Freshwater Fish

Black Neon Tetra – Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi: Care Guide

Black Neon Tetra is a pretty, low maintenance freshwater fish that all aquarists should consider. Because they are a variation of an extremely popular species, they are often overlooked.

But in our opinion, these fish deserve more love! They are easy to care for, have a unique look, and will get along with just about any other freshwater tank mate.

This guide will include everything you need to know about Black Neon Tetra care. By the time you’re done reading it, you’ll be ready to buy it yourself!

Species Summary

No matter what experience you have with fish farming, chances are you have seen the traditional Neon Tetra at some point. The Black Neon Tetra (scientific name: hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi) is a similar species that takes on a much darker appearance.

Considered the darker cousin of the Neon Tetra, these freshwater fish are equally beautiful and easy to care for!

Neon Black Tetras come from the Paraguay Basin in Brazil. Its natural habitat extends for several hundred kilometers. The fish can be found in small tributaries, floodplains, and rivers that flow through dense forests.

The specimens you see in the fish trade are largely captive bred. Neon Black Tetras breed easily in captivity, creating a healthy market for aquarists looking for a high contrast fish for their tank.

Neon Black Tetra Life Expectancy

The average lifespan of Tetra Neon Black can reach up to 5 years in captivity. Their lifespan basically mimics normal neons.

That said, there are no guarantees. While this species is known for its hardiness, not providing the basics could result in a dramatically shortened lifespan. To help your fish reach their full potential, you will need to provide them with the best possible environment, diet, and care.

Appearance of the Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi

The Black Neon Tetra are beautiful fish that stand out among the natural decoration. Like their brighter cousins, these fish are small and slim. They have a torpedo-shaped body with a rounded head and transparent fins.

Tetra Neon Black’s primary color is relatively subdued. They often take on a slightly greenish hue. Complementing that base color are two vivid stripes.

The first is a thin strip of iridescent white. It shimmers in the light to create a stunning dazzling effect. Directly below that stripe is a thicker black band. This stripe is what gives the fish its name.

Both stripes run horizontally along the entire body of the fish. It goes from the cover of the gills to the base of the caudal fin.

Author’s Note: There are minor differences between males and females. Determining the sex of fish can be difficult. However, the easiest way to tell males from females is by looking at their bellies.

Females tend to have larger, rounder bellies than females. This is especially true when the female reaches maturity and is ready to reproduce.

Average size

The average size of an adult Black Neon Tetra is usually around 1.5 inches long. Specimens can sometimes be as long as 1.6 inches, but that’s pretty uncommon.

Due to their small size, it can be difficult to tell the difference between the big fish and the smaller ones!

Caring for the Black Neon Tetra

Caring for the Black Neon Tetra is relatively easy as long as you have the correct information. This is no different from many of the other species in the tetra family.

This species tolerates a wide range of conditions and is quite easy to please. This makes these fish ideal for beginners (or experienced aquarists looking for something low maintenance).

As long as you provide the essentials, you should have no problem keeping these fish healthy. Here are some care guidelines you don’t want to miss!

tank size

At less than two inches long, you don’t need a huge tank for Neon Black Tetras. That said, these are schools of fish. It is recommended that you keep a group of half a dozen together.

Even with a small group, these fish do well with a tank size of at least 20 gallons.

Author’s Note: You can go larger if you plan to keep a multi-species community tank. Neon Black Tetras always appreciate the extra space to swim if it is available.

water parameters

The bodies of water that Black Neon Tetras call home in the wild are unique. They are not the crystal clear lakes and rivers that most people imagine. Instead, they are shallow streams filled with decaying plant matter.

Most black neon tetras are found in tea-stained black water. Fallen leaves turn the water brown, which ultimately raises acidity levels.

You can easily recreate that environment in your home aquarium. You don’t have to go as far as tinting the water, but you will need to stick to the following parameters:

  • Water temperature: 68°F to 82°F (approximately 75 degrees is ideal)
  • pH level: 5.0 to 7.5
  • Water hardness: Approximately 6 dGH

When you first introduce these fish to the aquarium, it is important to check the water more frequently. This transition phase is when they are most likely to experience health complications as a result of the parameter change.

Set up the rest of your tank

Creating a rich aquarium is key to keeping Neon Black Tetras healthy and happy. Recreating their natural environment will reduce stress and give them an enriched life!

To do that, start with a sand substrate at the bottom of your tank.

Neon Black Tetras rarely venture to the bottom of the tank. They like to stick to the upper and middle parts of the water column. But, a sandy bottom is similar to what you would find in its natural habitat.

Next, feature live plants throughout the habitat. Choose a variety of different plants to create thick vegetation in the background. Make sure to leave an open space for swimming in the center!

To accompany those plants, add driftwood and rocks. All that natural decoration will serve as a shelter from the light. Also, it will become an exploration spot for fish.

If you want to really reproduce the environment, put some plant leaves on the substrate. The leaves will release tannin which will improve the water quality for these fish and will stain the water a bit brown.

Good filtration is also essential. Neon Black Tetra’s don’t produce a ton of waste, but when kept in groups, that collective waste can have a major effect on ammonia and nitrate levels. Therefore, use a powerful filter that can cycle the tank efficiently.

Author’s Note: Make sure your filter produces a relatively strong flow near the top of the tank. Many homeowners also like to add peat moss to the filtration system. This is said to bring out the coloration of the fish!

disease potential

They may be hardy, but Black Neon Tetra are not immune to disease. These fish can suffer from the same ailments as other tropical fish. This includes common health issues like Ich, Dropsy, and more.

Fortunately, those ailments are fairly easy to treat. Black Neon Tetras generally respond well to over-the-counter medications.

The best way to manage the disease is to avoid it altogether. Maintain tank conditions and monitor water parameters. Most diseases will affect fish once water conditions subside.

Replace up to 30-50 percent of the water every two weeks to keep things looking good.

One important thing to remember about Neon Black Tetras is that they can easily carry disease into your tank. This species is known to suffer from a disease called “Neon Tetra Disease”. Technically speaking, it is a parasitic infection.

Fish will pick up this disease from other infected fish and spread it throughout the community. There is no known cure for it, so make sure you get healthy fish from a reputable source.

Food and Diet

Neon Black Tetras are natural omnivores. In the wild, they frequently feed on plant detritus, small crustaceans, and algae.

There are many foods that you can provide in captivity. A balanced diet will ensure your fish get all the nutrients they need, which can improve coloration and appearance.

Dry flakes or pellets are a good start. You can then supplement this with brine shrimp, bloodworms, daphnia, mosquito larvae, and other high-protein foods.

Author’s Note: Be sure not to overfeed these fish. Not only will this cause health complications due to overeating, but it will also negatively affect the quality of the water in the aquarium.

behavior and temperament

Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi tetras are gentle and passive. They do not exhibit any aggressive behavior. Even in groups, males are not usually territorial (fairly common behavior with other species).

Speaking of groups, it is very important to note that Neon Black Tetras are schools of fish.

During the day, the group will explore the tank together. They often move in unison, creating a nice strip of dark color around the tank!

Although they prefer to stay in groups, they are not totally dependent on each other. The group can be separated from time to time so that the individual fish can hide and relax.

tank mates

Because these fish are so small, you’ll need to choose tankmates that won’t eat them for lunch! Avoid large or potentially aggressive fish. Keep the tank in peace to avoid injury or accident.

As we mentioned earlier, the best tank mates will be other Neon Black Tetras. At the very least, keep a group of six together. Fewer and the fish may not have the confidence they need to swim.

Other potential Black Neon Tetra tankmates you can consider are:

  • rasbora chili
  • harlequin rasbora
  • Celestial Pearl danio (other Danios are good too)
  • Rummy Nose Tetra
  • Neon Tetra (Green Neons too)
  • small freshwater catfish
  • gourami honey
  • dwarf gourami
  • sparkling gourami
  • gourami pearl
  • freshwater aquarium snails

Author’s Note: It is usually possible to keep Black Neon Tetra and betta fish together. The color of this species tends not to trigger aggression in Bettas. Of course, you should always monitor the situation to make sure you don’t need to separate them (you never know).

Black Neon Tetra Breeding

Black Neon Tetras frequently breed in captivity. In many cases, spawning occurs naturally in the community tank.

To ensure the survival of the fish fry, we recommend installing a separate breeding tank.

All you need is a small 10 gallon tank. Add dark sand substrate, lots of plants, and low lighting. Then present your joined pair.

Condition the pair with live foods. Over the course of several days, slowly bring the temperature up to about 80 degrees. This should trigger spawning.

The pregnant female will lay hundreds of eggs at a time. She can spread them on the substrate or glue them to the bottom of the leaves. Whichever the case, the eggs will hatch in as little as 22 hours!

Before they hatch, it is important to remove the adults. They show no parental instinct!

After the eggs hatch, wait three to four days. They will survive in their egg sac until they are big enough to eat. Then provide brine shrimp or infusoria. Keep the babies in a separate tank until they grow similar in size to adults.

final thoughts

Caring for the Tetra Neon Black is as easy as it sounds. These fish are a joy to own and can be owned by aquarists of all experience levels.

We hope you will consider giving this species a try. Although many aquarists flock to their more popular relatives, these cute little fish have a lot to offer too!

As always, we are happy to answer any of your questions if you contact us directly. There is nothing we love more than chatting with our readers!

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