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Find Your Finned Friend: Which Tetra is Right for You?

If you’re here, you’re likely contemplating adding a Tetra to your aquatic family.

Tetras, with their vibrant hues and lively nature, are an excellent choice for any aquarium. However, with over 150 species available, the decision can be overwhelming. Fear not, this guide is here to help!

Getting to Know Tetras

Tetras are small, freshwater fish predominantly found in Africa, Central America, and South America. They’re celebrated for their vivid colors and peaceful demeanor, making them a favorite in community tanks.

Key Considerations

When selecting a Tetra, consider the following:

  1. Tank Size: Tetras are schooling fish and prefer to swim in groups. A ten gallon that can comfortably house a group of at least 5-6 Tetras is ideal.
  2. Water Conditions: Different Tetras have varying water condition requirements. Check the ideal pH, temperature, and hardness for the specific species you’re considering. Find out your own tap water parameters as well. Make your maintenace easier by choosing species that work with the water you have already.
  3. Diet: Most Tetras are omnivores and thrive on a diet of high-quality flake food, supplemented with occasional treats like brine shrimp or daphnia. Budget for the best quality you can afford. Your animals will pay you back in health, vibrant colors and longevity. Plus: you won't have a lot of water pollution from poor quality fillers.
  4. Temperament: While most Tetras are peaceful, some can be a bit nippy. Choose a species that will coexist harmoniously with your other fish-- or shrimp if you have them.

Spotlight on Tetra Species

Let’s explore some popular Tetra species:

  • Neon Tetra: Known for their bright blue and red stripes, Neon Tetras are hardy, peaceful, and perfect for beginners. For us, that flash of neon blue never gets old. While not the same species, you can get similar variants like the Green Neon, Black Neon, Gold Neon, and I've even started seeing long-finned tetras!

  • Cardinal Tetra: Similar to Neons, but larger and with bigger color patches. They’re a bit more sensitive to water conditions.

  • Rummy-Nose Tetra: Recognizable by their red noses, these Tetras are active swimmers and do well in community tanks. They can be a bit more delicate than other Tetra types, so plan to acclimate them very slowly should you decide to bring them home.

  • Emperor Tetra: With their elegant black stripes and long fins, Emperor Tetras are a truly regal addition to any aquarium.

Adding to the list, here are some more species you might consider:

  • Black Skirt Tetra: Known for their dramatic fins and flowing anal fin, Black Skirt Tetras are peaceful community fish that prefer to be in groups of at least five. These guys have been in the hobby for ages, and are well- known to a few generations of fishkeepers!
  • Ember Tetra: The Ember Tetra is a timid tetra species with a lot to offer. It has a familiar shape that’s shared among many fish in the tetra family. But, it has a distinct color that stands out, especially in big groups.


Choosing the right Tetra can seem daunting, but with a little research and consideration, you’ll find the perfect finned friend for your aquarium. Remember, the key is to consider your tank conditions, the Tetra’s needs, and the dynamics of your current fish community. Happy fish-keeping!

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