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Most Popular Tetra Fish Types

Most Popular Tetra Fish Types

There is a rich variety of aquarium species available, and it can be tasking to narrow down the right ones for you.

Many aquarists love tetras for their peaceful nature, and how easily they can adjust to different kinds of setups.

Tetra species inhabit a range of habitats, from South America to East Africa, where they are sourced from wetlands, lakes, ponds, and rivers.

Most of the tetras will thrive in moderately warm tanks with strong water currents. The most popular tetra fish include:

1. Cardinal Tetra (Paracheirodon Axelrodi)

Cardinal Tetra

Cardinal Tetra

The cardinal tetra closely resembles the more popular neon tetra. It is indigenous to the South American countries of Venezuela, Brazil, and Colombia in environments like the Rio Negro tributary.

In the wild, the cardinal tetra prefers waterways covered by dense rainforests where the water is either static or slow-moving.

It is a schooling fish, and you should, therefore, keep a community of the fish in your tank.

The temperature should range between 73 to 80 °F with a PH of below 6. Ensure that your tank has an open swimming space in addition to several hiding places.

You can opt to have a planted aquarium with an open central region.

Being omnivorous, the cardinal tetra will eat most foods, but you should provide a lot of flake foods to satisfy their vitamin requirements.

The fish will generally be easy to keep since they are rarely vulnerable to diseases. Ensure that the chemistry is stable at all times.

The cardinal tetra will co-exist peacefully with other species including the other tetra species, dwarf gouramis, and danios.

  • Adult Size: 2 inches (5 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 Gallon
  • Water Temperature: 73 – 80 °F (23-27 °C)
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Lifespan: 2-4 Years

2. Congo Tetra (Phenacogrammus Interruptus)

Congo Tetra

Congo Tetra

The Congo tetra is recognized for its radiant appearance, and it is sourced from the Congo River. Its body has green, blue, red, and yellow hues, and its scales are characteristically large.

It is one of the larger tetras, as it can reach lengths of three inches.

Breeding the Congo tetras had mixed results after it was first discovered, but aquarists in Florida successfully reported a breeding line in the 1970s.

In its natural habitat, the Congo tetra favors slightly acidic water and tall vegetation as well as substrates consisting of mud, sand, and silt.

The Congo tetra will, therefore, thrive in dark and still water with low light.

You can achieve this setting by coupling floating plants with dim aquarium lights. Invest in a 40-gallon tank or larger to give the Congo tetra enough space to roam.

The temperature requirements for the Congo tetra is between 74 to 82 °F while the PH should ideally fall between 6.0 to 6.5.

Ensure you keep at least six of the species together, and it is best to avoid aggressive tankmates that may bully the Congo tetra.

  • Adult Size: 3 inches (7.5 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 30 Gallon
  • Water Temperature: 74 – 82 °F (23-28 °C)
  • Temperament: Generally Peaceful
  • Lifespan: 3-5 Years

3. Bleeding Heart Tetra (Hyphessobrycon Erythrostigma)

Bleeding Heart Tetra

Bleeding Heart Tetra

The Bleeding Heart Tetra is quite hardy, making it a favorite among beginning aquarists. It is notable for the red spot on their sides, which have earned them the name Red-Tipped tetra.

It is sourced from the Amazon River Basin, as well as other river basins in South America.

You will need a 20 gallon-tank at minimum to keep the Bleeding Heart Tetra. The temperature should fall between 72 to 80 °F with the PH between 6.5 to 7.0.

The tetra will generally occupy the middle and bottom areas of the tank, and it will only swim to the top if oxygen is not sufficient.

Since it is a schooling fish, it is best to keep the Bleeding Heart Tetra in schools of four to six species. Other tetra fish will make good tankmates as will Rasboras and Danios.

  • Adult Size: 2.5 inches (6.5 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 Gallon
  • Water Temperature: 72 – 80 °F (22-27 °C)
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Lifespan: 3-5 Years

4. Red Eye Tetra (Moenkhausia Sanctaefilomenae)

Red Eye Tetra

Red Eye Tetra

The Red Eye tetra is noted for the bright red spot near its eyes, and the silvery-golden hue on its body.

The yellow band present at the base of the tail fin has earned it the name Yellow-banded Moenkhausia.

It was first described in 1907, and it inhabits the rivers of western Brazil, eastern Peru, Paraguay, and eastern Bolivia.

It will generally reach a length of 2.75 inches, with a lifespan of three to five years. It will especially appeal to beginners because it tolerates different water conditions.

The temperature can range between 73 to 82 °F with a PH of between 5.5 to 8.5.

The Red Eye Tetra is known to be peaceful, and it will thrive in a community tank. Since they inhabit areas with dense forests in the wild, you should maintain a dimly-lit tank.

Use plant cover and a dark substrate on the aquarium’s sides and back.

  • Adult Size: 2.8 inches (7 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 30 Gallon
  • Water Temperature: 72 – 80 °F (22-27 °C)
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Lifespan: 3-5 Years

5. Neon Tetras (Paracheirodon Innesi)

Neon Tetra

Neon Tetra

Neon tetras are very popular in the fish-rearing community, thanks to their ease-of-care and attractive colors. It was discovered in the Amazon in 1934. Its appearance includes a blue line that extends from its eyes to the adipose fin.

Another red line stretches from the center of their body to the caudal fin. The rest of the body is transparent, and they can even hide the blue/red sheen to stay safe if they feel threatened. The average size is 1.5 inches, and they will need a minimum tank size of 10 gallons.

In the wild, the neon tetra prefers dense canopies, which is why you should keep them in a heavily planted tank. Including driftwood will provide more darkness and shade.

The water’s PH should fall between 6.0 to 7.0 with temperatures between 70 to 81 °F.

It is easy to feed neon tetras as they will welcome frozen and live foods as well as flakes and pellets. The fish will thrive in a community of peaceful bottom dwellers like dwarf cichlids, small catfish, and gouramis.

Avoid keeping neon tetras with nocturnal aggressive fish, because they might eat them.

  • Adult Size: 1.4 inches (3.5 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 Gallon
  • Water Temperature: 69 – 80 °F (21-27 °C)
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Lifespan: 8-10 Years

6. Black Phantom Tetra (Megalamphodus Megalopterus)

Black Phantom Tetra

Black Phantom Tetra

The Black Phantom Tetra is a native species of central Brazil and Paraguay. It is recognized for its black translucent appearance, and you can make stunning contrasting displays if you couple it with red-hued tetra species like the Serpae tetras or the Red-Phantom tetra.

The Black Phantom Tetras will be at home in a well-planted tank, dim lighting, and a dark substrate. Keep them in around 20 gallons, and close the tank as they are noted jumpers.

The temperatures and PH should be 72-82 °F and 6.0-7.5, respectively.

One interesting aspect with Black Phantom Tetras is the “mock fights” that involve the males. They mainly quarrel over territorial space, although the battles result in minor injuries.

  • Adult Size: 1.4 inches (3.5 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 15-20 Gallon
  • Water Temperature: 72 – 82 °F (22-28 °C)
  • Temperament: Semi-Aggressive
  • Lifespan: 5-6 Years

7. Buenos Aires Tetra (Hyphessobrycon Anisitsi)

Buenos Aires Tetra

Buenos Aires Tetra

The striking beauty of the Buenos Aires Tetra will spruce up any aquarium. It has a silver body with an olive and brown back.

Its abdominal, anal, and dorsal fins can be yellowish or reddish. The Buenos Aires Tetra was described in 1907 after being discovered in South America.

It will be easy to care for, but it has been known to nip the fins of other fish or crop tank plants. Keep them in schools of seven to tame their aggression.

Its average size is 2.8 inches with a lifespan of up to five years. If you intend to keep a community tank, keep the Buenos Aires Tetra with fast and similarly-sized tankmates.

  • Adult Size: 2.8 inches (7 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 Gallon
  • Water Temperature: 72 – 80 °F (23-27 °C)
  • Temperament: Aggressive
  • Lifespan: 5-6 Years

8. Glowlight Tetra (Hemigrammus Erythrozonus)

Glowlight Tetra

Glowlight Tetra

The Glowlight Tetra is among the smaller tetra species with a maximum size of two inches. It has a semi-transparent body with an orange-red line across its length. Keep a tank-size of 15 gallons or more to fit six to seven fish species.

To make the lights soft and dim, add several fluctuants in the tank. Glowlight tetras are quite sensitive when it comes to water parameters. There should be low concentrations of nitrates and ammonia and a PH of between 6.0 to 7.5.

The fish is compatible with varieties of similar size. You can couple it with most of live-bearing fish and other tetra species. Refrain from pairing them with larger species like the cichlids.

  • Adult Size: 2 inches (5 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10-15 Gallon
  • Water Temperature: 72 – 80 °F (22-27 °C)
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Lifespan: 3-4 Years

9. Lemon Tetra (Hyphessobrycon Pulchripinnis)

Lemon Tetra

Lemon Tetra

The Lemon tetra is another of the tetra species native to South America. It is easily noticeable by its bright yellow markings. There is a red color on the upper region of the eyes.

To mimic the natural habitat of the Lemon Tetra, keep them in a densely-populated tank.

Leave a large and open area for the fish to swim, as they like to roam across the top and middle parts of an aquarium.

Acidic water is recommended for Lemon Tetras, although they will adjust to levels of between 5.5 to 8.0.

Keep the temperatures between 70 to 82 °F. A varied diet is ideal for Lemon Tetras, and you can supplement flakes with boiled vegetables.

  • Adult Size: 2 inches (5 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 Gallon
  • Water Temperature: 70 – 82 °F (22-28 °C)
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Lifespan: 4-5 Years

10. Penguin Tetra (Thayeria Boehlkei)

Penguin Tetra

Penguin Tetra

The Penguin Tetra resides in the upper Amazon River Basin. It prefers small streams, from where it targets crustaceans, insects, and worms for food. The aquarium size is between 20 to 30 gallons, and you can keep about five of them.

The Penguin Tetra is especially sensitive to nitrates which is why you need to maintain high water quality. The PH range is between 6-8 with the temperature between 72 to 82ºF.

  • Adult Size: 1.2 inches (3 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 Gallon
  • Water Temperature: 72 – 82 °F (22-28 °C)
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Lifespan: 5-8 Years

11. Blind Cave Mexican Tetra (Astyanax Mexicanus)

Blind Cave Mexican Tetra

Blind Cave Mexican Tetra

The Blind Cave Mexican Tetra is quite unique, and it comes in two forms. One variety is eyed, while another has no eyes.

This variation is attributed to the environment they inhabit. The eyed community lives in brightly-lit waters while their eyeless cousins reside in dark caves.

The limited sun exposure in the eyeless fish also resulted in a pink-white coloration that resembles albinism.

When you first add the Blind Cave Mexican Tetra in your tank, they can be a bit shy and seek out caves around them.

They need a few weeks to memorize the way around your tank. Since they will be reasonably slow to feed, keep them with non-aggressive tankmates.

  • Adult Size: 3 inches (7.5 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 Gallon
  • Water Temperature: 68 – 77 °F (20-25 °C)
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Lifespan: 3-5 Years

12. Diamond Tetra (Moenkhausia Pittieri)

Diamond Tetra

Diamond Tetra

The Diamond Tetra is famed for its striking appearance. Its body is characterized by silver-gray scales with orange, gold, and green hues. The scales appear to shimmer when it is in motion, hence the name Diamond Tetra. The colors are, however, only pronounced in adults.

The Diamond Tetra originates in Venezuela, where it is a resident of the Guacara and Aragua rivers and Lake Valencia. It prefers thickly-planted regions, so it is best to have a tank with a densely-planted perimeter. Add floating plants, dark substrates, and dim lights. It prefers temperatures between 74 to 82 °F and a PH of 6.0 to 7.5.

  • Adult Size: 2.5 inches (6 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 30 Gallon
  • Water Temperature: 74 – 82 °F (23-28 °C)
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Lifespan: 3-5 Years

13. Ember Tetra (Hyphessobrycon Amandae)

Ebmer Tetra

Ebmer Tetra

The Ember Tetra is sometimes called the Fire Tetra, and it inhabits rivers in Central Brazil. They have a fiery appearance which is an attractive attribute to aquarists.

They are playful and active in a tank, and you should provide plants for them to hide or swim through. The water temperature should be between 68 to 82 °F with a PH of between 5.5 to 7.0.

Use a silent filtration system and ensure that the water has no strong currents to avoid disturbing the Ember Tetra.

  • Adult Size: 1 inches (2.5 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 Gallon
  • Water Temperature: 68 – 82 °F (20-28 °C)
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Lifespan: 2-4 Years

14. Emperor Tetra (Nematobrycon Palmeri)

Emperor Tetra

Emperor Tetra

The Emperor Tetra is coveted for its appearance. Females have a greyish hue, while males are noticeable in their purple appearance. It will respond best to subdued lighting and thick vegetation. Opt for a dark substrate and change the water frequently.

Keep six of the fish with a single alpha-male. A mated pair can also thrive in your tank. The tetra is quite peaceful, and it prefers similarly-peaceful fish like Rasboras and Danios. The fish will welcome frozen and flake foods and freeze-dried food.

  • Adult Size: 1.6 inches (4 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 Gallon
  • Water Temperature: 72 – 80 °F (22-27 °C)
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Lifespan: 4-5 Years

15. Silvertip Tetra (Hasemania Nana)

Silvertip Tetra

Silvertip Tetra

This fish is named for the silvery-white tip on its fins. It can be aggressive, so it is wise to keep it with other large tetras.

They can nip on the fins of smaller fish or even species of similar size. Keep them in a large school to keep the aggression at a minimum. You can keep them in a 20-gallon tank, as they are quite active pets.

  • Adult Size: 1.2 inches (3 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 Gallon
  • Water Temperature: 72 – 82 °F (22-28 °C)
  • Temperament: Semi-Aggressive
  • Lifespan: 5-8 Years

16. Red Blue Colombian Tetra (Hyphessobrycon Columbianus)

Colombian Tetra

Colombian Tetra

  • Adult Size: 2.6 inches (6.5 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 Gallon
  • Water Temperature: 72 – 80 °F (22-27 °C)
  • Temperament: Aggressive
  • Lifespan: 3-5 Years

17. Rosy Tetra / Serpae Tetra (Hyphessobrycon Rosaceus)

Rosy Tetra

Rosy Tetra

  • Adult Size: 1.5 inches (4 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 Gallon
  • Water Temperature: 72 – 80 °F (22-27 °C)
  • Temperament: Semi-Aggressive
  • Lifespan: 5-6 Years

18. Rummy Nose Tetra (Hemigrammus Rhodostomus)

Rummy Nose Tetra

Rummy Nose Tetra

  • Adult Size: 2.5 inches (6.5 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 30 Gallon
  • Water Temperature: 72 – 80 °F (22-27 °C)
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Lifespan: 5-6 Years

19. Panda Tetra (Aphyocharax Paraguayensis)

Panda Tetra

Panda Tetra

  • Adult Size: 1.2 inches (3 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 15 Gallon
  • Water Temperature: 72 – 80 °F (22-27 °C)
  • Temperament: Generally Peaceful
  • Lifespan: 5-6 Years

20. Black Neon Tetra (Hyphessobrycon Herbertaxelrodi)

Black Neon Tetra

Black Neon Tetra

  • Adult Size: 1.5 inches (4 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 Gallon
  • Water Temperature: 72 – 80 °F (22-27 °C)
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Lifespan: 3-5 Years

21. Albino Cardinal Tetra

Albino Cardinal Tetra

Albino Cardinal Tetra

  • Adult Size: 2 inches (5 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 Gallon
  • Water Temperature: 72 – 80 °F (22-27 °C)
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Lifespan: 2-4 Years

22. GloFish Tetra

GloFish Tetra

GloFish Tetra

  • Adult Size: 2 inches (5 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 Gallon
  • Water Temperature: 72 – 80 °F (22-27 °C)
  • Temperament: Semi-Aggressive
  • Lifespan: 3-5 Years

23. Bucktooth Tetra (Exodon paradoxus)

Bucktooth Tetra

Bucktooth Tetra (sourceCC BY-SA 4.0)

  • Adult Size: 3 inches (7.5 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 50 Gallon
  • Water Temperature: 72 – 82 °F (23-28 °C)
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Lifespan: 8-10 Years

24. Black Skirt / Widow Tetra (Gymnocorymbus Ternetzi)

Black Skirt / Widow Tetra

Black Skirt / Widow Tetra

  • Adult Size: 2-2.5 inches (5-6 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 Gallon
  • Water Temperature: 75 – 80 °F (24-27 °C)
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Lifespan: 3-5 Years

25. Bloodfin Tetra (Aphyocharax Anisitsi)

Bloodfin Tetra

Bloodfin Tetra

  • Adult Size: 2 inches (5.5 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 Gallon
  • Water Temperature: 70 – 80 °F (21-27 °C)
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Lifespan: 5-8 Years

26. Pristella / X-Ray Tetra (Pristella maxillaris)

Pristella / X-Ray Tetra

Pristella / X-Ray Tetra

  • Adult Size: 2 inches (5 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 Gallon
  • Water Temperature: 75 – 82 °F (24-28 °C)
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Lifespan: 6-8 Years

Conclusion

Both beginners and advanced aquarists love tetra fish for their colorful appearance, easy maintenance, and calm nature. Species like red-eye, neon, lemon, and glowlights have many enthusiasts.

Most tetras originate from the Amazon basin as well as other river systems in South America. It is best to try and replicate the natural habitat of your preferred species.

Most tetras will thrive in a PH of between 6.8 to 7.8 and temperatures between 75 to 80 °F.

Most tetras will be comfortable in tanks of between 10 to 20 gallons, but you can give them more room to be active.

Written by Fabian

Hey, I'm Fabian, chief editor at Aquarium Nexus. I really enjoy the aquarium hobby and love sharing my experience with others. If you have any questions feel free to contact me or leave a comment below.

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