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’s often overlooked, and sometimes outshone in favor of its more famous cousins, cardinal and regular neon tetra. Yet they are one of our favorite fish to work with at the Aquarium Co-Op retail store. Because of their strong constitution and robust health, we often recommend them to anyone looking to start a new tank. 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 may look like a neon tetra (Paracheirodon innesi) because of the two pearly white and black horizontal stripes running down its side, but it is technically in the same genus as ember, serpae, and lemon tetras. This South American fish hails from the Paraguay River basin in Brazil and is a very common find in fish stores because of their hardiness and activity level.
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 well-known for its striking black stripes and red eyes.
How to Set Up an Aquarium for Black Neon Tetras
This fish is easy to handle and can live in a wide range of water temperatures. Though they originate from acidic waters, they do well in pH levels anywhere from 5-8, as well as soft to moderately hard water. 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 will usually leave the adult dwarf shrimp alone but will eat any babies that they find.
Black Neon Tetras are happy in planted community tanks along with their peaceful tank mates.
What do Black Neon Tetras Eat?
They eat omnivorous food consisting of zooplankton and tiny worms, crustaceans and plant matter. Because of their swimming patterns, black neon Tetras prefer to be fed at the top or middle of the water column. But they are not picky, and will eat anything you put in 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. Feed the newborns tiny foods like infusoria, vinegar eels, 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.