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 and outshone more by its more well-known cousins, the cardinal tetra or regular neon tetra. 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 and how do they work?
Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi might look like a neon Tetra (Paracheirodon Innesi) due to the two pearly-white and black horizontal stripes that run down its side. However, it technically belongs to the same genus with ember, serpae 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.
The striking black and white stripes of the black neon are well-known.
How to Set Up an Aquarium for Black Neon Tetras
This fish is very easy to care for and can tolerate a variety of water parameters. It can survive in temperatures between 72-80°F (22-27°C) and thrives in these conditions. They can survive in water pH levels between 5-8 and moderately hard. We find they look best in a planted tank with darker substrate, and their red irises really stand out against the greenery.
How many black neon tetras should be kept together? As is true with most schooling fish, the more the merrier. When you have a hundred of them, their natural behavior is visible in our fish shop. The synchronized swimming display is truly amazing. 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.
Can black neon tetras be a companion for fish? We have managed to keep ours with large community fish such as angelfish, Geophagus Eartheaters, gouramis, and Geophagus eartheaters. They are also good with other tetras and corydoras. Black neon tetras usually leave adult dwarf shrimp alone, but they will opportunistically eat any babies they find.
Black neon tetras do well in planted community tanks with other peaceful tank mates.
What does the Black Neon Tetra eat?
They eat omnivorous food consisting of zooplankton and tiny worms, crustaceans and plant matter. Black neon tetras are known for their swimming patterns and prefer to eat at the top and center of the water column. However, they can eat just about anything that is dropped into the tank. We like to give them small food options, such as krill flakes, baby brine shrimp, frozen cyclops and daphnia.
How to Breed Black Neon Tetras
These tetras, like most egg layers, are easy to spawn but can be 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. You can also cover the ground with a lot of java moss or Easter basket grass and then cover it completely with craft mesh. The holes in the plastic mesh allow the eggs to pass through while preventing the adults from preying on them.
To increase your chances of having at most one male and one girl, you should get at least six neons. Condition the adults for breeding by feeding them lots of high-quality foods, such as live baby brine shrimp and micro worms. After spawning has occurred, remove the adults. You can feed the infants small foods such as vinegar eels, infusoria and powdered fry food. In a few weeks they will be able to switch to live baby salt shrimp. This is the best superfood to fry.
Catappa leaves gradually acidify and tint the water, making it more comfortable for the black neons to breed.
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.