What Do Tetras Eat? (In An Aquarium + In The Wild)

Image of tetras eating food

Tetras eat live, frozen, and freeze-dried food such as daphnia, brine shrimps, mosquito larvae, bloodworms, etc. They also eat packaged food like pellets, flakes, algae wafers, etc. Since tetras are omnivores, they eat plant as well as animal matter. They try to eat anything that fits their mouths.

Let’s now talk in detail about what tetras eat in an aquarium and the wild.

What Do Tetras Eat In An Aquarium?

Tetras are very popular fish for aquariums because of their bright colors and peaceful demeanor.

They are also very active and fun to watch, which is why they are often recommended as the first fish to get for an aquarium.

However, just as we need to eat a balanced diet, so must tetras to remain healthy.

And since tetras are omnivores, they will eat almost everything that you feed them.

The three common types of food that tetras eat in an aquarium are:

  1. Packaged Food,
  2. Live Food, and
  3. Frozen and Freeze-Dried Food.

1. Packaged Food

Packaged food such as pellets, flakes, and wafers are the most common type of fish food you can feed your tetras.

They are usually used to provide a complete and balanced diet for tetras.

Pellets stand out among all other options, such as flakes and wafers, because they are usually of higher quality.

Another advantage of feeding pellets is that they look more natural to tetras compared to other food items.

You get two different types of pellets in the market:

  1. Floating pellets, and
  2. Sinking pellets.

Since tetras feed on the surface and middle of the fish tank, floating pellets are a better choice for tetras.

Moreover, they don’t dirty the tank water as you can remove them easily from the tank if they remain uneaten.

On the other hand, fish flakes and wafers often form the bulk of the diet of aquarium fish and play a significant role in keeping them healthy.

However, they are not used as often as pellets.

There are many different types of flakes that you can get in the market today.

Carefully picking what type of flakes your tetras eat is crucial because you must try to mimic their diet from the natural habitat.

It’s important not to feed tetras too many wheat-based flakes due to potentially harmful side effects.

Instead, you should feed them meat-based flakes.

While feeding flakes to tetras, keep in mind that they sink quickly to the bottom of the tank than other types of food.

So they may end up rotting on the substrate of the tank.

This will create a very unfavorable environment for your fish and other living organisms in the tank.

2. Live Food

Live food is the best choice for tetras as it’s more nutritious than any other type of food. But It’s also the priciest.

Unlike other types of food that you can buy online, you need to visit a store if you want to feed your tetras live food.

Some of the live food that tetras can eat are:

  • Daphnia,
  • Brine shrimp,
  • Mosquito larvae,
  • Bloodworms, etc.

Instead of buying live food from a store, you can always catch them from your surroundings.

However, it needs a significant effort to do so.

Also, these creatures will usually carry parasites, which can be harmful to the tetras.

3. Frozen And Freeze-Dried Food

Frozen food is a popular choice for tetras. It contains the essential nutrients that you find in live food.

Moreover, frozen food is not as costly as live food. You can easily find it in a local grocery or pet shop.

However, you will need to defrost the frozen food before feeding it to the tetras.

Some fish food such as bloodworms and brine shrimp are freeze-dried.

All the moisture is removed from these freeze-dried animals. This makes them somewhat harder to digest for tetras.

Freeze-dried food can be fed tetras just as flakes.

However, it’s not recommended to feed freeze-dried food to tetras on a daily basis.

It’s better to feed them to tetras only three times a week by combining them with pellets or flakes.

Moreover, you should keep freeze-dried food in a dry and cool location because they tend to lose quality when exposed to moisture and heat.

Other Food

Apart from the above types of food, you can feed your tetras algae tablets, grains, and fruits like strawberries, oranges, grapes, etc.

You can even feed them vegetables that are rich in antioxidants and minerals.

Whatever you feed your tetras, ensure that you give them a balanced diet to keep them healthy.

What Do Tetras Eat In The Wild?

Tetras are found in the tropical freshwater ponds, streams, and rivers throughout Central and South America.

They are opportunist feeders and tend to eat whatever fits in their mouths.

Being omnivores, tetras mostly eat the following in the wild:

  • Daphnia,
  • Mosquito Larvae,
  • Plants,
  • Algae,
  • Brine shrimps,
  • Bloodworms,
  • Small fish eggs, etc.

In the wild, tetras have access to a wide variety of food. So they tend to eat almost everything that they come across.

If something is edible, then they will gobble it up, else spit it out.

How Often Do Tetras Eat?

Tetras enjoy eating anytime they find food around them. They eat as often as they want to.

Tetras are naturally more active than other types of fish, which means they eat more and will generally need more food than less active fish.

So keeping track of the amount of food they’re consuming over time is really important in order to provide them with just enough food.

In captivity, sticking to a schedule is important as letting the tetras eat often can be dangerous.

Start by choosing a time of day when you want to feed them so that it becomes a habit for both you and your fish.

For example, you can feed them in the morning and around dinner time, or early afternoon and before bed.

Whichever routine you choose, be sure not to overfeed them because if you put too much food into their tank, they are likely to eat all of it at once.

An overfed fish will quickly get sick and possibly die due to digestive problems.

So, overfeeding should be avoided since tetras are better off being fed just once or twice per day.

If you can’t make time to feed the tetras every day, consider buying an automatic feeder.

It will dispense a predetermined amount of food at a specific time, ensuring your tetras get their food at the right time.

To make sure that your tetras are eating the right amount of food, you first need to examine how much time it takes for them to finish a certain portion of food.

If they finish it fast, then make sure there is enough food in the tank. Larger tetras eat more than smaller ones.

How To Feed Tetras?

Feed tetras only one to two times a day, and feed only the amount of food that they can easily eat in one to two minutes, or three to five minutes max.

Overfeeding the tetras can lead to bloating issues and can put their lives in danger.

Overfeeding also results in uneaten leftover food in the aquarium.

These can dissolve in the tank water and reduce the water quality, which will affect the health of the tetras and can result in their death.

So you should immediately remove any uneaten food from the fish tank to prevent the tetras from dying.

Another thing to keep in mind is that tetras are tiny fish with small mouths.

So you should chop the food items into smaller pieces before feeding them to the tetras.

If a tetra ends up trying to swallow a big piece of food, it can choke to death.


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