Betta Trading

Black Neon Tetra

The Black Neon Tetra,  Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi, is not as closely related to the Neon Tetra as its name implies.   Other common names include The Black Tetra.   Sometimes it is even called a Neon Tetra, which could be confusing.  The Black Neon Tetra is a longer-lived fish than the Neon Tetra, and will often live for 5 years.  The Black Neon Tetra’s specific name was from Dr. Herbert Axelrod, the well-known, and very respected, fish expert, musician, author and convicted criminal.

The Black Neon Tetra comes from Brazil, and is a tropical fish. 

Water Conditions

The Black Neon Tetra comes from soft acid water, but it can tolerate harder and slightly alkaline water better than Neon Tetras.  A temperature of 24̊ C (75̊ F) is suitable for this fish although it would be able to survive short periods up to 32̊ C(90̊ F), or down to 18̊ C (65̊ F).  I do not recommend extremes of temperature for any fish, and stressing fish will make them much more vulnerable to disease.


The Black Neon Tetra is a schooling fish, and I suggest at least six should be kept together.

The Black Neon Tetra will grow to about one and a half inches (4 cm). It is a small fish, and suitable companions include the other tetras, including Neon Tetras and Cardinal Tetras. As well as the other tetras, it can be kept with Zebra Danios, small Gouramis, Corydoras catfish including the Peppered Catfish, small barbs and other small, not too aggressive fish.

The Black Neon Tetra is a little larger, and much faster than the Neon Tetra so The Black Neon Tetra is a little better able to cope with larger fish than The Neon Tetra.


The Black Neon Tetra is an omnivore, like most fish.  It will eat any normal fish food readily and can feed at any level of the aquarium, although they seem to prefer the top.  As with nearly all fish, it will benefit from some live food such as wrigglers (mosquito larvae) Daphnia, Blood worms, etc.  Frozen blood worms also make a welcome change to flakes.


Before attempting to breed this fish, condition the prospective parents with good food.  Fish of about one-year old are suitable for breeding.  The sex of the fish can be determined by its body shape.  Female Black Neon Tetras are much deeper in the body than the males.

Although it can be kept in water harder and more alkaline than its natural habitat, for breeding it is necessary to get closer to what The Black Neon Tetra would get in the Amazon.  Breeding it requires acidic water with no more than 4̊ of hardness.  Use dim lighting.

This fish is an egg scatterer, laying adhesive (sticky) eggs over plants, etc.  One female can produce several hundred eggs.  The parents will eat their own eggs and babies, so it is normal to remove the parents after spawning.  As with many fish, it often spawns in the early morning.

Raising the fry can be difficult because of their small size. The first food will normally be protozoa (infusoria). Fine fry food like Sera Micron can be used, graduating to slightly coarse fry food like Sera Micropan or HBH Fry Bites.  At all ages, The Black Neon Tetra benefits from suitable size live food.