Tetra Neon Black: Care Instructions

Black Neon Tetras are a pretty and low-maintenance freshwater fish that all aquarists should consider. Because they are a variant of an extremely common species, they are often overlooked.

But in our opinion, these fish deserve more love! They are easy to care for, have a unique appearance, and will get along with pretty much any other freshwater tank mate.

This guide will dive into everything you need to know about caring for the Black Neon Tetra. When you're done reading, you'll be ready to own some for yourself!

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Species Summary

No matter how experienced you are in keeping fish, you've probably seen the traditional Neon Tetra at some point. Black Neon Tetra (scientific name: Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi ) is a similar species with a much darker appearance.

Considered the Neon Tetra's dark cousins, these freshwater fish are equally beautiful and easy to care for!

Black Neon Tetra before the breeding process

Black Neon Tetras come from the Paraguay Basin in Brazil. Their natural habitat spans several hundred kilometers. Fish can be found in tributaries, floodplains and rivers flowing through dense forests.

The specimens you see in the fish trade are largely captive-bred. Black Neon Tetras easily breed in captivity, creating a healthy market for aquarists looking for high-contrast fish for their tank.


The average lifespan of the Black Neon Tetra can be up to 5 years in captivity. Their lifespan basically mimics regular Neons.

That said, there are no guarantees. While this species is known for its hardiness, failure to provide the basics can result in a significantly shortened lifespan. To help your fish reach its full potential, you need to provide the best possible environment, diet, and care.


Black Neon Tetras are beautiful fish that stand out among the natural decor. Like their brighter cousins, these fish are small and slender. They have a torpedo body with a rounded head and transparent fins.

The base color of Black Neon Tetra is relatively subdued. They are usually greenish in color. Complementing that base color are two vibrant stripes.

The first is a thin metallic white stripe. It sparkles under the light to create a beautiful sparkle effect. Just below that stripe is a thicker black band. This stripe is what lends the fish's name.

Both stripes run horizontally along the entire body of the fish. It runs from the gill cover to the base of the caudal fin.

Note: There is a very small difference between men and women. Gendering fish can be difficult. However, the simplest way to distinguish males from females is to look at their bellies.

Females tend to have larger and rounder bellies than females. This is especially true when the female is mature and ready to breed.

Middle size

The average size of a fully grown Black Neon Tetra is usually around 1.5 inches in length. Occasionally specimens can reach 1.6 inches but that is quite rare.

Because of the small size, it is difficult to distinguish the big fish and the smaller fish!

Caring for the Black Neon Tetra

Black Neon Tetra care is relatively easy as long as you have the right information. This is not different from many other species in the tetra family. 

This breed tolerates many conditions and is quite easy to please. This makes these fish great for beginners (or experienced aquarists looking for something low-maintenance).

As long as you provide the necessary substances, you should have no problem keeping these fish healthy. Here are some care instructions you don't want to miss!

Tank size

At less than 2 inches long, you don't need a giant tank for Black Neon Tetras. That said, these are schooling fish. You should keep a group of half a dozen people together.

See more: Betta Fish Care: The Ultimate Beginner's Guide

Even with a small group, these fish are fine with a tank size of at least 20 gallons .

Note: You can scale it up even more if you plan to keep a multi-species community tank. Black Neon Tetras always appreciate the additional swimming space if it is available.

Water parameters

The waters that Black Neon Tetras call home in the wild are unique. They are not the crystal clear lakes and rivers most people envision. Instead, they are shallow streams filled with decaying plants!

Most Neon Black Tetras are found in tea-dyed black waters. Falling leaves cause the water to turn brown, eventually increasing the acidity.

You can easily recreate that environment in your aquarium. You don't have to go too far to contaminate the water, but you will need to stick to the following parameters:

  • Water temperature: 68°F to 82°F (about 75 degrees is ideal)
  • pH level: 5.0 to 7.5
  • Water hardness: Approximately 6 dGH

When you first introduce these fish to the aquarium, it is important to test the water more often. This transition period is when they are more likely to suffer health complications as a result of changing parameters.

Set up the rest of the tank

Creating an abundant aquarium is key to keeping the Black Neon Tetras healthy and happy. Recreating their natural environment will relieve stress while giving them an enriching life!

To do that, start with a sandy base at the bottom of your tank.

A Black Neon Tetra swimming in a well-planted aquarium

Black Neon Tetras rarely venture to the bottom of the tank. They like to stick to the top and middle of the water column. However, sandy bottoms are similar to what you would find in their natural habitat.

Next, introduce living plants in the living environment. Choose a variety of plants to create some thick vegetation in the background. Make sure to leave some open swimming space in the center!

To go with those plants, add driftwood and rocks. All that natural decor will act as a shelter of light. In addition, it will become a place of discovery for fish.

If you want to really recreate the medium, put some leaves on the substrate. The leaves will release tannin, which improves the water quality for these fish and browns the water a bit.

Good filtering is also a must. Black Neon Tetras do not produce a ton of waste, but when kept in groups, that collective waste can greatly affect ammonia and nitrate levels. So use a stronger filter that can effectively clean the tank.

Note: Make sure your filter produces a relatively strong flow near the top of the tank. Many owners also like to add peat moss to the filtration system. This is supposed to bring out the color of the fish!

Latent disease

They may be tough, but the Black Neon Tetra is not immune to disease. These fish can suffer from all the same diseases as other tropical fish. This includes common health concerns like Ich, Dropsy, etc.

Fortunately, these diseases are fairly easy to treat. Black Neon Tetras usually respond well to over-the-counter medications.

The best way to handle the disease is to avoid it altogether. Maintain tank conditions and monitor water parameters. Most diseases will affect fish as water conditions go south.

Change up to 30-50 percent of the water each week to keep everything in good shape!

Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi healthy

One important thing to remember about the Black Neon Tetra is that they can easily bring disease into your tank. This species is known to suffer from a disease called “Neon Tetra Disease.” Technically, it's a parasitic infection.

Fish will pick up this substance from other infected fish and spread it in the community. There is no known cure for it, so make sure you are buying healthy fish from a reputable source.

Food & Diet

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Black Neon Tetras are naturally omnivores. In the wild, they usually feed on plant debris, small crustaceans, and algae.

There are many types of food you can provide in captivity. A complete diet will ensure that your fish get all the nutrients they need, which can improve color and appearance.

The dry or tablet form is a good place to start. You can then supplement this with brine shrimp, bloodworms, crustaceans, mosquito larvae and other protein-rich foods.

Note: Make sure not to overfeed these fish. This not only causes health complications from overeating but also negatively impacts the water quality in the aquarium.

Behavior & Temperament

Black Neon Tetras are gentle and passive. They do not show aggressive behavior at all. Even in groups, males are often territorial (a behavior common with other species).

Speaking of groups, It is very important to point out that Black Neon Tetras are school fish.

During the day, the whole group will explore the tank together. They often move in unison, creating a nice dark band around the tank!

Although they prefer to be in a group, they are not completely dependent on each other. Occasionally, the group may split up so the fish can escape and relax.

Tank comrades

Since these fish are so small, you'll need to choose tank mates who won't eat them for lunch! Avoid any large or potentially aggressive fish. Keep the tank peaceful to avoid any injury or accident.

As we mentioned earlier, the best teammates would be the other Black Neon Tetras. At the very least, keep a group of six together. Less and the fish may not be confident enough to swim around.

Other possible Neon Black Tetra tank mates you might consider are:

  • Chili Rasbora
  • Harlequin Rasbora
  • Celestial Pearl Danio (other Danio are also good)
  • Rummy Nose Tetra
  • Neon Tetra (Neon Blue)
  • Small freshwater catfish
  • Gourami honey
  • Dwarf Gourami
  • Sparkling Gourami
  • Pearl Gourami
  • Freshwater aquatic snails

Note: Normally, Black Neon Tetras and Betta fish can be kept together. The coloration of this species tends not to cause aggression in bettas. Of course, you should always monitor the situation to make sure they don't need to separate (you never know).

Breeding the Black Neon Tetra

The Black Neon Tetra usually breeds in captivity. In many cases, spawning occurs naturally in community tanks.

To ensure the survival of the fry, We recommend setting up a separate spawning tank.

All you need is a small 10-gallon tank. Add a dark sand background, lots of trees and soft lighting. Then introduce your bonded pair.

Condition the couple with live food. Over several days, slowly raise the temperature to about 80 degrees. This will trigger spawning.

Pregnant females will lay hundreds of eggs at a time. She can spread them on the substrate or glue them to the underside of the leaves. Either way, the eggs will hatch within 22 hours!

Before they hatch, it is important to remove the adults. They don't show any parenting instincts!

After the eggs hatch, wait about three to four days. They will survive in the egg sac until they are large enough to eat. Then offer shrimp or brine to young children. Keep the young in a separate tank until they grow close to the size of an adult.


Taking care of the Black Neon Tetra is easy. These fish are a joy to own and can be owned by aquarists of all experience levels.

We hope you consider having this species vaccinated. Although many aquarists flock to their more popular relatives, these cute little fish have a lot to offer too!

Read more: 11 Popular & Easy Fishes for Beginners

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