The black skirt tetra is one of several dozen different species of tetra fish and it is also known simply as the black tetra or in some cases the black widow tetra.
Black Skirt Tetra Care Overview
The black skirt tetra comes in a variety of colors, however as the name does imply it usually has the majority of its body covered in dark black. There may also be some white or golden spots or stripes along the side of the body. Black tetra fish do sometimes come colored or artificially dyed which needs to be looked out for because the dye can wear off. On the same note these fish can also lose some of their dark black color as they get older.
These fish are actually native to South American slow moving river basins. The black tetra fish has an average lifespan of 4 years and can get as old as 5 years, with some even known to reaching 8 years of age.
How Big Do Black Skirt Tetras Get?
These fish on average can grow up to 6 centimeters of 2 inches in length, with the males generally being slightly smaller than the females, as is the case with most types of tetra fish.
This fish is said to be really good for beginners who are new to owning freshwater aquariums because their upkeep is quite simple and they are not all that demanding. Within the black skirt tetra fish family there are actually 2 different kinds, these being the short fin and the long fin black skirt tetra fish.
Housing/Recommended Tank Size
In terms of the housing and tank size it is recommended that these fish be kept in a minimum of a school of 5 tetra fish, specifically black tetra fish. That being said the minimum tank size should be at least 10 gallons. In all reality these fish do like a slightly larger tank and would therefore greatly benefit from being in a 20 gallon tank (114 liters), especially if you have more than just the 5 black tetra fish in it.
These fish like to swim mostly around the center or the top of the tank. As the black skirt tetra is usually considered a prey fish they do like to be around a lot of plant matter, rocks, and floating wood debris where they can hide under or around. Therefore it is recommended that you have several aquarium plants that grow to at least the middle of the tank as well as some chunks of wood or big rock castles.
While the upkeep for this fish is not too difficult, it does require some pretty specific aquarium conditions to survive and thrive. Of course this is a fresh water fish that will surely die if it is in salt water. Moreover the ideal water temperature for the black skirt tetra is between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (24 – 27 degrees Celsius); any warmer or colder than that and the tetra will most likely not survive past 24 hours.
The black skirt tetra is pretty resilient when it comes to different kinds of water, especially the pH level as well as the hardness of the water. This fish can survive in waters with pH levels between 6 and 7.5, meaning that it does well in slightly acidic and slightly basic water. If anything the best kind of water is going to be more or less neutral in in pH levels. Also, it requires water hardness levels between 5 and 20 dH.
All of this being said the tetra fish are somewhat sensitive to nitrogen levels in the water, especially if there is too much of it. They are unlikely to make it through a whole nitrogen cycle which means that you need a nitrogen testing kit to make sure that you keep the levels appropriate.
Black Skirt Tetra Behavior & Compatibility With Other Aquarium Fish
The black skirt tetra fish is generally considered to be pretty peaceful in nature and is not known to attack or eat other fish. These fish should only be kept with other community fish because they are fairly small and will be eaten by larger predator fish.
The black fin tetra gets along fairly well with most other type of fish; however they have sometimes been known to nip at the fins of other fish. The nipping of fins by black skirt tetras is best avoided by keeping them in larger schools of 5 or more. Another thing is that the long fin black skirt tetra fish, due to having long fins, is vulnerable and known to having its own fins nipped at by other fish.
Tiger barb fish are known to nip at long fin black skirts, so putting them together in one tank is best avoided. On the other hand, fish like Angelfish are somewhat susceptible to the jaws of black skirt tetras. Tetras have been known to eat Angelfish, and in order for an Angelfish to survive in the same tank as a black skirt tetra it should at least double the size in order to avoid getting bullied around.
We have covered a separate post on Tiger Barb tank mates here.
Feeding: How To Feed Tetras
Black skirt tetra fish are not picky eaters at all and will eat pretty much anything you throw at them. They have actually been known to eat various aquarium plants, but not in great numbers. Generally speaking black skirt tetra fish do just fine with things like fish flakes, small fish pellets, live food like Tubifex, mosquito larvae, frozen or freeze dried Bloodworms, and several other common fish foods.
Don’t pour more food than is required into the tank because these fish have been known to overeat which can cause some serious health issues.
Breeding Black Skirt Tetras
In order to breed the black skirt tetra fish successfully it is recommended that you place them in a separate tank in order to ensure that they get it done. Black skirt tetra fish do not really like to mate around other fish in aquariums so separating them is usually deemed necessary. Also, the black skirt tetra is a type of fish that scatters its eggs along the bottom of the fish tank, which means a bare bottomed fish tank is ideal for tetra breeding.
This means not having any sand (more on aquarium sands here) or substrate at the base of the tank. The tetra fish will feel the most comfortable and will be most likely to breed in a tank that has just a few plants, has a medium to low light level, moderate pH levels, and slightly warmer water.
Tetra Breeding Behavior
While breeding the you do need to be slightly careful and it takes some finesse because the black skirt is known to eats its own and others eggs. This means that you need to leave the adult black skirt tetra fish in the tank long enough so the females can lay their eggs and so the males can fertilize them, but not long enough so that all of the eggs end up being eaten.
You might also like our post on Hermit Crabs here.