While the Black Neon Tetra is seen as the less glamorous alternative to the much more popular Neon Tetra, it is actually a great fish in its own right. Under the right settings, it can be just as alluring as some of the more fancied freshwater fish. If you want something off of the beaten track that isn’t demanding at all then the Black Neon Tetra is a great option and here is everything you need to know about it.
A Little Background On Black Neon Tetra
This fish originates from the Paraguay basin of Southern Brazil. However, almost all the black neon fish sold in the hobby are captive bred. They are known as the black neon tetra because of their resemblance to the regular neon tetra when it comes to their design. They have an elongated body and show iridescence but where they differ is in size and coloration. The black neon tetra is slightly larger than the neon tetra and is predominantly an iridescent white with a greenish hue and a black stripe running horizontally along the middle of its body.
The natural habitat of this fish consists of murky acidic river water with a combination of dense vegetation and open spaces. A moderately strong current is also present and replicating these conditions in the aquarium is often the best strategy. The great thing about the black neon tetra is that it is one of the most adaptable and hardiest tetras. As such it can thrive in a wider range of conditions provided they are stable and there aren’t any huge fluctuations.
The recommended setup is a planted tank with diffused lighting and adequate open spaces. Fine sand does a good job of replicating the river bed from their natural habitat and a few pebbles and driftwood will make these fish feel further at home. Also ensure that there is a reasonably strong current in the middle and upper levels of the water column. Adding a few dried leaves also goes a long way in creating a setup that is as close to their natural habitat as possible but keep in mind that this will stain the water and make it appear brownish.
These fish do not grow very big and hence do not need a very large tank. However, these are schooling fish and need to be kept in groups of at least six. As such, you will need a tank that can accommodate at least 20 gallons of water.
As alluded to earlier, the black neon tetra is one hardy fish and can tolerate a wide range of water parameters. Temperature can be anywhere between 68°F to 82°F or 20°C to 27°C. It can also live in everything from acidic water with pH of 5 to alkaline water of pH 7.5. ideally, you should stick with one set of values that lies somewhere in the middle of this range and ensure that it stays that way.
A partial water change should be done once every two to three weeks. The tank should also be properly cycled as these fish do not do well when there is ammonia or nitrites. Nitrate levels should also be kept to a minimum.
Feeding Black Neon Tetras
The adaptability of these fishes extends to their feeding habits as well. They are naturally omnivorous and will accept a wide variety of food. As is generally the case, the best strategy is to provide them with a balanced diet that includes both plant and animal matter. Providing a mix of live food, pellets or flakes and vegetables is often the best approach.
Tankmates Black Neon Tetra
This is one of the most docile and peaceful fishes in the hobby and it needs to be kept with other fishes of a similar disposition and size. Other peaceful tetras, Oto catfish, peaceful rasboras, gouramis, and danios are all great options. Small snails and crustaceans can also live harmoniously with the black neon tetra.
Neon Tetra Diseases
While they are very hardy, it does not make them impervious to diseases and ailments. Thankfully, most of the diseases that they can contract are easily treatable. In fact, as long as the tank is properly maintained and new additions are properly quarantined you won’t even have to worry about it. In case there is an outbreak, quarantine the affected fish and treat them. Also use a commercially available medicine for the main tank. Be diligent with your maintenance to avoid any unwanted surprises.
However, this species is also susceptible to the deadly Neon Tetra Disease which has no cure. This can be easily avoided though by getting your fish from a good source and properly quarantining any new additions. Avoiding tubifex as a food source is also advisable.
Black Neon Tetra Lifespan
Black neon tetra can live for as long as 8 years in the wild but getting them to live that long in the home aquarium can be quite a challenge. A more realistic number is 5 years. Getting them to live this long is not a challenge at all as long as a proper maintenance regimen is followed and any signs of trouble are addressed early on.
Black Neon Tetra Breeding
Getting these fish to breed is surprisingly easy for a tetra. You will need a separate breeding tank and some specific conditions to induce breeding. Start off with a 10 gallon tank with a dark substrate, a few plants, and peat filtration.
Add a bonded pair of these tetras and slowly start raising the temperature to 80°F or 27.5°C. This will encourage the female to lay her eggs. It is vital to remove the adults before the eggs hatch which will take place in 22 to 24 hours. Once the fry hatch, they can be left alone for the first three-four days when they can survive on their egg sacs. After that, they can be fed finely crushed fish food or infusoria.
The black neon tetra in many ways is an underrated gem of the freshwater hobby. It may not be the first tetra that people think of when planning their community aquariums but it is a great option that every hobbyist must consider. It is very hardy, easy to take care of and relatively easy to breed as well. In the right setting, it can even look stunning and its schooling behavior makes it quite an alluring addition to a planted tank. It is a great option for both a beginner and an expert hobbyist which makes the lack of its popularity almost criminal.