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Tetra Fact Sheets
Splashing Tetra



The Tetras are small or medium size fish belonging to the Characin family.  They come from South and Central America and from Africa. There are hundreds of different types of tetras.  Many of these fish are almost incredibly beautiful.  Most of The South American tetras come from soft, acid water.  All will survive fairly happily at 24 degrees C (75 degrees F).

Neon Tetra Group

When people say Tetra, they sometimes mean the Neon Tetra, Paracheirodon innesi.  This is one of the most popular aquarium fish.  The Neon and its near relatives, the Cardinal, Paracheirodon axelrodi and the Green Neon, Paracheirodon simulans are all small fish, subject to predation by larger fish.  They are very suitable fish for a community aquarium of small, peaceful fish including the next group of tetras.

Other fish which are suitable companions for the Tetras of the Neon Group include Guppies, Endlers Guppies, Platies and the smaller species of Danio. Smaller specimens of many other species are also suitable companions.

The three species of this group all come from very soft, acidic water. Although they can be acclimatised to Neutral water, avoid letting the water get too alkaline.

Small Peaceful Tetras

There are many types of peaceful fish in this group. The tetras in this group include the Black Phantom, The Black Neon, Diamond, Flame, Head and Tail Light, Glass Bloodfin, Glowlight, Lemon, Penguin, Pristella, Rosy, Rummy Nose, Silvertip and Splashing.

Larger or More Aggressive Tetras

The Tetras in this group can be kept with each other, and with the tetras of the previous group, but caution is necessary if putting them with the three species of the Neon group.  Some tetras slightly larger or more aggressive are: Black Widow, Blind Cave, Buenos Aires, Emperor, Paraguay, Red Eye, and Serpae.

These Tetras are also suitable companions for the small to medium sized Barbs like the Tiger Barb, Gold Barb and Rosy Barb.

As always, be aware of the sizes of your fish and avoid putting large fish with very small ones.  For example, the Paraguay Tetra is only in the third group of tetras because it can be a little aggressive, but it is a small fish.  You would not want to put a small Paraguay Tetra with as large Rosy Barb.

This is only a short overview of a few of the more common tetras.  Before keeping any fish, or other animal, you need to be aware of their needs.  See the Fact Sheet Index at the left.

Breeding South American Tetras

There are several hundred species of tetra. Not all of them breed in the same way. A few of them that have different breeding patterns are: the Splashing Tetra which actually lays its eggs out of the water, the Rummy Nose Tetra which can be made permanently sterile by calcium ions in the water, the Glass Bloodfin Tetra which likes harder water than most South American tetras, and the Emperor Tetra which is not a strongly schooling fish.  As well as these, the tetras vary enormously in their ease of breeding, and particularly in the necessity of exactly the right sort of water.

However, despite these differences between the different species there are some things common to most of the South American Tetras.

The tetras, in general, are egg scatterers.  All the tetras I know have external fertilisation so both males and females will need to be in the spawning tank together. They need very soft acidic water. The temperature varies with the different species, but mostly they will be stimulated to breed by a small rise in the water temperature.

A breeding tank set up for tetras will be scrupulously clean.  Although in nature, the fish will lay their eggs over plants, many people prefer to use a synthetic spawning medium because it is easier to clean.  For breeding, many of the tetras require water that is not only extremely soft, but also very low in total dissolved salts.

Although not all tetras will eat their own eggs the great majority will sometimes in surprisingly large numbers in the wild.  Tetras in general are also cannibalistic to their own babies.  Because of these two things it is normal to remove the parents after spawning.

Tetras do not usually produce babies in community aquariums, but I have known several cases where they have done this. Naturally, they have been easily bred ones like the Black Widow Tetra.