Colored Skirt Tetra

Colored White Skirt Tetra, Colored Tetra

Family: Characidae Colored Skirt Tetra, Colored White Tetra, Gymnocorymbus ternetzi VarietyGymnocorymbus ternetziPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough
Latest Reader Comment - See More
this is a lie! These fish are dyed and are not real types of fish. I hate when people colour fish. Can you PLEASE change this site.  Astrix

The Colored Skirt Tetra is a beauty in the soft pastels of its naturally occurring colors!

A commonly available and popular fish, the Colored Skirt Tetra is a strain of fish developed from the White Tetra or Goldskirt Tetra that have a natural pink or blue coloration. They have been developed by breeders to bring out the best of its soft pastels. The White Tetra itself was developed from the Black Tetra or Blackskirt Tetra Gymnocorymbus ternetzi.

Like its predecessors, the Colored White Skirt Tetra also makes a very good fish for the beginner. It is very active and fast moving, but does have a tendency towards fin nipping. Because of this it should not be kept with smaller fishes, but will do very well in a community tank with larger fishes. These fish are a bit more difficult to breed than the White Tetra, probably because of their being highly inbred already.

The Colored Skirt Tetra likes a well lit tank with dense areas of bunched low vegetation, which leaves lots of open areas for swimming. Being a schooling fish they will appreciate the company of their own kind, a standard school is made up of about 7 fish. They are hardy at 70° F to 90° F, but are prone to develop ick if kept in colder temperatures.

White Skirt Tetras are often dyed in various pastels colors. Both the natural Colored White Skirt Tetra, and artificially dyed specimens are sold under various colored names like the Blueberry Tetra, Strawberry Tetra, or Rainbow Tetra. Be sure to inquire about which type of specimen you are obtaining. Learn more about Artificial Colored Fish below.

For Information on keeping freshwater fish, see:
Freshwater Aquarium Guide: Aquarium Setup and Care

Geographic Distribution
Gymnocorymbus ternetzi
Data provided by
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Characiformes
  • Family: Characidae
  • Genus: Gymnocorymbus
  • Species: ternetzi
Pet Supply Comparison Shopping
Colored Skirt Tetra - Quick Aquarium Care
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner
  • Size of fish - inches: 2.2 inches (5.51 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 15 gal (57 L)
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
  • Temperature: 70.0 to 79.0° F (21.1 to 26.1° C)
Enter a Freshwater Aquarium
  • My Aquarium - Enter your aquarium to see if this fish is compatible!
Popular Searches

Habitat: Distribution / Background

The Black Tetra Gymnocorymbus ternetzi was described by Boulenger in 1895. The species is not listed on the IUCN Red List.   They are found in South America in Paraguay and Guapore Basins where they inhabit the upper layers of the water feeding on worms, small crustaceans and insects These tetras show a preference to small, slow moving creeks, streams and tributaries that are well shaded from the forests canopy.

The Colored Skirt Tetra is a captive bred color morph developed from the Black Tetra or Blackskirt Tetra. Many of the skirt tetras are captive bred for the aquarium industry. Other common names it is known by include Colored White Skirt Tetra and Colored White Tetra. There are no wild populations of this color morph.

  • Scientific Name: Gymnocorymbus ternetzi
  • Social Grouping: Groups
  • IUCN Red List: - There are no wild populations of this color morph.


The Colored Skirt Tetra is a deep-bodied species and laterally compressed. This fish will reach about 2 1/4 inches (5.5 cm) in the home aquarium, but will breed at just 1 1/2 inches. It has a lifespan of about 6 - 7 years. It is distinguished by two vertical stripes and by what appears to be overly developed dorsal and anal fins. These make it appear as if though it has a "skirt", with most of its mass on the bottom half of the body. It is very light, almost transparent looking with a natural pink or blue coloration, and it lacks the black stripes of its parentage.

The Colored Skirt Tetra is a naturally colored White Skirt Tetra, and is not dyed. Artificially dyed specimens are sold as Solid Colored Tetra or under various colored names like the Blueberry Tetra, Strawberry Tetra, or Rainbow Tetra.

About Artificially Colored Fish:

Many albino and transparent type fishes make an ideal 'canvas' for applying color to an otherwise rather plain specimen. For quite sometime, artificially dyed specimens were thought of as an intriguing and eye-catching addition to the home aquarium. Today however, as more has been learned of the processes involved, there are some serious concerns about the practice. Concerns are over the initial stress and possible pain to the fish, followed by a possibly higher susceptibility to infection during the process..

Colored Skirt Tetra
Photo © Animal-World:
Courtesy Jackie Murphy

Color is added to fish by various methods:

  • One method is by feeding them dyed food to make them colorful. This method is of very little concern, and of course the color is not permanent.
  • Another method is by injecting dyes into the fish, as seen in the painted glassfish. This method puts the color onto specific areas of the fish's body.
  • And still another method is by inducing the fish to release its natural slime coat, then placing the fish into a dye colored water that is absorbed onto the surface of its body, and then finally putting the fish into water with medication that encourages the redevelopment of the slime coat. This method provides a more over all coloration, an example is the colored Red-tail Botia.

Those fish that survive the injection processes reportedly go on to live fairly normal lives, though the dyes usually fade with time. This may be true for fish subjected to the overall dying process as well. There have been reports with the colored botias, of the fish possibly having shortened lives and possibly developing other abnormalities. As a consumer you will want to be aware of these concerns. The combined buying power of aquarists makes a difference on what is made available.

  • Size of fish - inches: 2.2 inches (5.51 cm) - These fish get up to 2 1/4 inches (5.5 cm) but will breed at 1.5 inches.
  • Lifespan: 7 years - They have a life span of about 6 - 7 years.

Fish Keeping Difficulty

The Colored Skirt Tetra is a durable fish that is great for the beginner fish keeper. They adapt very well to water condition changes. They make great tank mates for most community tanks.

  • Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner

Foods and Feeding

Since they are omnivorous the Colored Skirt Tetra will generally eat all kinds of live, fresh, and flake foods. To keep a good balance give them a high quality flake food everyday. Feed brine shrimp (either live or frozen) or blood worms as a treat.

  • Diet Type: Omnivore
  • Flake Food: Yes
  • Tablet / Pellet: Yes
  • Live foods (fishes, shrimps, worms): Some of Diet
  • Vegetable Food: Some of Diet
  • Meaty Food: Some of Diet
  • Feeding Frequency: Several feedings per day

Aquarium Care

Colored Skirt Tetras are not exceptionally difficult to care for provided their water is kept clean. At least 25 - 50% of the tank water should be replaced weekly, especially if the tank is densely stocked.

  • Water Changes: Bi-weekly

Aquarium Setup

The Colored Skirt Tetra needs and aquarium that is at least 15 gallons or larger. Because they are very active they need open areas to swim freely, so it is also advisable to keep them in a tank at least 20 inches long. Additionally, the tank should be securely covered as these fish are skilled jumpers and will probably do so if given the opportunity

The Colored Skirt Tetra is very unfussy when it comes to tank decor. These fish prefer some plant cover and a darker gravel. Adding some floating plants will help add shade for this fish and give it quiet areas to hide. To get the best out of this fish, set up a biotype tank. For the substrate use a river sand with some drift wood and twisted roots. Add some dried leaves to the sand, which will stain the water a light brown and replace leaves every few weeks. Using dim lighting will help develop the tetras best coloring. 

  • Minimum Tank Size: 15 gal (57 L) - Fifteen gallons is the least amount of space advisable to host a small school.
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: Yes
  • Substrate Type: Any
  • Lighting Needs: Moderate - normal lighting
  • Temperature: 70.0 to 79.0° F (21.1 to 26.1° C)
  • Range ph: 5.8-8.5
  • Hardness Range: 3 - 30 dGH
  • Brackish: No
  • Water Movement: Moderate
  • Water Region: All - These fish will swim in all areas of the aquarium.

Social Behaviors

The Colored Skirt Tetras are active and can be semi-aggressive fin nippers. Fin nipping can be kept down by keeping them in schools of at least 8 or more. In large groups they will focus their attentions on each other. They should be kept in a community aquarium with fish the same size or larger. With age they become a more sedentary fish. These tetras do well with most livebearers, danios, rasboras, other tetras, peaceful bottom dwellers and some dwarf cichlids

  • Venomous: No
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive - These fish can be fin nippers but not to the point of being termed aggressive.
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species - conspecifics: Yes - This fish should be kept in a small school of its own kind, with 8 or more individuals being best.
    • Peaceful fish (): Monitor - Watch for stress in other fish caused by Colored Skirt Tetra fin nipping.
    • Semi-Aggressive (): Monitor
    • Semi-Aggressive (): Monitor
    • Aggressive (): Threat
    • Large Semi-Aggressive (): Threat
    • Large Aggressive, Predatory (): Threat
    • Slow Swimmers & Eaters (): Monitor
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Safe - not aggressive
    • Plants: Safe

Sex: Sexual differences

The male's dorsal fin is more narrowed and more pointed. Also, the male's frontal portion of the "skirt" or anal fin is noticeably broad while the female's "skirt" tends to run parallel to the stomach line. A mature female is also more plump.

Breeding / Reproduction

The Colored Skirt Tetra are egg layers. They are easily breed with a good pairing. The biggest challenge is that the young are prone to starving to death if they are in a dark tank and can't find a food source. The fry should have plenty of light, both day and night, until they are large enough to eat freshly hatched brine shrimp. . For a description of breeding characin fish, see Breeding Freshwater Fish: Characins.

  • Ease of Breeding: Easy

Fish Diseases

The Colored Skirt Tetra are prone to develop ick if kept in colder temperatures. As with most fish they can also be prone to skin flukes, parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.), ichthyobodo infection, parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.), bacterial infections (general), and bacterial disease.  Colored Skirt Tetra are extremely hardy and disease is not usually a problem in a well maintained aquarium. That being said there is no guarantee that you won't have to deal with health problems or disease. Remember anything you add to your tank can bring disease to your tank. Not only other fish but plants, substrate, and decorations can harbor bacteria. Take great care and make sure to properly clean or quarantine anything that you add to an established tank so not to upset the balance.

A good thing about Colored Skirt Tetra is that due to their resilience, an outbreak of disease can often be limited to just one or a few fishes if you deal with it at an early stage. When keeping more sensitive types of fish, it is common for all fishes to be infected even before the first warning signs can be noticed. The best way to proactively prevent disease is to give your Colored Skirt Tetra the proper environment and give them a well balanced diet. The closer to their natural habitat the less stress the fish will have, making them healthier and happy. Stressed fish are more likely to acquire disease.

For information about freshwater fish diseases and illnesses, see Aquarium Fish Diseases and Treatments. This is a great source for information on disease and treatments. It is recommended to read up on the common tank diseases. Knowing the signs and catching and treating them early makes a huge difference. Colored Skirt Tetras are very resilient


The Colored Skirt Tetra is readily available and is inexpensive. Both these and the artificially dyed specimens are sold under the names Blueberry Tetra, Strawberry Tetra, or Rainbow Tetra. Be sure to inquire which type of specimen you are obtaining.


Author: Clarice Brough CFS
Available From These Merchants
Galactic Purple Glofish Tetra Gymnocorymbus Ternetzi Galactic Purple Glofish Tetra Gymnocorymbus Ternetzi
Offered By: That Pet Place
Price: $8.99
Compare products and prices!
Starfire Red Glofish Tetra Gymnocorymbus Ternetzi Starfire Red Glofish Tetra Gymnocorymbus Ternetzi
Offered By: That Pet Place
Price: $8.99
Compare products and prices!
Sunburst Orange Glofish Tetra Gymnocorymbus Ternetzi Sunburst Orange Glofish Tetra Gymnocorymbus Ternetzi
Offered By: That Pet Place
Price: $8.99
Compare products and prices!
Moonrise Pink Glofish Tetra Gymnocorymbus Ternetzi Moonrise Pink Glofish Tetra Gymnocorymbus Ternetzi
Offered By: That Pet Place
Price: $8.99
Compare products and prices!
Electric Green Glofish Tetra Gymnocorymbus Ternetzi Electric Green Glofish Tetra Gymnocorymbus Ternetzi
Offered By: That Pet Place
Price: $8.99
Compare products and prices!

Lastest Animal Stories on Colored Skirt Tetra

Astrix - 2015-07-03
this is a lie! These fish are dyed and are not real types of fish. I hate when people colour fish. Can you PLEASE change this site.

  • Clarice Brough - 2015-07-09
    Actually no, this is not a lie. These are truly naturally occuring color morphs. There are albino skirt tetras that are dyed, but this fish is not one of them. Please re-read the description section above to gain an understanding of the differences between the two types.
Anonymous - 2014-01-06
Hey I have one of these in a tank with one molly. I did a huge water change about three days ago and yesterday I noticed a white wart like thing on its chin. I thought it might be a parasite but wasn't sure so I waited one day. Today there is a tiny red dot in it, the molly does not have it at all though. It's behaving normally and eating well, so if any of you have a clue what this is please tell me.

  • Clarice Brough - 2014-01-08
    My first thought is it is a mouth fungus, which is actually a bacterial infection. It is often accompanied by a secondary infection of an Aeromonas bacteria. Wounds that are white on the edges and red in the center are most typically Aeromonas. Both Koi and goldfish are the pet fishes most susceptible to Aeromonas. They are usually caused by sharp changes in water temperature, as well as poor water or nutrition. Aeromonas can be treated with any sulfa antibiotic along with trimetheprim. But both these infections can readily be treated at the same time with Aquarium Pharmaceutical's Furan-2 Medications - Api Furan 2.

nm123 - 2012-01-30
i would buy as much of these fish as you can and breed them so they dont get a chance of being dyed again by another fish store lisen to me no one has a chance of stoping tetras glofish exc from being dyed but you can make the fish hapier by only bredding it with non painted white skirt tetras that will eventually cause the colored skirt tetra to be less and less populer in your area

  • erin - 2012-09-04
    Glofish are genetically altered, not artificially dyed. and if people start buying a whole bunch of the dyed fish, there will be more demand so they will start making even more. I have 2 of them (I didn't know they were artificially dyed until after I bought them) but with the proper care they are happy and act like un-dyed white skirt tetras
Lindsey Escudero - 2012-07-30
Hello everone! Just have a few questions about my colored skirt tetra. I have had it for a year or so now, and really I am ashamed to say I really haven't taken good care of it. I had no idea fish needed so much care until now. So here's the deal: I just transfered my fish into a different tank yesterday and she's (am convinced its a girl) been chasing her reflection- well I think it is her reflection, I don't really know since I can't see her point of view- is this good for her? She never did it before.and she hasn't eaten since I switched her. Is this normal? please help

  • Charlie Roche - 2012-07-30
    Yep, normal.  You moved her and it will take a few days for her to adjust to new tank.  It's just different and she's looking around.  She probably could not see her reflection in the other tank with the light or size and she can in this one and it interests her.  Just different.
  • lindsey escudero - 2012-07-31
    Thank you so much for your reply. It conforts me to know this:)