What Do Tetras Like In Their Tank? + What Do They Need?

Image of tetras living in a tank with what they like and need

Tetras are popular among aquarists. They come in a range of colors and are easy to care for. However, despite their popularity, many beginner aquarists don’t know much about the needs of their tetras and how they can keep them in the best possible shape. So, what do tetras like and need in their tank?

Tetras like to have a lot of shade in their tank provided by floating and submerged plants, plenty of swimming and hiding spaces, and sufficient lighting. They also need ideal water conditions, an efficient filtration system, compatible tank mates, and a varied, nutritious diet to stay healthy.

Let’s now talk about these in detail.

7 Things Tetras Like And Need In Their Tanks

Given below are the seven things that tetras like and need in their tanks.

1. Plenty Of Plants

To simulate a tetra’s natural habitat, make sure your tank contains enough plants.

Tetras prefer the shade provided by floating plants.

For example, plants like frogbit, water lettuce, etc., look great at the top of a tank while still allowing sufficient light to reach the tetras and plants at the bottom.

As the floating plants grow and block too much light, you need to remove them.

Otherwise, the health of your bottom-of-the-tank plants will deteriorate due to a lack of light.

The bottom-of-the-tank plants likeJava Fern, Java Moss, Brazilian pennywort, Vallisneria, etc., provide hiding and resting places for tetras, which they sometimes need when they are tired or scared.

Besides, they also help increase the oxygen and nitrogen levels of the tank water.

You can also use fake plants because they provide hiding places and require less maintenance.

However, fake plants will not give you the benefits of live plants.

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2. Proper Tank Setup

Most tetras can be housed in aquariums with a capacity of 10 to 20 gallons.

However, bigger tanks are easier to maintain and provide extra swimming space.

In a well-decorated tank, they will be less frightened and display their best colors.

In addition, dark substrates and decorations help to bring out the vibrancy of tetras’ colors.

Additionally, a tank darkened by a black substrate mimics the tetra’s native habitat.

It also contrasts beautifully with the green vegetation and highlights the vibrant colors of tetras.

The only drawback is that your cleaning efforts will increase because debris shows up more easily in the dark substrate.

You should also consider keeping a tight cover on the top of the tank to prevent tetras from jumping out of the tank if they feel threatened.

Tetras thrive in groups of six or more. A large tank containing a large school of tetras is quite a sight to behold.

In addition, the tank gives them a high-quality life and the ability to swim freely.

3. Ideal Water Conditions

While most tetras live in soft, acidic water in the nature, the bulk of aquarium tetra species are reared in water with a pH and alkalinity that is often higher than their natural surroundings.

The ideal water conditions for tetras are:

  • Temperature between 75°F to 82°F,
  • pH between 7 to 8,
  • Alkalinity between 50 ppm to 140 ppm,
  • Nitrite at 0 ppm,
  • Ammonia at 0 ppm, and
  • Nitrate less than 40 ppm.

If you reside in a location where the temperature fluctuates, you must install a water heater in your tank.

For tanks of 55 gallons or less, the conventional 5 watts per gallon rule can be applied.

Similarly, for tanks larger than 60 gallons, 3 watts per gallon is recommended.

However, if the temperature in your home is consistently over 75°F, you don’t need a water heater.

4. Sufficient Aquarium Lighting

Like many other tropical fish, tetras require light in their aquariums. In particular, tetras prefer dim light.

In some ways, the dim lighting reflects their natural surroundings, which are usually devoid of bright sunlight.

Tetra eggs and fry are vulnerable to intense lighting, which can kill them.

As a result, when breeding tetras, you should avoid keeping any artificial lights in their tank.

Furthermore, if you want to keep fewer live plants, a fluorescent light of 18 to 40 watts can be used in the tank.

However, if you plan to keep a lot of live plants in your aquarium, you can use 2 to 5 watts of light per gallon.

You could also expose your aquarium to sunlight.

However, while sunlight provides light and warms the water, it’s not an ideal option.

Sunlight encourages the formation of algae, making it difficult to see the fish.

Furthermore, large-scale algae growth competes for nutrients with live plants, stifling their development.

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5. Efficient Fish Tank Filters

A fish tank filter’s primary purpose is to promote beneficial bacteria growth while also aerating the water.

It’s also a good idea to put some plants in the tank with a filter.

Tetras produce less waste; therefore, a basic sponge filter is sufficient.

Internal filters are also beneficial in Tetra tanks because they generate a nice current.

Beginners and intermediate aquarists are highly recommended to utilize filters in their tanks.

However, experienced aquarists with a tank full of live plants can skip using a filter because they understand how to use heavy plantations and substrate to keep the tank clean.

6. Compatible Tank Mates

The majority of tetras are placid and get along very well with other social fish of similar size. However, there are a few outliers.

For example, serpae tetras can be aggressive at times, especially if housed in small numbers.

Other tetras, such as Buenos Aires tetras, can grow huge and be hyperactive.

This can be intimidating to smaller, timid tetras.

Some of the compatible tank mates for tetras are:

  1. Other tetra species,
  2. Rasboras,
  3. Danios,
  4. Barbs,
  5. Rainbowfish, etc.

7. Nutritious Diet

Tetras prefer to eat flakes or very fine granules in a variety of sizes.

So, they should be fed a diversified diet of processed, frozen, or live meals to maintain their health and color.

Moreover, frozen and live food can be used as treats or to aid the spawning process.

Rotate their meals on a daily basis for optimal results, and only feed them once or twice a day what they can ingest in under 2 minutes.

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Related Questions

What do neon tetras like and need in their tank?

Neon tetras prefer a lot of shade in their tank, which can be provided by floating and submerged plants.

They also prefer plenty of swimming space and adequate lighting.

To be healthy, they also need perfect water conditions, an effective filtration system, appropriate tank mates, and nutritious, diverse food in their tank.

What do glofish tetras like and need in their tank?

Glofish tetras prefer a lot of plants in their aquarium to get ample shade and hiding places.

They also like to have good lighting and plenty of swimming room.

Ideal water conditions, a sound filtration system, a bubbler, suitable tank mates, and a nutritious, varied diet is also needed by glofish tetras to stay healthy.


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