types of tetras

If you’re looking for a fun, colorful, schooling fish species for your community tank, then you’ve come to the right place. The many types of tetras out there make for a spectacular addition to any freshwater tank.

Tetras are fantastic little fish that love the middle level of the aquarium. They come in many subspecies – with colors ranging from dark brown/black to bright yellow, orange, red, blue, and others.

This little fish is super popular for a lot of reasons, including how easy most of the subspecies are to care for, the color they add to any aquarium, and the spunky personalities they have.

Plus, they’re small and most are peaceful, so they fit well into practically any freshwater fish aquarium without threat.

They just need to be housed with non-aggressive tropical fish and critters who don’t want to turn them into a snack.

Quick Intro to Tetras & Their Care

Tetras are common freshwater aquarium fish that originate in Central America, Africa, and South America.

They come in a wide range of colors, including red, white, silver, black, blue, yellow, orange, black, fluorescent colors, and others.

They’re schooling fish, so they swim together in clusters and should be housed with other tetras.

Whether we’re talking South American tetras or African tetras, these fish eat pretty much anything you put in front of them. They especially go after anything on the surface of the water.

They may get a little aggressive during feeding time if the aquarium is overstocked, but generally, they’re peaceful fish and won’t bother each other.

Tetras are a pretty easy species to care for. They do have specific parameters, of course, that you’ve got to keep to. They need their water temperatures to be between 70 and 75-degrees Fahrenheit.

They generally all need the same water requirements – pH between 5.5 and 7, and a hardness of 4 kH to 8 kH.

Types of Tetras That Make Great Pets

There are more than 150 different tetra species. Some are big tetras and small tetras, but generally, they all make decent pets.

The larger tetras are still pretty small – 2.5 inches is the general maximum size – so they still work well in average fish tank sizes, though they still also need to be in schools for optimal life.

We’ve gathered a list of tetras from all over the world, with some basic tetra care information for each species.

Let’s take a look at the most commonly kept as aquarium tetras. We’ll learn some basic care information and look at some tetra types pictures.



types of tetras black-neon-tetra
Scientific NameHyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi
SizeUp to 1.5 inches
Minimum Aquarium Size10 gallons
Difficulty LevelEasy

The black neon tetra is one of the aquarium industry’s most unique tetra varieties.

The fish has an iridescent black body of deep obsidian black and a contrasting bright, neon horizontal stripe of green-yellow.

The eye is marked above with fluorescent orange. These markings make this tetra fish easy to distinguish from others that may look similar.

The black neon is a peaceful tetra that works well in soft water community fish tanks. They need lots of plants, rocks, and other hiding places, and should have slightly acidic water to thrive.

They are a schooling species of tetra, so they should be kept in odd-numbered groups of five or more.

Author Note: Black neons are omnivores, so they eat pretty much anything – brine shrimp, daphnia, freeze-dried bloodworms, and tubifex are special favorites, with no grain or low-grain fish foods like flakes or pellets as their base diet.

Where to Buy Black Tetras


#2. Neon Tetras

types of tetras neon tetras
Scientific NameParacheirodon innesi
SizeUp to 1.2 inches
Minimum Aquarium Size15 gallons
Difficulty LevelEasy

The small tetra species most commonly found in aquariums is the Neon tetra. These are kind of the tetra representative species in the aquarist hobby for a number of reasons, not the least of them their looks.

Neons are a peaceful, easy-to-care-for tetra fish that’s hardy and great in a community aquarium. These fish are silver, red, and blue for an eye-catching addition to any community tank that meets their water condition requirements.

They do best in a rectangular aquarium of at least 15 gallons in size, providing them enough space to swim happily around. They are also a schooling species – most tetras are – and do best in groups of eight or more of their own species.

Without these large groups, they can become withdrawn and shy and may hide more than you’d see them. They are a playful species as well, and spawn and breed reasonably easily, so larger groups are also more enjoyable to watch.

Provide your neons with plenty of space, loads of live plants, caves, PVC tubes, or other places to hide, and healthy, high-quality, low-grain foods.

Add in tubifex, bloodworms, and other protein snacks for a well-balanced diet for energy boosts and bright colors.

Check out our full care guide for neon tetras here.

Where to Buy Neon Tetras



Scientific NameThayeria boehlkei
SizeUp to 3 inches
Minimum Aquarium Size30 gallons
Difficulty LevelEasy

One of the most unique types of tetras is the Penguin tetra. These guys are South American tetras that originate in the streams of Brazil. They are also known as the Penguin Fish and Hockey Stick Tetra, thanks to their unique looks.

They’re mostly white or olive with a thick black band running along their lateral line into the lower half of their tail fins. They have a silver-colored belly.

But though their looks contribute to their name, they actually are named Penguins for the way that they swim. They go along in partially upright positions, rather than the common horizontal pattern that most fish swim in.

They make for a great beginner fish because they’re super hardy, very peaceful – though they can be a little nippy with long-finned, slow-moving tank mates – and are fun to watch with their unique swimming style.

You should provide these guys with a dark-colored substrate and bushy plants and keep them in schools of six or more. Feed them brine shrimp, low-grain pellets or flakes, and bloodworms and algae wafers for their optimal health.

Where to Buy Penguin Tetras



Scientific NameThayeria boehlkei
SizeUp to 1.6 inches
Minimum Aquarium Size20 gallons (long)
Difficulty LevelEasy

One of the most popular kinds of tetras is the Serpae Tetra. These fish have feisty little personalities and are uber fun to watch. They run in the orange tetra category, with loads of colorful shades in the “flame” color range.

These guys are friendly for the most part but tend to be nippy with certain species of fish – especially any with long, flowing fins.

They work in a school of ten or more Serpaes and carefully should be housed with other species that won’t rile them up.

They’re not aggressive – in fact, they are peaceful for the most part – but certain species will aggravate them.

These are going to be aggressive and semi-aggressive species like many cichlids, so just stock these guys with other peaceful, short-finned fish species.

Buy a bio-type rectangular aquarium for them, at least 20-gallons in size – though we’d really recommend closer to fifty, since they should be kept in such large schools – and make sure you balance out the ratios between males and females.

Top Tip: Have a few males and mostly females to ensure less in-fighting within the school. If you have too many males, they’ll squabble and fight and potentially injure each other.

Where to Buy Serpae Tetras



Cardinal-Tetr - types of tetras
Scientific NameParacheirodon axelrodi
SizeUp to 2 inches
Minimum Aquarium Size10 gallons
Difficulty LevelExpert

Cardinal tetras are considered by many to be the best tetras for keeping at home, though they are not recommended for beginner aquarists.

Cardinals bring a delicate beauty to the freshwater aquarium with their bright blue stripes and lower red stripes running in contrast with each other along the entire length of their bodies.

The coloring is different from their close cousin, the neon tetra, which has a red stripe that runs only halfway along the length of the body.

Cardinals school very well and offer bright, opulent beauty to your slow-moving fish tank.

Be sure to provide many plants – these guys naturally come from heavily vegetated waters in South America – and plenty of hidey holes.

Great options for them are well-treated driftwood, rocks, caves, 3D backgrounds, and flowerpots on their sides.

For these tetras, provide dim lighting – often best provided through floating plants if you have other fish or plants in the aquarium that need more lighting – in a tank that’s at least 10 gallons in size.

They do best with soft, acidic water with very few fluctuations. These tight parameters are why only experience aquarists should work with these little tetras.

Where to Buy Cardinal Tetras


#6. Diamond Tetras

types of tetras diamond-tetra
Scientific NameMoenkhausia pittieri
SizeUp to 2 inches
Minimum Aquarium Size10 gallons
Difficulty LevelModerate

These freshwater tetras are a mid-care level fish. They’re a distinct-looking tetra that comes from South American inland waters and sparkle in the light, much like a diamond, thus gaining them their name.

They have silvery scales and orange accents and very spunky, but peaceful, little personalities.

They should be kept in moderate water movement with softer, acidic water parameters in heavily planted tanks.

They’re perfect for community tanks, but should be kept in schools of odd numbers of their own kinds, preferably at least three Diamonds together per aquarium.

Diamond tetras love tubifex, brine shrimp, daphnia, freeze-dried bloodworms, and high-quality, low-grain flake and pellet foods, especially micro pellets.

If you decide to breed your Diamonds, you should isolate a single breeding pair to a breeding tank with no lighting. Gradually increase lighting until spawning occurs.

The water hardness should be below 4 and the couple should be fed live food like mosquito larvae. Once they lay the eggs, remove the adults immediately, as they’ll eat them. The eggs will hatch within about 30 hours.

Where to Buy Diamond Tetras



types of tetras - blue tetras
By Il le faut – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0
Scientific NameBoehlkea fredcochui
SizeUp to 2 inches
Minimum Aquarium Size20 gallons
Difficulty LevelEasy
TemperamentPeaceful, slightly nippy

Another favorite tetra in the fishkeeping world is the Blue Tetra, which you may find listed online somewhere as Cochu’s Blue Tetra. These highly active shoaling fish are native to rivers and streams in the Amazon Basin in South America.

They’re peaceful community fish that are easily identified by their vibrant blue color. They also have hints of pink coloration, almost as if they’re blushing, in an iridescent form that just adds to their beauty.

This coloration really pops when you keep them in an aquarium with a dark substrate, a dark background, et cetera.

Blue Tetras should be kept in schools of six or more in tanks at least 20 gallons in size. They really need lots of space, though, so we recommend something closer to 45 or 50 gallons for the school.

Give them loads of plants with lots of rocks, large gravel substrate, driftwood that’s been well-treated, 3D backgrounds, caves, flowerpots, et cetera for a full and natural feel that will help them feel more like they’re in their natural environment.

This will reduce stress levels for them and keep them healthy and happy longer.

If you stock too many fish with your Blues, you may find they take to fin tearing and nipping. So, if you notice this kind of behavior, you’ll want to rehome some of them to a new aquarium that’s been properly cycled and prepared.

Blues also do best in soft, slightly acidic water in high-quality, thoroughly filtered freshwater.

Blues especially love daphnia, tubifex, brine shrimp, freeze-dried bloodworms, and mosquito larvae. For the base food, be sure to only give them very low-grain pellets or flakes.

Where to Blue Tetras



types of tetras flame-tetras
Scientific NameHyphessobrycon flammeus
SizeUp to 2 inches
Minimum Aquarium Size10 gallons
Difficulty LevelEasy

The healthier the Flame Tetra, the brighter the coloring. So, if you decide to keep these bright, happy little fish, you’ll want to make sure you keep them well-fed with a highly-balanced diet of protein.

Give them tubifex, bloodworms, brine shrimp, et cetera), and plant-based foods (algae wafers, blanched vegetables, et cetera.

You’ll also want to make sure that their base food is a no-grain or at least low-grain pellet or flake food, to avoid issues with swim bladder disease.

They’re a very hardy, peaceful species of tetra, so they’re pretty easy to care for.

Flame tetras are naturally found in eastern Brazil and around Rio de Janeiro, and in the Guanabara Bay region, Guandu River and Paraiba do Sul basins, and near Sao Paulo.

They live in slow-flowing creeks, backwaters, and river tributaries, so they need to be kept in aquariums with low flow rates.

Author Note: Flames were first imported into Europe in 1920 as aquarium fish, soon followed by importation to the United States.

For a while, though, their popularity waned in recent years and is more of a rare find in aquarium stores anymore, though they are regaining popularity again this decade.

Flame tetras should be kept in schools of six or more. They do well in community tanks with a wide range of other peaceful fish, including:

  • Danios
  • Livebearers
  • Rasboras
  • Peaceful bottom dwellers – like many corydoras
  • Other tetra species

Flame tetras are capable of surviving in colder temperatures – down to 64 degrees Fahrenheit – and in warmer temps up to 85 degrees, which is another reason they’re a pretty easy species of tetra to keep.

They thrive at 72 degrees, however, so, if possible, house them with other peaceful fish that do well around this temperature.

Flames actually do best in dim light settings – their color really pops in these low light conditions, for some reason – so they also especially pair well with fish that need floating plants and low light.

Give these tetras lots of plant cover and darker shades of substrate.

Go with driftwood – well treated, of course – twisted roots, rocks, 3D backgrounds, flowerpots on their sides, PVC tubes, and other hiding spots, as well, for the ultimate lifestyle for your Flames.

Where to Buy Flame Tetras



types of tetras lemon tetra
By Waugsberg – Own work, CC BY 2.5
Scientific NameHyphessobrycon pulchripinnis
SizeUp to 1.5”
Minimum Aquarium Size20 gallons (long)
Difficulty LevelEasy

One of the most peaceful tetras is the sunny Lemon Tetra. They’re also one of the more unique-looking species within the Tetra world.

When the fish are healthy, they have beautiful silver coloring with neon yellow fins and bright orange eyes.

This small tetra works well in a community fish tank and adds some fun, unique coloring with their yellow, orange, and shiny silver shades.

They’re very hardy, so great for beginners, and grow up to 1.5 inches in length.

They should be kept with lots of live aquatic plants and other décor pieces for hiding spots, should live in 20+ gallons per pair, and only be housed with other peaceful tankmates that can’t eat them.

Where to Buy Lemon Tetras



types of tetras - glofish tetra
Scientific NameGymnocorymbus sp.
SizeUp to 2.5 inches
Minimum Aquarium Size10 gallons
Difficulty LevelModerate

For one of the most unique tetra varieties, which also happens to be one of the most colorful tetras around, look into the GloFish tetra. These little guys literally glow in the dark, thanks to the bioluminescence technology applied to their genes.

These guys are pretty easy to care for and make a great started pet fish for just about anyone.

GloFish Tetras come in a wide range of colors and types:

  • Starfire Red
  • Electric Green
  • Sunburst Orange
  • Cosmic Blue
  • Galactic Purple
  • Moonrise Pink

The original GloFish tetras were genetically enhanced as embryos to help detect environmental pollutants and were used in advanced scientific research.

Now, these glowing guys inherit the same color from their parents through the genes passed from generation to generation.

The gene is the fluorescent protein gene found in other bioluminescent creatures that naturally have glowed vivid colors for as long as they’ve been on earth.

GloFish tetras should be kept in a small school and with other non-aggressive fish. 

Where to Buy GloFish Tetras


#11. Green Neon Tetra

green neon tetra - types of tetras
Scientific Name Paracheirodon simulans
Size1 inch
Minimum Aquarium Size10 gallons, ideally 20+
Difficulty LevelEasy

Green neon tetras are fairly similar to the “standard” neon tetra. They’re a little smaller, growing only to about 1 inch in length.

They’re so similar that they’re often mistaken for neon tetra – but they are indeed a different species. They just look a lot alike.

They have fainter red coloration and have a green body color that’s a bit brighter than the neon tetra’s body color. They also have more distinct blue stripes than neon tetra.

They have a pretty good lifespan for such a small fish, often living to be 3 years old. But to have a happy, healthy life, they need to be kept in large schools, which is why they require larger aquariums.

They do well with other peaceful fish who won’t nip at them.

Where to Buy Neon Green Tetras


#12. Ember Tetra

ember tetra  - types of tetras
Scientific Name hyphessobrycon amandae
Size1 inch
Minimum Aquarium Size10 gallons
Difficulty LevelBeginner

Another exceptionally popular types of tetras is the ember tetra, a small, 1-inch fish that does well in smaller tanks.

These little fish are great for beginners, add some stunning color to the fish tank, and keep things exciting with their bursts of energy.

Ember tetras have long lifespans of 10 years when well-cared for and need an omnivorous diet combining a balance of animal protein (think brine shrimp and bloodworms) and plant matter.

The fish get their name from the bright coloring that sort of reminds you of the last glowing embers of a fire. The bright coloring for them ranges from orange to red.

Ember tetras may have either black or gray fins and may have an ombre appearance.

Ember tetras do best in large schools, though they can be smaller schools, meaning it’s possible to keep them in 10-gallon tanks.

Embers need lots of hiding spots like driftwood and overturned flowerpots. And they love java moss and other cover plants.

Ember tetras originally came from rivers in Central Brazil and need warm water, though they can survive in 68 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

Avoid noisy filtration systems for them, as they need low current and quieter environments.

Where to Buy Ember Tetras


#13. Congo Tetra

Congo tetra
Scientific Name phenacogrammus interruptus
Size3.5 inches
Minimum Aquarium Size30 gallons
Difficulty LevelIntermediate

For those who love shimmery, beautiful fish, the Congo tetra may just be the thing. These sparkling, iridescent fish with blue coloration and gold or red middles are stunning creatures.

The males have long fins in shades of purple, making them easy to differentiate from females.

The fish live up to 5 years for a modest lifespan and thrive in peat-filtered waters.

They also love light lights, heavily planted tanks and floating plants. They also do best in slow currents.

Congo tetras do well with other peaceful fish and should not be kept with aggressive fish or fin nippers.

Congos do best in groups of six or more of their species.

Where to Buy Congo Tetras


#14. Bloodfin Tetra

Scientific Nameaphyocharax anisitsi
Size2.5 inches
Minimum Tank Size20 gallons
Difficulty LevelEasy

The Bloodfin tetra will typically grow up to 2.5 inches, though some say smaller. They typically live for 5 to 8 years as well, depending on the quality of care and their tankmates.

These tiny fish are vibrantly colored and make for great additions to most freshwater tropical aquariums. They do best with 70- to 80-degree water and at least 20 gallons.

These peaceful fish originally came from South America and have naturally developed in a wide range of water conditions. This means they’re great for beginners.

Because they’re peaceful and on the small side, they should not be kept with more aggressive fish species and should be kept in a large school of their own kind for best health.

Where to Buy Bloodfin Tetras


#15. Rummy-Nose Tetra

types of tetras - rummy nose tetra
Scientific Name Hemigrammus rhodostomus
Size2.5 inches
Minimum Aquarium Size20 gallons
Difficulty LevelIntermiediate

Rummy Nose tetra and a distinct looking bunch of little fish that reach up to 2.5 inches in length.

They’re known as rummy noses because of the bright red coloring on their snouts. Additionally, they may be identified by the white and black horizontal stripes on their caudal fins.

They can thrive for many years in the right conditions, living up to 8 years when properly cared for.

Rummy noses are sensitive to water changes and may be shocked and become ill because of it. They need slightly acidic water and temperatures between 75- and 84-degrees Fahrenheit.

They are shy fish that require plenty of hiding places and heavily planted tanks.

Author Note: Technically three are three types of rummy nose tetras, including True rummy nose, false rummy nose, nd brilliant rummy nose.

Where to Buy Rummy-Nose Tetras


#16. Buenos Aires Tetra

Buenos Aires Tetra - types of tetras
Scientific Name Hyphessobrycon anisitsi
Size2.8 inches
Minimum Aquarium Size20 Gallon
Difficulty LevelEasy

One of my favorite types of tetras is the Buenos Aires Tetra. These funky little fish are low maintenance and high fun!

They have silver bodies with iridescent blue stripes running down the length of their bodies, along with diamond-shaped black spots that fold onto their tails. They might have orange or red fins, too.

These spunky fish get to be almost 3 inches long and live up to 5 years when they’re well-cared-for. They handle a range of tank conditions, but they do best in tropically warm water.

Technically, Buenos Aires tetras can handle water down to 64 degrees Fahrenheit, but they really are better off in tropical tanks.

But not in tropical tanks with timid fish! These guys are aggressive!

They do best in planted tanks though they like to tear things up a bit. You may want to consider artificial plants for them.

They’re social fish, too, so they should be schooled in groups of six or more of their own kind. If they’re kept in smaller groups, they’re more likely to threaten and bully other fish species.

Where to Buy Buenos Aires Tetras


#17. Emperor Tetra

Emperor tetra
Scientific Name nematobrycon palmeri
Size2 inches
Minimum Aquarium Size20 gallons
Difficulty LevelIntermediate

A beautiful, elegant little tetra to rule the freshwater fish tank is the Emperor Tetra. The beautiful fish brings shining silver-blue or pueple bodies and dark stripes and red and yellow fins and tails.

These little fish grow up to 2 inches in length. They’re peaceful fish and do best in schools though males can be territorial.

They do best in low-lit tanks with plenty of vegetation and no aggressive fish. They also need plenty of hiding places.

And if you really want these guys to pop, use dark substrate to bring out their coloration. Keep the water quality clean.

House them with other peaceful small fish who aren’t fin nippers for best results.

Where to Buy Emperor Tetras


#18. Black Phantom Tetra

black phantom tetra
Scientific Name Hyphessobrycon megalopterus
Size1.4 inches
Minimum Aquarium Size10 gallons
Difficulty LevelIntermediate

Another one of the most popular types of tetras is the black phantom tetra. This native species of Brazil and Paraguay is easily recognized for its black translucent appearance.

This species does well in tanks 20 gallons or larger in size and needs plenty of plant coverage for hiding. They also need dim lighting and dark substrate for the happiest possible existence.

Black phantoms are jumpers, too, so be sure to keep a tight lid on the aquarium to help keep them safe.

They are a tropical species needing the water to be between 72 and 82 degrees with pH levels between 6.0 and 7.5.

Author Note: One of the fun things about these little fishies is that they engage in “mock fights” in which males will quarrel over territory and give each other minor injuries. Keep an eye out for their safety!

Where to Buy Black Phantom Tetras


#19. Glowlight Tetra

Glowlight-tetra1 - types of tetras
Scientific Name hemigrammus erythrozonus
Size2 inches
Minimum Aquarium Size10 gallons
Difficulty LevelEasy

The peaceful Glowlight tetra is a beautiful option for the aquarium – as long as they’re housed with other peaceful fish.

They’re easy to care for, so great for beginners, and often live up to 4 years, if well cared for.

These smaller tetras are fast, energetic, and fun to watch and their iridescent silver bodies with bright red-gold stripes adds some pop and color to the aquarium.

They look similar to Glowlight rasboras, but they are different species for sure!

They do best in an aquarium with slightly acidic, tropical water between 72- and 80-degrees Fahrenheit. They also do best in tanks larger than 15 gallons, but technically can be all right in 10 gallons.

They are chill fish, so they should be housed with other peaceful, more relaxed fish, else they’ll get stressed out and have poor health. Some good examples are danios and barbs.

Where to Buy Glowlight Tetras


#20. Silvertip/Copper Tetra

Silvertip tetra
Scientific Name Hasemania nana
Size2 inches
Minimum Aquarium Size20 gallons
Difficulty LevelEasy

Silvertip tetras, also known as copper tetras, grow up to 2 inches in length in their fairly long lifespans of up to 10 years.

They’re easy to care for, too, so they’re likely to reach that maximum age. But they do need to kept properly and kept with the right tankmates to avoid overstimulation or stress.

They’re a semi-aggressive species of tetra meaning they need to be kept with fish that can keep up with them – no tiny, shy fish will do well with them.

The small fish have yellow to gold bodies with tips of silver or white on their fins and a tail base of black with orange.

They’re schooling fish so need to be kept with at least ten others of their species and ideally more, if possible.

If they’re kept with fewer, they’ll turn into bullies and terrorize some of the other fish in the tank who aren’t as outgoing as they are.

Silvertip tetras need water between 72 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit and do best with sandy substrate, driftwood and hiding places, and, if desired, plants, though not too many.

Where to Buy Silvertip Tetras


#21. Bentosi Tetra/Ornate Tetra

Bentosi tetra - types of tetras
Scientific Name hyphessobrycon bentosi
Size3 inches
Minimum Aquarium Size15 gallons
Difficulty LevelIntermediate

The Bentosi Tetra, also known as Ornate Tetra, is a 3-inch beauty that adds a lot of intrigue to any aquarium. They can live up to 5 years, if well-cared-for.

The fish originates in the Amazon River in Peru and the Machado River Basin in Brazil. They’re fun, active fish but are usually peaceful.

They can get startled easily, though, so they need chill, peaceful tank mates and should never be housed with high energy, fast swimmers.

Bentosi tetras are schooling fish and need to be well-planted tanks with soft, acidic water, dim lighting, and plenty of hiding places.

In fact, these guys are best off in a blackwater environment, so if that’s of interest for your next fishkeeping hobby project, these little fish a are a shoe-in!

They look similar to rosy tetras with subtle differences making them a bit hard to tell apart. Bentosi have pink to salmon-colored bodies (as do rosies) and appear almost transparent.

They also both have dark red markings on their fins and ornate/Bentosi tetras have grayish patches of gray on their shoulders. Rosy tetras don’t have this gray marking.

Where to Buy Bentosi Tetra/Ornate Tetras


#22. Bleeding Heart Tetra

Bleeding Heart Tetra
Scientific Name hyphessobrycon erythrostigma
Size2.5 inches
Minimum Aquarium Size20 gallons
Difficulty LevelEasy to moderate

One of the best hardy types of tetras is the bleeding heart tetra. If you take a look at the fish, you can kind of see where it gets its name: the bright red “heart” dot on their bodies.

The fish comes in blush, silver, or rose shades and usually has translucent body with red or black stripes or accents in the dorsal fins.

The fish reaches up to 3 inches in size and has a taller body than many tetra species. Generally speaking, if they’re well cared for and no freak illnesses occur, they’ll live to be as old as 5 years of age.

Bleeding heart tetra are hardy and make for great beginner hobbyist fish. They come from the Amazon Basin and generally can handle a range of water parameters which helps to keep them healthy.

They are best kept in schools of 10 or more fish of the same species. They’re usually shy but very active and peaceful. They should not be kept with aggressive fish.

Where to Buy Bleeding Heart Tetras


#23. X-Ray Pristella Tetra

Xray Tetra (Pristella)
Scientific Name Pristella maxillaris
Size2 inches
Minimum Aquarium Size20 gallons
Difficulty LevelEasy to moderate

Shiny, iridescent tetras that you can pretty much see through? I’m there! And that’s why they’ve got their name – X-Ray.

These unusual little fish grow up to 2 inches in length and are practically translucent in every part. You can see their organs. Fascinating creatures to watch!

They have yellow coloration at the base of their fins and the scales look rainbow, thanks to the iridescence of them. They also have a distinctive black stripe on their dorsal fins.

When well-cared for and kept in healthy, clean aquariums, they live up to 5 years.

They’re peaceful, need to kept in schools with their own kind, and need to be kept away from more aggressive or highly active species.

Where to Buy X-Ray Pristella Tetras


#24. Golden Pristella Tetra

Golden pristella tetra - types of tetras
Scientific Name Pristella maxillaris
Size1.75 inches
Minimum Aquarium Size15 gallons
Difficulty LevelEasy

The golden pristella tetra is a unique cousin of the Xray pristella – also translucent with their inner workings visible. But they have a golden yellow tinge to their coloring.

Golden pristellas also have yellow fin bases with black and white fin tips, making them easy to differentiate from standard Xray pristellas.

They’re an easy fish to care for and often live to be 5 years – as long as they are kept in aquariums that are well maintained and don’t house aggressive fish.

Where to Buy Golden Pristella Tetras


#25. Red Eye Tetra

Red eye tetra
Scientific Name Moenkhausia sanctaefilomenae
Size2.8 inches
Minimum Aquarium Size30 gallons
Difficulty LevelEasy

Here’s another one of the fun and unique looking types of tetras – the red eye tetra. They get their name from their looks, as you can see from the image above.

The red eyes have a yellow band at the base of their tails which has also given them another common name: Yellow-banded Moenkhausia.

The red eye tetra has silver/gold hues on their body, with the distinctive red coloration around the eyes. The yellow tail band, and black, white, and translucent tail and fins make them easy to identify as well.

This type of tetra comes from eastern Peru, western Brazil, parts of Paraguay, and eastern Bolivia. The fish was first distinguished (in writing at least!) in 1907.

Red eyes get up to 2.8 inches long and generally live to about 3 to 5 years, if they are well cared for.

They’re hardy so they’re great for beginner hobbyists who haven’t quite learned the techniques needed for keeping consistent water conditions.

They’re peaceful fish who need a school of their own species and they do well in densely planted, dimly lit community tanks with other peaceful fish.

Where to Buy Red Eye Tetras


#26. Black Skirt Tetra/Black Widow Tetra

Black Skirt Tetra
Scientific Name Gymnocorymbus ternetzi
Size2.5 inches
Minimum Aquarium Size20 gallons
Difficulty LevelEasy

A fun looking, easy to care for type of tetra is the black skirt tetra, also known as the black widow tetra.

These fish have silver bodies with thick black stripes, gray heads, black stripes on their tails and fins and black fins. Their tails are mostly translucent as well.

They tend to grow up to be 3 inches long and usually live as long as 5 years, if they’re housed with appropriate tank mates.

They’re peaceful, active fish who do best in schools – though they may be paired and stocked in community tanks with other peaceful fish.

Black skirt tetras are fin nippers, though, so make sure their tankmates have short fins!

They need slightly acidic, tropical water (between 75- and 80-degrees Fahrenheit) and do best in tanks with tall plants and hiding spots.

Where to Buy Black Skirt Tetras


#27. Red-Blue Colombian Tetra

red-blue Columbian Tetra
Scientific Name Hyphessobrycon columbianus
Size2.6 inches
Minimum Aquarium Size20 gallons
Difficulty LevelEasy to moderate

The Red-Blue Colombian tetra, as you can probably guess from the name, comes from Colombia originally.

The fish have beautiful iridescent blue bodies with red coloring toward the back, lower portion of their bodies. Their fins and tails might also be red.

They have rounded snouts, rounded bodies, and are fairly easy to identify thanks to their unique coloring.

They are aggressive little fish and cannot be kept with peaceful or timid fish species. They should be kept in large schools, however, of at least 10.

Ideally, they will be kept in species-only tanks, though, and not in community tanks, unless the others in the community are equally aggressive and able to fend for themselves.

Red-Blues need water temperatures between 72 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit and at least 20 gallons, though, ideally they’ll be in tanks 30+.

Where to Buy Red-Blue Colombian Tetras


#28. Panda Tetra/Dawn Tetra

Panda Tetra
Scientific Name Aphyocharax paraguayensis
Size1.2 inches
Minimum Aquarium Size15 gallons
Difficulty LevelEasy

Generally living to be between 2 and 5 years, panda tetra or dawn tetra are a fun, easy species to care for.

They have the distinct color which, interestingly enough, gives them both common names.

The body coloration resembles the early dawn light, while the fins and tail have black and white spots resembling the coloration of a panda.

The fish grow to be about 1.2 inches in length at the largest on average and should be kept in fish tanks with at least 15 gallons of water.

Ideally, more, though, since they are schooling fish and need plenty of space for swimming. In fact, they need a large school to help keep stress levels down and health levels high.

They’re easy to care for, so make for great fish for beginners and they need tropical water between 72 and 80-degrees Fahrenheit.

They are a bit on the rarer side and therefor not as easy to find for sale, but they can be found on several websites at least!

Where to Buy Panda Tetras


#29. Mexican Tetra

types of tetras - Mexican tetra
Scientific Name Astyanax mexicanus
Size4.7 inches
Minimum Aquarium Size30 gallons
Difficulty LevelModerate to difficult

One of the most unusual types of tetras is the Mexican tetra. The fish is naturally blind – almost eyeless – with very little vision.

They’re surprisingly adept at getting around with their habitats, though, so don’t be fooled by their looks! They will take a bit of time to memorize their surroundings, but then watch out!

They’ll get around like nobody’s business and they’ll be interesting and fun to watch for the whole family.

The fish are known as both Mexican tetra and blind cave or blind cave Mexican tetra. And they technically come in two varieties – one with partial eyes and one without any eyes.

They have pale bodies in gray, rust, brown, white, or an almost blush shade. They hang out at the bottoms of their tanks and like to chill.

The peaceful fish does best in groups of their own kind though. Because of their visual impairment, it’s best they’re not stocked with other fish and definitely not with aggressive fish of any kind.

They’re hardy fish that can live up to 5 years when well-cared for.

The variety with eyes should be kept in brightly lit tanks, while the eyeless variety do best in darker environs.

Where to Buy Mexican Tetras


#30. Bucktooth Tetra

Image Ltshears – Via Wikimedia Commons
Scientific Name exodon paradoxus
Size5 inches
Minimum Aquarium Size55 gallons
Difficulty LevelDifficult

Coming from the Amazon and Guyana in South America, the bucktooth tetra is a unique, interesting, and aggressive fish for your aquarium.

Bucktooth tetra have silver colored bodies with two black spots and red dorsal fins – making them fairly easy to identify.

They grow up to 5 inches in length and live as long as 10 years when properly cared for.

They are aggressive towards other fish, so should primarily be kept in species-specific tanks, though, which means they’re not great for folks looking for communal fish.

They need a tank that is kept between 72 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit and at least 55 gallons of it! Why? Because they’re fairly large and need to be kept in large schools of at least 12.

They like well-planted tanks that resemble their natural environs.

They can be a rather challenging species to keep as they have some behaviors similar to piranhas, though they don’t have the razor-sharp teeth of that species.

They actually have small teeth, despite their name.

They’re fun to watch and really do make for a great single-species aquarium.

Where to Buy Bucktooth Tetras


#31. Red Phantom Tetra

Red Phantom Tetra
Scientific Name Hyphessobrycon sweglesi
Size1.5 inches
Minimum Aquarium Size15 gallons
Difficulty LevelModerate
TemperamentDocile, but an opportunistic omnivore

Another one of my favorite types of tetras is the red phantom tetra – or sometimes just called red tetras. They’re colorful fish with unique markings and plenty of personality to spare.

They have reddish-orange-brown bodies in a sort of bronze translucence.  They also have black spots around their gills and black tails and fins.

They grow to be about 1.5 inches in size, with rounded, compact bodies.

They’re generally pretty chill fish, but they can get aggressive towards more timid tankmates, especially if they’re feeling territorial.

Because of this, they should not be housed with shy species, but instead should be kept in schools together or with fish about the same size as them who will mostly leave them alone.

Where to Buy Red Phantom Tetras


#32. Head and Tail light Tetra

By Deadlyballistics at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Sreejithk2000 using CommonsHelper., Public Domain
Scientific Name Hemigrammus ocellifer
Size2 inches
Minimum Aquarium Size15 gallons
Difficulty LevelEasy


The head and taillight tetra is one of the popular types of tetras in the fishkeeping industry. The small fish have distinct markings that make them easy to identify and fun to keep.

They have coppery spots on each end of their bodies – resembling headlights and taillights – and silvery bodies.

The fish originate in rivers and streams in South America and so like large tanks with plenty of space for swimming, slow to moderate water flow and subdued lighting.

They get up to 2 inches in length but need at least gallons of water in their tanks to ensure they have enough room to swim and move about comfortably.

They do best in schools of 12 or more of their own species, so I’d recommend going with a tank of at least 30 gallons to really make sure they have plenty of space.

They’re peaceful fish who do well in community tanks with other peaceful species and do well with either real or artificial plants in their darker homes.

For best results, provide them with dark substrate or sand, maybe a few pieces of driftwood or branches, a handful of Indian almond leaves and aquarium-safe peat to help emulate a dark water tank naturally.

Where to Buy Head and Taillight Tetras


#33. Albino Cardinal Tetra

Image by Astellar87 via Wikimedia Commons
Scientific Name Paracheirodon axelrodi
Size1.5 inches
Minimum Aquarium Size20 gallons
Difficulty LevelPeaceful

These little omnivores known as Albino Cardinal Tetras are a beautiful and interesting addition to any aquarium tank.

They are uncommon yet can be found for sale still, so, they’ll add some intrigue without too much trouble.

Since they are albinos, they follow the typical albino coloration with paler color form of cardinal tetras (pale red/pink and blue instead of the bold pink and blue) – almost white in color. They also have reddish eyes.

They’re a peaceful fish that gets on well with other peaceful, small fish, as well as larger peaceful invertebrates.

They need to be kept in schools of 6 or more fish and fed a quality diet of meaty foods to help their color and health equally.

These little albino cardinal tetras do best with soft, acidic water and plenty of leaf litter and tannins. Some Indian almond leaves will easily do the trick.

Where to Buy Albino Cardinal Tetras


#34. Costello Tetra

Costello tetra
Scientific Name Hemigrammus hyanuary
Size1.6 inches
Minimum Aquarium Size10 gallons
Difficulty LevelEasy

Costello Tetra are an interesting variety of tetra that aren’t as popular in the fishkeeping hobby as some others – but they are often mistake for head and taillight tetra. They sort of look like elongated versions of them.

They have pale silver/olive green bodies with bright yellow-green stripes. They also have a large black spot near the caudal fins.

They’re a peaceful fish known for working well in community tanks with fish of their own size or smaller.

They are less energetic than many fish species, so they should be kept with other calm, slower-moving fish. They can be intimidated by the more boisterous fish species and types.

They are shoaling fish and therefore do best in schools of six or more of their kind.

Where to Buy Costello Tetras


#35. African moon Tetra

Scientific Name Bathyaethiops breuseghemi
Size3 inches
Minimum Aquarium Size20 gallons
Difficulty LevelEasy

African moon tetras are types of tetras that come from Africa, not South America, like most tetra species. They are found in the slow-moving river courses of the Congo River.

These fish are kept in the fishkeeping industry and can found online in a few places, but not that much information seems to be available about them.

African moon tetra is known to be peaceful, grows to be about 3 inches in length, and should be kept in schools of 8 to 10 fish of their species – or more.

They do best in heavily planted fish tanks but need plenty of swimming space.

They were officially described in 1925, so they’re not a new discovery. They just, apparently, aren’t that well researched.

They generally have a gold coloration with large black spots at the base of their caudal fins. They also have small red spots under their dorsal fins.

Where to Buy African Moon Tetras

I could only find these guys for sale on Aqua Imports.

Other Types of Tetras That Can Be Kept as Pets

There are other tetras that are kept as pets. This list of tetras includes a
wide range of almost all types of tetras, in fact. But here are several of the
other best tetras for keeping in your home or office aquariums.

  • Ruby tetra
  • Red Minor Serpae Long-Finned Tetra
  • Gold Neon tetra
  • Candy Cane tetra
  • Alestes tetra
  • Diamond Head Neon tetra
  • Green Fire tetra
  • Head and Tail Light tetra
  • Gold Pristella tetra
  • Gold tetras
  • Filigree Bloodfin tetra
  • Characin Swordtail tetra
  • False Penguin tetra

4 More Things to Know About Types of Tetras

  1. Tetra fish are the guys who like to lay their eggs and swim away. A few species of tetras have specific ideals for egg placement – like certain kinds of plants – but otherwise, they’re a very “fins off” kind of fish when it comes to their young.
  2. Tetras come in just about every color under the sun, so if you’re looking for a specific color of fish – be it yellow tetras or orange tetras – you’ll find it in this species somewhere, most likely.
  3. Piranha and Pacu – the giant version of a Piranha weighing up to 55-pounds with “human-like” teeth – are species of tetra fish.
  4. During a festival in Barcelos, Brazil, the Cardinal Tetra is spotlighted for its beauty and intrigue as an aquarium pet fish.

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