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Family: Characidae, Hemigrammus Clade

Common Name: Black Neon Tetra

Origin and Habitat: Rio Taquari (a tributary of the Rio Paraguay) in Mato Grosso, southern Brazil.

Compatibility/Temperament: Very peaceful, must be kept in a group minimum six but preferably more.

Black Neon Tetra Diet

Omnivorous, it accepts prepared foods including flake and frozen.


Grows to 1.5 inches.

Minimum Tank Suggestion

24 inches in length

Water parameters for Black Neon Tetra

Soft (hardness to 15 but preferably 6 dGH) acidic to slightly basic (pH to 7.5 but preferably below 7) water, temperature 23-27C/73-81F.


In spite of the misleading common name, this species is not related to the neon tetra group. The pale green lateral line extends from the gill cover straight to the caudal peduncle (base of the caudal or tail fin); below is a black border that gradually fades towards the belly. The upper part of the iris is bright red with a lower border of yellow.

It will take on its darkest colouration in a well-planted aquarium with a dark substrate and slightly acidic and soft water, and shaded by floating plants. It remains in the upper half of the water column. Suitable tankmates are other characins, dwarf cichlids, rasbora, danios, most common gourami, and small catfish and loaches.

Females are rounder than males. This species is relatively easy to spawn with typical tetra methods; eggs are scattered in fine leaf vegetation, and will be eaten by the adults if not removed. Almost all available fish are now commercially raised.

The species was named in 1961 by Dr. Jacques Gery in honour of Dr. Herbert R. Axelrod.

The genus Hyphessobrycon--the name from the Greek hyphesson [believed to mean "slightly smaller"] and brycon [=to bite]--was erected by C.H. Durbin in 1908 and presently contains more than 100 valid species. The classification is deemed incertae sedis [Latin, "of uncertain placement"]. It was formerly considered within the subfamily Tetragonopterinae, but Javonillo (2010) suggest that this subfamily should be restricted to species within the genus Tetragonopterus since they do not share physiological characteristics with species in other genera such as Hyphessobrycon.

Authors that have recently studied the systematics of the genus Hyphessobrycon have unanimously pointed out that the group is not well defined and its monophyly is yet uncertain. [A monophyletic genus is one wherein the species share a common ancestor, thus linking them together physiologically.] Mirande (2009) for example has proposed several revisions to the family Characidae based upon phylogenetic diagnosis. Some genera have been moved to a new subfamily, while others are now (temporarily) assigned to a specific clade within the family pending further study. The recognition of groups of species [clades] within Hyphessobrycon is based primarily on similarities of color patterns; an hypothesis of its intra-relationships is currently unavailable, except for the rosy tetra clade proposed as monophyletic by Weitzman & Palmer (1997).

Hyphessobrycon has until recently been differentiated from Hemigrammus solely on the basis of the fish in Hemigrammus possessing a scaled caudal fin; this however is now known to be unreliable, since it occurs in intermediate conditions (de Lucina, 2003).


de Lucena, Carlos Alberto Santos (2003), "A new characid fish, Hyphessobrycon scutulatus, from the Rio Teles Pires drainage, upper Rio Tapajos system (Ostariophysi: Characiformes: Characidae)," Neotropical Ichthyology 1 (2), pp. 93-96.

Javonillo, Robert, Luiz R. Malabarba, Stanley H. Weitzman and John R. Burns (2010), "Relationships among major lineages of characid fishes (Teleostei: Ostariophysi: Characiformes), based on molecular sequence data," Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, Vol. 54, No. 2 (February 2010).

Mirande, J. Marcos (2009), "Weighted parsimony phylogeny of the family Characidae (Teleostei: Characiformes)," Cladistics, Vol. 25, No. 6 (July 2009).

Weitzman, Stanley H. & Lisa Palmer (1997), "A new species of Hyphessobrycon (Teleostei: Characidae) from the Neblina region of Venezuela and Brazil, with comments on the putative 'rosy tetra clade'," Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters volume 7 (no. 3), pp. 209-242.

Contributing Members

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