Home What You Need to Know About Black Skirt Tetra Fish

What You Need to Know About Black Skirt Tetra Fish

by Edward
Black Skirt Tetra

The Black Skirt Tetra, scientifically known as Gymnocorymbus ternetzi, is a popular freshwater fish among aquarium enthusiasts. Native to the Paraguay and Guaporé river basins in South America, this fish is renowned for its striking appearance and relatively easy care requirements. With their distinctive black or dark gray bodies and prominent black fins, Black Skirt Tetras add a unique and elegant touch to any aquarium. Their peaceful nature and compatibility with a variety of tank mates make them an excellent choice for both beginner and experienced aquarists. Here we will discuss everything about this vibrant Tetra Fish.

Appearance of Black Skirt Tetra

The Black Skirt Tetra is a small, attractive fish, typically growing to about 2 inches (5 cm) in length, with some reaching up to 2.5 inches (6.5 cm). They have a striking body color that ranges from black to dark gray, sometimes with a slightly translucent appearance. Their most distinctive feature is their large, dark dorsal, anal, and pelvic fins, which resemble a flowing skirt, giving them their name. The body shape is laterally compressed and oval, adding to their sleek, streamlined look. In terms of sexual dimorphism, females are generally larger and fuller-bodied, while males may exhibit longer fins, making it easier to differentiate between the sexes.

Habitat and Distribution

Black Skirt Tetras are native to the freshwater rivers and streams of South America, specifically found in Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina. They thrive in slow-moving or still waters that are rich in vegetation. The abundant plants in these areas provide shelter, breeding grounds, and a source of food, making it an ideal environment for Black Skirt Tetras.

 Black Skirt Tetra  Male or Female

Physical Differences

Size and Shape

  • Female: Slightly larger and rounder body shape.
  • Male: Slimmer and more streamlined body shape.


  • Female: Shorter and less ornate dorsal and anal fins.
  • Male: Longer, more pointed, and often more flowing dorsal and anal fins.


  • Female: Generally similar in color to males but may be slightly duller.
  • Male: Slightly more intense hues, especially during breeding times.

Behavior Differences

  • Female: Less aggressive and more subdued behavior.
  • Male: More active and aggressive, especially during breeding as they compete for the attention of females.

Tank Setup and Requirements for Black Skirt Tetra

Creating a comfortable and healthy environment for your Black Skirt Tetra is essential for their well-being. Here’s what you need to know about their tank setup and requirements:

  • Tank Size  A minimum tank size of 20 gallons is recommended for Black Skirt Tetras. This allows enough space for swimming and helps maintain water quality.
  • Water Conditions: Maintain a water temperature between 72°F and 79°F (22°C to 26°C). The pH level should be between 6.0 and 7.5, and the water hardness should be soft to moderately hard.
  • Filtration: Use a good quality filter to keep the water clean and well-oxygenated. Black Skirt Tetras prefer a gentle water flow, so avoid strong currents.
  • Substrate: A dark-colored substrate can help bring out the best colors in your Black Skirt Tetras. Sand or fine gravel works well.
  • Plants and Decorations : Include plenty of live or artificial plants to provide hiding spots and reduce stress. Floating plants can also help diffuse light. Add driftwood and rocks to create additional hiding places.

Water Changes Perform regular water changes, about 25% of the tank water every two weeks, to maintain water quality and reduce nitrate levels.

Diet and Feeding of Black Skirt Tetra

Black Skirt Tetras are omnivorous fish with a flexible diet that includes both plant matter and protein. In an aquarium setting, they thrive on a variety of foods. A balanced diet for them includes high-quality flake or pellet foods as a staple, which provide essential nutrients. To supplement their diet, you can offer live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms, which they eagerly consume. Additionally, incorporating blanched vegetables like spinach or zucchini can be beneficial. It’s important to feed them small amounts two to three times a day, ensuring they consume the food within a few minutes to maintain water quality and prevent overfeeding. This varied diet not only supports their health but also enhances their vibrant colors.

Behavior & Compatibility

Black Skirt Tetras are peaceful, schooling fish that thrive when kept in groups of six or more. They exhibit calm behavior and enjoy swimming together, which reduces stress and showcases their natural, social tendencies.

Due to their peaceful nature, Black Skirt Tetras are well-suited for community tanks and coexist harmoniously with other non-aggressive fish species. Their compatibility with a variety of tank mates makes them a popular choice for hobbyists looking to create a vibrant and diverse aquarium environment.

Black Skirt Tetra Tank Mates

Black Skirt Tetras are excellent companions for a variety of other fish due to their peaceful and social nature. They do well with other non-aggressive fish such as guppies, molly fish, and other tetras like neon tetra and cardinal tetra.

They also get along with bottom dwellers like corydoras catfish and small plecos. It’s important to avoid pairing them with larger, aggressive fish that might see them as prey or outcompete them for food.

Keeping Black Skirt Tetras in a community tank with compatible species ensures a harmonious environment where all fish can thrive

Health and disease prevention

Ensuring the health of Black Skirt Tetras primarily involves maintaining optimal water conditions. Regular water testing for parameters like pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels is essential, with adjustments made as needed through partial water changes. Providing a varied and balanced diet that includes high-quality flakes, pellets, and occasional live or frozen foods supports their overall health and vitality. Quarantining new fish before introducing them to the main tank helps prevent the spread of diseases. Additionally, observing their behavior daily can help detect early signs of illness, allowing for prompt treatment to minimize risks to the rest of the aquarium inhabitants.


 Black Skirt Tetras are popular and attractive freshwater fish known for their peaceful nature and striking appearance. With their distinctive black vertical stripes and silver bodies, they add visual interest to any community aquarium. These tetras are relatively hardy, making them suitable for beginner aquarists, but they still require proper care to thrive. Ensuring a well-maintained tank with stable water parameters, providing a varied and nutritious diet, and selecting appropriate tank mates are key to keeping Black Skirt Tetras healthy and happy. By following these guidelines and staying vigilant for any signs of illness or stress, aquarists can enjoy the lively presence of Black Skirt Tetras in their aquatic setups for years to come.

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