Black Neon Tetra – The ‘Other’ Neon

The shadowy counterpart to the Neon Tetra, Black Neons are colorful, peaceful, and look great in community aquariums.

Complete with shimmering greens, a stark black stripe, and soft, earthy tones, the Black Neon Tetra is an eye-catching fish. While not given as much consideration as their characin cousin the blue Neon Tetra, Black Neons are hardier and easier to care for. They are excellent candidates for peaceful community aquariums sporting small fish. They are also a great accent for planted aquariums, matching well with their iridescent greens and subdued colorations. They are an effective contrast to more colorful species.

Black Neon Tetra, Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi, are a South American characin tracing their origins to the Paraguay River Basin and throughout Brazil. Black Neons are a small characin, attaining a maximum length of 1.5 inches (4 centimeters). They are well-suited for both small and large aquariums.

They have been reported to live up to five years.

Feeding the Neon Tetra

In the wild, Black Neon Tetra would primarily feed on plant matter and small insect larvae. In order to best mimic this diet, Black Neons being kept in the home aquarium should be fed a high quality packaged food and live foods. Packaged or prepared foods should contain whole, natural ingredients and have an adequate amount of protein. Likewise, they should be low in fillers such as corn, wheat, and soy.

Live foods are some of the most nutritious foods that can be provided for Black Neon Tetra. Tubifex/bloodworms, blackworms, daphnia, and brine shrimp are all excellent choices.

If Black Neons are being kept in a planted aquarium, they will most likely derive some of their food from the plants and algae present. Anacharis (Elodea) can also be provided as a hardy plant and nutritious food source for the fish.

My favorite Tetra Foods

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Housing Black Neon Tetra

Due to their small size and peaceful demeanor, Black Neons can be housed in nearly any sized aquarium. The minimum practical size aquarium for a single fish would be about 2.5 gallons.

Black Neon Tetra are a schooling fish. Being kept in a school will mitigate stress, provide a sense of protection, and allow the fish to be social with its own kind. Black Neons should be kept in schools of six or more. The larger the school is without crowding the tank, the better.

Black Neon Tetra should be housed in planted aquariums, or at least tanks that provide adequate cover and hiding spots. This shelter is important for the fish so that they can temporarily escape the company of others and avoid direct light, ultimately reducing stress.

Black Neons prefer soft, slightly acidic water, with a pH between5 and 6.5. Maintain tropical water conditions with a stable temperature ranging between75-82 degrees Fahrenheit (24-28 degrees Celsius).

Well-suited for beginners and advanced aquarists alike, Black Neon Tetra are a captivating community fish. Their peaceful attitude and earthy colors also makes them a great addition to planted aquariums.


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