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In this article, you’ll find out about some great Black Neon Tetra Tank Mates along with some care tips as well as which fish to avoid.

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 a lot of 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:

  • 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 a lot of 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.

Equipment You Might Need For Your Black Neon Tetra

  1. Aqua Clear – Fish Tank Filter
  2. NICREW Classic LED Aquarium Light
  3. Tetra Aquarium Heater
  4. Python Pro-Clean Gravel Washer and Siphon Kit
  5. Marina Algae Magnet Cleaner
  6. API Freshwater Master Test Kit

Our List Of Fish That Are Compatible With Black Neon Tetra

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. Though 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.

1. 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.

2. Rasbora

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.

3. 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 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.

4. 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 it’s 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 as well, and a 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 very thin and doesn’t contribute a lot to the waste in the tank.

5. 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 a lot of 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 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.

6. 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, on account 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.

7. Apistogramma Cichlids


Photo Credit: Dornenwolf

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

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  • 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 point of view, 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, then 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 as well.
  • Small Cherry Shrimps – Your Black Neon will be bad for them.

Further Reading: How Long Do Black Neon Tetras Live & 8 Easy Things You Can Do To Increase Their Lifespan


Black Neon Tetras are not as popular as many other types of tetras, which is why not many people are sure about keeping them. But most aquarists around the globe 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.

Learn More About The Black Neon Tetra:

Black Neon Tetra Tank Mates Create A Happy Community Aquarium

Featured Image Credit: Moto “Club4AG” Miwa