Black Skirt Tetra Care Guide – Diet, Breeding & More

Black Skirt Tetra in a aquarium

The Black Skirt Tetra is a freshwater fish that can get along well with a variety of species. 

While it may not be the most colorful fish, there are certain varieties that are more vibrant than others. This is definitely an option you should look into when seeking out a new addition to your aquarium.

Black Skirt Tetra Appearance

This Tetra fish is characterized by two black vertical stripes down part of its body. These stripes go over the anal and dorsal fins. The darkness of their fins starts to fade after they become one year old. By the time they are five, these colors have become quite pale.

These fish typically grow to be around two inches long with an average lifespan of three to five years. They have been known to live nearly 10 years with especially good care though.

There is the Short Fin and Long Fin Black Skirt Tetra. The only real difference between these fish is the size of their fins, hence the names.


You can count on these Tetras to be very calm and relaxed most of the time. It is important that you keep them with their own kind. They tend to thrive when they are around at least five other Tetras of this particular sub-species.

Black Skirt Tetra in a tank swimming e1580476679457

Natural Habitat

These fish can be naturally found in Brazil, Bolivia, and parts of Argentina. They are plentiful in river basins throughout these areas where the water is between 68 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Black Skirt Tetra Care Guide

1. Tank Setup

If you are going to keep any Black Skirt Tetras, you’ll need to get a minimum 15-gallon tank that measures at least 20 inches long. These fish are known for being very active, which means they require ample space for swimming.

You should strongly consider using dark river gravel for the substrate in your tank. This mimics their natural environment fairly closely, which is important. You can also put some dried leaves on the gravel, but you’ll need to change them out every two to three weeks.

Driftwood, twisted roots and snags are also going to be essential parts of your tank setup for these fish. Make sure that you wash all of these things in saltwater before putting them into the tank.

2. Water Conditions

It is crucial that you replace at least a quarter of the water in your aquarium every couple of weeks. This will reduce the chances of your fish developing any diseases and becoming seriously ill.

The temperature of the water in this tank should be kept between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. It should also have a pH of 6.8 to 70.0, and a water hardness of 4.0 to 8.0. These fish tend to do best in soft water, so you’ll need to keep that in mind.

3. Black Skirt Tetra Tank Mates

Black Skirt Tetras can get along with a variety of fish, but you’ll want to avoid putting in any aggressive species. As we mentioned above, it is highly recommended that you keep this fish with its own kind. The naturally peaceful nature of these fish makes them easy targets for bolder species, which is why you need to choose carefully.

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Black Skirt Tetra adult fish

4. Black Skirt Tetra Food

These fish tend to feed on everything from insects to small invertebrates in the wild. They are also known for eating algae and various plants in their natural habitat. You will, however, want to provide yours with a steady diet of fish food flakes each day. You don’t want to give them more than they can eat within a period of five minutes.

It is also acceptable to give your Black Skirt Tetra live or frozen foods once in a while. They like a lot of different vegetables, which will supplement their diet. Some of the best live food options for these fish include shrink, blackworms and Bloodworms.

Common Health Problems

Some of the diseases and conditions that Black Skirt Tetras are prone to include Red Pest, dropsy and Tail Rot. It is pretty easy to tell if they are sick. If you notice your fish swimming at the bottom of the tank a lot, there is probably something wrong with them. A sudden lack of appetite is another common sign of illness.

Black Skirt Tetra Breeding

If you are interested in breeding these Tetras, you’ll first need to be able to distinguish between males and females. The males are typically a little smaller than the females with a more elongated body. When females reach the breeding stage, they become quite large.

You should be able to breed these fish without many issues, but only if you know what to do. Make sure that you have a separate tank that is dedicated specifically to spawning. Make sure that it is 10 to 20 gallons. The size of this tank will depend on how many pairs you are going to keep in it.

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You’ll also need to ensure that the water temperature in this tank is a bit warmer than your other one, and heavily aerated. Separate the pairs you want to breed from the other fish about a week before breeding begins. When the fish lay their eggs, take both of them out to keep the offspring safe.


  • The Black Skirt Tetra is a very peaceful fish that is characterized by two vertical black stripes going down the side of its body.
  • These fish usually live anywhere from three to five years, though some of them have been known to survive for nearly a decade.
  • Make sure that you put these Tetras in a tank that is at least 15 gallons with dark river gravel as the substrate.
  • Change at least a quarter of the tank water every couple of weeks to keep it clean.
  • These Tetras can get along with just about any fish, but you’ll want to avoid keeping them with any aggressive species.
  • It is highly recommended that you keep multiple Black Skirt Tetras together in the same aquarium.
  • There are a number of diseases these fish can contract, so keep an out eye for common signs of illness.
  • Breeding these fish isn’t all that difficult, but you do have to be careful. Remember to take the fish out as soon as the egg laying begins.
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