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South America


Black neon tetra

Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi


    Not a true neon the black neon still is an extremely beautiful and interesting fish to keep. Kept in a large school with a dark substrate these fish will stand up against all others for beauty.

Quick stats:

    Listed tank sizes are the minimum
    Size: up to1.5 inches (3.5 cm)
    Tank: 24 inches
    Strata: All, mostly middle
    PH: 5.5 to 7.5
    Hardness: Soft to medium hard
    Temperature: 74- 80°F (22 to 23°C)
    Black neon habitat
    View of the Rio Taguary


    Order: Characiformes
    Suborder: Characoidei
    Family: Characidae
    Genera: Hyphessobrycon
    Black neon

Common name:

    Black Neon Tetra

Image gallery:

    Additional species photographs


    Badmans' Forum


    South America in the countries of Paraguay and Brazil, in the Rio Paraguay, Rio Taguary,and Amazon

General Body Form:

    Body flattened and moderately deep. Males are more slender than females. The overall quick look is similar to the neon, but they are a different species.


    The most noticeable characteristic of the Black neon is the two color band that extends from the base of the caudal fin all the way to the edge of the gill cover. The upper part of this band is a shimmering pale green to white, while the lower part is a broad jet black stripe that if you look close is edged in silver. The fins are clear with a yellowed tinge. The eyes are large and the Iris is topped with a bright red semi circle.


    Black neon

    A perfect community fish, the black neon is peaceful and prefers to kept in schools. A smaller tank is all that is needed to keep them. The standard 20 gallon or smaller will be fine. Slightly more demanding than the typical Characin the black neon should have clear water, that is soft, slightly acidic and aged. The tank should have open space for swimming and dense areas of planting. The addition of driftwood will complete the tank. Feeding is not a problem as they will accept all types of flake food and will relish the addition of some live food like Daphnia or small worms.

    Found in still and sluggish waters of the local river basins.


    Not one of the easiet fish to breed at home, the female Black neon is rounder and plumper than the male. When she is ready to breed you will see a increase in her girth. They are a typical Egg scatterer, requiring soft, acidic and very clean water. Failures in breeding are in most cases due to unsuitable water conditions. To spawn them, you will need a small tank placed in a dark spot as the eggs seem to be light sensitive, a 2 inch layer of half inch rock and some bunches of fine textured live plants like Myriophyllium are suitable as the spawning medium. Place the pair in the spawning tank with a temperature of 75°F, feed well for a few days and then raise the tank temperature to around 80°F. They usually spawn early in the morning. The clear eggs are laid among the plants and barely stick to them. The parents should be removed after spawning as they are egg eaters. In 22 to 26 hours the eggs hatch. The fry are very hard to spot, but appear 3-4 days later at which time they are free swimming and will need to be fed infusoria or baby brine shrimp.

Your comments:


Please remember that the following comments are personal experiences and may or may not apply to your setup. Use them as guide to help better understand your fish, like us all individuals will behave differently under different circumstances.


From: Jessica H.
I have had 3 of these guys for about a year now. I decided last night to try breeding them for the first time. I placed them in a 10 gallon tank, with a new piece of bogwood (so that it would be nice and full of tannin), a power filter with a sponge pre-filter and a few pieces of water lettuce. I always place the tetras I breed in the tank within about 10-15 minutes of setting it up, I don't let the water "age". The PH was 6.6 and the temperature was about 79 degrees. I put them in the breeding tank at about 4AM (I'm a night owl) and by 10AM the bottom glass was covered with eggs! Even more eggs than my glowlight tetras laid, and I thought they laid a TON. Breeding tetras isn't as hard as many think. This is only my second time breeding egg laying fish in the 10 years I have kept fish. So, I really consider myself brand new to breeding. Just be sure the tank is sparkling clean, the water is soft and that it is as bare as possible. Oh, and as dark as possible. However, I did leave a small light bulb on in a nearby tank, so that the fish can barely see and it is not pitch black. These fish are beautiful in a school, I highly recommend them!
From: Richard
The Black Neon Tetra is quite easy to breed indeed and I've read this in more than article. They don't know what they are talking about. The key to success seems to be water conditions and frequent water changes and their feeding. They usually breed in the morning and such is the case with my experience as I've just watched a single pair breed this morning. They did so in my fairly new (2 months) 38L Nano Cube community tank. So caviar was on the on the breakfast menu for most of the other fish... grrrr. The water conditions at the time were: Temp: 77F, KH 4.5°, GH 8°, pH 6.8 The tank was originally set-up using DIY diffused CO2 and 'Eco-Complete' with a heated substrate and lots of various plants. All the fish were fed Live Blackworms (Lumbriculus variegatus) an hour or so before. After a short while, the male in his best breeding colors was "dancing" around the female, trying to entice her. The pair brush together and the female responded by scattering a few very tiny, clear, semi-adhesive eggs that are instantly fertilized by the male. This process was repeated for about an hour as the female release more and more eggs. Each time they were consumed by the other fish only. It seems when they are spawning they will not touch the eggs. The trouble seems to come when they have finished spawning, for they then start to hunt for the eggs and eat them. In this case though, there were very few left. ~Good luck with yours.
From: Erik
Very hardy fish. Mine have lived though 60 degree water when my heater broke. Shy sometimes but if the same person feeds them they usually recognize you. I know mine do. Also they are 2" in length and I have 3. very pretty under florescent light.
From: Mac J.
These are a very tough fish. You probably won't believe this, but I had one little guy live 7 years.





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