Types of Tetras for Your Aquarium

Tetras are popular in tropical freshwater aquariums due to their attractive colors, patterns, and fin shapes. They are schooling fish that must be kept in groups of 5-10. Recreational aquarists find them pretty easy to maintain, mainly because of their hardiness. They are primarily from South America, but several fascinating species originated in Africa.

Types of Tetras

26 Different Types of Tetras

Red is a standard color for tetras. Some vibrant reds for your aquarium are the flame, ruby, ember, and serpae tetras. If space is an issue for your aquarium, you can keep small types like neon, green neon, black skirt, ember, serpae, and congo tetras.

1. Congo Tetra

Congo Tetra

It has fluorescent colors on its body – a mix of blue and yellow gold. The tail fin has a beautiful grayish-violet feathery look with white borders. Being on the larger side, these fish need a spacious aquarium to swim about freely. They like densely planted tanks with floating plants. They should not be kept with nippy tank mates that can harm their flowy fins.

In general, a single fish costs between $5.5-$8.

Care LevelBeginnerTemperamentPeaceful
Size3-3.5 inchesTank Size30 gallons
Water Temperature72°-82°FLife Expectancy3-5 years
pH6.0-7.5Compatible WithPeaceful fish

2. Ember Tetra

Ember Tetra

True to their name, these fish are bright orange. Their relatively thin skin renders them an almost transparent look. They prefer heavily planted and shaded aquariums. They are active, playful, curious, and brave for their size.

This type costs between $2-$5.

Care LevelBeginnerTemperamentPeaceful
Size1 inchTank Size10 gallons
Water Temperature73°-84°FLife Expectancy2-4 years
pH6.6-7.8Compatible WithOwn species and other small, non-territorial fish

3. Lemon Tetra

Lemon Tetra

This fish adds a dash of color to your aquarium with its shiny silver body vibrantly spotted with neon yellow. It has bright red eyes and a translucent body. Keeping the number of females higher than males can prevent aggression in the group, especially during spawning. 

Typically, the cost is between $1-$5.

Care LevelBeginnerTemperamentPeaceful
Size1.5-2 inchesTank Size20 gallons
Water Temperature68°-82°FLife Expectancy6-8 years
pH6.0-7.4Compatible WithIts own species or other small, non-aggressive fish

4. X-Ray Tetra

X-Ray Tetra

You can see the internal organs and skeleton of the X-ray or Pristella tetra through its transparent skin. It gets nervous and resorts to hiding when confronted with few school members or larger fish. Something unique about this fish is the presence of the Weberian apparatus that, along with the swim bladder, allows it to sense soundwaves in the water, helping avoid predators.

A single fish costs between $3-$4.

Care LevelBeginnerTemperamentPeaceful
Size1.5-2 inchesTank Size10 gallons
Water Temperature75°-82°FLife Expectancy3-4 years
pH6.0-8.0Compatible WithPeaceful fish

5. Neon Tetra

Neon Tetra

The bright neon stripe running along its body with a splash of red on its lower half makes the neon a popular pet. The playful fish frequents the upper and middle parts of the aquarium. Heavily planted tanks with ample hiding places are their favorite.

The price of a neon is in the range of $3-$8.

Care LevelBeginnerTemperamentPeaceful
Size1.2-1.5 inchesTank Size10 gallons
Water Temperature72°-76°FLife Expectancy6-7 years
pH6.0-7.0Compatible WithPeaceful fish

6. Black Neon Tetra

Black Neon Tetra

Their body is mainly black with dark green undertones. A pair of vivid iridescent stripes run along the length. Ample swimming space and a planted tank are their requirements.

The black neon is usually priced at $2-$3.

Care LevelBeginnerTemperamentPeaceful
Size1.5 inchesTank Size20 gallons
Water Temperature73°-81°FLife Expectancy4-5 years
pH5.5-7.5Compatible WithSmall, peaceful fish

7. Bloodfin Tetra

Bloodfin Tetra

The silver body looks interesting, with its iridescent scales having tones of turquoise and purple. But its most striking feature is its bright red fins. The active swimmers enjoy abundant swimming space with thick plants along the tank’s perimeter. They prefer larger schools and may nip at other fish if threatened.

The price of the bloodfin is usually $3-$5.

Care LevelBeginnerTemperamentFriendly, peaceful
Size1.5-2 inchesTank Size20 gallons
Water Temperature70°-80°FLife Expectancy5-8 years
pH6.0-8.0Compatible WithIts own species

8. Buenos Aires Tetra

Buenos Aires Tetra

Its body has splashes of yellow, red, blue, and green. A shimmering yellow stripe runs horizontally, showing hints of green depending on the lighting. You might have to use artificial plants as it has a bad reputation for destroying and eating live plants. Though a bit on the larger side, they don’t take up as much space as other colored freshwater fish.

The cost of the fish is $2-$3.

Care LevelBeginnerTemperamentGenerally peaceful, but can be a little nippy in smaller groups
Size2.75-3 inchesTank Size30 gallons
Water Temperature64°-77°FLife Expectancy5-7 years
pH5.5-8.5Compatible WithOther tetras and small, peaceful fish

9. Cardinal Tetra

Cardinal Tetra

The cardinal has a bright red stripe extending from the gills to the tail. In most specimens, the color even bleeds into the tailfin a little. It spends most of its time swimming in shoals through plants with some shade from the light. So natural decor suits it best.

A single fish is usually priced at $3-$4.

Care LevelBeginnerTemperamentPeaceful
Size1.5-2 inchesTank Size15 gallons
Water Temperature73°-79°FLife Expectancy4-5 years
pH5.5-6.5Compatible WithPeaceful fish

10. Emperor Tetra

Emperor Tetra

This pet boasts regal looks thanks to its deep purple sheen in low light. A thick black band runs along its length with shimmering black and white stripes on its fins. They do best in low-light tanks with a dark substrate and ample hiding places. Driftwood, rock caves, and dense vegetation work well.

A single emperor tetra is usually priced at $3-$4.

Care LevelIntermediateTemperamentPeaceful
Size1.5-2 inchesTank Size10 gallons
Water Temperature73°-81°FLife Expectancy5-6 years
pH5.0-7.8Compatible WithIts own species or small, non-territorial fish

11. Ruby Tetra

Ruby Tetra

The body, as its name implies, is light red to pink in color. Brighter splashes of red occur on its head and tail. Being tempting to larger fish, they need to be housed in single species or nano tanks.

It is usually priced at $3-$6.

Care LevelIntermediateTemperamentPeaceful
Size0.8-1.6 inchesTank Size10 gallons
Water Temperature68°-80°FLife Expectancy5-10 years
pH4.5-6.5Compatible WithIts own species

12. Rummy Nose Tetra

Rummy Nose Tetra

It looks unique with a bright red head, contrasting its neutral silver body with black and white stripes. They swim in unison in their schools, creating an elaborate display. Shaded, heavily planted, dimly lit tanks with plants reaching at least the middle level are ideal. 

The rummy nose comes in a price range of $2-$4.

Care LevelIntermediateTemperamentPeaceful
Size2-2.5 inchesTank Size20 gallons
Water Temperature76°-80°FLife Expectancy8 years
pH5.6-7.4Compatible WithPeaceful fish

13. Diamond Tetra

Diamond Tetra

Diamonds are more noticeable than other tetra types due to their gleaming scales with an iridescent quality. The iridescent yet transparent flowing fins add to their looks. Nature-inspired tanks with many plant species and dim lighting are favorable setups. If kept in small groups, they tend to nip the fins of their tank mates and can also turn aggressive during feeding.

It is priced between $2 and $4.

Care LevelIntermediateTemperamentGenerally peaceful, but can be aggressive at times
Size2-2.5 inchesTank Size10 gallons
Water Temperature75°-83°FLife Expectancy3-6 years
pH5.5-6.5Compatible WithPeaceful fish of roughly the same size

14. Flame Tetra

Flame Tetra

The flame owes its name to its attractive red and orange splashes against a silver background. A suitable tank setup comprises low light, slow-moving water, plenty of plants, and a fine sand substrate.

A single fish is priced at $2-$5.

Care LevelBeginnerTemperamentPeaceful
Size1.2-1.5 inchesTank Size10 gallons
Water Temperature72°-82°FLife Expectancy3-5 years
pH5.5-7.5Compatible WithPeaceful fish

15. Glowlight Tetra

Glowlight Tetra

The silvery-peach dominant color of the glowlight tetra blends in well with its surroundings. A vibrant red stripe runs from its head to its tail, and the fish looks best under low light. They should not be housed with Angelfish that are attracted to the tetra’s glowing appearance and try to eat them. It is best to avoid fast swimmers and large fish as tank mates.

The cost is in the range of $2-$5.

Care LevelBeginnerTemperamentPeaceful
Size1.5-2 inchesTank Size10 gallons
Water Temperature74°-82°FLife Expectancy2-4 years
pH6.5Compatible WithPeaceful fish

16. Green Neon Tetra

Green Neon Tetra

The splashes of red on the green neon are fainter than the other neon tetras in this list. But the background green color is more visible, as with the neon blue stripe. A heavily vegetated blackwater setup with a sandy substrate keeps them happy.

The green neon comes within the $2.5-$5 price range.

Care LevelBeginnerTemperamentPeaceful
Size1-1.5 inchTank Size10-20 gallons
Water Temperature75°-85°FLife Expectancy2-3 years
pH5.0-6.5Compatible WithIts own species

17. Rainbow Tetra

Rainbow Tetra

The pet’s entire body is covered in silver, with a brown stripe running from its snout to its tail. The lower part of the body is iridescent blue that shimmers to give it a rainbow-like appearance. The ideal tank setup comprises dense vegetation, a soft sand substrate, and wood branches.

The price falls within the range of $5-$10.

Care LevelIntermediateTemperamentMostly peaceful but can be semi-aggressive if kept with small, long-finned fish
Size1.5-2 inchesTank Size10 gallons
Water Temperature75°-80°FLife Expectancy6-7 years
pH5.0-8.0Compatible WithOther small fish with short fins

18. Silvertip Tetra

Silvertip Tetra

The copper-to-yellow sheen on the semi-transparent basic gray body of the silvertip makes it stand out. A thick black bar is present at the base of the tail fin. The silver dots on its fin edges shimmer under light, rendering it attractive. They need a simple sandy substrate and some driftwood branches but not plants in their tank. Suited to medium to large schools, they may bully other fish in the tank if kept in small schools of less than 10-15.

A silvertip comes in the price range of $2.5-$5.

Care LevelBeginnerTemperamentPeaceful
Size1.2-2 inchesTank Size10 gallons
Water Temperature72°-82°FLife Expectancy5-8 years
pH6.0-8.0Compatible WithSimilar-sized tetras and peaceful bottom dwellers

19. Black Phantom Tetra

Black Phantom Tetra

It owes its name to the black eyespots behind its gill covers. The body is charcoal gray with black fins. Sensitiveness to fluctuations in water temperature, pH, and ammonia levels necessitates frequent water changes and testing. A lid is also necessary for the notorious jumper.

The cost is in the range of $3.5-$5.

Care LevelIntermediateTemperamentPeaceful
Size1.4-1.75 inchesTank Size10 gallons
Water Temperature72°-82°FLife Expectancy5 years
pH6.0-7.5Compatible WithOther peaceful fish

20. Black Skirt Tetra

Black Skirt Tetra

The most distinguishing feature of this type is its flowing anal fin that covers almost half its length. It accentuates the gray, silver, and black fish’s tetragonal shape. They enjoy swimming through tall plants and grazing on them throughout the day. Ample hiding spots are another requirement.

It comes in the price range of $2-$4.

Care LevelBeginnerTemperamentPeaceful
Size3 inchesTank Size15-20 gallons
Water Temperature78°-82°FLife Expectancy3-5 years
pH6.0-7.5Compatible WithOther peaceful fish with short fins

21. Bleeding Heart Tetra

Bleeding Heart Tetra

The red spot on the pinkish-brown body has inspired its name. It looks beautiful with its shimmering pink and white long fins. The shy fish needs others to feel secure and mostly stays towards the middle or bottom of the water. It likes overturned pots, rocks, driftwood, and PVC pipes in its environment.

A single fish costs between $6 and $8.

Care LevelBeginnerTemperamentPeaceful but can be slightly aggressive if kept alone
Size2-3 inchesTank Size10 gallons
Water Temperature72°-80°FLife Expectancy3-5 years
pH6.0-6.5Compatible WithSame and other tetra species

22. Blue Tetra

Blue Tetra

A bright blue stripe starts at the base of the tail and gradually fades toward the middle of the iridescent silver body. Hints of pink accentuate the unique-colored fish’s shine. They feel safe in uncrowded tanks with natural decor.

The cost of a blue is $4-$5.

Care LevelBeginnerTemperamentPeaceful but can be destructive in overcrowded tanks
Size2-2.3 inchesTank Size20 gallons
Water Temperature72°-82°FLife Expectancy3.5 years
pH6.0-8.0Compatible WithOther small tetras

23. Bucktooth Tetra

Bucktooth Tetra

The base color is metallic silver with pops of green, red, and yellow. There is a dark spot at the base of the tail and behind the gills. In captivity, the sharp-toothed, predatory fish is prone to bullying. You can lower their aggression by housing them in groups of 12 in larger tanks.

Bucktooth tetra comes in the price range of $3.5-$14, depending on its size.

Care LevelIntermediateTemperamentAggressive
Size3-5 inchesTank Size55 gallons
Water Temperature72°-82°FLife Expectancy5-10 years
pH5.5-7.5Compatible WithTo be kept alone

24. Penguin Tetra

Penguin Tetra

Though typically black and white in color, that is not what inspires its name. Its tendency to swim in a slightly vertical direction is quite unusual for fish. They need a group to stay healthy. Without it, they spend most of their time hiding. The active swimmers are happiest in heavily planted, spacious tanks.

Its price range is $3-$6.

Care LevelBeginnerTemperamentPeaceful
Size1.2-3.5 inchesTank Size30 gallons
Water Temperature72°-82°FLife Expectancy5-10 years
pH6.0-8.0Compatible WithSame or other peaceful fish of similar size

25. Redeye Tetra

Redeye Tetra

As the name implies, the most distinguishing feature of this type is its bright red eye – a color that stands out among the natural decor of the tank. The hardy fish can tolerate various water conditions and prefer tanks with dense plants they can swim through. 

The cost of a redeye is $1.5-$5.

Care LevelBeginnerTemperamentPeaceful
Size2.75-3 inchesTank Size30 gallons
Water Temperature73°-82°FLife Expectancy5-10 years
pH5.5-8.5Compatible WithVarious species

26. Serpae Tetra

Serpae Tetra

It has a comma-shaped black spot near its gills against a background of bright red scales. When kept in smaller groups (less than 6), they tend to develop bad habits of nipping fins, even of their own kind.

A Serpae is priced between $2.5 and $6.

Care LevelBeginner-intermediaeTemperamentPeaceful to semi-aggressive
Size1.5-1.75 inchesTank Size10 gallons
Water Temperature73°-82°FLife Expectancy5-10 years
pH6.5-8.0Compatible WithOther larger or semi-aggressive fish

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