Black Skirt Tetra: Care Guide, Breeding, and Tank Size

Black Skirt Tetra: Overview 

The Black Skirt Tetra is a freshwater fish species. 

They have a fascinating appearance that sets them distinct from other fish in your tank. Plus, they’re also super easy to care for. As a result, they are a great species for aquarists of all ability levels! They go by a variety of names. Black Widow Tetra, Petticoat Tetra, and Blackamoor are among them. 

In captivity, a Black Skirt Tetra is pretty easy to care for. They do, however, need your constant attention to remain healthy.

This tutorial will teach you all you need to know about taking care of your Black Skirt Tetra.

Information Chart Black Skirt Tetra
Scientific Name: Gymnocorymbus ternetzi
Family: Characidae
Care Level: Easy
Temperament: Peaceful, non-aggressive
Color: Grayish-silver and black
Lifespan: 3-5 years
Size: 3 inches
Diet: Omnivore
Minimum Tank Size: 15-20 gallons
Temperature: 70-85° Fahrenheit


6.8-7.0 pH, 4.0-8.0 KH hardness
Tank Mate Compatibility
  • Cardinal Tetras
  • Black Neon Tetras
  • Neon Tetras
  • Raboras
  • Danios
  • Dwarf Cichlids

Black Skirt Tetra Appearance

The tetragonal shape of Black Skirt Tetras is pretty famous. At the front of the torso, they’re noticeably taller. The fish’s back end, on the other hand, tapers quite a bit to the tail. This appearance is characteristic of the Characidae family. Most fish in this family have a similar shape and are recognizable easily. 

Black Skirt Tetra

Another feature that sets this fish apart is the shape of its fin. The fin shapes of these fish are highly different. The tailfin has a forked form and is pretty slender. The dorsal fin ends in a squarish shape and is very tiny. You’ll also see a spectacular anal fin on the bottom of the fish. The anal fin runs from the center of the body to the end of the tail. It gets thicker as it gets closer to the fish’s belly, giving it a truly unique shape.

So if you’re ever on the lookout for distinct features of this fish, watch out for the fins! 

The color of the fins of a Black Skirt Tetra is usually either deep gray or black. They have a transparent appearance and trim lines. The rays aren’t as solid or pointed as those found on other fish species. However, you can see them if you look very closely.

The body of a Black Skirt Tetra is usually a beautiful grayish silver. A stunning metallic or iridescent finish to their scales makes them an attractive species to have in your tank. The head is lighter and more reflecting than the rest of the body, and it’s translucent. The gradient effect on the color gives the fish its unique moniker.

Around the center part of the fish’s body, its color starts getting darker. The silver-gray tone gradually fades to a blacker tone. On the front part of the body, there are two noticeable black stripes. They run vertically and look great with the gradient.

Lifespan of a Black Skirt Tetra 

The typical lifespan of a Black Skirt Tetra is around 3 to 5 years in captivity. A few reports of these fish living beyond their typical lifespan, but that is not the norm or common case.

Poor water quality and an unappealing environment can cause significant harm to this fish species. You must maintain the tank and give a stress-free environment for your fish to live a long, healthy, and happy life.

Black Skirt Tetra Size

Typically, the typical Black Skirt Tetra grows to about 2 inches (5 centimeters) on the lower end and around 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) for larger specimens. These fish might grow to be smaller than 3 inches if they were neglected before you obtained them. It could also be due to weak genes. All you can do is give them the greatest possible care and hope that they grow large and healthy!

Natural Habitat and Origin

Typically, you can find these fish in a variety of South American bodies of water. For example, they can be found across the Paraguay River Basin, Brazil, and possibly Argentina. They thrive in freshwater bodies. Specifically, they are native to the Paraguay and Guapore Rivers of southern Brazil, Argentina, and Bolivia.

The Black Skirt Tetra’s scientific name is Gymnocorymbus ternetzi. It belongs to the Characidae family. The taxonomical order of this fish is Characiformes

Black Skirt Tetra Care & Tank Set-Up

This fish is a wonderful addition to absolutely any tank. However, to keep this fish healthy and happy, here are some tips and tricks for you regarding its care and surroundings. Let’s take a look! 

Black Skirt Tetra Tank Size and Specifications

For every fish, you must follow certain specifications. If you stray too far away from the proper care guidelines for the Black Skirt Tetra, they could end up with illnesses or a short life. But, don’t worry, we’ve got you! Let’s run through all these specifications so you can have a beautiful school of Black Skirt Tetras.

Optimum Tank Size for Black Skirt Tetra

The recommended tank size for Black Skirt Tetra is 15-20 gallons. This should be sufficient for a small group of fish to swim without difficulty. If at all possible, go for a 20-gallon tank to be safe.

Larger tanks are always best if you plan on keeping a large group of Black Skirt Tetras. It will also help if you are constructing a community tank with lots of species. Because these fish are active swimmers, you’ll need lots of room to avoid congestion.

Black Skirt Tetra Care & Tank Set-Up

All you need to do is make sure that each fish has plenty of room for zoomies!

Tank Shape for Black Skirt Tetra

These fish just need lots of room to swim around. So the shape of your tank isn’t as important as its size. Once you ensure that the tank is big enough, you can pick any shape. A standard rectangular tank will do just the trick. 

Filter Type

The best way to keep your fish happy is by imitating the conditions of their natural habitat. To take care of your Black Skirt Tetra, make sure you have a filter that can do so. 

Make sure your filter can keep the nitrate and ammonia levels in your tank pretty low. This type of water is best suited to the Black Skirt Tetra. You’ll need a fairly powerful filter, like a sump-style or a canister filter. 


Use darker river gravel as a substrate with some dried leaves on top to achieve the natural brown color reflection in the water for the greatest representation of its original environment. However, you should renew leaves every few weeks. You can even use dark gravel, such as ADA AquaSoil, to mimic this environment. 

How many Black Skirt Tetra can live in a 15-gallon tank?

If you have full-grown adult Black Skirt Tetra, you can comfortably place around 6 of them in a 15-gallon tank. That makes it easy for all of them to swim around. This small school will have plenty of room to play around in, and all of them will have enough space to explore. 

Water Parameters for Black Skirt Tetra

When you expose Black Skirt Tetras to poor water quality, their stress levels rise, leaving them more vulnerable to disease. Black Skirt Tetras are extremely sensitive to both water quality and sanitation.

The waters of the Black Skirt Tetra’s original environment, the rivers of South America, are warm and slightly acidic, so you’ll want to replicate those conditions in your home aquarium. They prefer gentle water. 

Also, it would be best if you made a 25-50% water change twice a month.

Don’t worry; we have a handy guide for tank set up and maintenance for all your questions: Click here.

Water Temperature

The ideal water temperature for Black Skirt Tetra is 70°F to 85°F. In Celsius, that is 21 to 29 degrees. 

The best practice is to make sure that the water is square in the middle of this range. Additionally, when you replace the water, make sure it is of the same temperature as before. Sudden fluctuations in temperature can shock freshwater fish, especially smaller ones like the Black Skirt Tetra. 

Although tests show that it can endure a slight temperature decrease, keeping it at the right temperature keeps it warm. Try not to disturb this balance as much as you can. 

Water Flow Rate

The Black Skirt Tetra is comfortable in the rivers of South America. Make sure the water flow in your tank can imitate that. A medium flow is perfect for these fun freshwater fish! You can install a pump to imitate this type of water flow. 

pH Level

The perfect water pH level for Black Skirt Tetras is 6.0 to 7.5. These fish thrive in the slightly acidic waters of South America. The water is warm and just acidic enough for them to have the perfect environment. 

To ensure a balanced pH level, you can get a water testing kit to help you. 

Water Hardness

The water hardness for a Black Skirt Tetra tank can range anywhere between 4 to 8 dKH. Anything above or below this might destabilize your fish. Again, the water testing kit is a great tool to help you out here. 

Black Skirt Tetra Tank Landscape

Black Skirt Tetra Tank Landscape

We always say that if you want to make a fish feel right at home, just make the surroundings as close as possible to their natural habitats. In the case of a Black Fish Tetra, you need to mimic the lush waters of South America. Let’s take a look at the different aquascapes you can have for them. 

Best Plants for Black Skirt Tetra Tanks

Black Skirt Tetras enjoy swimming through and exploring large plants. The fish in the wild eat the vegetation as well. Having a few hardy ones in your tank might provide your fish with a tasty nibble in between feedings.

Black Skirt Tetras prefer to stay in the center of the aquarium. Taller plants will provide areas for the fish to hide without going to the bottom of the tank. 

However, don’t overdo it when it comes to placing plant decor in their tank! The plants should not be too close together.

Check out a guide to planting and propagation in your tank here.

Worst Plants for Black Skirt Tetra Tanks

For the Black Skirt Tetra, freedom to swim around is the best possible thing in a tank. Therefore, you must avoid any dense shrubbery that can restrict their movement. As a general rule of thumb, stay away from leaves or plants with sharp edges since that might hurt the fish who swim a little faster. 

Decorations for Black Skirt Tetra Tanks

Like we mentioned earlier, you can put a few dry leaves at the bottom of a Black Skirt Tetra tank. However, make sure you remember to change them now and then. Settled leaves start rotting, which is not good for the general hygiene of your tank. 

You can add some driftwood as well. These make great hiding spots for whenever the fish are feeling a bit shy or threatened. Additionally, some cave systems would be perfect for your Black Skirt Tetras to hide in whenever they want. 

Lighting for Black Skirt Tetra Tanks

It is best to have subtle, subdued lighting for your Black Skirt Tetras.

Feeding Black Skirt Tetra

Best Diet for Black Skirt Tetra

Black Skirt Tetras eat worms, tiny invertebrates, and insects in their natural habitat. In addition, they will eat modest amounts of algae and plants on occasion.

Feeding Black Skirt Tetra

These tetras aren’t picky eaters, so they’ll eat practically anything you put in front of them in an aquarium.

Here are some popular foods for your fish: 

  • Mosquito Larvae
  • Flakes
  • Daphnia
  • Brine Shrimp
  • Bloodworms
  • Blackworms
  • Frozen Veggies (Occasionally)

How often should you feed Black Skirt Tetras?

The Black Fish Tetra should typically be fed once a day. Make sure you give them enough so they only eat as much as they can in roughly 5 minutes.

Black Skirt Tetra Behaviour and Temperament

Black Skirt Tetras are a laid-back and gentle species. No matter what the scenario is, they will rarely show signs of aggression. The only thing to be cautious of is their behavior around long-finned fish because they tend to nip at them. 

These fish will spend most of their time swimming around the tank. As a species, they are just curious about their surroundings and tankmates.

Is the Black Skirt Tetra lone or societal?

Because this is a schooling species, they tend to keep together and swim with each other throughout the day. Sometimes, they may swim away and do their own thing now and then. But they will always rejoin their school. 

Black Skirt Tetra Tank Mates

Ideal Black Skirt Tetra Tank Mates

Black Skirt Tetras are fin-nipping species that are semi-aggressive toward fish with long fins, such as bettas or angelfish. Otherwise, they are quite peaceful and stick to swimming with their school. 

Black Skirt Tetra Tank Mates

Some good tank mates for this fish are: 

Bad Tank Mates for Black Skirt Tetra

Avoid keeping them with long-finned fish. The Black Skirt Tetra is a peaceful species but might nip at some fishes with long fins. 

Breeding Black Skirt Tetra

An aquarist should be able to distinguish between males and females before beginning the breeding process.

This can be a little tough, but if you focus on the individual body rather than the fins, you’ll find that males are often smaller and more elongated than females, who are fatter and deeper in color than the males. These variations are even more evident during the breeding period when the females appear to be on the verge of exploding.

The Black Skirt Tetra is a free-spawning (egg-spreading) fish with no parental care. Follow some basic steps to ensure a healthy breeding process. 

The first step is to build up a separate spawning aquarium to introduce the males and females later; this will also serve as the breeding tank.

The breeding tank should be 10 to 20 gallons in capacity, depending on how many pairs you want to breed at once. Again, we advise you to keep the temperature a few degrees higher than the original aquarium.

When the couples are transplanted, the water inside should be virgin but mature and thoroughly aerated.

Lay any form of a mesh, grass-like mat, a layer of glass marbles, raised plastic grate, etc., at the bottom of the tank to create a surface that will let the eggs fall through. But it should have small enough holes that the adults won’t reach and consume them once the breeding is finished.

Pairs should be secluded from the rest of the school and from each other seven to ten days before breeding begins and fed liberally on live and frozen foods three times a day.

You should start introducing the females one night before the males when they look more vividly colored, and females are considerably fatter. Then, when the males begin chasing the girls, that’s when you need to start paying attention to them. If the males show signs of overaggression, or if the female rejects or fights the male, you must relocate them to a separate or divided tank.

The female will disperse up to 1,000 eggs throughout the plants and the tank’s bottom if spawning goes properly. Remove both male and female fish from the spawning tank once the eggs have been laid and the milt has been released to avoid the eggs from being eaten.

The eggs will begin to hatch in 24 to 36 hours.

Black Skirt Tetra Breeding Level – Intermediate

Black Skirt Tetra Sexual Dimorphism?

To distinguish between male and female Black Skirt Tetra, we must observe the body size. The males are smaller and thinner. The females are plumper, with deeper colors. 

Black Skirt Tetra Common Diseases and their Treatment

Black Skirt Tetras, like any other freshwater fish, are susceptible to a range of ailments. Let’s look at the most common ones: 


Lethargy, loss of appetite, restless activity, and, most significantly, white spots on the fish’s body are all signs of ich. When you have the right water conditions, this disease will be gone.

Fungal and Bacterial Infections


Fungal and bacterial illnesses are also a concern for Black Skirt Tetras. Dropsy, fin rot, and Fish Fungus are the most prevalent. The majority of these problems can be resolved by changing the quality of the water and utilizing over-the-counter drugs.

Facts about Black Skirt Tetra

  • Black Skirt Tetra are found in South America’s rivers.
  • They are active swimmers and swim all day in schools or shoals.
  • The scientific name for this fish is Gymnocorymbus ternetzi.
  • They are a peaceful schooling species and active swimmers

Black Skirt Tetras

Are Black Skirt Tetra Right For You?

Author’s note: Black Skirt Tetra is great for a beginner aquarist. They are a peaceful species. All you need to do is make enough room for a small school of this fish to swim about in, and they’re good to go. They are not fussy about tankmates either. This fish needs a clean and spacious environment which is very easy to maintain. The Black Skirt Tetra is an excellent fish for any tank, and it’s the right one for you!


Is Black Skirt Tetra aggressive?

No. The Black Skirt Tetra is a very peaceful shoaling fish. They love swimming around in the tank with their species. They get along with any other peaceful fish. 

Where can I buy Black Skirt Tetras?

You can find Black Skirt Tetras at any good pet store or aquarium in your neighborhood.

How many Black Skirt Tetras do I need?

The Black Skirt Tetra is a schooling fish. It does not like to be alone. It is happiest when swimming with others of the same species. For a 15-20 gallon tank, you can comfortably host around 6 fish. 

How long do Black Skirt Tetras Live? 

The average lifespan of a Black Skirt Tetra is around 3-5 years in captivity.


We hope you have enough information about the Black Skirt Tetra now! This peace-loving fish is an active swimmer that loves to dart around in the tank with its mates. You need to keep proper tank conditions as we specified earlier, and you’re good to go.

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