How to care for Tetras?

We will talk about tetra fish care in this article.We will also discuss the important factors such as tetra fish habitat,Feeding habits and tank size, etc.Everything that you need to know about tetra fish care will be briefly discussed.


In the blog

  • Key points of tetra fish
  • Tetra fish habitat 
  • List of common tetras with their care level in general
  • Tetra fish appearance
  • Tetra fish life span
  • Tetra fish tank set-up
  • Tetra fish water conditions
  • Tetra fish compatible tank-mates
  • Tetra fish feeding requirements
  • Tetra fish heath care
  • Tetra fish daily care and bi-weekly care tips
  • Summary

How to care for Tetras?

To take care for Tetras you have to:

  • Daily tank cleaning is not recommended.
  • Tetras should be fed twice a day.
  • Tetras are omnivores in nature,so feeding them plant based and meat based diets alternately is recommended.
  • Feed small sized food particles which can be consumed within 2 minutes.
  • Keep rotating their diets.
  • Remove unconsumed food daily to avoid ammonia pollution in the tank.
  • Tetras are surface feeders so feed them food particles which float on the surface of the water.
  • Observe their swimming patterns.
  • Check for their body discoloration.
  • Check for Bioload.
  • Tank equipment should be checked from time to time, if they are working properly or not.

Bi-weekly care tips for tetra fish

  • Tetras are sensitive to water changes.Maintain the water parameters and keep a track of the changes.
  • Change 20-25%of  water once in 10 days to avoid biomass accumulation in your tanks.
  • Avoid giving freeze dried food daily as they are a bit difficult to digest.Twice a week is recommended.
  • De-chlorinate the tank if required.
  • Make sure to check the expiry date of the food items before feeding your tetras.
  • Separate ill tank mates to a hospital tank for some days.Put them back once they are fine.This will stop the spread of disease to the other fish.Use soft nets to to remove the tetras.
  • Wash the filters once in two the filters is very important as it imbibes and removes all the unwanted particles from the tank and it even helps to remove the bad odor from the tank.
  • Clean the tank using warm water.

Key points of tetra fish

FamilyAlestidae/ Characidae/Lebiasinidae
Natural habitat(origin)Freshwater of Central America South America and Africa
Body length4.5-9 cm
Lifespan5-10 years  
ColorsBright Fluorescent 
TemperamentSocial and Peaceful
Tank-sizeMin-10-20 gallons Max 60- gallons 
DietOmnivore, exception being black neon tetra (carnivorous)
Care levelEasy to maintain
ShapeSlender and oval
Temperature & ph68-78 degrees Fahrenheit & 6.8 (acidic)  

Why is tetra fish care necessary?

Tetra fish are known to be great schooling fish which live in large groups and like to stick together.They might fall sick or even die if isolated.

Like other fish, tetras respond well to balanced meals and a healthy environment, So with proper care, they can live for 5-10 years. 

Their maintenance is simple and  hassle free.The water conditions should be monitored from time to time to avoid diseases.

What are Tetra Fish?

Tetras are one of the most common freshwater fish and easy to keep in the aquarium hobby.

They are very beautiful and really do create a center-piece fish in an aquarium without being a centerpiece of fish at all.

They are very popular aquarium fish,because of their calmness and vibrant personalities.

List of common tetras with their care level in general

  • Black and Green Neon tetras-Most popular indoor aquarium fish.
  • Head and light tetra (Beacon fish) : Easy to care for.
  • Black phantom tetra :Intermediate care.
  • Diamond tetra :Easy to care for.
  • Bleeding heart tetra :Easy to care for.
  • Blind cave tetra-Unique tetras, found in mexico.
  • Glow-light tetra : Easy to care for.
  • Disk tetra :Easy to care for.
  • Black skirt tetra :Very easy to care for.
  • Ember tetra :Easy to care for.
  • Cardinal tetra:Challenging to keep,thrive well in a more acidic environment.
  • Lemon tetra :Easy to care for.
  • Bucktooth tetra :Difficult,for experienced owners.
  • Emperor tetra :Challenging to keep and thrive well in a more acidic environment.
  • Penguin tetra:Challenging to keep,thrive well in a more acidic environment.

Tetra fish habitat

Tetras are mainly found in Central America, South America and Africa.More than 150 species of tetras inhabit freshwater streams and rivers except blind cave tetras (found in Mexico).

Tetra fish appearance

Tetra Fish typically have the below features in their appearance:

  • Toothed fish (named ‘tetra’ because of their unique teeth shape)
  • Bright fluorescent appearance.
  • Small in size,body length ranges from 4.5-9 cm.
  • Slender and Oval in shape
  • Males are slender in shape and females are plumpy around the belly.

Tetra Fish life expectancy

The average lifespan of a tetra fish is between 5-10 years.It completely depends on you, how nicely you are taking care of them in artificial conditions.

Provide them the same natural conditions and see how beautifully and happily they will grow and adapt in the aquarium.

Tetra Fish tank set-up

A large sized aquarium is ideal to keep your tetras in a group of 6-8. They are pretty small in size and easily get along well with tetras and other species of similar temperament.

Avoid keeping more than 6 tetras in a small tank,this can cause stress in tetras due to small space and overcrowding.Tank cycling is very important before introducing them in the tank.

  • 6 Tetras-10 gallon tank 
  • 50 Tetras -20 gallon tank
  • 60 Tetras-25 gallon tank
  • 100 Tetras-60 gallon tank

Decoration for tetra fish tanks

For decorative purposes Marshy branches and driftwood can be used.

Plants for tetra fish tanks

Tall and floating freshwater plants should be used in the tank.Plants act as a natural filter, which provides oxygen in the tank.Tall plants provide good hiding space to tetras and keeps them stress free.

  • Moss
  • Ferns
  • Anubias
  • frogbit

Light intensity in tetra fish tanks

Tetras thrive well in dark environments with dense vegetation.

Water conditions in tetra fish tanks

Tetras are found in warm climates naturally so the same  temperature must be maintained using a heater and thermometer to provide a suitable environment. 

The tank should be thoroughly cleaned with hot water to clear tiny organic particles.

Accumulation of ammonia,nitrite and nitrate is very harmful for the health of tetras like other fish.It’s important to keep this in mind.This could be fatal for them.

The temperature, pH and hardness of the water should be maintained properly.

  • Temperature range 68-78 degrees Fahrenheit (heater and thermometer)
  • pH range  6-7.5 (acidic water)
  • dkH range( water hardness) – 50ppm – 140 ppm

Tetra Fish Compatible Tank-mates

Tetras are calm personalities and putting them with someone of the same temperament would be a great idea.The right tank mates will keep your tetras stress free and free from diseases.

Here is the list of some of the compatible tank mates for your tetras.

Compatible tank-mates for tetras:

  • Swordtails
  • Guppies
  • Shrimps
  • African dwarf frogs
  • Mollies
  • Apple snail
  • Plecos
  • Algae eating (otos and cories)

Fish to avoid in tetras tank:

  • Discus fish- Avoid keeping them with discus, as they compete for resources and give stress to your tetras.

Tetra Fish feeding requirements

Omnivore and pretty much take any kind of food like tropical flakes, little micro pellets, live, frozen and freeze-dried foods.Yolks and brine shrimps are their favorite foods.

Note- Canned food can be given to tetras but not everyday, as they are not good for their gut health and can cause gastritis.

Type of FoodExamplesDescription
Tetra Color BitsColor flakesColor enhancers
Prepared FoodsFlakes(vegetable and meat flakes)Pellets and wafersMeat flakes imitate the wild habitat and are really good for tetras.
Freeze-Dried FoodsBloodworms mosquito larvaeFeed twice a week
Frozen FoodsDifferent varieties are available in marketInduce spawning(defrost and feed)
Live FoodsBrine shrimp Fruit flies(Drosophila)MicrowormsThey love to eat live food like other fish
Tetramin fish food & flakesDifferent varieties are available in the market.Customized fish food, contains immunostimulants,vitamins,biotin and Omega-3 fatty acids.It keeps their immune system strong and healthy

Tetra Fish health care

Fish are at greater risk of disease when they have weak immune systems or long-term stress from bad quality water, overcrowding, unbalanced diets, and other poor environmental concerns.

Neon tetras disease caused by microsporidian parasites which affects almost all the species of tetras.It is severe and can kill your tetras if not traded well on time.Common tetras diseases are Fin Rot & Ich.

Common symptoms

  • Discoloration
  • Restlessness/Nervousness
  • Bloating
  • Irregular swimming pattern/Difficulty in swimming
  • Bent or curved spine
  • Lumpy body 
  • Skin cyst


Tetras are small, vibrant, calm, non-aggressive and most common freshwater breeds of pet fish.

They are ‘great socialisers’ and get comfortable in large groups, but with suitable tank-mates.

Serpae and Buenos Aires are the only tetras who show superficial aggression to dominate other fish in the tank.

A group of at least six tetra fish is recommended.They don’t need special equipment around them to keep them happy.

All they need is balanced nutrition and clean sanitation like other fish.

Quarantine the new members for at least two weeks before introducing them to the main tank to avoid parasitic and other diseases.

They will get stressed if left alone, and this may lead to their illness and subsequently death.

In short, taking care of these beauties is very easy and is considered ideal for both newcomer and seasoned hobbyists.

Frequently asked questions on tetra fish care

Why are tetra fish so popular?

Tetras are one of the most popular freshwater tropical fish due to their peaceful nature,vibrant appearance, their smaller size and are low cost and easy to maintain aquarium fish.

Can we keep Discus fish with tetras?

It’s not recommended to keep tetras with discus because they compete for resources and this might give stress to your tetras.Stress is not good for them,it might make them vulnerable and they can die ultimately out of stress.

Stress is one of the major reasons which can interfere with their lifespans.Chose peaceful tank mates for tetras, they like to swim together as a unit with similar temperament.Compatibility is very important for fish survival in artificial conditions.