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The Quick Guide to the Best Community Tetras

Posted by TFH Magazine in Tropical Fish Hobbyist Blog on December 21, 2012 at 6:17 am

Diamond tetra. Photograph by Andrzej Zabawski.

By Lea Maddocks

In the January 2012 issue, I wrote about some of the best tetras available for beginners in the hobby.  The wide variety of shapes, colors, and behaviors of tetra species now available will leave most aquarists spoiled for choice when perusing their local fish store for new stock, and choosing can be a tough (but fun) ordeal. Tetras are also one of the first groups of fish new hobbyists begin with, as they are commonly available, small, colorful, and (generally) peaceful. Often, both new and long-term hobbyists will choose a tetra species or two to add activity and color to a community aquarium.

If you’re looking to purchase an one of the easier tetras, here is my quick guide to their basic needs and behaviors. For more information on any of these species, please check out my article.

Diamond Tetra

Size: 6 cm (2.4 inches)

pH: 5.5 to 7.0 for the best color, though tank bred specimens are very adaptable and can also tolerate more alkaline water, up to a pH of 7.5

Hardness: 5 to 12 dGH

Temperature: 24° to 28°C (75° to 82°F)

Tank Size: 75 liters (20 gallons) minimum, and at least 2 feet long. Ideally a 130-liter (35-gallon) or bigger tank is for better schooling behaviors and keeping a larger shoal. A 3 to 4 foot tank would be ideal

Tank Schooling Region: Middle to bottom, but generally all over

Notes: Prefers planted tanks with plenty of natural cover, this will bring out the best behaviours and coloration. Very peaceful. More in the school the better for effect and natural behaviours, minimum 6 per shoal, though 10+ is preferred.

Black Skirt Tetra

Size: 6 cm (2.4 inches)

pH: 6.0 to 7.0, though tank-bred specimens are very adaptable and will likely tolerate a range of pH from 6.0 to 8.0

Hardness: 5 to 20 dGH

Temperature: 20° to 28°C  (68° to 82°F)

Tank Size: 75 liters (20 gallons) minimum, and at least 2 feet long. Ideally a 130-liter (35-gallon) or bigger tank is for better schooling behaviors and keeping a larger shoal

Tank Schooling Region: Middle to bottom, but generally all over

Notes: Very forgiving of most water conditions and tank setups providing water is clean and the tank is cycled. Will be peaceful and co-habit well with most general community fish. The more that are in the school the better for effect and seeing their natural behaviours, with a minimum of six per shoal.

Buenos Aires Tetra 

Buenos Aires tetra. Photograph by Andrzej Zabawski.

Size: 7cm (3 inches)

pH: 6.0 to 8.0, the common tank bred specimens are very adaptable, they are reported to be happy between 5.5 to 8.5, one of the biggest ranges for a tetra

Hardness: 2 to 20 dGH

Temperature: 18° to 28°C (64° to 82°F)

Tank Size: 130 liter (35 gallon) minimum, at least 90 cm (3 feet) long to provide adequate territories and swimming space for this active fish. The bigger and longer the tank, the better. Would be a great choice for a standard 4 foot long, 200 liter (55-gallon) tank

Tank Schooling Region: Middle to bottom

Notes: A very hardy fish, likely to adapt to most tropical fresh water chemistries and temperatures. It is an active species which requires a good deal of open swimming space along with some cover to retreat into. Peaceful despite its active nature, though best kept with tankmates of a similar size and disposition, and bottom dwellers. Makes a great dither fish. Keep in shoals above eight to ten or more individuals to keep any pecking order activity among themselves.

X-Ray Tetra

Size: 4.5cm (1.8 inches)

pH: 6.0 to 8.0

Hardness: 2 to 30 dGH

Temperature: 24° to 28°C (76° to 82°F)

Tank Size: 40 liter (10 gallon) minimum. Ideally a 55-liter (15-gallon) tank or bigger will be better for schooling behaviors and keeping larger shoal

Tank Schooling Region: Middle to bottom

Notes: Given the annual flood cycles of its native waters, it is a very adaptable species that will fare well in just about any municipal water chemistry provided it’s kept clean and at the appropriate temperature. A very peaceful fish, it is best kept with other small and non-aggressive species. More in the school the better for effect and natural behaviors, minimum six per shoal with ten or more preferred as they will be confident in larger numbers.

Bloodfin Tetra

Bloodfin tetra. Photograph by Andrzej Zabawski.

Size: 5.5cm (2 inches)

pH: 6.0 to 8.0

Hardness: 5 to 20 dGH

Temperature: 18° to 28°C (64° to 82°F)

Tank Size: 75 liters (20 gallons) minimum, and at least 2 feet long. Ideally a 130-liter (35-gallon) or bigger tank is for this active swimmer

Tank Schooling Region: Top to middle

Notes: Very forgiving of most water conditions, providing water is clean and the tank is cycled. Will be peaceful and co-habit well with most general community fish. Excellent planted tank choice. More in the school the better for effect and natural behaviors, minimum six per shoal though eight to ten are better to prevent skittishness and reduce any minor intra-specific nipping.

Hockey Stick Tetra

Size: 6 cm (2.4 inches)

pH: 6.0 to 8.0, though tank bred specimens are very adaptable and will likely tolerate a range of pH from 5.5 to 7.5

Hardness: 5 to 20 dGH

Temperature: 22° to 28°C (72° to 82°F)

Tank size: 70 liters (20 gallons) minimum, at least 2 feet long. Ideally a 3foot long, or 130-liter (35-gallon) or bigger for keeping larger shoal and territorial behaviors in check

Tank schooling region: Top to middle.

Silvertip Tetra

Size: 5 cm (2 inches)

pH: 5.5 to 8.0

Hardness: 5 to 20 dGH

Temperature: 23° to 28°C (74° to 82°F)

Tank Size: 70 liters (20 gallons) minimum, at least 2 feet long. Ideally a 3 foot long, or 130-liter (35-gallon) or bigger for better schooling behaviors and keeping larger shoal

Tank Schooling Region: Top to middle, but generally all over

Flame Tetra

Size: 4 cm (1.6in)

pH: 5.5 to 7.8

Hardness: 2 to 20 dGH

Temperature: 22° to 28°C (72° to 82°F)

Tank size: 55-liter (15-gallon) minimum. Ideally 75 liters (20 gallons) or bigger for better schooling behaviors and keeping larger shoal

Tank Schooling Region: Middle, but generally all over

Lemon Tetra

Size: 4 cm (1.6in)

pH: 6.0 to 7.5

Hardness: 5 tp 20 dGH

Temperature: 22° to 28°C (72° to 82°F)

Tank size: 55-liter (15-gallon) minimum, or 2 feet long at least. Ideally 75 liters (20 gallons) or bigger for better schooling behaviors and keeping larger shoal

Tank schooling region: Top to middle

Posted in TFH Extras by TFH Magazine on December 21st, 2012 at 6:17 am.

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