Black Neon Tetra is a perfect choice for both beginner and experienced aquarium hobbyists. Its small size makes it suitable for a range of tank sizes, while its striking appearance adds a touch of elegance to any community tank. By providing them with a well-planted tank, appropriate water conditions, and a varied diet, you can ensure the Black Neon Tetra thrives and becomes a beautiful addition to your aquatic family. So why not consider adding these stunning fish to your aquarium and enjoy the beauty they bring to your underwater world?


Passionate fishkeeper. Nature lover. Creative thinker. Music junkie. Adventurer.

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