Care Guide for Black Neon Tetras – Our Fav Underrated Schooling Fish
One of the unsung heroes of the freshwater aquarium hobby is the humble black neon tetra. It is often overlooked or outshone by the more popular neon tetras and cardinal Tetras. Yet they are one of our favorite fish to work with at the Aquarium Co-Op retail store. We recommend them because of their robust health and strong constitution. Their nano size makes them accessible to people with smaller aquariums, while their cheap price is appealing to aquarists wanting to fill up a large tank with tons of schooling fish.
What are Black Neon Tetras?
Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi can look similar to a neon tetra, (Paracheirodoninnesi), due to its two pearly black and white horizontal stripes. However, technically it is in the same genus of ember, serpaes, and lemon Tetras. Because of their hardiness, activity level, and toughness, this South American fish is very popular in fish shops.
Are neon tetras larger than black neon? Both fish are approximately the same length at 1-1.5 inches (2.5 to 3.8 cm), but the black neon is slightly longer due to its higher body depth. In general, black neon tetras tend to be bolder and swim in the upper half of the aquarium, while neon tetras can be a little shyer and stay in the lower half.
Black neon is famous for its striking black-and-white stripes and bright red eyes.
How to Set Up an Aquarium for Black Neon Tetras
This fish is great for beginners and can tolerate many water parameters. They live comfortably at 72-80degF (22 to 27 degC). Although they are acidic fish, they can tolerate pH levels from 5-8 to moderately hard water. We think they look best in a plant tank with darker substrate. The red irises really pop against the greenery.
How many neon tetras in black should you keep together? This is true for all schooling fish. In our fish store, we get to see their natural behavior when you put a hundred of them together, and their synchronized swimming is truly an amazing sight to behold. A minimum of six could be kept in a 10-gallon aquarium. However, you can get 10-15 fish for a larger 20-gallon tank.
What fish can live with black neon tetras? Because they are a tad bigger than neon tetras, we have successfully kept ours with medium-sized community fish like angelfish, Geophagus eartheaters, and gouramis. They can also live with calmer fish like corydoras and other tetras. Black neon tetras usually leave adult dwarf shrimp alone, but they will opportunistically eat any babies they find.
Black Neon Tetras are happy in planted community tanks along with their peaceful tank mates.
What are Black Neon Tetras able to eat?
They eat omnivorous food consisting of zooplankton and tiny worms, crustaceans and plant matter. Given their swimming patterns, black neon tetras prefer to feed at the top and middle of the water column, but they are not picky and will eat almost anything you drop into the tank. We offer them a variety of small foods, including krill flakes and nano pellets.
How to Breed Black Neon Tetras
These tetras are similar to other egg layers in that they are easy to spawn. However, their tiny fry can be more difficult to raise. Add several catappa leaves to a 10-gallon aquarium that has no other animals. The leaves will slowly decay over several weeks, lowering the pH and darkening the water. This will create biofilm and mulm for the fry to eat. Also, put a bunch of java moss, Easter basket grass, or spawning mops on the ground, and cover the spawning material entirely with a sheet of craft mesh. The plastic mesh has holes that are large enough for the eggs to fall through but small enough to prevent the adults from predating on them.
A group of six or more black neons is a good idea to increase your chance of having at minimum one male and one of each gender. Feed the adults high-quality food, including micro worms or baby brine shrimp, to prepare them for breeding. After spawning has taken place, take the adults out. The newborns should be fed tiny foods such as infusoria, vinegar eggs, and powdered fried food. Within a couple of weeks, they should be large enough to switch to live baby brine shrimp, which is the best superfood for fry.
Catappa plants slowly acidify the water and tint it, making the environment more inviting for the black neons.
While Aquarium Co-Op does not sell fish online, you can check out our preferred online retailers to see the latest species they have in stock. Plus, keep reading to learn about the top 10 tetras that we love to add to our community aquariums.