Black Neon Tetra: FAQ Everything You Need To Know About This Fish

In this article, you’ll find a few of the most popular questions and answers about the Black Neon Tetra.

Here’s what you’ll learn;

  • Behavior
  • Diet
  • Breeding
  • Tank Mates
  • And more

let’s begin.


Great Food For Your Tetra

1. About The Black Neon Tetra

The Black Neon Tetra is a beautiful fish with black and white stripes that go from the gills to the tail and a distinctive bright orange semi-circle above the eyes. They hail from slower-moving streams of some North American countries (primarily from Brazil and Bolivia).

They can make a good choice for your first fish, as they are very hardy and can survive a wider range of parameters than many other delicate fish species. They love to school, so it’s a good idea to keep at least half a dozen of them in, ideally, a 20-gallon tank, but they can survive in a 10-gallon as well.

Black Neons prefer a planted tank with low lighting. They are medium to top-level dwellers, so the choice of substrate might not matter much. Gravel is a good idea, especially if you are planning a community tank because many other fish can adjust well to that. If you want to mimic their natural habitat, the ideal substrate would be a white sandy bottom with a few pebbles. But you can also make them happy by adding some golden brown leaves at the bottom.

Some Black Neons prefer clear water, and some might be happier in slightly tan stained water. You can observe that behavior when you go and pick them up from the store. Some other things that you should know about them are:

Are Neon Tetras And Black Neon Tetras The Same Species?

The Black Neon Tetra and Neon Tetra are not the same species. However, they are part of the same family of fish being the Characidae.

Within each family, you can have many species as well as subfamilies of fish.

The Black Neon Tetra is from the H. herbertaxelrodi species of fish, while the Neon Tetra is from the P. innesi species of fish. But within the Characidae family.

Are Black Neon Tetras Hardy?

The Black Neon Tetra is a hardy fish great for first-time fishkeepers. They can thrive in many aquarium conditions well outside recommended water parameters.

2. Care Requirements Quick Guide

  • Care level: Beginner
  • Size: 1-1.6 inches (males are slimmer, females are full-bodied)
  • Ideal tank size: 20 Gallons
  • Temperature range: 75 – 82 °F
  • PH range: 5.5 – 7.5 (6 to 6.5 is ideal)
  • Hardness range: 4-8 GH (5, 6 is ideal), But many fish keepers have found them happy and thriving in softer water as well.

Black Neons are pretty hardy when it comes to parameters. But stocking them with fish that stress them out can be very harmful. This is why it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with some of the tank mates that your Black Neon Tetra will really get along with. Also, they prefer slow to medium water currents, so introducing fish that like stronger currents, like Hillstream loach, might not be a good idea.

3. Behavior

Are Black Neon Tetras Aggressive?

The Black Neon Tetra is not considered to be an aggressive fish and will get along with much other peaceful fish such as;

  • Cory Catfish
  • Rasbora
  • Zebra Danio
  • Honey Gourami
  • Cardinal Tetra
  • Apistogramma Cichlids

How Many Black Neon Tetras Do You Need To School?

The Black Neon Tetras will school (shoal) when kept in groups of 6 or more.  The Black Neon Tetra is a very peaceful and friendly fish, and because of this, they do best when kept in schools.

Will Black Neon Tetras School With Neon Tetras?

When kept in the same tank Black Neons and Neons won’t school or interact all that much. This is because they are two very different fish species, although their behavior is very similar to one another.

Are Black Neon Tetras Fin Nippers?

The Black Neon Tetra is not an aggressive fish and typically will not nip the other fish’s fins. However, during breeding or moments of stress, any fish can become aggressive if they feel threatened and may nip other fish’s fins as a defense mechanism.

4. Size

How Big Do Black Neon Tetras Get?

Black Neon Tetras is a smaller fish that do not get that large and typically will be about 1.5″ – 2″ in size.

This fish does best when kept in bigger schools and community tanks. They will get along with almost all tetras and lots of other peaceful fish.

5. Lifespan

How long do black neon tetras live?

The Black Neon Tetra is a very hardy fish and should live for about 3-5 years.

To extend or maximize it’s life span, the Black Neon Tetra will do best in schools of 5 or more and be kept in a tank of at least 20 gallons.

What Impacts The Lifespan Of A Black Neon Tetra?

One of the main things that can impact lifespan is your water parameters for Black Neon Tetras. Above all, how healthy and clean your water will determine just how long your Fish will live.

For example, unkept water can become toxic with high levels of Ammonia, Nitrites, and Nitrates, all of which can be extremely harmful to your Fish.

Dirty water can also lead to many other problems like stress, infections, and disease, which will ultimately impact your Fish’s overall health and shorten its lifespan considerably.

Below we will detail how you can help your Fish live a long and happy life, but first, here are a few other things that can also impact how long your Black Neon Tetras will live.

  • Tank Size
  • Water Parameters
  • Temperature
  • Oxygenation
  • Maint schedule
  • Diet
  • Tankmates
  • Stress
  • Disease

Alright, let’s get into the details.

6. The Tank

When Fish are kept in a tank that is too small for them to grow or swim, they can fall victim to a whole bunch of health problems such as;

  • Deformities,
  • Underdeveloped muscles,
  • Spinal
  • Stress

As well as other problems that can cut their lives short.

Additionally, if you keep multiple Fish in a small tank, Fish that might not usually be aggressive will start to fight for space and become territorial. Ultimately leading to one of the Fish getting hurt, being stressed, not getting enough food, or not resting, which could eventually lead to death.

7. Water Parameters

As I mentioned above, the quality of your water is the number one thing that can impact your Fish’s lifespan.

Fish make waste, which collects at the bottom of the tank and slowly converts to Ammonia, then to nitrites, and lastly nitrates. This is called the nitrogen cycle, and it is continuously happening in every tank.

If you don’t regularly change your water, these toxins can build up in the water column and cause your Fish to experience a slow, painful death.

Stress, disease, and infections are another side effect of poor water quality that will undoubtedly determine how long your fish live.

However, there is so much more to water quality than just how clean it is. Things like the Temperature, how well it’s oxygenated (which we will discuss next), and The PH, Hardness/Softness of the water will impact your Fish.

Every Fish is unique; the key here is to understand the fish species and ensure that the water parameters are as close as possible to their natural habitat to promote maximum living conditions.

8. Temperature

If the water is too cold or lower than 75° F, the Black Neon Tetra will demonstrate some of the common issues that affect fish when the water is too cold, such as; slow-moving, sickness, and loss of color.

The Temperature of your tank is another critical piece that you’ll need to manage. The good news is that it’s relatively easy to do. All Fish have a specific temperature range that is best suited to them.

To manage the Temperature of your tank, you’ll need a heater and a thermometer. Now there are many options out there, and we’ve showcased a few of them here and here.

What you want to know is the temperature range that suits most of the Fish in your tank; set our heater to this Temperature and monitor it daily with your thermometer.

What’s The Best Temperature For Black Neon Tetras?

The ideal water temperature for the black neon tetra is 75 to 82° Fahrenheit with a higher range of 80° F and upward best for breeding.

9. Oxygen

Just like all living things, Fish need to breathe. So keeping your water well oxygenated is essential. This doesn’t mean you need to run out and purchase an air pump. However, it’s crucial to understand how oxygen enters the water in your aquarium.

As water on the surface is disturbed, oxygen will enter the water naturally, so if the surface water is being agitated by a filter output, bubbler, or even an air pump, you are likely providing enough oxygen into your aquarium.

You can tell if your Fish lack oxygen if they look like they are gasping or coming up to the surface for air.

As you can imagine, an aquarium without oxygen can cause some severe health issues for your Fish and will likely cause your Fish to live a very short life.

10. Food & Diet

What Do Black Neon Tetras Eat?

The Black Neon Tetra will eat your standard high-quality flake or pellet food. However, you should mix it up with things like brine shrimp and freeze-dried bloodworms.

The Right Diet: Feeding The Right Foods At The Right Time.

Just like humans, it’s best to keep your Fish on a healthy diet of food that they are accustomed to. Some fish need proteins, while others need more vegetation. Make sure you feed your Fish what they need to be healthy.

The quantity and frequency of feeding is also an important thing to ensure a long healthy life. If you overfeed, not only will you pollute your water, but your Fish will grow overweight and lazy and potentially suffer other ill effects.

If you feed too little, your Fish won’t have enough energy to swim and fight off any sickness or infections and slowly die from malnutrition.

Optimize Fish Health by feeding at regular intervals, mix up the food to get the right mix of all the nutrients they need to live a healthy life.

11. Reduce Stress

Stress is one of those things that are typically a result of not doing something you should be.

If you keep your water clean and healthy, the right Temperature, feed them a healthy diet, and keep your tank stocked with friendly tank mates, stress shouldn’t impact your Fish’s health.

Decor like natural plants, cover, toys, and hiding places can also help reduce stress and prevent fish boredom (yes, the struggle is real).

12. Disease Prevention

Again most diseases are a result of something in your aquarium that’s not quite right.

Usually, it’s the water quality and Temperature that will lead to sickness. However, when adding new fish, you should always quarantine your Fish to ensure they aren’t sick and bring over some unknown issue from another tank.

How To Tell If Your Fish Is Sick

The good news is that most fish diseases can be prevented, treated, and easily identified.

Some typical things to look for would be;

  1. Watch out for faded coloring.
  2. Keep an eye on your Fish’s fins.
  3. Look for lethargy.
  4. Watch your Fish’s eating habits.
  5. Check for spots.
  6. Look for breathing problems.
  7. Watch for your Fish to rub or scratch.
  8. Look for other physical symptoms.

13. Breeding

How Can You Tell If A Black Neon Tetra Is Male Or Female?

The Male Black Neon Tetra is typically small and narrow when viewed from above, while the Female Black Neon Tetra is more massive and plumper as it will become filled with eggs as it nears maturity sexually.

It is crucial to understand that the differences are not easy to spot until the fish have fully grown and become sexually mature and don’t try to determine the gender when this fish is young.

How To Tell If A Black Neon Tetra Is Pregnant?

Follow these steps to determine if your Black Neon Tetra is pregnant:

  1. First, determine if your Black Neon Tetra is a male or female (See Above).
  2. Next, and this is the easiest way to tell. Look for a swollen belly or enlarged midsections. This is where the eggs are carried, and when you are carrying a few hundred eggs, it’s hard to hide.
  3. Another thing to watch for is the behavior of your Males. If you see them swimming back and forth, dancing or shaking, they are trying to attract females.

If you see some or all of these indicators, there is a good chance your Black Neon Tetra is pregnant.

Do Black Neon Tetras Lay Eggs?

The Black Neon Tetra is an egg scatterer. To encourage spawning, start to feed them high protein foods like brine shrimp. Keep them in a warmer aquarium with soft acidic water and lots of floating plants and places to hide.

How Long Do Black Neon Tetras Carry Eggs?

The Black Neon Tetra scatters their eggs all over plants, rocks, etc. A single female Black Neon Tetra can produce several hundred.

However, the adults are known to eat their own eggs as well as the fry. If you plan on breeding Black Neon Tetras, it’s best to remove the females once you see the eggs.

Can Black Neon Tetras Breed With Neon Tetras?

Black Neon Tetras and Neon Tetras cannot breed since they are not part of the same species.

However, due to selective breeding, you may find variations of the neon tetra (P. Innesi) species such as the golden neon tetra or green neon, which can breed.

14. Tank Mates

Black Neon Tetra is a very peaceful fish. It doesn’t attack other species of fish or even most of the adult and larger shrimps. However, it’s not a good idea to through in some dwarf shrimps in there unless you are planning to treat your Black Neon to exotic cuisine.

So the general idea is that any other smaller, peaceful fish, whose required parameters don’t crash with the Black Neon’s, can be introduced as tank mates.

Cory Catfish


Cory is another hardy and easy to keep fish that you can stock with your Black Neons.

  • Care level: Beginner
  • Size: 1-2.5 inches
  • Ideal tank size: 10/20 Gallons
  • Temperature range: 75 – 82 °F
  • PH range: 7 – 7.8 (but if you caught one from the wild, they would require more acidic water)

Like Black Neon, Cory fish also prefer dim lighting, and it’s very peaceful in nature. It gets along best with others of its own species, and it’s also a schooling fish, so half a dozen of them is a good idea, though many people found a couple of them living happily as well.

Cory fish are bottom feeders, and they like tablets, shrimp pellets, algae wafers, and bloodworms as a treat. They usually need to feed once a day. They pair well with tetra because, in their natural habitat, they are found among neon and phantom Tetras, so there is an inherent sense of familiarity.

They have an armored body, short face, and a flat underside (augmenting their bottom-feeding nature). They come in a variety of colors. Different species of Cory fish are different in sizes, with the largest ones reaching four inches. So consider your bio load when stocking Cory fish and Black Neons together.


Rasboras is a good tank mate for black neon tetra

Photo Credit: Stefan Maurer

Red Rasbora or Harlequin Rasbora (A name that might make them a favorite of Joker fans) is a small, top to medium dwelling fish.

  • Care level: Intermediate
  • Size: 1.75 inches
  • Ideal tank size: 20 Gallons (10 minimum)
  • Temperature range: 73 – 82 °F
  • PH range: 6.0 – 7.5

It’s a shoaling fish, and it’s recommended that at least four to six of them are kept together. They prefer soft water and would really like the addition of leaves at the bottom like Black Neons since it mimics their natural habitat. Also, they prefer dimmed lighting and a planted aquarium, making them even more complimentary.

Like Black Neons, Rasbora males are slimmer. Females are relatively large. They primarily stick to the middle of the tank and feed on a variety of different fish food. But they can’t ingest large particles on account of their small mouths. Flakes and small pallets are best, but you can dice up live feed or frozen feed for nutrient variety.

The fish are hardy in nature and very sociable. If you keep the water clean and parameters don’t overshoot too much, the chances are that it will stay healthy and happy. On account of their characteristic black wedge shapes in the back half of their bodies and silver tinged bodies, they can present quite a contrast to your Black Neon Tetras.

Zebra Danio

zebra danio

Another common Black Neon Tetra mate is Zebra Danio.

  • Care level: Beginner
  • Size: 2 inches at max
  • Ideal tank size: 20 Gallons
  • Temperature range: 65 – 75 °F
  • PH range: 6.5 – 8

Zebra Danio is a south Asian fish that likes a planted tank and is very social in nature. It even exhibits shoaling behaviors similar to that of Black Neon Tetra, according to a study. They also prefer slow to medium moving currents. The fish is quite distinct in its zebra-like appearance, with blue stripes on a golden or white base.

Zebra Danios are known to exhibit aggressive behavior, but only if kept alone. In shoals, they are relatively peaceful. Plus, the presence of plants decreases their anxiety. The fish is susceptible to mycobacteriosis, a disease it can catch in a poorly kept tank. If you see a Zebra Danio acting lethargic, any discoloration, or in extreme cases, fin loss, you should remove the diseased fish to a separate tank and attempt a full water change to restore the parameters of the tank to healthy conditions.

As an omnivore, it’s easy to feed—usually well-made flakes and pallets that have most of the essential nutrients. Danios also respond well to vegetables like cucumber, zucchini, and shelled peas.

Red Lizard Whiptail

If you have a larger tank and you need a relatively large centerpiece fish, in addition to the Black Neons, Red Lizard Whiptail can make a nice companion.
  • Care level: Beginner
  • Size: On average 4.4 inches (adult)
  • Ideal tank size: 30 Gallons
  • Temperature range: 75 – 84 °F
  • PH range: 6.0 – 7.5

This is a tank-bred fish, but its origin is considered North American. That makes it a geographical cousin to the Black Neon. It’s not very social in nature, but neither is it aggressive. As long as there are plenty of plants and decorations to hide in, this catfish will remain happily aloof and won’t bother the other fish. It’s also a bottom dweller, so its interaction with the Black Neons will be minimum in the first place, and it helps with the amount of uneaten food on the substrate.

This beautiful orange fish prefers dim lighting and relatively quiet and peaceful life, which means no harsh currents. It’s a hardy fish, perfect for beginners, and adds a bit of character to the tank. One good thing about it is that even with a relatively long body, it’s skinny and doesn’t contribute a lot to the tank’s waste.

Honey Gourami

Honey Gourami

Photo Credit: carolineCCB

Another peaceful fish that might make a beautiful addition to your Black Neon Tetra tank is Honey Gourami.

  • Care level: Beginner
  • Size: 1 to 2 inches (3” in some cases)
  • Ideal tank size: 10/20 Gallons
  • Temperature range: 71 – 82 °F
  • PH range: 6.0 – 7.5

Like Black Neon, Honey Gourami also thrive in soft and moderately soft water. This orange-colored fish is naturally found in the rivers of India and Bangladesh. It usually prefers to swim in the middle and near the surface and prefers many hiding places in the tank. So a densely planted tank would be ideal for them, with some tall plants. It can be kept alone, but it’s a good idea to have two of these in the tank.

Males of the species are brighter than the females. It’s also seen that in a large group, the weaker individuals can get bullied. It’s not much of a problem if there are plants or decorations to hide in. Honey Gourami are naturally shy fish, so that they will be fine with a peaceful fish like Black Neon, but any other fin nippers or aggressive fish might stress them out. It’s an omnivore, so primary feed for them would be good quality pellets or flakes. Brine shrimps are good as an occasional treat.

Cardinal Tetra

cardinal tetra

Cardinal tetra is another good tank mate for Black Neons.

  • Care level: Beginner
  • Size: 2 inches
  • Ideal tank size: 10/20 Gallons
  • Temperature range: 73 – 81 °F
  • PH range: 6.0 – 7.0

Cardinal Tetra is a beautiful, red, and white fish that loves to be kept in groups of five or more. It prefers low light conditions like its cousin Black Neon and can easily live up to five years. They usually dwell near the top and middle of the tank and like to swim in shoals. They are commonly confused with neon tetras because of their brightly similar colors, but they are different.

They don’t care much about the substrate but having plants and slow water currents are necessary. The water should be soft or moderately soft; a bit on the acidic side is fine. But they won’t do well in heavily planted tanks. These fish love to swim, and if there isn’t enough open space to swim around, they are likely to get stressed and get sick.

Apistogramma Cichlids


Photo Credit: Dornenwolf

Closing the list of suitable tank mates for Black Neon is a range of Cichlids.

  • Care level: Intermediate to Expert (depending upon the particular species you choose)
  • Size: 1.5 to 4 inches
  • Ideal tank size: 15/20 Gallons
  • Temperature range: 75 °F
  • PH range: 6.0 – 7.0

Some common dwarf Cichlids would go very well with the Black Neon Tetras in the tank. From an aesthetic perspective, you can choose the muted yellow dwarf (very hardy) or Cockatoo dwarf, or Aggasiz’s Dwarf (larger and a bit temperamental).

They also prefer to stay in pairs or larger groups. They are bottom dwellers, so even the territorial types will mix well with peaceful Tetras. If you are keeping a larger group, they usually thrive in one male and three or female formations. More than one male in a group might become aggressive.

As bottom dwellers, they adapt well to the sand substrate (because their fins don’t get caught and torn) or fine gravel. They prefer planted tanks and are fine with different lighting conditions.

Other Possible Tank Mates

Black Neon Tetras are usually friendly with most other types of small tetras. Some other fish they can side by side happily are:

  • Most livebearers
  • Pencil Fish
  • Adult Dwarf Shrimps
  • Certain frogs
  • Guppies
  • Bettas (surprising tank mate but yes, this pairing works)

Impossible Tank Mates

Some of the fish that will not be very healthy for your Black Neons or other inhabitants of the tank can be:

  • Freshwater Sharks – Territorial and aggressive. Even if they don’t hurt your Black Neons, they will chase and bully them to sickness.
  • Golden wonder killifish – Predatory and will eat or try to eat smaller Black Neon fish.
  • Black Widow Tetra – Despite being a tetra itself, it might not treat your Black Neons very kindly. When they grow up, they tend to be aggressive towards other fish and their own species.
  • Small Cherry Shrimps – Your Black Neon will be bad for them.

Black Neon Tetras are not as popular as many other types of tetras, so not many people are sure about keeping them. But most aquarists worldwide have found them to be amazingly easy to care for, very adaptable, curious, and social. The more of them there are, the better. And they also don’t need anything special in the tank: just some plants, dim lighting, and a few decoration pieces.

If you have Black Neon Tetra as your centerpiece fish, you will be amazed at how many stocking ideas you can bring to fruition. Thanks primarily to the friendly and peaceful nature of this amazing fish.

How Many Black Neon Tetras Can Be Kept In A Gallon?

The Black Neon Tetra should be kept in an aquarium of at least 20 gallons. This will allow you to keep them in schools of at least 6-10 fish. Because they can grow to be about 1.5″-2″ in size, a 20 gallon would provide approx 2 gallons of water per each Black Neon Tetra.

Can Black Neon Tetras Live With Neon Tetras?

Yes, The Black Neon Tetras can live with Neon Tetras. Both fish are very peaceful and will not cause any issues in the same aquarium.

Though the name is similar, they are considered two different fish species so that they won’t school with one another, but they also won’t fight.

Can Black Neon Tetras Live With Black Skirt Tetras?

No, The Black Skirt Tetra – Despite being a tetra itself, might not treat your Black Neons very kindly. When they grow up, they tend to be aggressive towards other fish and their species as well.

15. For Sale – Where Can You Buy Black Neon Tetras?

Jack Dempsey
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