Black Widow Tetra Care Guide: Tank Setup & more – 2021

Black Widow Tetra



Black Widow Tetra Complete Care Guide



Category Rating
Level of care Easy
Temperament Peaceful, good community fish
Appearance Tetragonal shape, black body, black and greyish colorations.
Life expectancy 5 years
Size 2 inches
Diet Omnivore
Family Characidae
Tank size 10 gallons
Tank environment densely stocked with substrates, plants, and some objects for shades and hiding. 
Tank Mates Other species in similar size


Black Widow Tetra Introduction


Are you yearning for a new addition to your community tank that is hardy and easy to take care of? I know what many people are thinking. Usually, hardy fishes are less beautiful than other fish. Well, I completely disagree. The beautiful thing does not have to be docile, right?


Here comes the black widow tetra: a hardy and beautiful tetra. It is also called a black skirt tetra. The schooling fish has been a popular choice amongst aquarists because of its beauty. Despite its name, it comes in various colors.


The wild black widow tetra tends to have a darker color. There are many coloration varieties that the aquarists have adopted in captivity. They tend to be in school. So, you will not add a single black widow tetra to your community tank. The speedy fish are perfect for beginners. It is even prevalent for those who are completely new to this hobby.


Black Widow Tetra Overview


Before moving further to the caring topic, we will view the important information about the fish first.




The real habitat of these tetras is in the Guapore and Paraguay Rivers in Brazil. The rivers where they live go through the forest, which comes with many shades and nutritious sources of food.


The black widow fish spends most of their time near the surface of the water because it makes it easier to catch their prey and eat them. They are always waiting there to eat insects, small worms, crustaceans, and so on.


The availability


Back then, breeders only took them from the wild habitat. But now things can get much easier. You can get your black widow tetras from your nearby local stores now. Most of them are now captive-bred. That explains why there will be a lot of variations that you can see in the market.


Besides the original black widow type itself, there is also a long fin black skirt tetra, a golden skirt tetra, as well as other colorations of the skirt tetra. You might find dozens of variations out there offered by your pet suppliers. Consider talking with the seller first to explore the available options for you before proceeding. But most of them are not frequently available in the marketplace. If you are lucky, you can grab them.


Coloration and other characteristics



The black widow fish has been recognized for its main black dorsal and vertical black stripes on its body. The natural color variations can revolve around white to pinkish-hued. However, it also means that you can pick the color variations that match your personal preference. The suppliers will get them for you.


These buddies can also reach several colors.


It is a small fish. Although it reaches adult age, the size of the fish is still small. It can grow to approximately two inches.


Hybrids tend to be larger. But you might lose the authenticity of the Black Widow tetras for good. If you want to keep your community tank authentic, I’d suggest you focus only on the original breeds.



The Black skirt buddies will add more characteristics to your aquascape thanks to their wonderful appearances and fun behaviors. If you have been browsing around for Characidae family fishes, you will notice that most of them have bright and vibrant colorations. But not with this black widow mate. They have their own uniqueness and characteristics that you will love to see every time you visit your aquarium.


They are common species in the marketplace. Back in the day, the prices were too expensive, so only the rich were able to afford them. But that is no longer the case. You can easily get a group of four or more for your aquarium.


The Lifespan



In captivity, you can expect the fish to accompany you for three to five years or more in the future. Living in a well-maintained tank and proper diet, you can expect a much longer lifespan for this fish. However, it is not common. They will die in five years. You need to maintain the tank and water quality to improve their life expectancy levels.


The appearance


The Black widow tetras have a unique tetragonal shape. They are relatively much taller at the front part of the body. But the rear end of the species has a tapered appearance. The unique shape is lovable for aquarium enthusiasts, including you.


The fin shapes are quite different compared to the other species in the same family. The tailfin is thin and resembles a fork-shaped object. Since the fish is so small, it might be difficult for you to see the physical characteristics like I mentioned in this article. There’s also a dramatic anal fin at the bottom part of their bodies. This part goes through the body to the tail.


The coloration is dark gray or black. Some fishes also come with rays on their bodies. These rays are not firm or pointy. You might not be able to notice it at a glance. But if you take a closer look at your school tetras, then you can spot them.


The size


The size of the fish starts at 1 to 3 inches. It is seldom to see adults reach over 3 inches. The black widow fish won’t get larger than you expect. That’s why, even though you have a small to mid-sized aquarium, it will be perfectly fine.


Black Widow Tetra Caring and Tank Guide 


As mentioned, this fish is hardy. It is also very easy and simple to maintain. These tetras can survive in different conditions and challenges. However, it does not mean that they can live long in such an unfavorable environment.


You will want to provide the best tank setup and diet for them in order to improve their quality of life exponentially.




For the decoration, you will want to mimic the real habitat or origin of the fish. For instance, you need to subdue the lighting. Add the colorful gravel substrates. You will have freedom to design the gravel as you desire. But don’t forget to add large plants to strategic spots. The large plants will give more shade to the aquarium and help your fish to stay safe and confident in your aquarium. But don’t add too many plants since you want to spare them enough space for swimming and exploring around them.


Tank Size


If you plan to add a small group of the black skirt tetras, a minimum of 15 gallons should be enough. But you can always add more than the minimum requirement to provide more space to swim in. Keep in mind that the other tank mates also need their space too.


It is always okay to add a larger group to your home aquarium. But you will want to consider the tank mates as well since there are some fishes who get intimidated by these fishes when they are moving around from one corner to another. These fun creatures are active simmers. So, larger tanks are always much better.



Water Parameters


The water parameters should be adequate enough to maintain the life of your fish. Poor quality water can lead to a stressful life, and reduce their life expectancy. The obvious rule of thumb that we have always been following is to replicate the water conditions in their natural habitat.


  • Water temperature: 70°F to 85°F (aim for the middle of this range)
  • pH levels: 6.0 to 7.5
  • Water hardness: 4 to 8 dKH


I know that those numbers can be a bit tricky for you. But you don’t need to worry. You just need to get a water testing kit from the market to read the numbers accurately.





Add the plants to the aquarium. Tall plants can be the best choice since they provide shade and protection for them. An empty tank will distress them.

Arrange the vegetation in the tank so that your buddies will feel at home.


Use the river gravel at the bottom. Add caves, driftwood, or other objects for hiding spots when your black widow fish visits the bottom part of the aquarium.




Black Widow Tetra Tankmates


The fish is a schooling creature by nature. The black widow tetras will be striving in a group of six or more. Since they have a peaceful nature, tankmates similar to their size can be a great one. You must watch the slower-moving fish with long fins, like angelfish or betta fish. They might not be good tankmates since your tetras tend to bother them, although they mean no harm.

The fish tend to stick to their group all the time.


A group of at least six tetras can keep them well and healthy.


A larger group of black widow fish makes them more happy and comfortable in the community tank. It is cool if you have a larger tank, as long as you decorate it well.


Here are some best tank mates for your Black Widow buddies:


  • Cardinal tetra
  • Neon tetra
  • Dwarf gourami
  • Chili Rasbora
  • Cory catfish
  • Bolivian rams



How to feed Black Widow Tetra 


They are fond of any food you give them, including live and frozen ones. Consider mixing both frozen, live, as well as dried and flaked foods for balanced nutrients.

They will literally eat anything you give them. So, you don’t need to worry. 


Black Widow Tetra Breeding guidelines



The key to breeding black widow tetra is to maintain a good water temperature of 78 to 80 degrees. Install Java moss or other tall plants for the spawning spots.

During the spawning, males will protect the area. When you see the eggs, remove the parents from the tank since they will eat the eggs.


Eggs will hatch in around 24 hours. Feed them with brine shrimp and flake foods. They will reach maturity by year two.