Keeping Tetras

Tetra fish are a popular fish for beginning and experienced aquarium keepers alike. Their bright fluorescent colors are attention-getting and enjoyable to watch. With proper care, these small fish can provide years of enjoyment. The following content provides general information you should know to keep your Tetra fish healthy and vibrant.


What are the basics?

Tetra fish originate in South America and Africa. They average 1.5 to 2 inches in length as adults. With proper care, they will easily live for five years and can live up to ten. Tetra fish are toothed fish and the origin of their name is based on the shape of these teeth. In the wild, they usually gather in large schools and inhabit muddy waters with dense vegetation dictates how to best care for them in aquariums.


How should a Tetra Fish Aquarium be set up?

Tetra fish are sensitive to pH and temperature. As they come from warmer climates, it will be necessary to maintain an average water temperature of 75-78 degrees Fahrenheit. So a thermometer and heater are both necessities.

These fish prefer softer water and tend to lose their color in hard water. The optimum pH for the aquarium is 6.8 or slightly acidic. Tetra fish are more prone to disease if kept at higher pH’s.

Since Tetra fish come from places such as the Amazon river, these fish become stressed when subjected to bright lights. So, the aquarium should have floating vegetation to provide a shadowed environment. A good plant for this purpose is the Amazon Frogbit. The aquarium should also be decorated with bog branches, drift wood and live plants, giving the Tetra fish plenty of hiding places to prevent stress.

A darker and shadowy environment will give the added benefit of better displaying the bright colors of these animals.


How many Tetra fish can be kept together?

Since Tetra fish are social by nature, it is better to keep them in groups. Isolation will stress these fish which can lead to illness and death.

A good rule of thumb for how many to keep together is a minimum of six and up to a maximum of five inches of fish for each gallon of water. When figuring the maximum number, a hobbyist needs to take into consideration that a 20 gallon tank is not going to hold 20 gallons of water when properly set up. The decorations and plants will displace some of the water so an easier guideline to follow is 48 Tetra fish for a 20 gallon tank and up to 120 Tetra fish for a 75 gallon tank.


What do Tetra fish eat?

Since these are toothed fish, wild Tetra fish usually eat living prey. Therefore, their diet should be primarily meat. Begin with a good pellet food such as Spirulina flakes as the main staple. Then, add live food two or three times per week if possible. Daphnia pulex and Dropsilia fruit flies are excellent foods for Tetra fish. White worms are good but pose a choking hazard if not cut into halves or thirds. Brine fish are also appropriate food.

Though Tetra fish prefer to live in the mid-tank area, they are top feeders. They will ignore any food below the surface of the water. Therefore, it is better to feed them several times per day and only the amount they will eat in less than three minutes. This helps prevent uneaten food collecting and rotting in the bottom of the tank which would be a health hazard to the fish.