Do Tetras Eat Plants? [Ideal Plants For Tetra Tanks]

Do Tetras Eat Plants? [Ideal Plants For Tetra Tanks]

Image of a tetra in a planted aquarium

Tetras eat plants. Most tetra species like to eat live aquarium plants. However, they only eat the plants if they are hungry and don’t find any food in the tank water. Tetras do not cause extensive damage to the aquarium plants except Buenos Aires tetras, which are voracious plant-eaters.

Having a planted tank may seem daunting to a beginner fish keeper. However, since tetras do not damage the plants, many aquarists prefer keeping live plants in the tank. So, let’s dig into this a bit more.

Which Tetras Eat Plants?

Most tetra species are omnivores. So, they eat plant matter as well animal matter in the wild.

All tetras will munch on plants if you have them in your aquarium.

They are not voracious plant eaters, but they do nibble on live aquarium plants.

Among all tetra species, Buenos Aires tetras devour vegetation.

Hence, they are not suited for a well-planted tank. These tetras eat all aquatic plants except for sturdy plants, like Java Fern.

If you want to place live plants along with Buenos Aires tetras, you should opt for sturdy plants such as Java Fern or Anubias.

Do Tetras Need Plants In An Aquarium?

Tetras don’t need plants in their aquarium for survival.

However, live plants are recommended as they help replicate their natural environment.

As plants provide greenery, tetras feel secure and at home.

If you plan to have a planted tetra tank, it’s advisable to have plants that grow in low or medium light.

Another option is to have floating plants that can diffuse the light hitting the tank water.

The floating plants can provide good shade for tetras to retreat.

Live plants can also act as a food source because tetras often snack on plants when hungry. Besides, live plants help purify the water.

Alright! So, plants are not necessary for the optimal growth of tetras.

However, since plants have many benefits, let’s talk about the ideal aquarium plants for a tetra tank.

Which Live Plants Are Suitable In A Tetra Tank?

Live plants are kept with tetras as they help replicate their natural environment. Keeping live plants has many benefits.

They also reduce stress in tetras by providing a secure place to resort to when they are tired or sick.

There are plenty of live plants that are ideal for a tetra tank.

Given below are all the plants that are suitable for a tetra tank.

Java Fern

Java Fern is an easy-to-maintain plant and hence a good option for most fish tanks, including tetras.

This plant requires moderate lighting, which makes it suitable for a tetra tank.

Besides, the water parameters also the same for this plant and the tetras.

Java Fern does not grow as wide as it grows tall. Its long and medium-width leaves are an ideal place for tetras to hide and rest.

The most significant advantage of placing Java Fern in a tank is that the tetras do not attempt to eat this plant.

Java Moss

Java Moss is one of the widely used plants in a tetra tank. This plant is very resilient and easy to grow.

It can even grow in low light conditions, which makes it perfect for a tetra tank.

Since Java Moss is a carpeting plant, you can use it as a foreground or mid-ground plant in your tank.

You can fully submerge the plant or use it as a floating plant by partially immersing it in the tank water.

This plant is recommended as it provides enough hiding places for tetras.


Anubias is popular for its hardiness.

It is an ideal plant for a tetra tank as it grows well in water conditions that are ideal for tetras.

It does not grow very tall compared to some of the other aquarium plants, and so it can be kept in smaller tanks.

This plant has broader leaves that spread wide, providing ample hiding places for tetras.

As Anubias is a hardy plant, it does well in all lighting conditions.

You may find tetras nibbling on the plant leaves sometimes, but not too much to damage the plant.

Christmas Moss

Christmas Moss is another hardy plant that’s preferred by many aquarists.

This plant provides a good hiding place for tetras. It also makes the tank attractive.

You can keep this plant floating in the tank or on the surface of the rock.

To be more creative, you can also attach it to the decoration in the tank.

Tetras don’t prefer bright lighting, and Christmas Moss does not grow to its fullest in low lighting.

However, this plant can grow in moderate lighting of 2 to 3 watts per gallon.

Brazilian Pennywort

Brazilian Pennywort is a good plant for a tetra tank as it provides ample hiding places.

It’s a tall plant that can grow up to 8 inches.

So, you can place it either in the background or mid-ground, depending on your tank size.

You can even keep this plant floating as it can provide good shade for tetras to rest.

This plant does well in high lighting.

However, it would be best not to keep it under high lighting as tetras do not prefer bright lighting.

This plant is kept along with tetras because it does well in moderate lighting as well.


Frogbit is a floating plant. So you don’t need to place it in the substrate.

This plant is sturdy and can survive in various water conditions.

Frogbit doesn’t need excessive lighting to thrive, just like tetras. This plant also offers a secure place for the timid or sick tetras.

The only disadvantage is that this plant grows very fast. So, it needs to be trimmed frequently.

Amazon Sword

Amazon Sword is another plant that’s good for tetra tanks. This plant grows to around 6 inches in height.

However, with poor lighting, it can grow a couple of inches taller.

Although Amazon Sword is not one of the hardiest plants, it is still preferred in a tetra tank as it needs the same water parameters as tetras.

Also, its leaves are broad and flat. So they provide a good resting place for tetras.

Tetras do nibble on this plant leaves at times, but not too much to cause concern.


Hornwort plant is suitable in a tetra tank because it is hardy and can handle various water conditions.

Besides, the plant does not require massive lighting.

Since Hornwort plants grow up to 24 inches tall, they are often kept as mid-ground or background plants in a tetra tank.

Although tetras sometimes nibble the plant leaves, they are not very fond of eating these plants.

Another advantage of placing Hornwort plants in a tetra tank is that their leaf structure provides a good place for tetras to rest and hide.

Apart from the above, some of the other plants that are suited in a tetra tank are:

  • Twisted Vallisneria,
  • Anacharis,
  • Ludwigia Repens, and
  • Cryptocoryne wendtii.

Since tetras are not fond of eating plant leaves, any plant that provides a good shelter and can grow in low to moderate lighting is suitable.

Which Plants Should Be Avoided In A Tetra Tank?

Many live plants are suitable for tetras, as you saw above.

However, there are certain plants that should be avoided when you have tetras in your tank.

Depending on your tetra species, you need to avoid plants that require small gravel grains to grow.

Since tetras are tiny fish with small mouths, there is a possibility that they may choke on small gravel substrate.

You can also avoid decorative and plastic plants as they don’t add any real value to a tank other than making it look attractive.

Related Questions

Do neon tetras eat plants?

Neon tetras do eat plants. However, they are not voracious plant-eaters.

Being omnivores, they munch on plant leaves sometimes. Neon tetras love tall and floating plants that provide lots of hiding places.

Do congo tetras eat plants?

Congo tetras are omnivores. So, they eat plants.

If you have a planted tank, you need to have sturdy plants. Else, don’t be surprised if congo tetras make a meal of them.

If you find congo tetras munching on the plants often, it’s a clear indicator that they are not fed well.

It’s best if you feed congo tetras twice a day so that they do not feel the need to eat the plants.

Do serpae tetras eat plants?

Serpae tetras prefer eating plants. Being omnivores, serape tetras eat plant matter along with meaty food in their natural habitat.

Hence, in a home aquarium, they will nibble on the soft leaves of the plants.

Do cardinal tetras eat plants?

Cardinal tetras eat anything that they can grab easily and fits in their tiny mouth.

In the wild, cardinal tetras feed on tiny worms and crustaceans.

If you have a planted tank, cardinal tetras may sometimes munch on soft plant leaves.

Do columbian tetras eat plants?

Colombian tetras do eat plants. They like a densely planted tank that offers ample space for hiding and resting.

You can feed them a balanced diet so that they don’t feel hungry and avoid munching on plants.

Do ember tetras eat plants?

Ember tetras are voracious eaters. Being omnivores, they consume animal as well as plant matter.

Hence, you may find ember tetras grazing on plants placed in your aquarium.

Do Buenos Aires tetras eat plants?

Amongst all tetra species, Buenos Aires tetras eat plants a lot.

They devour vegetation and can wreak havoc in a planted tank.

Hence, they are not recommended in a planted aquarium.

Do redeye tetras eat plants?

Redeye tetras do nibble on plants. But they do not eat so much that the growth of plants gets affected.

Being omnivores, they feed on insects, worms, small invertebrates, and plant matter in their natural environment.

Do lemon tetras eat plants?

Lemon tetras are omnivores. Hence, if you have a planted tank, they will not hesitate to munch on the plant matter.

You can keep lemon tetras well fed to avoid them from nibbling on plants in the aquarium.

Do rummy nose tetras eat plants?

Rummy nose tetras can eat plants. However, rummy nose tetras do not look upon plants as a food source if they are well-fed.

In the wild, they consume tiny bits of plant debris along with fish eggs, larvae, small worms, and insects.

Do skirt tetras eat plants?

Skirt tetras occasionally eat plant matter. They are not very fond of eating plants as long as they get a balanced and varied diet.

In the wild, they mainly eat insects.

So, feeding them brine shrimps, worms, and insects will keep them from eating aquarium plants.

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