Black Skirt Tetra-Care Guide To Our Aquatic Black Widow

A Black Skirt Tetra under water.

Black Skirt Tetra, simply known as Black Tetra or Black Widow Tetra, is a species of exquisite beauty and grandeur. Available in many colours, this vibrancy increases the appeal of your tank. They are easy to care for, including the fact that they are very good community fishes.

If you are planning to add these beauties to your collection back at the aquarium, this article prepares you for that. Presenting everything you need to know in our all-inclusive guide for Black Skirt Tetra; if you are an aquarist of beginner experience or a veteran with plans of adding these tetra fishes to your tank.

Key Specifications

Scientific Name Gymnocorymbus ternetzi
OriginBolivia, Rio Paraguay and Rio Guapore.
Lifespan3-5 years
Colours/PatternsBlack fins with vertical black stripes on the body. Can range from white to pinkish hues. They have a gradient effect on their colour. Thus, the colour keeps on switching between silver and black.
SizeAbout 3 inches.
CompatibilityMostly compatible, good community fish.
Tank size10-15 gallons
Care levelEasy
Water preferenceFreshwater


Scientifically known as Gymnocorymbus ternetzi, the Black Skirt Tetra is a fascinating species. A fish with colours on the darker side, this species looks majestic in the tank. The black-colour patterns on the body, is where the actual finesse lies. An absolute treat to one’s eye, this breed is a native to the Paraguay River and northeast Argentina. To own one or a few of these is well worth the expense and what follows throughout the article are the many reasons.

Origin and Habitat of Black Skirt Tetra

These bijou beings originate from the slow waters of Paraguay Rivers, and the creeks of Guapore in Brazil. In these regions, the forest canopy provides both shelter and food.

Mostly surface-dwelling species, they were originally caught in the wild, but now they can be possibly captive-bred. As they are native to Bolivia, Brazil and north of Argentina, they prefer to live in subtropical river basins where the waters are warm.

Appearance of Black Skirt Tetra

In some cases, the colour of the Black Skirt Tetra may have a somewhat variety in vibrancy.  A white-ish to pink hue can be seen, thus it has been recommended to not be fooled by the extremely vibrant ones available in the market, as they are artificially injected with dyes. Not only it is detrimental to the fish’s health, but the artificiality of the process also is not worth it. Their natural appearance consists of darker shades ranging from black to silver-ish grey, with signature black stripes in the frontal half of the body.


They are not very big in size, with just growing up to 3 inches at maturity. Just like the other species of Tetra, this particular breed also does not get big.


The Black Skirt Tetra fish is mostly available in darker shades. Their colour composition appears to create a gradient effect, as the colour keeps on switching between black and silver-grey. The translucent head region is the most reflective part of the body. Moreover, this unique being has two distinct black stripes in the front section of the body.

Black fins and the overall dark colour composition adds to this fish’s attractive bit. There might be variations as in tones, ranging from whitish to pink hues, but that is not very common.

Behaviour of Black Skirt Tetra

They are quite peaceful in nature, well-suited for the peaceful community. Not known to attack or show aggression towards any fish, these small fishes are best kept with community fishes of similar size and nature. Their size is not very big, which acts as a disadvantage for their defence mechanism. As a result, they might be prey to bigger fishes or in terms of nature, might just get overwhelmed. It is recommended to keep them as directed, for the above-mentioned reasons.

Lifespan of Black Skirt Tetra

They live for a minimum of 3 years for up to 5 years in captivity, if kept under suitable conditions and with utmost comfort. They are not very expensive for their lifespan, and are easy to take care of. These beginner-friendly species, in some cases, seemed to have outlived their lifespans, although it is rare.

Diet of Black Skirt Tetra

Black Skirt Tetra fishes are omnivorous in nature, this particular preference makes feeding them easy. They are surface feeders, feeding on small crustaceans, insects, worms and a variety of invertebrates. Besides that, they have also been seen in the wild to feed on plant matter.

Let us have a detailed look at their diet:

  • Mosquito larvae
  • Daphnia
  • Black worms
  • Brine shrimp
  • Bloodworms

To keep in mind, as much as fishes are a fan of live food, frozen food is a very good option. Especially around wintertime, frozen foods like flakes or Hikari Micro Wafers work just fine.

Tank Requirements for Black Skirt Tetra

They are on the easier side when it comes to taking care of them. Keeping that in mind, you must follow the few specified tank requirements, as it plays an important role in the survival of fishes in the aquarium scenario. To simplify it further, here goes:

Tank Lid

Mostly the importance of a tank lid lies in the fact that it stops dust, or foreign particles from polluting the water. It allows room for filters to be connected to the aquarium, and stops fast swimmers or rapid movers from jumping out. Black Skirt Tetra fishes are fast swimmers; a tank lid saves them from jumping out and causing an unfortunate accident. On the plus side, it also prevents dust or foreign particles from polluting the tank water.

Tank Size

A minimum of 10-15-gallon tank has been recommended for this variant of Tetra fishes. They are small fishes, but as they are fast swimmers, it is important for them to have enough room to get allowed in.


We know that they have a dense and dark bottom in their natural habitat. A substrate mimicking that is necessary, something like gravel or dark sand is a good choice.


Although, they do not have any special filter requirements, they appreciate a HOB. A HOB is a hang-on-back filter or even a canister filter is a good choice.


Anything dark and natural is good for them, thus the addition of small glow fishes makes the tank look good, as long as there is enough room for our main Tetra fishes. Driftwood or natural rocks make up for good non-living decor in the tank.


The light should not be bright as they prefer a dark environment, even the substrate. The light must be subdued, just enough and not over-powering.

Presence of Flora

Fragments of vegetation like Java Fern or Moss is a good choice to be included in the tank.

Cleaning Method

They do not individually produce a lot of waste, so too much cleaning is not necessary. Although, the fishes benefit from time to time cleaning, replacement of the substrate, or getting rid of particles from the aquarium glass helps.

Water Type for Black Skirt Tetra

Water Type or water parameters, is one of the most important things when it comes to their survival. Especially in the aquarium situation, the water profile should be maintained well else it might be detrimental to the fish’s health and well-being.

Cutting to the chase, this freshwater breed prefers their water maintained a certain way. Here is what you need to keep in mind while preparing their aquarium:

Hardness4.0-8.0 dKH
Temperature21-29 Degrees Celsius


4.0-8.0 dkH, with a decent flow of water, is good for them. They do not prefer ample hardness in water, and a decent flow works just fine.


A temperature range of about 21-29 Degrees Celsius is fit, as far as it concerns the water temperature for the tank meant for Black Skirt Tetra. They prefer water on the warmer side, like most freshwater fishes, as it hits closest to home or in simpler terms, their natural habitat.


A minimum pH of 6.0-7.5 must be maintained, as a healthy pH level maintenance of the tank-water has been directly linked to the fish’s health.

Compatibility of Black Skirt Tetra

Black Skirt Tetras are vibrant beings of peaceful and calm nature. They are mostly compatible with non-aggressive fishes of a similar size range.  A school of at least 6 fishes has been recommended, as they have difficulties surviving in captivity.

 Suitable Tank mates

Let us pick you out some suitable species you can pair these beauties up with:

Breeding of Black Skirt Tetra

The breeding process of Black Skirt Tetras is not very difficult, yet it surely requires some effort. The parent Tetras do not really care much for their off-springs, so they must be kept under proper supervision. If they are not isolated in a proper breeding tank and looked after, they will consume their eggs.

The usage of a spawning mop, net or artificial grass is beneficial in this process of breeding. Hiding the eggs and making it difficult for the parents to come in close contact is the right way to carry the entire process out.

The fish must have a heightened protein food around this time for better fry quality. The male fish usually starts to chase the female, a close eye needs to be kept on that, and now allow the male fish to be very aggressive this time around.

Successful breeding can cause up to 1000 eggs at a time, where they are scattered throughout the entire tank instead of just one spot. As the eggs drop deep down the tank, it is good to have some grass layer in the bottom to avoid breakage or destruction of the eggs. Additionally, they are well-hidden from the adults like that.

Diseases of Black Skirt Tetra

The biggest enemy of any fish is when it is ill as they are delicate creatures, and any disease is extremely taxing. It is a very fatal disease, known by the name of Neon Tetra Disease is quite common within the Black Skirt or Widow variants. It is caused by a parasite known as Pleistophora hyphessobryconis, and it is mostly found in live food items or dead fish in the same tank as the healthy ones.

The symptoms are as follows:

  • Spine becoming curved in severe cases.
  • Infections such as bloating or fish rot (secondary)
  • Difficulty in swimming.
  • Lumpy body.
  • Cysts in the muscles.
  • Restlessness.
  • Loss of colouration.


 In most cases, if a fish is found infected, they are put to rest due to lack of known cures.

 There are some things you can still do to protect the remainder healthy lot:

  • Quarantining is not necessary, but immediate actions will prevent the spread of the disease to the point it is fatal
  • To get rid of the dead fishes
  • Prevention of the healthy fishes from coming in close contact, or feeding on the dead fish
  • Change and properly filter the tank water after safely disposing off the infected


Black Skirt Tetra is a majestic being with darker colours and unique patterns. They are an aquarist favourite for their ease when it comes to care routine. Nothing about them is absolutely complex, starting from their feeding to breeding.

This variant of Tetra fishes are small, and prefer a peaceful community, as that is something that resonates with their peaceful nature. All in all, they are a must-pick when it comes to your aquarium at home because not only do they serve towards the appeal of your tank, their maintenance can safely be stated up there if there is an easy list.

Care Guide of Similar species: