Breeding Tetra Fish

Watching a large shoal of cardinal tetras is an enchanting experience
Large shoal of cardinal tetras

Breeding tetras

Breeding tetras is more difficult than breeding live bearers or cichlids. However, Some tetras are easier to breed than others. Here will be presented a guide on how to breed tetras in general with links to further guides on how to breed specific species.

Three things to consider when breeding tetras:

1) Feeding healthy and nutritious food

2) Keeping the water clean and bacteria free

3) Maintaining the right chemical condition of the water

breeding tetras

The best balance in feeding tetras is combining a good quality dry fish food with a variety of live food. The dry fish food will have a variety of vitamins and minerals provided by the manufacturer. The live food will provide vital proteins and other fresh nutrients.

Keeping the water clean is achieved by using a sponge filter and a box filter with peat and another filter media in it. Frequent water changes 5% every day.The right chemical conditions can be maintained by using rain water with peat in a box filter. Test the water conditions with a test kit. If tap water and use of peat can bring the water to a near enough ph and hardness then use tap water.If you have hard water and you don’t have access to rain water then use a reverse osmosis kit to soften the water.

You need to buy 5 or 6 healthy young fish and look after them well, until they mature. Always buy aquarium bred fish as these are easier to keep and breed than wild imports.

Telling males from females can be quite difficult in most species of tetra. Careful observation of your tetras can give you clues. Generally the female is slightly plumper around the abdomen and maybe larger overall. Occasionally you will see a male chasing a female this is a sure sign of a male and female. Males tend to have slightly longer fins and be more colourful.

breeding tetra fish tank setupSetting up a breeding tank is vital in obtaining a larger number of fry. Use rain water or water softened with a reverse osmosis kit. Acidify the water with some preboiled sphagnum peat moss. Prepare an excess of water for later water changes. The water must be a ph of about 6.0 and a temperature of 78F. A sponge filter is vital to keep the tank clean. At the bottom of the tank place a plastic tray with holes big enough for the eggs to fall through but too small for the adults to swim into. Place a fine leaved plant or some java moss.

When you see a male and a female chasing each other then put them into the breeding tank, making sure the water conditions are similar. Darken up the tank by covering with a dark towel and keep an eye on them. Keep feeding them live food at this time until they spawn. When possible feed grindal worms, white worms, blackworms and daphnia. These are excellent for bringing fish into spawning condition. When they are ready, every morning allow some low level light into the tank to encourage them to spawn. Also you could try a 25% fresh water change with water a few degrees cooler.

At this point start your first batch of infusoria. Everyday create a new batch. You should have four jars of infusoria going. Use one jar a day. As one jar is finished start a new culture every day.

Creating infusoria

various types of infusoriaWithout introducing much light, observe the fish spawning. The male starts by dancing around the female. When the fish finish spawning remove them immediately as they will eat each and every egg they can find. Also change some of the water in the tank to remove waste matter from the adults in the tank. Completely darken the tank for 2 days. Tetra eggs are light sensitive. Light will kill the eggs.

When the fry become free swimming it is time to start to feed with infusoria. The jar should be placed in the breeding tank for the temperature to equalise. Feed five times a day.

When the fry become larger they can be weaned onto microworms and baby brineshrimp. Overlap the use of infusoria with the larger foods. At this point they should be moved to larger tanks with the same water. When the fry outgrow baby brine shrimp then they are ready to be fed adult foods.

How to culture microworms
Micro worms are an excellent live food for fish fry and are very easy to raise. Micro Worms are white in colour and grow up to 3mm in length.
Micro worms are easy to see you can see a shimmering on the surface of the culture media. Micro worms are a good first food for bigger fry, or as a second food for smaller fry

Brine shrimpHow to culture Brine Shrimp
Brine shrimp are a great live food source for tropical fish, especially if you are breeding fish and want to raise healthy fish spawn. They are also great for varying the diet of smaller tropical fish species.Brine shrimp generally come in small plastic containers. Some brine shrimp guides will tell you to keep these in the fridge, but this is not necessary. So long as the container is kept sealed so that moisture cannot enter and glue the eggs together, brine shrimp eggs can be kept at room temperature.

Six of the easiest tetras to breed

Pristella_tetraPristella Tetra

This is probably the easiest tetra to breed and raise young. This is the recommended species for the beginner.



glowlight_tetraGlowlight Tetra

Buy aquarium bred fish and you should have no problem breeding this species. Being a medium sized fish, the fry grow quickly and are quite hardy.



female emperor tetraEmperor Tetra

Emperor tetras spawn easily as a pair, Being quite large, the fry are fast growers. Juveniles take six months to grow into adults.




several ember tetrasEmber Tetra

These are easy to breed but need more work to raise the young. The females are rounder bellied than the males. The eggs are non-adhesive and not light sensitive. Being a small fish, the fry grow slowly so will need infusoria feeding for longer. They are quite tolerant of water conditions, (even tap water).



black phantom tetraBlack Phantom Tetra

Again easy to breed but more work is needed in raising the fry. The fry start very small so will need infusoria for longer but they do grow quickly.




black line tetra or black neon tetraBlack line tetra

This is a medium sized tetra that is easy to breed in the correct water, slightly acidic and soft. They only require infusoria for a couple of weeks.


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