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Black Darter Tetra

Scientific Name: Poecilocharax weitzmani
Family: Crenuchidae, Sub-Family Crenuchinae

About the Black Darter Tetra

Species Type: Freshwater Fish
Category: Characins

Care Level: DifficultThis fish may have multiple properties that make a fish moderately difficult to care for and is therefore only recommended to experienced fishkeepers who have had success in dealing with species that may have particular care requirements.

Origin: Upper Solimoes basin, upper Rio Negro basin, upper Rio Orinoco basin in Brazil, Peru, Columbia, and Venezuela. Inhabits very quiet streams and creeks among vegetation and sunken branches and roots.

Compatibility/Temperament: Very peaceful, quiet and shy. Should be kept in a group, and only with very sedate fish such as pencilfish, hatchetfish, small tetras, Corydoras and small catfish like Farlowella make excellent companions. Also good in a small single-species tank.


One of the most beautiful aquarium fish, easily a rival to the cardinal tetra in colour. It is worth the extra care it demands. Although not a shoaling fish like most of the tetras, it is more settled and less stressed when it can interact with others in a group. Fish will take up residence in their individual spot, under or beside a piece of bogwood or rock or under plants, and may remain hidden except at feeding time until they are accustomed to their environment.

Water quality and parameters are of paramount importance for the long-term health of this species. They cannot tolerate hard water, much like Paracheirodon axelrodi (cardinal tetra) with whom they share many of their habitats. Subdued lighting, partly achieved with floating plants, brings out the true sparkle in the male's colouring; the scales forming the black longitudinal band have neon-blue centres that Dr. Jacques Gery described as shining out like portholes along a liner in the darkness.

Males will frequently display to each other in a manner identical to the rosy tetra clade (Black Phantom, Rosy Tetra, etc.). Males are the brightly coloured fish with flag-like dorsal fins; females are quite plain, resembling cherry barbs. In the accompanying photos, the male is in the left photo and the female is in the right photo. Spawning is possible but not easy; the female practices brood care.

The fish is very quiet and subdued, and active tankmates especially during feeding will cause the fish to hide and not feed. If is essential to direct the food toward the individual fish, as the approach of other fish will cause it to flee and not eat. It is best suited to a species tank, which can be as small as 5 gallons well-planted for a group of 5-6 of these beautiful fish.

This species was described and named in 1965 by Gery in honour of Dr. Stanley Weitzman. The Sub-Family (Crenuchinae) was previously within the Family Characidae but has been moved to this new Family Crenuchidae; there are only three species in two genera in the Sub-Family. The Sub-Family Characidiinae is also in this Family, with 71 species in 10 genera and includes the Characidium species.

Black Darter Tetra Diet

Live foods are almost mandatory, though the fish can usually be coaxed over time to accept frozen bloodworms. Will not eat food that is not moving, i.e., slowly dropping in the water.


Less than 2 inches (4 cm).

Minimum Tank Suggestion

12 inches in length.

Ideal water parameters for Black Darter Tetra

Soft (hardness no more than 5 dGH) acidic (pH 5 to 6.5) water, temperature 24-28C/75-82F. All fish will be wild caught, and will not live long in water that is not within the stated parameter ranges.

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Black Darter Tetra 1
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Black Darter Tetra 2

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