Introduction to The Black Skirt Tetra

The Black Skirt Tetra is a very popular freshwater fish among the aquarium enthusiasts due to their hardiness and personalities. It is also known as Black Tetra, Black Skirt, Black Widow Tetra, Petticoat tetra, High-fin black skirt tetra, etc. It is native to the Paraguay and Guaporé River basins of southern Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia. It inhabits in small slow-flowing creeks, streams and tributaries usually with dense overhanging or floating vegetation. The Black skirt tetra is rather energetic and active fish, it swims in schools and they often attack each other.

Black Skirt Tetra’s Overview

It has an oval shaped and highly laterally compressed body with curved anal fin. It has a silver body color while the fins are mostly black with two or three black vertical bands. First vertical band crosses the fish eye, the second one starts at the opercula endings and the third one starts just below the dorsal fin. The caudal fin is translucent with moderately forked while the dorsal and anal fins are black.  The anal fin that forms a broad skirt and it can vary from black to translucent depending on mood and breeding activity.  The black stripes that tend to lengthen with age. It is omnivorous and in wild it feeds on insects, crustaceans and worms. In captivity it generally eats all kinds of live or frozen foods such as bloodworms, Daphnia, glass worms and Cyclops, fresh foods and flake foods. The fish likes soft and acidic water with pH of   5.8-8.5, hardness of 5° to 20° dGH and temperature of 70.0 to 79.0° F. It can grow up to 7.5 cm in length and it can start breeding when it becomes just 4 cm long. It can live up to 7 years or more with proper care.

Scientific Name: Gymnocorymbus ternetzi

Common Name: Black Tetra, Black Skirt, Black Widow Tetra, Petticoat tetra, High-fin black skirt tetra, etc

Origin: Basins of the Rio Paraguay and Rio Guapore, Bolivia to northern Argentina

Adult Size: 7.5 cm

Behavior:Peaceful

Tank Level: All level of the tank

Minimum Tank Size: 15 gallons

Diet: Omnivore

Breeding: Egg layer

Care level: Easy

Water pH: 5.8-8.5

Water Hardness: 5 – 20 dGH

Water Temperature: 70.0 – 79.0° F

Water Movement: Moderate

Lighting:  Moderate – normal lighting

Lifespan: 6-7 years

Background of Black Skirt Tetra

The Black Tetra (Gymnocorymbus ternetzi) was first described by Boulenger in 1895. It belongs to the family Characidae under order Characiformes of Class Actinopterygii. The genus name (Gymnocorymbus) is derived from Greek ‘gymnos’ meaning naked and Greek ‘korymb’ meaning summit, cluster of fruits and flowers. The species is not listed on the IUCN Red List.

Recommended for Black Skirt Tetra

Feeding Black Skirt Tetra

It is omnivorous and in wild it feeds on insects, crustaceans and worms. In captivity it generally eats all kinds of live or frozen foods such as bloodworms, Daphnia, glass worms and Cyclops, fresh foods, and flake foods. For optimal health, give them a variety of foods that include high quality flake foods, brine shrimp, any type of worms, as well as vegetable supplements such as Spirulina. Feed should be offered 2-3 times a day.

Housing Black Skirt Tetra

The Black Tetra is a very hardy fish and it is great for the beginner fish keeper. They are very active swimmers and it requires at least 15 or more gallons tank with lots of hiding and swimming space. The tank should have some plant cover and a dark gravel substrate which provide natural environment. It is a community fish and tries to keep your Black Tetras in groups of 5 or more. It can be kept with most livebearers, danios, rasboras, other tetras and peaceful bottom dwellers such as Corydoras or smaller Loricariids. It also makes a suitable companion for more robust dwarf cichlids such as kribensis. The fish likes soft and acidic water with pH of   5.8-8.5, hardness of 5° to 20° dGH and temperature of 70.0 – 79.0° F. The tank should be securely covered as this fish is skilled jumper. To keep your fish healthy tank water should be replaced on a regular basis. At least 25 – 50% of the tank water should be replaced every other week, especially if the tank is densely stocked. It should not be kept with smaller fishes or long-finned ones due to their nipping tendency. Cardinal tetra, Neon tetra, Black neon tetra and other not large and active fishes make also good tank mates for black skirt tetra. It should not be kept with known fin nippers like tiger barbs and likewise and also avoid keeping them with fish that have larger fins such as Angelfish.

Breeding Black Skirt Tetra

The Black skirt Tetra are egg layers and they can easily breed in captive condition.  The breeding tank should have plenty of fine-leaved plants, such as Java Moss or spawning mops with dim light. Water temperature should be 70.0 – 79.0° F with pH of 5.8-8.5 and hardness of 5° – 20° dGH. Before spawning the parents should be conditioned with high quality diet of frozen and live foods, at a temperature around 70-79°F. The sexually mature female lays 1000-2000 adhesive eggs among vegetation. After spawning, the parents should be removed to prevent eating the eggs. The eggs hatch in 18-36 hours and the fry become free swimming a few days later. The fry should be fed with freshly hatched brine shrimp, egg yolk for the first few days until they are large enough to accept finely ground flake foods. The tank should be kept as dimly lit as possible since the eggs and fry are light sensitive in the early stages of life.

Sexing Black Skirt Tetra

It is easily distinguished between the male and female. Males are noticeably slimmer and a little smaller than females. The male also has more narrowed and more pointed dorsal fin. The anal fin of the male is noticeably broad while in the female the anal fin runs parallel with the vertical black stripe in her abdomen.  Males occasionally have white spots on the caudal fin.

Black Skirt Tetras for sale and where to buy

The black skirt is a very hardy fish and it is one of the best choices among the all fish keepers. It is readily available in all pet shops and online vendors with reasonable prices.  For buying your favorite fish look below online vendor and ask them details about your tetra that I would recommend from.