Fish

13 Awesome Tetra Fish Types—Can You Mix Different Types Tetras

Tetras make up the most popular group of fish for small freshwater home aquariums. They are especially famous for their wide variety of colors; the real rainbow fish of the freshwater aquarium species.

The tetras are also active swimmers and prefer the middle of the tank, they are inexpensive, friendly, easy to feed, and care for.

These largely South American fish are social, so be sure to keep a school of them in your tank or consider adding them to your community aquarium.

Even so, some species are more aggressive and other sensitive than others with combative tetras likely to bite longed finned tank mates.

Anyway, because you will almost certainly be keeping tetras in your fish tank (considering a school costs less than $10), here is a list (and brief information) of 13 popular tetras species that are easy to maintain in an aquarium. Most of which are actually beginner friendly.

#1 — Cardinal Tetra (Paracheirodon axelrodi)

The cardinal tetra is a delight for many aquarists, beginners and skilled alike.

It is often mistaken for the neon tetra because of their likeness both in appearance and behavior.

However, the difference between the two species is the cardinal has a red-stripe all across its body, while the neon only displays it halfway on the back half.

Cardianl tetras are quite easy to care for and can be kept with a host of other peaceful fish.

Being a blackwater species, the tetra will not do well in a brightly lit tank, so keep your aquarium light down and add a dark colored substrate.

Also, add some pieces of driftwood and tangled roots to recreate the fish’s wild habitat. You can add dry leaves as well to color your aquarium water naturally with the tannins released, though you will need to replace them every few weeks.

Include a few plants akin to those found in the rivers cardinal tetras inhabit, but leave a lot of open swimming spaces.

As for water chemistry, the fish prefer soft and acidic water with a ph between 4.5 and 6.2, and a water temperature between 73°Fand 82°F.

The cardinal tetra is a schooling fish species which feels more at ease when kept in a school of at least 6. However, a larger group would be better, especially to boost your fishes coloration.

Keep your fish with other small and peaceful fish like other tetras and small rasboras.

Feed your fish blood worms and tubifex, though the species will eat most fish foods.

Cardinal tetras should be fed twice a day with food portions they will eat within 5 minutes. If you choose to feed your fish more than two times in a day, give them amounts they will eat in 3 minutes or less.

  • Size: 2 Inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons
  • Care Level: Intermediate
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Tank Conditions: 75°F to 82°F, ph 4.6 to 7

#2 — Black Skirt Tetra (Gymnocorymbus ternetzi)

The black skirt tetras, also called black widow tetra, petticoat tetra, high-fin black tetra, or Blackmoor is another small, peaceful schooling tetra that comes from South America.

Its name is derived from the black, translucent coloring underneath a silver body. The black hue appears in stripes on the body, and on the tetra’s long flowing fins.

Hardy and easy to care for, the black widows do best in a group of 6 or more. Even so, don’t keep the fish in a community with other long finned species as they do have a tendency to nip.

Black skirts originated from the small, slow tributaries and cracks of the Guapore and Paraguay rivers in Brazil, where the forest canopy provides both shade and food.

The fish congregate near the surface of the water and eat insects, crustaceans and small worms.

Because of this, maintain your black skirt tetras in a tank with subdued lighting and neutral-colored substrate.

The fishes are also accustomed to large plants, so a well-planted aquarium with some open swimming spaces is the perfect environment to maintain these tetras.

Although not demanding about water quality, they prefer soft-acidic water; preferably tannin stained. Even so, cold water will stress you black skirts and leave them vulnerable to a couple of diseases such as ich.

Black widow tetras eat a lot of live foods in the wild, though in the aquarium they’ll readily accept most fish feeds including live, fresh, freeze-dried, and flake food types.

A daily serving of a quality flake food and occasional treats of live or frozen food will serve your tetras a well-balanced diet.

Keep your black skirt tetras with similar size and peaceful fish, but avoid slow moving fish with long flowy fins like angelfish and betta.

  • Size: 2 Inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Tank Conditions: 68°F to 79°F, ph 5.8 to 8.5

# 3 — Buenos Aires Tetras (Hyphessobrycon anisits)

The Buenos Aires tetras become quite popular due to its ease of care and hardiness, though their propensity for eating aquarium plants has dented their reputation.

In the wild, they are commonly found in rivers, ponds, lakes, and streams in Buenos Aires hence their name.

The fish are a hardy community species and optimal for beginner hobbyist. However, they are freshwater fish and do not do well in salty or dirty water conditions, but they adapt to a range of temperature settings. This means the tetras suitable for both heated as well as unheated tanks.

Becaue of the fish’s tendency to devour live aquarium plants, use artificial plants instead or select sturdy aquatic species such as anubias, Java fern, or Vallisneria.

Round out your decor with driftwood and rocks around the periphery and make sure you leave enough swimming space at the center for the fish to move freely.

Buenos Aires tetras are happy with any type of substrate and do well with basic aquarium lighting. However, your fish tank should be securely covered as these tetras are skilled jumpers.

The fish are omnivores and will accept a wide variety of foods. Feed them several times a day, and only what they can consume in 3 minutes or less at each feeding.

Keep your Buenos Aires with other larger sized tetras such as the black skirt or Serpea tetras, as well as with barbs, danios, gouramis, and rainbow fish.

Avoid maintaining them with small fish such as neon tetras as well as long-finned species like betta and angelfish. Bottom-dwelling fish make good companions.

  • Size: 2.75 Inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Temperature: Peaceful
  • Tank Conditions: 64°F to 82°F, ph 5.8 to 8.5

#4 — Emperor Tetras (Nematobrycon palmeri)

The emperor tetra is a small, peaceful freshwater tetras species . The fish are considered to be one of the best fish for community aquariums as they do well with most species of non-aggressive fish.

Emperors are native to Colomba where they inhabit clear, slow-moving streams and rivers with sandy, rocky or muddy bottoms.

The fish hence prefer an aquarium with a dark substrate (sand or gravel) and with plenty of ornaments, driftwood and live plants.

Longer plants and driftwood help to break the line-of-sight and reduce aggression, especially in male emperors which are sometimes territorial.

These tetras should always be kept in a group of at least 6, though keeping a larger group (10 or more) will enhance shoaling behavior and lower the fishes stress levels.

Emperor tetras are compatible with a range of peaceful fish that include dwarf cichlids: german blue ram cichlid, kribensis, and Bolivian cichlid, corydoras catfish, guppies, platies,zebra danios, gourami, and other peaceful tetras.

In the wild, emperor tetras are primarily predators that feed on larvae, small inverts, and insects. For this reason, feed your fish a diet that comprise regular offering of live and frozen foods.

Even so, daily portions of a high-quality flake food is recommeded.

  • Size: 2.5 Inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons
  • Care Level: Very Easy
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Tank Conditions: 75°F to 82°F, ph 5.0 to 7.5

#5 — Congo Tetra (Phenacogrammus interrruptus)

As opposed to most other tetras, Congo tetras are native to Africa, though they still are equally beautiful additions to a home aquarium.

The fishare found in streams, tributaries, pools, and marshes with slightly acidic and murky waters. They mostly inhabit areas with tall vegatation around the margins and sandy bottoms.

Its also common to find a few rocks in the prefered areas, but no branches or wood.

In an aquarium, Congo tetras are not difficult to care for as long as you replicate their natural environment. If not so, your fish will loose their color and the males’ fins may become impaired in the less than optimal conditions.

Even so, the Congos are commercially bred in huge number and have become quite adaptable to a wide range of conditions. Keep these fish in a school of at least 6 fish to get the best of their aspects.

Congo tetrasare generally good community fish as well, and can be maintained with other species, though they are timid and get frightened easily. Ergo, a school of their own kind is imperative for the fish to be comfortable.

Good Congo tetra tank mates include other tetras, rainbow fish, corydoras, loricariids, and some peaceful cichlids.

However, do not keep the fish with fin nippers like tiger barbs as male Congo tetras will sustain injuries.

These fish are omnivorous and will generally eat all kinds of live,fresh and flake foods. Even so, to maintain a balance diet, feed them a high quality flake food everyday and brine shrimp or bloodworns as occasional treats.

Feed your tetras several times a day and only what they can consume in 3 minutes or less at each feeding.

  • Size: 3.4 Inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 40 gallons
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Tank Conditions: 73°F to 82°F, ph 6.0 to 7.5

#6 — Diamond Tetra (Moenkhausia pittieri)

The diamond tetras are said to sparkle like a diamond with their silvery scales and orange accents.

The species is native to South American inland waters and is sometime called brilliant salmler, diamond characin or Pittier’s tetras.

Diamonds prefer heavily planted tanks and soft-acidic water. They are also ideal fish to put in a community aquarium in a school with an odd number of 3 or more fishes.

Even so, diamond tetras can get a little nippy with other species, especially fish with long flowy fins like betta, so avoid such pairings.

The fish are omnivores and in the wild they eat whatever they can get, though they prefer fleshy food particularly mosquito larvae.

When kept in an captivity, they are not picky eaters either and will consume most fish foods including flake foods. However, for a good, healthy diet, serve the fish frequent portions of live or forzen foods.

Ideally, give them beine shrimp and bloodworms as a treat.

The lighting in your diamond tetras tanks should be fairly dim and your fish tank well planted.

The fish especially dislike brightly lit and sparsely deocrated environments and may lead to dullers fish colors.

Use a substrate of river sand and add a few handfuls of dried leaves as well to give your aquarium a natural feel. Allow the driftwood and leaves to stain your water to a weak tea hue.

  • Size: 2.4 Inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 15 gallons
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Tank Conditions: 79°F to 84°F, ph 5.5 to 7.5

#7 — Neon Tetra (Paracheirodon innesi)

The neon tetra is often described as the jewel of the aquarium hobby because of it iridescent tiny blue body and bright red tail.

In the aquarium, keep them in a school of 6 or more, though a larger school will form a better visual display in your fish tank.

Native to the clear water streams of South American, the neon tetras relish densely planted aquriums with low-light and plenty of places to hide.

To further recreate their wild habitat, place rocks and driftwood among the plants for extra refuge areas and make sure your leave enough swimming space for the fish to play and suspend in the water column.

This way, your group of neons will create the best display of color.

Neon tetras are largely peaceful, so you can maintain them with similarly non-aggressive and equally sized tank mates in a community aquarium.

Overall, the fish prefer slightly acidic water with stable parameters, so be sure not to put them in a newly established tank.

They also like a fairly warm aquarium with a temperature range between 68°F and 78°F.

Feed your neons small food such as brine shrimp or daphnia, though they will also accept freeze dried bloodworms and tubifex, micro pellet food and a high quality flake food.

When breeding these fish, mosquito larvae are great inducers.

Moreover, your breeder should have controlled lighting that’ll gradually increase until spawning.

  • Size: 1.25 Inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Tank Conditions: 68°F and 78°F, ph 5.0 to 7.0

#8 — Ember Tetra (Hyphessobrylon amandae)

The beautiful ember tetra is reddish-orange and midly translucent near the pelvic fin with eyes that are the same color as the fish and outlined in black.

They are peaceful, schooling fish native to the Araguaia river basin and are great candidates for a community aquarium.

In a fish tank, taller plants should be used to coicide with the fishes mid-level swimming area along with plenty of rock form structures.

Hidings spaces made with rocks, plants, driftwood and decorations are recommended to give the embers a sense of security.

Although dwarf red tetras (embers) have a peaceful disposition, they are very small in size, so you should not keep them with boisterous tank mates that will out compete them during feeding time, or worse, snack on them.

Moreover, keep your ember tetras in a school of 6 or more individuals.

Having said that, the fish are somewhat adaptable when raised in tanks, but for nest results, keep them in slightly acidic water rich in tannins and leaf litter.

Ember tetras also require very clean water to thrive. And will display optimal coloration and health in planted aquariums with a dark substrate, especially where

Eddie Waithaka

Resident Content Creator and Marketer at AquariaWise who talks about aquariums and fish and aquascapes a lot.

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