Gold Tetra: Natural Care Guide, Breeding, Tank Size & Diseases

The Gold Tetra is one of the cutest characins. It has a golden hue on its silver-based skin, small in diameter, but moves usually in groups of 5 or more, which is a sight to see in any aquarium or natural habitat. It gets the golden hue from ‘guanin’, a natural process of secretion in its skin to protect itself from some parasites, because the gold tetra has natural predisposition to contract the trematode parasite.

For the fish keepers, the Gold Tetra is not easy to acquire as other tetras like the Neon Tetra, Cardinal Tetra, Diamond Tetra etc., but if you manage to come by some, they will serve as a sparkling extension to your aquatic community. You will need a larger fish tank, since they live in groups, preferably a 20 gallon tank. Choose the décor carefully because the gold tetra needs open-space to swim and don’t like brightness that much, so decorate on the sides of the tank and use some floating plants or decorations that can dim the lights in the aquarium.

The Gold Tetra may not be as easy to breed as other fish, because most of the offspring don’t have their characteristic golden hue. This is probably so, because ‘guanin’ is a natural defense mechanism against parasites that are found only in their natural habitat and not in a home aquarium. So don’t expect to find Gold Tetra in every pet shop like many popular pet fish.

Gold Tetra: A Quick Overview

Gold tetras are small, colorful freshwater fish native to Vietnam and China. Gold tetras have a lifespan of about 5 years and are relatively easy to care for. Their bright gold color and peaceful nature makes them a popular choice for aquariums. They also function well in a community tank set up with other peace loving fish species.

A little history about Gold Tetra

The Gold Tetra was first discovered and described in the year of 1909 by Marion Durbin Ellis. They can be found in the coast of South America, manly coastal floodplains.

This type of tetra is not found on the ‘Red List’ by IUCN.

Appearance of Gold Tetra

Gold Tetra

The Gold Tetra can grow to approximately 1 ½ inches or 4 cm in captivity with a lifespan from 3 to 5 years. The skin coloration depends if the Gold Tetra is bred in a home aquarium or found in wilderness. The tail fin is red on top and has a black spot in the middle, while the dorsal fins are golden with white specks on the tips. The wild-caught tetras have the obvious golden hue due to the secretion of ‘guanin’ to protect itself from parasites. In captivity, the gold hue won’t be secreted in deficit of the parasites, so the coloration of the fish in that environment is plain silver.

What to expect when keeping them?

The Gold Tetra is a tad difficult to keep, mainly because that this particular fish is vulnerable to diseases, contract parasitizes, and becomes distressed if the water that they are being kept in changes in any way. This is because they are wild-caught most of time and cannot adapt to an unnatural habitat easily.

They are recommended for aquarists with moderate fishkeeping experience.

Feeding Gold Tetra

The Gold Tetras are omnivorous, so they eat various kinds of food from animal and plant origin. If you want to maintain a healthy diet for them, you should feed them with high-quality food in continuity. You can feed them brine shrimp or maybe even blood worms from time to time, just so you can enrich their diet. When feeding them, stay close to oversee them for the first few minutes so you can remove anything that is excess in the tank. Keep in mind that they will overeat if you let them.

Feeding Gold Tetra

Behavior And Temperament Of Gold Tetra

As per the experts, gold tetra fishes are quite shy as well as peaceful. Some experts also suggest they are not aggressive. What’s more? These fishes are slow swimmers, and they can be easily beaten to food. If you are planning to keep them, then you need to make sure that you are offering them enough food. 

Your gold tetra can get anxious when they see a lot of activities around them. Besides, they don’t like loud noises. So, choose a perfect location to place your aquarium. Do you know gold tetras are also called X-Ray tetras? Why? Well, this is because of their unique bone structure. 

They can easily pick up sound waves through the bone structure. That’s why their hearing capacity is more than other fishes. If you have a community aquarium, they can easily live for around three to four years. In a wild environment, their lifespan can range up to five years.

Gold Tetra Fish Tank Maintenance

To take good care of the Gold Tetra you don’t have to do nothing exceptional. Like all other fish, they require their water to be kept clean. All aquariums require maintenance, no matter the size of it. In all of them, organic matter decomposes so the hardness of the water increases because of the evaporation. To achieve a stable living environment, the water has to be replaced routinely, more so if the fish tank is overpopulated. Make your routine of changing the water every second week, replacing at most half of the tanks water.

Gold Tetra Fish Tank Maintenance

Setting up Your Aquarium

The Gold Tetra are best suited with groups of 5 and more, if that is the case, they will require a large aquarium, preferably a 20 gallon. The Gold Tetra are comfortable with dim lighting and filtered water with peat. You can copy/simulate their natural habitat from whence they came, by adding a bag of peat that is safe for the aquarium. Diming the lighting can be achieved by placing plants or décor that floats.

A natural-like setup would be ideal for the Gold Tetra environment. River sand as a substrate and some twisted roots accompanied by some driftwood would be the perfect hiding places for them. You can also use some common beach that is bark-free and dried as an alternative to the driftwood branches. To give the water some natural feel, you can put in some dried leaves, but remember to replace them when you change the water every second week.

Breeding Gold Tetra

The Gold tetra are egg-laying fish. They can be successfully bred in home conditions, but don’t be surprised if they don’t have the characteristic golden hue when they are born, since the coloration is a natural defense mechanism against certain parasites in their natural habitat. You will need a separate tank for breeding (10 gallons), and it is best to group them 6 x 6 (males x females). Feed them with live food, and nature will take its course. The females lay their eggs on plants or green floss, so remember to prepare the aquarium accordingly.

The water needs to be soft, with a pH value of 6.0 and the temperature should be set around 80° F. Filter the water in the breeding tank as you do in their living aquarium.

After spawning, take the parents out of the breeding tank. You will notice the eggs hatching in the first 24 hours. The fry start swimming after 3 days. In the beginning, give the fry infusoria food, until they start eating micro worms and brine shrimp. Gold Tetra fry are light-sensitive, so keep the tank as dark as possible.

Common Diseases And Their Treatment

You should keep in mind that your gold tetra fish is prone to developing fungus and ick if you are not keeping the tank water clean. And you should remember that anything you do or add to the tank can lead your fish to disease. So, not just other breeds, but decorations, substrate, and plants can also harbor bacteria.

Common Diseases And Their Treatment for Gold Tetra

On the other hand, they are also carriers of some major opportunistic infections that one can see in any aquarium setting. So, you should always remain prepared to check and treat different illnesses. So, let’s talk about some common gold tetra diseases and how to treat them. 

Tail And Fin Rot

This is very common among fishes living in an aquarium setting. This disease begins with the fin’s edge, and then it slowly affects the entire fin. Betta fish, as well as goldfish, are vulnerable to fin and tail rot disease. Your tetra can suffer from this due to the poor water quality of your tank. 


  • The most noticeable symptom is fin’s de-coloration. 
  • Sometimes fraying of the tail and fin can also be noticed in your fish.
  • Your fish will not eat properly, and they will lose their appetite gradually.  

If you don’t treat this condition as soon as possible, this can affect the entire body. Well, here are some treatment options that you can try. 


  • If you notice any symptom, move the fish to a hospital tank, separating it from others. 
  • Change the tank’s water immediately, and after adding new water, don’t forget to add antibiotics created for fish. 
  • If necessary, to soothe your fish, you can also add aquarium salt. 
  • Every alternative day, you should change around 20 to 30 percent of water. 


This rare symptom disease is generally caused by Flavobacterium columnare, a dangerous bacterium that can increase the fatality rate. To treat this, you need to follow proper tank management, and you will also have to use fish antibiotics. 

Symptoms To Consider

  • You can see ulcers on the body. 
  • There will be visible cloudy as well as white patches around the gills area. 
  • The gill infection will make your fish to bread rapidly. You can also see some change in gill’s color. 


  • To the tank water, you can add some fish antibiotics, for example, furan, acriflavine, copper sulfate, and more. 
  • Besides, based on the condition, the fish keepers can also add Terramycin to the fish food. This would help in treating your internal infections. 
  • To lower the stress level, you can add one to two tablespoons of salt per one gallon of water. 

Hemorrhagic Septicemia

Piscine Novirhabdovirus is the major reason behind this deadly disease. Around 50 different species of freshwater fish get affected by this disease. 


  • As this is an internal type of disease. As a result, it will be challenging for you to identify the external symptoms. However, sometimes, you can see some symptoms, such as reddish fins, gills, eyes, bloated abdomen, and more. 
  • You may find your fish swimming abnormally. 


  • You should clean the water as soon as possible if you notice any of these symptoms. 
  • As it spreads slowly, you can make the tank environment stress-free so that your fish can cause recovery properly. 


It happens when fluid builds up inside your fish body. As a result, it may cause swollen bellies. This condition is also called bloating. Well, some experts say it is not a fish disease. In fact, dropsy is a symptom of a disease that your fish is going through. The disease can be caused due to a change in water temperature, improper nutrition, aggressive mates, stress, and more. 

Some Symptoms To Lookout

  • Your fish will not eat properly. 
  • The tetra may develop a swollen belly. 
  • In some cases, you can see the curved spine of the fish. 
  • Pale gills and swollen or red anus. 
  • Your fish will begin to swim near the surface. 


  • First, you should separate your fish and keep it in a quarantine tank.
  • Then you need to add a few spoons of salt to the water, a fish antibiotic.
  • Add antibiotics to food in order to treat the infected gold tetra fish. 


Well, this is not exactly a disease. It happens when fluid builds up in or behind the eye. If your gold tetra has this disease, the eyes will be cloudy, and sometimes it may look very clear. 

Some Symptoms Of Pop-Eye

  • Swelling in one eye or both eyes can be seen.
  • Visible cloudy eyes. 


  • Transfer your infected fish to quarantine tanks and apply the salt-treatment method. 
  • Make sure the water temperature is perfect, and don’t forget to check the ammonia nitrate and pH value of the water every day. 
  • If it happens due to any parasites, then apply the required antibiotics. 
  • Always feed your tetra fish quality foods to strengthen their immune system. 

Cloud Eyes 

Your fish can develop a cloudy eye for different reasons. Some common reasons are stress, malnutrition, parasites, or old age. 


  • Your fish eyes will appear cloudy with whiteness. The fish may also lose vision. 


  • Treat the water immediately and add aquarium salts. 
  • Don’t forget to maintain the water parameter in the quarantine tank. 
  • You can also use different tools to monitor the parameters. 

Mouth Fungus

Also known as mouth rot, this is one type of bacterial infection. The bacteria feed on your dead fish, fish poop, and food remains.


  • You can see cotton patches or mold near the mouth. 
  • White spots on gills, fins, and other places. 


  • You can use different antibiotics, such as kanamycin, that work better in treating mouth fungus. 
  • Besides, you can also go for different antibacterial medications, for example, phenoxyethanol.  


Freshwater HITH- Head and Lateral Line Erosion generally affects freshwater fish. This disease can affect both salt and freshwater fish. It is caused by Hexamita, a parasite. First, it will affect the intestine, kidney, and then liver. 


  • Loss of appetite and illness


  • Add antibiotic to the fish tank.
  • Offer sufficient nutrition. 

Is Gold Tetra Right For You?

If you are planning to create a community aquarium, gold tetras can be a perfect choice for you. You need to take good care of your fish, and they are survivors. Keep the aquarium tank’s water clean, and you can easily raise your little gold tetra. If you don’t have enough time for this, don’t go for it. 


How Big Do Gold Tetras Grow?

Before buying a gold tetra for your aquarium, it will be better for you to know how fast and long the fish can grow, and based on that, you should choose the tank size. As per different studies, a healthy gold tetra can attain a length of up to two inches. Besides, it will be best for you to keep in the school of five to six, per ten gallons. As a starter fish, the goldfish can be a perfect option for beginners.

Furthermore, the size of male gold tetra will be different from the size of a female gold tetra. In general, female gold tetras are bigger than males and come with a rounded belly. In the case of males, you will find a flat belly. 

On the other hand, a male gold tetra will have vibrant color, and their fins will be longer than others. Talking about their lifespan, it can vary between five to eight years. So, you can easily identify older tetras as they will look a bit longer and heavier. 

Are Gold Tetras Aggressive?

Well, gold tetras are very active, and they come under the category of semi-aggressive fin nippers. That’s why experts suggest always keeping them in a community aquarium with the same size or large fish. However, as they age, they will become more sedentary. If you want to lower fin nipping among them, keep your gold tetra in a group of five to 6 gold tetras. 

Are Gold Tetras Easy To Take Care Of?

While some suggest the gold tetras require special care, some say they are good for beginners as they don’t need special care. However, the fact is you should take good care of your tetra as they are more prone to skin disease. Besides, compared to others, their immunity level is also low. 

As a result, a tiny change in the aquarium’s water leads your fish into stress and can even lead to fatality. Considering all these things, it can be said that gold tetras are ideal for experience fees keepers. But beginners who can understand their care instructions can go for this. Remember that gold tetras can get sick very frequently. So, ensure a constant water parameter for your fish. 

How Many Gold Tetras Should Be Kept Together?

The expert fish keepers say gold tetras prefer to live in a group of six in a tank. This is an ideal number for a tank with a 20-gallon water capacity. Furthermore, they go well with peaceful community-type fishes. You should not keep them with large or high-energy fishes that may lead to stress. For example, don’t keep them with angelfish or cichlids. 

Can You Mix Gold Tetras With Other Tetras?

Yes, you can keep different types of tetras in a tank. However, make sure that there are enough species of every group to create different schools. One school will include a particular type of tetra, and they will live better if the school include sufficient member. If your aquarium capacity is 10 gallons, then the number should cross more than 6. This is perfect for most species of tetras.

A little fun fact

They also call this fish the X-Ray Tetra! Because the gold tetra has a bone structure that is unique called Weberian Apparatus. This unique bone structure is used to pick up sound waves, which help it to have an extremely acute sense of hearing.


The detailed article on gold tetras includes all the crucial information. Before you move out and visit straight to your local store to buy a gold tetra fish, prefer to consider the information mentioned here. 

Having at least this much knowledge can offer some benefits over the other hobbyist. You will be able to understand what you are buying and how to create a perfect and comfortable living space for your little tetra.

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