33 Types Of Tetra Fish Varieties

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Tetras are small, active, beautiful fishes that can make a wonderful addition to a lively, peaceful community setup. Alternatively, a tank containing several different species of tetra can rival the impact made by one feature fish. For example, schools of brightly colored neon, diamond head, and rainbow tetra flitting through vivid green aquatic plants create an awesome eye-catching display.

So, how many tetra species are there? Well, there are over 150 different varieties of the perennial favorite tetra fish, many of which are suitable for a beginner’s aquarium. 

Read this guide to discover 33 types of tetra fish!

Tetra Care Guide

Before we get into the tetra species profiles section of this guide, let’s find out how to care for these beautiful, beginner-friendly fishes.

Habitat And Tank Conditions

Although they are members of the same family, tetras come from many different tropical environments. Some tetra species are found in South America, while others come from East Africa, living in blackwater habitats underneath the rainforest canopy.

However, you generally find most species of tetra living in heavily shaded lakes, wetlands, slow-moving rivers, and ponds where the substrate is covered with leaf litter, and fallen branches create natural shelter.

Despite the diversity of the tetra’s habitats, they are unique in that you can keep any variety of tetra in the same tank, as they seem able to tolerate the same water parameters.

What Size Tank Do Tetras Need?

Most species of tetras can be kept in a nano tank from 10 gallons upward. However, if you decide to keep several different species to create a community setup, you’ll need to increase that tank size.

How Many Tetras Can Be Kept Per Gallon?

You should allow one gallon of water per two tetras. Remember that tetras are schooling fish that need the company of their own kind to thrive, so bear that in mind when choosing an aquarium.

Tank Setup

As with any fish species, to keep your tetras healthy and stress-free, you should try to recreate their natural environment in the aquarium. That means carrying out plenty of research into the species you want to keep.

However, the tank should have a high-quality, efficient filter system that generates a moderate flow and keeps the water clean and healthy for your fish. Tetras are active swimmers, so a little bit of current through the tank is fine for them.

You can use whatever substrate you prefer, although many aquarists like to include some dried leaves on the tank bottom to create a natural-looking blackwater environment. Include driftwood and smooth stones to add variety.

A school of small red and blue neon fish swim in the aquarium

Live planting is also important in a tetra tank. Tetras are plant-safe and won’t destroy your aquascaping as some fish species do. Choose floating plant species to create shade and some that can do well in low to medium lighting to replicate the tetras’ natural habitat.

Water Parameters

Tetras are tropical species that need a tank temperature in the range of 75-80.5°F.

The water pH should be between 6.0 and 7.0 with a water hardness of between 12 and 15 dGH.

Keeping the environment stable is important for the health of the fish. So, be sure to test the water parameters every few days with an aquarium testing kit and adjust the parameters if necessary.

Caring For Tetras

Tetras are a good choice for beginners because they are so easy to care for and require very little maintenance. Provided that you keep the water clean, the aquarium properly cycled, and the water parameters stable, tetras are hardy fish that don’t succumb to any particular diseases.

What To Feed Tetras

Most tetras that are kept in home tanks are native to tropical South America. In this area, the waters are warm and well-oxygenated, and food is abundant. Tetras are omnivorous, making them easy to please when it comes to diet. In nature, the fish eat water-bound insects, tiny freshwater organisms, and some plant matter. 

A good staple diet for captive tetras includes aquarium flakes and pellets, as well as freeze-dried and frozen foods. You can also feed your tetras live foods, although I prefer not to do that with my fish because of the risk of importing bacteria and parasites into my tanks along with the food.

To avoid overfeeding, which is bad for your fishes’ health and causes water pollution, feed your tetras twice a day, offering just enough food that the fish will clear in two minutes.

Tank Mates

Tetras are peaceful fish that can make an excellent choice for a community setup. However, there are a few things to be aware of:

Tank Mates To Avoid

Some species of tetras have a reputation as being fin-nippers, so they don’t make suitable tank mates for slow-moving fish species with long, trailing fins.

Also, large predatory fish, such as some of the cichlids, can view the tiny tetras as a food source. Tetras don’t appreciate bullies, so avoid fish that will harass them.

Ideal Tank Mates

Good tank mates for the smaller species of tetras include:

  • Harlequin Rasboras (Trigonostigma heteromorpha)
  • Zebra Danios (Danio rerio)
  • Hatchetfish (Gasteropelecus sternicla)
  • Guppies (Poecilia reticulata)
  • Chili Rasboras (Boraras brigittae)
  • Dwarf Gourami (Trichogaster lalius)

If you keep larger tetras, you can look at keeping larger companions with them. However, the same principles apply. Avoid aggressive, predatory fish that might want to eat the tetras. Steer clear of slow-swimming fish with flowing, trailing fins that might attract unwanted attention from the nippy, speedy tetras.

33 Types Of Tetra Fish Varieties

Now, here’s our round-up of 33 popular tetra fish varieties that you might want to add to your fish tank.

1. Black Skirt Tetra

Black Skirt Tetra in blurry green background
  • Size: 3”
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Minimum Tank Size: 15 to 20 gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Lifespan: 3 to 5 years

Black Skirt Tetras are a delightful species of small tetra. The fish’s flowing anal fin gives this tetra species its common name, extending for almost half the fish’s length and highlighting the creature’s tetragonal form.

The peaceful Black Skirt tetra does best when kept in groups of at least five individuals.

2. Serpae Tetra

Serpae Tetra Barb Hyphessobrycon serpae eques
  • Size: 1.75”
  • Difficulty: Beginner/Intermediate
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Lifespan: up to 7 years

Sometimes known as the Callistus or Jewel tetra, the Serpae tetra is a very active fish that hails from the Amazon River Basin. 

In nature, these are shy fish that hide from predators amid aquatic vegetation. But in the aquarium, these beautiful fish take on a striking reddish-brown color with black-edged fins and black accents on the body.

For the best colors, these tetras need a very high-quality diet.

3. Green Neon Tetra

Green Neon Tetra underwater
Image Source: wikimedia.org
  • Size: 1”
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 to 20 gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Lifespan: 2 to 3 years

Green Neon tetras are often mistaken for the more popular Neon tetra. However, Green Neons have fainter red coloration, and their green background color is brighter. Also, the fish’s neon blue stripe is generally more prominent.

These fish do best when kept in large groups in community tanks and get along well with most other tetra species.

4. Ember Tetra

The ember tetra (Hyphessobrycon amandae) is a freshwater fish of the characin family (family Characidae) of order Characiformes.
Image Source: wikimedia.org
  • Size: 1”
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Lifespan: 10 years

The Ember tetra comes from Central Brazil and is one of the lesser-known species of small tetras. 

These tiny fish are longer-lived than many other tetras, are easy to care for, and make a wonderful addition to a community tank. Ember tetras are a gorgeous orange color that really stands out. 

I have a shoal of these fish living with Neon and Diamond Head tetras, and they make a lovely display.

5. Congo Tetra

Aquaria; single swimming congo tetra fish ( Phenacogrammus interruptus) with rainbow colors.In the background green water plants.
  • Size: 3” to 3.5”
  • Difficulty: Beginner/Intermediate
  • Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Lifespan: 3 to 5 years

The beautiful Congo tetra is one of the more unusual species that isn’t often seen in the home fish tank. 

These fish are a gorgeous iridescent blue with accents of gold, vibrant orange, and violet across their body. These eye-catching tetras have longer fins than other tetra species, too. 

6. Blue Tetra

Blue Tetra in a black background.
Source : instagram.com
  • Size: 2”
  • Difficulty: Beginner/Intermediate
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Lifespan: around 3 years

Blue tetras are a stunningly beautiful and unusual tetra species that comes from the Amazon River Basin. These fish are primarily silver with a bright blue stripe that runs along one side.

Keep Blue tetras in groups, as they need to feel secure. However, don’t overcrowd the tank, or these pretty little fish can resort to fin nipping.

7. Neon Tetra

Beautiful Neon Tetra with shiny scales.
  • Size: 1.5”
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 to 20 gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Lifespan: 2 to 3 years

Neon tetras are just about the most popular tropical aquarium fish for a community setup. 

These brightly colored, active little fishes are peaceful, easy to care for, and inexpensive to buy, making the Neon tetra the perfect choice for a beginner.

Curious to know if you’re neon tetra is a male or female? You can learn more about it here.

8. Emperor Tetra

Emperor tetra or Nematobrycon palmeri in planted tropical fresh water aquarium
  • Size: 2”
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Lifespan: up to 6 years

Emperor tetras are beautiful little fish with a captivating purple sheen that makes a great pop of color in your tank. 

These fish are schooling species, but males can be territorial, and you may see some fighting between males.

9. Ruby Tetra

Ruby Tetra in green background
Source : instagram.com
  • Size: 0.8”
  • Difficulty: Beginner/Intermediate
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Lifespan: 5 to 10 years

Ruby tetras are tiny fish that are brilliant red in color, and a large school of these swimming gems can really make a tank look spectacular.

These tetras need pristine tank conditions and super-clean water to thrive, so you’ll need to keep on top of your aquarium maintenance.

10. Bloodfin Tetra

fish bloodfin tetra tropical aquarium
  • Size: 2”
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Lifespan: 5 to 7 years

Bloodfin tetras are tiny fish that are brilliant red in color, and a large school of these swimming gems can really make a tank look spectacular.

These South American tetras can tolerate a wide range of water conditions, making them suitable for beginners.

11. Coffee Bean Tetra

Coffee Bean Tetra
Source : instagram.com
  • Size: 1.6”
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Minimum Tank Size: 15 gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Lifespan: 3 to 5 years

The Coffee Bean tetra is a highly sought-after species of tetra that comes from the Araguari river basin in Brazil.

These tetras do best when kept in large groups in a dimly lit, softwater aquarium that includes plenty of lush planting and shelter in the form of wood and rockwork.

12. Black Neon Tetra

Black Neon Tetra Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi aquarium fish
  • Size: 1.5”
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Lifespan: 5 years

Black Neon tetras are easy to care for, peaceful, schooling fish that make the ideal choice for a beginner’s tank.

These fish prefer a slightly acidic blackwater environment that replicates their natural habitat.

13. Bucktooth Tetra

Bucktoothed Tetra
Image Source : wikimedia.org
  • Size: 5”
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Minimum Tank Size: 55 gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Lifespan: 10 years

Bucktooth tetras are a large, long-lived species that are not suitable for life in a community setup.

These fish are predatory creatures that will eat small fish and even fish scales. Ideally, these tetras should be kept in a species-specific tank.

14. Silvertip Tetra

Silvertip tetra (Hasemania nana) aquarium fish
  • Size: 2”
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Lifespan: 5 to 8 years

These pretty little fishes are different from other tetras in that they come from clear, fast-flowing streams that lack vegetation.

Keep Silvertip tetras in groups in a tank with minimal decoration and planting and a sandy substrate.

16. Cardinal Tetra

Cardinal Tetras swimming with green plants and pebbles
  • Size: 2”
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 to 20 gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Lifespan: up to 5 years

Cardinal tetras are often mistaken for Neon tetras, although Cardinals are slightly larger and have a longer red stripe.

Keep these fish in schools in a peaceful community tank with stable water conditions.

17. Flame Tetra

Flame Tetra (Hyphessobrycon flammeus)
Source : flickr.com
  • Size: 2”
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 to 20 gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Lifespan: up to 5 years

The beautiful bronze and red Flame tetra is found in the coastal rivers of Brazil, where the water is slow-moving and dimly lit.

Replicate those conditions in the aquarium with plenty of lush planting and fine sand substrate, and these fish will thrive.

18. X-Ray Tetra

X-Ray Tetra
Source : instagram.com
  • Size: 2”
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Lifespan: 3 to 4 years

The X-ray tetra comes from the coastal rivers of South America. The water parameters and quality vary quite widely here, which makes these tetras highly adaptable.

Their tolerance of a range of water parameters and peaceful nature make these fish perfect for a beginner tank.

19. Columbian Tetra

red-blue Columbian Tetra Hyphessobrycon columbianus equadoriensis freshwater aquarium fish
  • Size: 2.5”
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Lifespan: 3 to 5 years

Columbian tetras are a slightly larger species of tetra that can do well in a species only tank. 

Unlike other tetras, these guys can be bullies and fin nippers, although that behavior can be mitigated by keeping them in a large group.

20. Golden Pristella Tetra

Golden pristella tetra
Image Source: wikimedia.org
  • Size: 1.75”
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Minimum Tank Size: 15 to 20 gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Lifespan: 4 to 5 years

The Golden Pristella tetra is an unusual species of tetra that you don’t often see in fish stores. That’s a shame, as these guys have lots to offer!

These fish are beautiful to look at, easy to care for, and peaceful, making them ideal for a beginner.

21. Lemon Tetra

Lemon Tetra (Hyphessobrycon pulchripinnis)
Source : instagram.com
  • Size: 1.5”
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Lifespan: up to 8 years

Lemon tetras are extremely attractive fishes that are suitable for life in a peaceful community setup when kept in groups.

These pretty little fish have quite a long lifespan and are very hardy, too.

22. Flag Tetra

Flag Tetra in aquarium
Source : instagram.com
  • Size: 2”
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Minimum Tank Size: 15 gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Lifespan: up to 8 years

The Flag tetra is found only in streams of the Amazon region and is rarely seen in the trade.

These fish do well when kept in large schools in well-planted, dimly-lit aquariums that contain plenty of driftwood for shelter and a sandy substrate.

23. Panda Tetra

Aquarium fish Panda Tetra dawn tetra Aphyocharax paraguayensis freshwater
  • Size: 1.5”
  • Difficulty: Beginner/Intermediate
  • Minimum Tank Size: 15 gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Lifespan: 2 to 5 years

Panda tetras are named for the large black spot and two smaller white spots at the base of their tail that resembles a panda’s face!

These little fish must be kept in a large group to remain healthy. If kept in solitude, these tetras can become defensive and nippy.

24. Diamond Tetra/Buenos Aires Tetra

Two Buenos Aires Tetra in a tank.
  • Size: 1.5”
  • Difficulty: Beginner/Intermediate
  • Minimum Tank Size: 15 gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Lifespan: 3 to 6 years

Diamond tetras are found exclusively in Lake Valencia in Venezuela. These gorgeous little fish have extravagant, see-through finnage, and their bodies glitter and shine with rainbow colors in the right lighting. 

Feed these fish a high-quality diet that’s rich in meaty protein to see their best colors.

25. Penguin Tetra

Penguin Tetra
Image Source: wikimedia.org
  • Size: 3”
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Lifespan: 3 to 5 years

Although they lack the vibrant colors of other tetra species, these large tetras are still attractive fish that make a fine sight when kept in schools of six or more. 

Penguin tetras are easy to care for and do well in most standard freshwater aquarium setups when included in a peaceful community environment.

26. Head And Tail Light Tetra

Head And Tail Light Tetra
  • Size: 2”
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Minimum Tank Size: 15 gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Lifespan: 5 years

The Head and Tail Light tetra is a peaceful schooling species that does very well in a community tank.

These little fish can be shy, so make sure that you keep at least six individuals and provide plenty of shelter in the form of floating and dense plants.

27. Glowlight Tetra

Clsoseup oa a glowlight tetra in aquaruim
  • Size: 1.5”
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Minimum Tank Size: 15 gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Lifespan: 2 to 4 years

Glowlight tetras look like tiny, glowing filaments when kept under the right lighting, hence their name.

Like most tetra species, the Glowlight should be kept in a large group. Note that these fish won’t shoal with other species.

28. Mexican Tetra/Blind Cave Tetra

Blind cave mexican tetra aquarium fish
  • Size: 4”
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Minimum Tank Size: 25 gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Lifespan: 3 to 5 years

Mexican tetras are also known as Blind Cave tetras since some species don’t have eyes.

These fish are found in the Pecos River in Texas and the lower Rio Grande in the eastern region of Mexico. Mexican tetras do well in captivity in a dimly lit tank with a gravel substrate.

29. Bleeding Heart Tetra

Bleeding Heart Tetra (Hyphessobrycon erythrostigma)
Image Source : flickr.com
  • Size: 2” to 3”
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Lifespan: 3 to 5 years

Bleeding Heart tetras are native to the Amazon Basin, where they live in streams, tributaries, and lakes.

These attractive fish are peaceful and sociable, enjoying life in a community tank. Like most tetras, you need to keep Bleeding Hearts in a large group.

30. Bentosi Tetra/Ornate Tetra

Bentosi Tetra or Ornate Tetra
Image Source : wikimedia.org
  • Size: 3”
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Minimum Tank Size: 15 gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Lifespan: 5 years

Ornate tetras are found in parts of the Machado River Basin in Brazil and the Amazon River in Peru and Brazil. 

These peaceful schooling fish need a well-planted tank with soft, acidic water and do best in a blackwater environment with dim lighting.

31. Redeye Tetra

Red eye tetra (Moenkhausia sanctaefilomenae) aquarium fish
  • Size: 2.5”
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Lifespan: 5 years

Redeye tetras come from clear waters in South America. Here, frequent heavy rains often cloud the water and dramatically alter the parameters. 

That makes this tetra remarkably adaptable to living in a wide range of tank conditions in captivity.

32. Black Phantom Tetra

A Black Neon Tetra
Image Source: wikimedia.org
  • Size: 1.75”
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Lifespan: up to 4 years

Black Phantom tetras are sensitive to water conditions and react badly to instability in temperature, pH, and high levels of pollutants. That makes these fish unsuitable for beginners.

Also, these tetras can jump, so your tank must have a cover slide or lid!

33. GloFish Tetra

GloFish Tetra in aquarium.
  • Size: 1”
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Lifespan: up to 4 years

GloFish tetras are essentially regular tetras but are genetically engineered to produce a range of eye-catching colors, including green, red, blue, orange, pink, and purple.

In Conclusion

Did you enjoy our list of 33 types of tetra fish? If you did, please share it!

With a few exceptions, tetras are mostly small, peaceful fish that make a colorful choice for a community tank. You can either create a biotope that features tetra species that live together in the wild environment or include other fish species, too. 

Tell us about your tetras or ask any questions you might have in the comments box below.

Alison Page has been an avid fish keeper for over 35 years and has owned many different species of freshwater tropical fish including bettas. Currently Alison has two large freshwater tanks. The first tank has two huge fancy goldfish who are almost ten years old and still looking as good as ever. In the other, she has a happy community of tiger barbs, green tiger barbs, corydoras catfish, platys, and mollies.

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