Originating  primarily in the South American Region and East Africa, very easy to care for. The tetras are a great addition to your aquarium. These fish are gentle creatures who do not tear down plants in your aquarium and they prefer a lot of plants around them. You will also have to install a quality water filter as these little guys are active and fast swimmers. There are 96  known species and sub species of tetra fish including cardinal tetra, neon tetra, black neon tetra, black tetra, blue tetra, red tetra (flame tetra), green neon tetra, xray tetra (pristella tetra), ruby tetra, rainbow tetra, ember tetra, lemon tetra, diamond tetra, emperor tetra, congo tetra, silver dollar tetra, diamond tetra, bloodfin tetra, vampire tetra, rummy nose tetra, buenos aires tetra, penguin tetra, serpae tetra, phantom tetra, bleeding heart tetra, rosy tetra, blind cave tetra are very popular among fish keepers out there. Most of them are peaceful  and mix well with other fish types except for a few fiery ones like the red tetras and black skirt tetras.

I’ve put together this article in order to name the 8 most suitable tetra fish for a community fish tank not only considering their peaceful temperament but also other characteristics such as appearance and sturdiness. So without further adieu let’s begin the list with one of the magnificent fish out there, the emperor tetras.

1. Emperor Tetras

emperor tetra

Known for their breath-taking coloring and studiness, emperor tetras have a very peaceful temperament that make them ideal tank mates. They are native to waterways in Colombia. Breaking in to the fishkeeping scene during the early 1960’s, emperor tetras are one of the oldest pet fish in the industry. Bright purple color in their bodies rightfully earned them the name “The Emperor” (the females of the emperor tetras have a dull purple color bordering grey color though). They grow up to 1.5 inches (~4 cm) only and need minimal attention. They prefer pH level of 6.5, temperatures ranging from 73 to 80 °F (approx. 23 to 27 °C), water hardness of 3 – 6 dKH.

2. Cardinal Tetras (Red Neon Tetras)

cardinal tetra

Although a bit difficult to breed in captivity nevertheless cardinal tetras are great tank mates to your other fish. Recorded history in fishkeeping put them back as far as mid 1950’s. They grow up to 2 inches (~5 cm). Prefer pH levels between 4.5 – 6.5 and temperatures ranging from 73 to 81 °F (approx. 23 to 27 °C).

3. Neon Tetras

neon tetra

Mistaken for their brethren cardinal tetras by even veteran fishkeepers. The neon tetras are also the most popular tetra species among the aquarists world over. Their history recorded back to 1936. Their only downside is they are occasionally prone to get infected with the pleistophora or neon tetra disease as it is widely known due to obvious reasons. Neon tetras prefer pH levels 4 – 7.5 and temperatures from 68 to 82 °F (approx. 22 to 28 °C). They grow up to 1.5 inches (~4 cm). Actually a healthy one grows typically up to 2.5 inches (~6 cm) long, but its average length is 1.5 inches, though females have a comparatively shorter length than the males.

4. Bleeding Heart Tetra

bleeding heart tetra

Also known as the red tipped tetra these active and beautiful creatures have the ability to become one of the main attractions in your aquarium. They are native to Amazon River Basin. A bit shy by nature they only display their colors only when they feel secure. They prefer pH levels between 6.5 –  7.5 and temperature level between 72 – 80 °F (approx. 23 to 27 °C).

5. Pristella Tetra

pristella tetra

This is a very unique fish. Due to it’s translucent body it is also called the x-ray tetra. They first appear in recorded history as far back as 1895. They have excellent hearing abilities and they are masters of disguise due to their transparent skin. They prefer pH levels between 6 – 7.5 and temperature level ranging from  72 to 82 °F (approx. 22 to 28 °C). Sadly bleeding heart tetras are listed as a species under threat in their natural habitat due to human activities.

6. Ember Tetra

ember tetra

Vivid in appearance these little guys are a great choice for your aquarium.They are playful and friendly and put a stunning display when swimming in a school. They were first discovered as recently as 1987. Although they are very easy to care for like other tetras make sure to feed them properly as they spent their time in the middle layer of the tank. They grow up to 0.8 inches (2 cm). They prefer pH levels between 5.5 – 7 and temperature levels ranging from 68 – 82 °F (approx. 20 to 28 °C).

7. Congo Tetra

congo tetra

This is one of the very few Tetras that is originated outside of South America. Native to Congo River they are a mix of blue, red, green and yellow. They are larger than most other tetras. They grow up to 3 inches (~8 cm). They require large aquariums. Any aquarium less than 30 gallons deem unsuitable for congo tetras. They are easily frightened by loud noises so be mindful when choosing the space you keep your Aquarium. Also that space has to be dimly lit. They prefer pH levels 6 – 6.5 and temperature levels between 75 – 81 °F (approx. 24 to 27 °C).

8. Coral Red Pencil Fish

coral red pencilfish

This is another looker in the tetra family. Friendly, peaceful and active they are a great addition to your aquarium. Reaching up to 1.2 inches (3 cm) they should be kept in a school of at least 8 fish. They become stressed more easily so be mindful when choosing their other tank mates. They can be easily intimidated by large fish species even those species are peaceful in nature. They prefer pH levels between 5.8 – 7.0 and temperatures ranging from 72 to 82 °F (approx. 2 to 28 °C).


Heavily Stocked, Heavily Planted Tetra Fish Tank (video)