Black Skirt Tetra: Beyond Ordinary

Updated on:

** This post contains affiliate links and we will be compensated if you buy after clicking on our links.

If you’re looking for a fish that is easy to care for, Black Skirt Tetra is a great option.

The Black Skirt Tetra (Black Widow) is a hardy fish that can adapt to a range of water conditions. They are also relatively small, growing to only about two inches in length, so they don’t require a large tank. Black Skirt Tetra are also peaceful fish that can coexist with other species in your tank.

In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide to caring for Black Skirt Tetra.

We will cover everything from tank setup and water conditions to feeding and breeding.

This guide will give you all the information you need to keep your Black Skirt Tetra healthy and happy.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameGymnocorymbus ternetzi
Origin and HabitatNative to South America; commonly found in slow-moving rivers, streams, tributaries with sandy or gravel substrates, and flooded areas during the rainy season
SizeAverage 1-2 ½ inches (2.5-6.4 cm); Males grow to about 2 inches (5cm), some females grow to 2.5 inches (6cm)
LifespanIn optimal conditions, they can live up to 5 years
AppearanceBlack and silver coloration, vertical black stripes on their body, slightly forked tail fin
Temperament and BehaviorPeaceful and active; schooling fish that prefer to be in groups of at least six; Known to be fin-nippers when paired with fish with long, flowing fins; Known to be jumpers
Tank SizeMinimum size required is a 20-gallon tank; Each additional Black Skirt Tetra will need an additional 3 gallons of water
Water ParametersTemperature: 70-85°F, pH level: 6.0-8.0, Water hardness: 5-18 dGH
DietOmnivorous diet – can feed on dry and live foods or combination of both
Tank MatesBest paired with peaceful species that share their temperament and water requirements; Examples: Neon Tetra, Dwarf Gourami, Ember Tetra, Bolivian Ram
BreedingEgg Layers

Origin and Habitat

Scientific Name

The Black Skirt Tetra, or Gymnocorymbus ternetzi, is a freshwater fish that is native to the river basins of South America.

Specifically, they are found in the Paraguay River basin of south-central Brazil, Paraguay, and northeast Argentina.

There are also populations in the upper Paraná and Paraíba do Sul Rivers that were likely introduced.


In the wild, Black Skirt Tetras are known to inhabit areas with dense vegetation, such as submerged roots and fallen trees.

They are also found in areas with rocky outcrops and areas with overhanging vegetation, which provides them with cover and protection from predators.

Black Skirt Tetras are a schooling fish and are often found in groups of 6 or more.

Their natural predators include larger fish species, such as catfish and cichlids, as well as birds and other aquatic predators.

Appearance & Size

When it comes to appearance, the Black Skirt Tetra is a unique addition to any aquarium.

While other species of the Characidae family are known for being bright and colorful, these fish take on a darker appearance, with a black and silver coloration.

The vertical black stripes on their body make them stand out in well-kept aquariums.

In terms of coloring, there are different variations of the Black Skirt Tetra.

Some are completely black, while others have a mix of black and silver.

There are also albino versions available, which have a silver and white coloration.

Regardless of the color variation, they all have the distinctive vertical black stripes on their body.

Black Skirt Tetras are pretty small, with an average size of 1-2 ½ inches (2.5-6.4 cm).

Males usually grow to around 2 inches (5cm) in length, while some larger females grow to 2.5 inches (6cm).

They have a streamlined body with a slightly forked tail fin.

The anal fin of the male is pointed, while the female’s is rounder.


The lifespan of Black Skirt Tetras can vary depending on the conditions they are kept in.

In optimal conditions, they can live up to 5 years.

If they are kept in poor conditions, their lifespan can be significantly shorter.

It’s important to provide them with a healthy and clean environment to ensure they live a long and healthy life.

Tank Mates Black Skirt Tetra

Temperament & Behavior

Black Skirt Tetras are known for their peaceful and active temperament, making them an excellent addition to any community tank.

They are schooling fish, so it is recommended that you keep them in groups of at least six.

This will help them feel more secure and reduce their stress levels.

When kept in smaller groups or alone, they may become more aggressive and territorial.

These fish are active swimmers and enjoy exploring their surroundings.

They are known to be fin-nippers, especially when paired with fish that have long, flowing fins.

Avoid keeping them with species like Angelfish and Betta fish, as they may become targets for the Black Skirt Tetras.

In their natural habitat, Black Skirt Tetras are known to be jumpers, so keep the tank covered to prevent them from jumping out.

One interesting behavior of Black Skirt Tetras is their tendency to form hierarchies within their school.

They will establish a pecking order, with the dominant fish taking on a more prominent role in the group.

This behavior is completely normal and should not be a cause for concern.

Tank Size and Setup

Tank Size

When it comes to Black Skirt Tetras, the tank size is an important factor to consider.

A 20-gallon tank is the minimum size required, but a larger tank is recommended if you plan on keeping more fish or different species.

Bigger tanks provide more space for swimming and hiding areas, which Black Skirt Tetras enjoy.

Keep in mind that Black Skirt Tetras are schooling fish, so they need to be kept in groups of at least six.

Each additional Black Skirt Tetra will need an additional 3 gallons of water.

Water Parameters

Black Skirt Tetras are hardy fish and can tolerate a range of water parameters.

To keep them healthy and happy, it’s essential to maintain a stable environment.

The water temperature should be between 70-85°F, and the pH level should be between 6.0-8.0.

The water hardness should be between 5-18 dGH.

Tank Setup & Decorations

When setting up the tank for Black Skirt Tetras, create an environment that mimics their natural habitat.

Dark-colored gravel or sand is an excellent substrate choice.

Plants, driftwood, rocks, and caves are great additions to the tank.

Taller plants can provide hiding places for the fish, while driftwood and rocks can create caves and crevices for them to explore.

Live plants can also help maintain water quality by absorbing nitrates and other harmful chemicals.

Lighting and filtration are also crucial components of the tank setup.

A good quality filter helps in maintaining the water quality and keeps the tank clean.

A heater is necessary to maintain a stable water temperature.

Albino Black Skirt Tetra
Albino Black Skirt Tetra


The Black Skirt Tetra is an omnivore, which means that it requires a balanced diet of both plant and animal matter.

A varied diet will ensure that your tetras get all the nutrients they need to stay healthy and happy.

You can feed them a combination of dry and live foods, or you can choose to feed them only live foods.

Live foods are more nutritious than dry foods, but they can also be more expensive and require more effort to obtain.

One of the most popular live foods for Black Skirt Tetras is bloodworms.

These small, red worms are high in protein and are a favorite of many fish species.

You can also feed your tetras brine shrimp, daphnia, and mosquito larvae.

These foods are all readily available at most pet stores.

In addition to live foods, you can also feed your Black Skirt Tetra frozen foods.

Frozen foods are a convenient option that can be stored in your freezer until you are ready to use them.

Some popular frozen foods for tetras include baby brine shrimp and daphnia.

If you prefer to feed your tetras dry foods, there are several options available.

You can choose from a variety of flake, pellet, and granular foods.

Look for foods that are specifically formulated for tetras and that contain a variety of nutrients.

While dry foods are convenient and easy to store, they are not as nutritious as live or frozen foods.

If you choose to feed your tetras only dry foods, make sure to supplement their diet with occasional live or frozen foods.

Tank Mates

When it comes to selecting tank mates for your Black Skirt Tetra, choose species that are peaceful and won’t out-compete your tetras for resources.

One excellent choice for tank mates is the Neon Tetra.

These fish are small, peaceful, and colorful, making them an ideal companion for your Black Skirt Tetra.

They also share similar water requirements, so they can coexist in the same aquarium without issue.

Another great option is the Dwarf Gourami.

These fish are known for their vibrant colors and peaceful nature, making them an excellent addition to any community tank.

The Bolivian Ram can also make a great companion for your Black Skirt Tetra.

These fish are peaceful and won’t bother your tetras, and they also prefer similar water conditions.

Just make sure you choose a large enough tank to accommodate both species comfortably.

Some more options are:


f you’re interested in breeding Black Skirt Tetras, you’ll be happy to know that it’s a relatively easy process.

These fish are prolific breeders, and they will readily spawn in a well-maintained aquarium.

To breed Black Skirt Tetras, you’ll need to create the right conditions in your tank.

Start by providing plenty of hiding places for your fish.

You can use plants, rocks, or other decorations to create hiding places.

Make suret to keep the water quality in your tank high.

This means maintaining a stable temperature, pH, and ammonia levels.

Perform regular water changes to keep the water clean.

When it comes to breeding, Black Skirt Tetras are egg layers.

This means that the female will lay eggs, and the male will fertilize them.

To encourage breeding, you should keep a ratio of one male to two or three females in your tank.

This will help to reduce aggression and increase the chances of successful breeding.

During the breeding process, the male will chase the female around the tank, nudging her until she releases her eggs.

The male will then fertilize the eggs, and they will stick to the plants or decorations in the tank.

Once the eggs have been laid, you should remove the adult fish from the tank to prevent them from eating the eggs.

The eggs will hatch in about 24 to 36 hours, and the fry will become free-swimming in another 24 to 36 hours.

To care for the fry, you’ll need to provide them with small, frequent feedings of infusoria or newly hatched brine shrimp.

As they grow, you can gradually increase the size of their food.

Should You Consider The Black Skirt Tetra?

These lively fish are known for their striking, almost monochromatic coloration and delicate, fluttering finnage that creates an impression of a swirling black skirt underwater, hence their name.

Black Skirt Tetras are hardy and adaptable, making them excellent choices for both novice and experienced aquarists.

They can thrive in a wide range of water conditions and their peaceable nature makes them compatible with a variety of tank mates.

In a suitably sized tank, a school of these tetras can bring a delightful sense of movement and charm.

Black Skirt Tetras are active swimmers and will utilize all areas of the tank, from top to bottom, providing an engaging spectacle for the onlooker.

The combination of their ease of care, peaceful demeanor, and beautiful display when schooling makes them an attractive addition to many freshwater setups.

If you’re looking to add a sense of dynamic beauty and robust versatility to your tank, a school of Black Skirt Tetras might just be the perfect choice.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many black skirt tetras should be kept in a group?

Black skirt tetras are schooling fish and should be kept in groups of at least six individuals. Keeping them in smaller groups can cause stress and aggression among the fish. A larger group of ten or more tetras is even better as it allows for a more natural behavior and reduces stress.

What is the ideal water temperature for black skirt tetras?

The ideal water temperature for black skirt tetras is between 72°F and 79°F (22°C and 26°C). Keeping the water temperature within this range is crucial for the health and well-being of your fish. Fluctuations in temperature can cause stress and make your fish more susceptible to diseases.

Are black skirt tetras compatible with shrimp?

Black skirt tetras are generally not compatible with shrimp as they have a tendency to nip at the shrimp’s antennae and legs. However, some aquarists have reported success in keeping them together in a heavily planted tank with plenty of hiding places for the shrimp.

What is the lifespan of black skirt tetras?

The lifespan of black skirt tetras is typically around three to five years, although they can live longer with proper care. Factors such as water quality, diet, and tank size can all affect the lifespan of your fish.

Can black skirt tetras be kept with bettas?

While it is possible to keep black skirt tetras with bettas, it is not recommended. Bettas can be aggressive towards other fish, especially those with long fins like tetras. Additionally, the water temperature and pH requirements for these two species can be quite different, making it difficult to maintain a suitable environment for both.

How often should black skirt tetras be fed?

Black skirt tetras should be fed small amounts of food two to three times a day. Overfeeding can lead to health problems such as bloating and constipation. A varied diet that includes both flakes and live or frozen foods is recommended to ensure that your fish receive all the necessary nutrients.

Photo of author


Irma Bense is the founder of She has over 42 years of experience in keeping fish.She has kept both freshwater and saltwater fish through the years.She has extensive knowledge in breeding numerous species of fish from Show Guppies, Cory Catfish, German Blue Rams to Apistogrammas.You can learn more about Irma on the 'About' page.

Leave a Comment