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27 Types of Tetras: Species, Facts and Photos

Swimming across the freshwater bodies and aquariums of the world, many types of tetras exhibit diversity, from color patterns to feeding habits. Common among all these fish is their fins. The name originates from the Greek word "Tettares," meaning four, linked to their unique characteristic of four fins.

Whether you’re a wildlife enthusiast or into fishkeeping, this article offers insights into the world of these creatures.

Related Read: Types of Fish, Fish Facts

Tetra Classification

Tetras are a group of freshwater fish in various colors and sizes, ranging from 1 to 3 inches. Over 1,100 tetra species live in the soft, acidic waters of Africa, Central America, and South America and feed on small invertebrates and plant matter2.

These types of fish belong to the Characidae family. The family is divided into several genera, including Paracheirodon, Hemigrammus, and Hyphessobrycon

27 Types of Tetra Fish Species

1. Neon Tetra (Paracheirodon innesi)

Neon Tetra
Photo by SOK on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 (Cropped from original).

The Neon Tetra is a small fish that inhabits the Amazon River basin. As its name implies, this tetra fish has a bright blue stripe that runs from nose to fin, which gives it its name, and a red streak from the middle of its body to the tail. These colors help the fish blend into the patterns of light in the water, making it difficult for predators to spot them. 

Neon Tetras also prefer to swim in groups. This behavior confuses predators and helps the fish survive. They consume small invertebrates, crustaceans, and bits of plants. 

These fish can live in captivity for up to ten years, provided one keeps them in soft, slightly acidic water with temperatures ranging from 20-26°C (68-78°F). However, the Neon Tetra is susceptible to Neon Tetra Disease1, a parasite called Pleistophora hyphessobryconis that can spread to other fish in the tank.

2. Cardinal Tetra (Paracheirodon axelrodi)

Cardinal Tetra
Photo by CHUCAO on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 (Cropped from original).

The Cardinal Tetra is native to South America. These tetra fish have iridescent blue and red colors and prefer soft, acidic waters and warm temperatures. They are peaceful and active, making them popular for community aquariums.

Due to their striking resemblance, you can differentiate Cardinal Tetras from Neon Tetras by looking at the red stripes. The former extends it across its length while the latter only has it halfway.

3. Ember Tetra (Hyphessobrycon amandae)

Ember Tetra
Photo by Dawn Endico on Flickr licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (Cropped from original).

The Ember Tetra is from the Araguaia River basin in Brazil. It was introduced to the aquarium trade in the early 21st century. 

They prefer to live in groups of six or more. However, they can coexist with other non-aggressive species in a multi-species tank. 

If you want to raise Ember Tetras, provide them with dimly lit environments with plenty of hiding spots and soft lighting.

4. Rummy-Nose Tetra (Hemigrammus rhodostomus)

Rummy-Nose Tetra
Photo by Bernat Arlandis on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (Cropped from original).

The Rummy-Nose Tetra is a widespread species from the Amazon Basin known for its bright red nose and tail with striking stripes. Moreover, these features are an indicator of its health. 

The tetra prefers to live in groups and forms tight-knit schools that move in perfect synchronization as a survival mechanism to evade predators. 

Rummy Nose Tetras feed on high-quality flake food, brine shrimp, and freeze-dried bloodworms. 

Aquarists should keep these tetras with non-aggressive companions of similar size to ensure a harmonious aquatic community.

5. Glowlight Tetra (Hemigrammus erythrozonus)

Glowlight Tetra
Photo by Kyknos on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY 2.0 (Cropped from original).

The Glowlight Tetra lives in Guyana's Essequibo River. These small fish have a red-orange stripe and white-edged anal fin. They are peaceful and social fish often kept in schools. 

In the wild, they consume small invertebrates, plant matter, and algae, while in captivity, they are fed flake food, freeze-dried and frozen foods, and occasionally, brine shrimp or daphnia. 

However, habitat destruction and pollution threaten the Glowlight Tetra's survival, which puts their population at risk.

6. Black Skirt Tetra (Gymnocorymbus ternetzi)

Black Skirt Tetra
Photo by Sven Kullander on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 (Cropped from original).

The Black Skirt Tetras are freshwater fish native to South America's Paraguay and Guapore River basins. Unlike other tetra species sporting bright colors, Its striking appearance features a dark lower half and a gleaming silver or white upper half. 

This medium-sized tetra can grow up to 3 inches in a home aquarium; it usually forms tight schools. 

The hardy Black Skirt Tetra can also thrive in various water conditions. However, the ideal water temperature for this species ranges between 70°F and 85°F, while the pH balance should be between 6.0 and 7.5. 

As for its diet, the Black Skirt Tetra can feed on small invertebrates, insects, and plant matter in the wild. In a home aquarium, it can thrive on flake food, freeze-dried food, and small live foods. This species typically swims in the middle to upper levels of the tank.

7. Bleeding Heart Tetra (Hyphessobrycon erythrostigma)

Bleeding Heart Tetra
Photo by H. Zell on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 (Cropped from original).

The Bleeding Heart Tetra has a vibrant, heart-shaped, deep red marking on its side that stands out against the silvery bodies of males. This type of tetra is typically about 2.5 inches long. 

They typically live in the slow-moving rivers and streams of the upper Amazon River basin in South America, where they thrive in soft, slightly acidic waters and dense vegetation. 

To ensure the well-being of the Bleeding Heart Tetras in an aquarium, one must maintain a temperature of 72-82°F and a pH level of around 6.0 to 6.5, which mimics their natural habitat. 

Moreover, these tetras enjoy a balanced diet of plant matter and small invertebrates. They also appreciate the occasional indulgence in live or freeze-dried food. 

8. Diamond Tetra (Moenkhausia pittieri)

Diamond Tetra
Photo by SOK on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 (Cropped from original).

Diamond Tetras are native to the Lake Valencia basin in Venezuela. Their unique iridescence gives them the appearance of sparkling underwater diamonds, hence the name. Their shimmering scales reflect light when they move together, creating a mesmerizing display.

Diamond Tetras often swim in large schools as a tactic to deter predators. They prefer the middle to upper zones of the water column, where they can best enjoy the tranquillity of the light-dappled waters. 

9. Serpae Tetra (Hyphessobrycon eques)

 Serpae Tetra
Photo by CHUCAO on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 (Cropped from original).

The Serpae Tetra is a small freshwater fish with striking red coloration commonly found in the Amazon River Basin. It is highly active and tends to live in large schools. 

However, it can be aggressive and nip at other fish in the tank. So, owners must keep them with compatible tank mates inside a spacious tank.

10. Lemon Tetra (Hyphessobrycon pulchripinnis)

 Lemon Tetra
Photo by Waugsberg on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 (Cropped from original).

The Lemon Tetra is a small freshwater fish from the Tapajós River basin in Brazil. This species features bright yellow coloring. It has a transparent patch on its eye, which catches a mesmerizing glow in the right light. During the spawning season, the males exhibit their colors more prominently. 

Lemon Tetras feed on various aquatic organisms in their natural habitat, such as invertebrates, algae, and plants. Similarly, they can eat flakes, pellets, and live or frozen food in a home aquarium. 

11. Black Neon Tetra (Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi)

Black Neon Tetra
Photo by Brian Gratwicke on Flickr licensed under CC BY 2.0 (Cropped from original).

The Black Neon Tetras are small and colorful fish commonly found in the calm waterways of Brazil, Paraguay, and Bolivia. They have a slim, silver body with an iridescent black stripe instead of a Neon Tetra's red and blue stripe.

This type of tetra prefers to live in dense vegetation, exploiting hiding spaces in the wild and captivity. They are calm and social creatures that prefer to live in schools of six or more. 

In the wild, these fish feed on invertebrates, algae, and plant matter. Meanwhile, in an aquarium, they are easy to feed. They can eat flakes, pellets, and occasional live or frozen delicacies such as brine shrimp or bloodworms.

12. Congo Tetra (Phenacogrammus interruptus)

Congo Tetra
Photo by André Karwath on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 (Cropped from original).

The Congo Tetras are freshwater fish species in Africa's Congo River Basin. They sport iridescent scales that shimmer with different colors, such as blue, green, and gold. Males are more colorful and larger than females. 

One of the largest tetra species, they can grow up to 3 inches long and coexist with non-aggressive fish. 

Congo Tetras prefer slow-moving or still waters and enjoy hiding and playing around aquatic plants. Moreover, they feed on invertebrates, plant matter, fish flakes, pellets, and frozen food.

A school of Congo Tetra is peaceful, but keep their numbers to at least six and avoid housing them with aggressive fish.

13. Flame Tetra (Hyphessobrycon flammeus)

Flame Tetra
Photo by PiaH on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 (Cropped from original).

The Flame Tetras are small fish found in the clear waters of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It features a stunning red-orange color and peaceful nature. They do well on a balanced diet of flake food, frozen delicacies, and live treats like brine shrimp or daphnia.

14. Gold Tetra (Hemigrammus rodwayi)

Gold Tetra
Photo by Daiju Azuma on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 (Cropped from original).

The Gold Tetra is a small South American fish in the coastal rivers of Guyana and Suriname. It has a unique golden shimmer caused by a skin condition known as 'ichthyophthiriasis.' However, it has adapted to the serene, blackwater habitats it lives in. 

This type of tetra feeds on small invertebrates, algae, and plant matter in the wild. However, it is content with flakes, pellets, and the occasional live or frozen delicacies like brine shrimp and bloodworms in an aquarium.

It is a peaceful fish and an ideal resident for any community aquarium, preferring to swim in groups of six or more.

15. Buenos Aires Tetra (Hyphessobrycon anisitsi)

The Buenos Aires Tetras are popular fish among aquarists. It is native to the vast Parana River basin in South America and is highly adaptable to different environments. 

They have silver bodies, red-tipped fins, and a black marking near the tail. 

Likewise, these active swimmers nibble on plants, making it challenging to maintain a planted tank. They also eat small invertebrates, plant matter, and algae.

Even though a school of Buenos Aires Tetra is peaceful, you should avoid putting them together with NeonTetras and long-finned fish.

16. Penguin Tetra (Thayeria boehlkei)

Penguin Tetra
Photo by Kkonstan on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY 3.0 (Cropped from original).

The Penguin Tetra lives predominantly in the Amazon River basin, particularly in Peru and Brazil. Its unique swimming style, characterized by an upright body angle, inspired its name. 

The fish features a prominent black line from its eye to its tail, resembling a penguin's tuxedo. 

Likewise, the Penguin Tetra is a lively swimmer that needs ample space to move around and express its energetic nature. It prefers to swim in schools and feeds on small invertebrates, plant matter, and commercially available fish foods. 

Aquarium enthusiasts often prefer this fish species for its adaptability to various water conditions and peaceful temperament.

17. Red Phantom Tetra (Hyphessobrycon sweglesi)

Red Phantom Tetra
Photo by harum.koh on Flickr licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (Cropped from original).

The Red Phantom Tetra is a non-aggressive schooling fish found in South America's slow-moving rivers of the Orinoco River basin. They prefer dense vegetation; owners must keep them in a similar environment. 

Moreover, they are almost transparent, with a deep red gradient effect on their bodies that can vary based on their mood or health. 

They feed on small insects, plant matter, and invertebrates in the wild. However, they can eat flake, freeze-dried, or live/frozen food in an aquarium.

18. Silver Tip Tetra (Hasemania nana)

The Silver Tip Tetras are small fish native to Brazil's São Francisco River basin. They have a silver and yellow body and white-tipped fins. 

These types of tetras swim in schools of six or more, preferring a well-planted aquarium with plenty of hiding spots and open spaces. 

They can thrive on a varied diet of small invertebrates, insects, and plant matter and live in different environments. 

19. X-ray Tetra (Pristella maxillaris)

The X-ray Tetras are native to the coastal rivers of South America. They have almost transparent bodies and live in the slow-moving waters of Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, and Brazil. They can also thrive in various water conditions as long as they live in groups of six or more. 

20. Green Neon Tetra (Paracheirodon simulans)

The Green Neon Tetras are native to the rivers of South America's Orinoco and Negro. It has a distinct green stripe from its eye to its adipose fin. They can also perform synchronized swimming in an aquarium setting. 

Like other types of tetras, the Green Neon Tetra prefers to swim with its kind. Also, owners must feed them a balanced diet to keep them healthy and maintain their bright coloration.

21. Ruby Tetra (Axelrodia riesei)

The Ruby Tetras, hailing from Colombia. are small tetra fish exhibiting vibrant, ruby bodies. They primarily eat micro foods like daphnia and cyclops. An interesting characteristic is their shoaling nature, sticking together in large numbers for protection.

22. Emperor Tetra (Nematobrycon palmeri)

Emperor Tetra
Photo by 7TP (Krzysztof Bartosik) on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 (Cropped from original).

Emperor Tetras are native to Colombia's Atrato River. It has dark longitudinal lines and a long, shimmering tail. This omnivore enjoys both plant matter and small crustaceans.

23. Cochu’s Blue Tetra (Boehlkea fredcochui)

Cochu’s Blue Tetras originate from Peru and Colombia. It gleams with an iridescent blue body and eats a balanced plant and animal matter diet. Give them a large tank to sustain their active demeanor if you plan to raise them.

24. Bloodfin Tetra (Aphyocharax anisitsi)

Bloodfin Tetra
Photo by Chronotopian on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 (Cropped from original).

The Bloodfin Tetra, also called True Bloodfin or Redfin Tetra, is originally from Argentina and Paraguay. Recognized by its silver body and striking red fins, this fish prefers feeding on meaty and plant meals alike. Uniquely, it can adapt to cooler temperatures than most tropical fish.

25. Mexican Tetra (Astyanax mexicanus)

Mexican Tetras, also called the Blind Cave Tetra, hail from Mexico and Texas. It has a silver body with a yellowish hue. Omnivorous, they consume small plants and animals. The most unique fact about this fish is its cave-dwelling variant, which is completely blind.

26. Silvertip Tetra (Hasemania nana)

Silvertip Tetra
Photo by Malene Thyssen on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 (Cropped from original).

The Silvertip Tetras, native to Brazil, sports a deep copper or yellow body with silver-tipped golden fins. They consume a variety of small foodstuffs. Displaying impressive agility, these quick movers are energetic and lively, especially during feeding time.

27. Rainbow Tetra (Archolaemus blax)

The Rainbow Tetras, originating from Colombia's Rio Meta, exhibit an iridescent body that shimmers with different hues. Males have red eyes, while females have blue-green ones. Omnivorous, it enjoys a diet of veggies and small crustaceans.

Type of Tetras FAQs

1. What is the ideal habitat for tetras?

Tetras thrive in freshwater bodies of water and fish tanks with plenty of plants, soft acidic water, and a temperature range of 72-78°F (22-26°C).

2. What do tetras eat?

Tetras are omnivorous and will eat a variety of foods, including flakes, pellets, and live or frozen foods like brine shrimp or bloodworms.

3. How long do tetras live?

On average, tetras have a lifespan of 3-5 years, although, with proper care, some species, like neon tetras, can live up to 10 years.

4. Can tetras be kept with other fish?

Yes, tetras are generally peaceful shoaling fish. They can be kept with other peaceful fish species with similar water requirements and temperaments.

5. How can I maintain the health of my tetras?

To keep this popular aquarium fish healthy, providing a well-maintained aquarium, regular water changes, a balanced diet, and a stress-free environment is essential.

1

Michel, C., Messiaen, S., & Bernardet, J. (2002). Muscle infections in imported neon tetra, Paracheirodon innesi Myers: limited occurrence of microsporidia and predominance of severe forms of columnaris disease caused by an Asian genomovar of Flavobacterium columnare. Journal of Fish Diseases, 25(5), 253–263.

2

Nelson, J. S., Grande, T. C., & Wilson, M. V. (2016). Fishes of the World. John Wiley & Sons.

By Mike Gomez, BA.

Mike is a degree-qualified researcher and writer passionate about increasing global awareness about climate change and encouraging people to act collectively in resolving these issues.

Fact Checked By:
Isabela Sedano, BEng.

Photo by Christian Ang on Unsplash.
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