The black skirt tetra is one of the most popular species in ornamental aquariums. It is quite recommended for beginners, as they are not only eye-catching but also very sociable and easy to care for.
Its scientific name is “Gymnocorymbus ternetzi” known as the black tetra, black skirt tetra, petticoat tetra, black widow tetra among other names.
Origin of black tetra
It is a freshwater fish, native to the Paraguay River from the Characidae family, that inhabits the subtropical waters of some Latin American countries, such as Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay and Brazil among others.
This species is very attractive and loved by aquarium lovers due to its striking dark coloring, which is easily recognized.
In addition, they adapt well to different environments, have good social behavior and are not dependent on a large or highly decorated aquarium. They can live well in community aquariums and do not require a very specific PH.
Habitat of Black Tetra
In nature, they prefer slow waters from small rivers, streams, and tributaries that are well shaded by trees.
Originally, they could only be caught in the wild, but today the black tetras are totally bred in captivity, which leads to a series of new man-made variations of this fish.
Physical Characteristics of Black Skirt Tetra
Size: they are rounded fish, slightly thickened in the middle of their length, and quite compressed laterally, their fins are long, except for the one under their body.
Most Black Tetra will grow to be 1.5 to 2 inches and in some instances can grow to be 3 inches long. The females are usually smaller and they have a thicker belly during spawning. There have been some females that have reached a size of 3 inches.
Color: generally, their body is black and grayish. Where this last color, is crossed by two vertical black stripes. They have a special color since it is not unicolor, but it is blurred in several tonalities.
Even so, the black tetra can have another variety of colors of fish that have been bred in captivity.
There are some golden fish, which were genetically selected through selective breeding, as well as an albino (white with red eyes) and semi-albino (white with black eyes) varieties.
These fish — especially the albino and semi-albino forms — are sometimes artificially dyed, either with pink or blue tones leading to more variety of this species.
When the black tetra reaches 5 years of age, its color fades, it also happens if they are sick or feel stressed.
Eyes and mouth: its eyes are large in proportion to its body and its mouth is small in relation to the rest of its structure.
Lifespan: usually about 3 to 5 years with good conditions in the aquarium.
Differences Between Male and Female Black Tetra
- The dorsal fin of the female is wider compared to that of the male.
- The male of this species has tiny white spots on its caudal fin.
- The female’s body is noticeably larger than that of the male.
- The color of the females is more intense than that of the males.
Behavior of Black Tetra
The black tetra is a pacific fish, that usually does not have problems with other species, in fact, it is quite sociable. Ideal for living in a school of at least 6-7 fish.
Although these fish are territorial, you can also place these fish with other species of similar size, especially because it is not common for black tetra to attack other fishes.
It is still advisable to avoid housing them with smaller species, particularly those with long, flowing fins as they may begin to pinch the fins of other fish.
When they do not feel comfortable with their environment, they usually stay static in the water and hide between the vegetation or decoration.
Common Diseases of Black Tetra
Black tetras are prone to various diseases such as Dropsy, fin rot, and Fish Fungus, these types of diseases can be solved with medication and having a good water quality in the aquarium.
Another common disease is Ich, an infection that creates a white spot on the body of the fish, especially on the fins.
This disease is caused by if the fish is stressed or by the bad quality of the water, the best thing is to separate the infected fish, start treatment and always have the water in the best conditions.
Feeding Black Tetra
The feeding of these fish is quite wide, they are omnivorous fish. They eat vermin, worms, some crustaceans, larvae and small insects. They also ingest vegetable food, algae, food in flakes with live food, frozen or freeze-dried.
If you want it to look more intense, you can give it a complement of live or frozen food based on artemia or daphnia.
To feed these fish correctly at home, it is advisable to make prefabricated rations for them. In case you want to offer live food to your fish. It is better to buy it in a specialized store.
How Should The Aquarium of a Black Tetra Be?
keeping a black tetra in the aquarium is not difficult. As we mentioned, they are not very demanding with their environment compared to other species.
However, since black tetra is a fairly active and agile fish, it is best to keep it in a spacious aquarium. The size of the aquarium can be between 10 – 20 gallons and the temperature of your aquarium should be between 70 – 77ºF.
As for the environment, the ideal for these fish is a large dark aquarium with plants, with several hiding places and more black tetras to keep them company. It would be ideal to include in the aquarium a diversity of elements that simulate natural conditions.
They are used to large plants in their natural habitat and enjoy a well-planted aquarium with open swimming space. They prefer soft and acidic water, preferably dyed with tannins.
Sometimes it is better to close the aquarium because when the fish are very active, they can jump quite high and might get out.
Reproduction of Black Tetra
They reproduce easily and have numerous offspring. They begin to reproduce when they reach two years old, by then they are usually about 1.5 long.
The larger males generally claim a territory that they will protect during their spawning periods. This species reproduces by releasing and fertilizing eggs intermittently between plants, they vary between 300 and 400 eggs.
There are cases where they can be more than a thousand, so it is important that the breeding tank is not too small. Although not all are fertilized, nor do they all end up developing.
These eggs normally take between 18 and 26 hours to hatch.
It is advisable to have java moss so that the female feels safe to deposit the eggs and should be constantly monitored to ensure that other fish, including parents, do not eat them, in this case, it is best to remove the large fish from the aquarium.
The black tetra is a quite attractive species, sociable, playful, and relatively easy to care for, an excellent species for anyone, especially for beginners.
An aquarium where a school of black tetras is found will always be interesting to observe.
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