Black Neon Tetra

Family: Characidae Black Neon Tetra, Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodiHyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodiPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough
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I've had these fish on and off, but I have a shoal of 14 of them. They are in a 37 gallon with a koi angelfish and 10 peppered corydoras. Never had any nipping and... (more)  Kayla

Black Neon Tetras in an aquarium decorated with plants and a dark substrate make a striking show!

The Black Neon Tetra Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi is a handsome, energetic fish. Placing this fish in an aquarium with contrasting plants and a dark background will create a dynamic and beautiful showtank. They have a great personality and can be kept in a community with a variety of other friendly fish species.

This fish has a similar appearance to the Neon Tetra with its horizontal stripe that seems to glow. But even though they are called 'Black Neon Tetra,' they are a distinctly different fish than the Neon Tetra. They can be readily identified by their enamel-white to greenish neon stripe, which contrasts with the rich, velvety black color below it.

A very peaceful fish, the Black Neon Tetra makes a very good addition to a community aquarium. In fact, this characin is one of the best tetras for community tank setups and a great beginner fish. They can thrive in many aquarium conditions, are easy to feed, and freely spawn in schools or in pairs.

They like a planted tank, appreciate subdued lighting, and will readily form schools. If the tank is planted too sparsely, they can look a little washed out. They are happiest in schools of at least 7 individuals, which is the standard number of fish to make a basic school for an aquarium. They get along well with all sorts of other peaceful fish, including other tetras, danios, rasboras, livebearers, peaceful bottom dwellers, and most gouramis.

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


  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Characiformes
  • Family: Characidae
  • Genus: Hyphessobrycon
  • Species: herbertaxelrodi
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Black Neon Tetra - Quick Aquarium Care
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner
  • Size of fish - inches: 1.6 inches (3.99 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 gal (76 L)
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Very Hardy
  • Temperature: 75.0 to 82.0° F (23.9 to 27.8° C)
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Habitat: Distribution / Background

The Black Neon Tetra Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi was described by Géry in 1961. This species is not listed on the IUCN Red List. They are found in South America, particularly in the Paraguay River basin, Rio Taquari, Pantanal of Mato Grosso do Sul, and Brazil. Black Neon Tetras are now generally all captive-bred and there is an albino form that is also sometimes available.

In the wild, these fish prefer small tributaries, creeks, areas of flooded forest, and sand banks. Their natural habitat is usually very acidic, and the water is stained brown from chemicals released by decaying organic material. It is a schooling fish and its natural diet consists of small invertebrates and plants, and most likely also includes crustacea, filamentous algae, and fallen fruits.

  • Scientific Name: Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi
  • Social Grouping: Groups
  • IUCN Red List: NE - Not Evaluated or not listed

Description

The Black Neon Tetra is a small, slim-bodied species of tetra. This fish will generally reach about 1.5 inches (4 cm) in the home aquarium and has a lifespan of between 5 and 10 years. It is similar in appearance to the Neon Tetra with its horizontal stripe that seems to glow, but it is a distinctly different fish. The Black Neon Tetra can readily be identified by its enamel-white to greenish neon stripe that contrasts with a rich velvety black color below it. There is also an ornamental albino form that is sometimes available.

  • Size of fish - inches: 1.6 inches (3.99 cm)
  • Lifespan: 5 years - They have a lifespan of up to 10 years in the aquarium.

Fish Keeping Difficulty

The Black Neon Tetra is a hardy fish that is good for the beginning fish keeper.  They adapt well to many aquarium conditions and are very easy to feed.  These fish get along well with most other peaceful, community fish.

  • Aquarium Hardiness: Very Hardy
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner

Foods and Feeding

The Black Neon Tetras are omnivorous. In the wild they feed on small invertebrates and plants, and most likely includes tiny crustacea, filamentous algae, and fallen fruits. In the aquarium they will generally eat all kinds of live, fresh, and flake foods. To keep a good balance, give them a high quality flake food every day. 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 - Offer only what they can consume in 3 minutes or less with multiple feedings per day.

Aquarium Care

Black Neon Tetras are not exceptionally difficult to care for provided their water is kept clean. At least 25 to 50% of the tank water should be replaced every other week, especially if the tank is densely stocked. Because they are very active swimmers, it is also advisable to keep them in a tank at least 20 inches long and ideally 20 or more gallons. The tank should be securely covered as these fish are skilled jumpers and will probably do so if given the opportunity.

  • Water Changes: Bi-weekly

Aquarium Setup

Black Neon Tetras are somewhat more demanding than the Neon Tetra. This fish is active and does best with a half dozen of its kind to school with, so it requires at least a 20-gallon aquarium. It does best kept in soft, peat-filtered water. These fish prefer some plant cover and a darker gravel.

The Black Neon Tetra is commercially bred in huge numbers, so it is adaptable and will thrive in most well-maintained tanks. It looks particularly impressive in a heavily-planted aquarium, though, and can appear a little washed out if the decor is too sparse.

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 tan, which will stain the water a light brown, and replace the leaves every few weeks. Using dim lighting will develop the tetras' coloring to best effect.

  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 gal (76 L) - This fish requires at least twenty gallons and a half dozen of its kind to school with.
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: Yes
  • Substrate Type: Any - They appreciate a dark gravel.
  • Lighting Needs: Low - subdued lighting - Subdued lighting and a dark, shadowy setup will best showcase the iridescence of their coloration.
  • Temperature: 75.0 to 82.0° F (23.9 to 27.8° C)
  • Breeding Temperature: 80.0° F
  • Range ph: 5.0-7.5 - Although it will survive in slightly alkaline water, it tends to be more colourful when kept in acidic conditions
  • Hardness Range: 6 - 15 dGH
  • Brackish: No
  • Water Movement: Moderate
  • Water Region: All

Social Behaviors

The Black Neon Tetra is ideal for a community aquarium with other peaceful fish. This tetra is known to be one of the best tetras for community tank setups. It is a very active and peaceful fish, and its colors are very eye-pleasing.  These tetras should always be kept in groups of 6 or more. The best tankmates for the Black Neon Tetra are most livebearers, danionins, rasboras, other tetras, peaceful bottom dwellers, and most of the peaceful gouramis.

  • Venomous: No
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species - conspecifics: Yes - They do best kept in groups of 6 or more.
    • Peaceful fish (): Safe
    • Semi-Aggressive (): Threat
    • Aggressive (): Threat
    • Large Semi-Aggressive (): Threat
    • Large Aggressive, Predatory (): Threat
    • Slow Swimmers & Eaters (): Threat - Tetras will out compete them for food.
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Safe - not aggressive
    • Plants: Safe

Sex: Sexual differences

Mature females are more rounded in the belly than males and tend to grow a little larger.

Breeding / Reproduction

The Black Neon Tetra has been bred in captivity. In fact, they are now generally all captive-bred and there is an albino form that is also sometimes available. The Black Neon Tetras are egg layers and they freely spawn in schools or in pairs. Live foods and peat filter water will encourage this fish to spawn. The suggested breeding conditions are: pH 6.0, 4° dGH, 80° F. For a description of breeding characin fish, see Breeding Freshwater Fish: Characins.

  • Ease of Breeding: Easy

Fish Diseases

As with most fish, the Black Neon Tetra are prone to skin flukes, parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.), ichthyobodo infection, parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.), bacterial infections (general), and bacterial disease. Black Neon 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 that anything you add to your tank can introduce disease. 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 as to not upset the balance.

A good thing about Black Neon Tetras is that due to their resilience, an outbreak of disease can often be limited to just one or a few fishes if dealt with 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 Black Neon Tetra the proper environment and a well-balanced diet.

The more closely their environment resembles their natural habitat, the less stress the fish will have, making them healthier and happier. It is recommended to read up on the common tank diseases. Knowing the signs of common tank diseases and treating them early makes a huge difference. For information about freshwater fish diseases and illnesses, see Aquarium Fish Diseases and Treatments.

Availability

The Black Neon Tetra is readily available and inexpensive.

References

Author: Clarice Brough CFS, David Brough CFS, Jeremy Roche
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Lastest Animal Stories on Black Neon Tetra


Kayla - 2016-02-07
I've had these fish on and off, but I have a shoal of 14 of them. They are in a 37 gallon with a koi angelfish and 10 peppered corydoras. Never had any nipping and they are pretty calm fish. Much harder then the Neon Tetra.

Reply
Connor - 2014-10-15
I have 3 of these lovely black neon tetras and they are lovely and they are very placid fish. Mine eat quite well and they aren't shy, they don't come out all of the time most of the time they do. I am planning on getting some more so I recommend you get these fish in your tank.

Reply
Chris F - 2014-06-01
I have 4 black neon tetras and 3 swordtails, two of my swordtails died and left one female, will she be ok with the tetras? She chases them around but never nips at them.

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monica - 2013-01-06
i got these black neon tetras in my 48G tank with my zebra danios (5) , 8 white cloud mountain minnows, 1 bristle nose pleco and two hill stream loaches what i can say these fishes do get on well , swim fantastic together ( shoal together ) , show bright colors :) Now i am cycling my 16G long tank , planning to put a small group of black neon tetras (6) with a apple snail :), they are my favorite fish

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