March 23, 2023

Tetra 101: Introduction to Schools of Fish

It’s time to go back to school – we’re going to educate you on schools of fish. And before you head to the front of the class, we’ll teach you about the joys of keeping a school of tetras.

If you’ve been thinking about going back to school for an extended education, you don’t have to go further than your own aquarium. When deciding what type of school to add to a tank, consider the color of the fish. The school of fish will often be seen as a flash of light and color – it will complement your decor and other fish in the tank. There are many types of schooling fish, but the most popular when it comes to home aquariums are tetras that come in a broad variety. We’re going to show you a few of them to consider for your tank.

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Tetra Types

Neon tetras and cardinal tetras are by far some of the most common tetras to be found in fish stores. They are inexpensive and provide a bright flash of color. The down fall with these tetras is that they can be sensitive. They prefer soft water, like that of the amazon where they originate, and so water parameters can have a negative effect on them. They are also on the smaller side, so keeping them with larger tank mates, such as angels, means some will become snack food. Like any schooling fish, the more that can be kept together will not only provide more visual appeal, but offers more comfort to the fish. Of course, always keep your tank stocking within safe limits.

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Red eye tetras are larger than neons and cardinals, around two inches long. This means they can be kept with larger tank mates without becoming food. They act as good dither fish for some cichlids as well. They are not as sensitive as neons, and make an easy addition to a beginner community tank. Their red eyes and luminescent silver bodies are flashy and appealing. It is recommended to keep seven fish per 20 gallons for the most appealing effect. These tetras will also easily breed in captivity, which provides an added area of interest for the keepers.

Bleeding heart tetras are a ruddy red color, and have a bright red spot located on its flanks. They have longer fins and a fuller body than some other tetras and offer a nice splash of color. They are big enough to live with angels and cichlids without being hunted. Most bleeding heart tetras are caught in the wild, as they do not easily breed in captivity.

Even though they are not tetras, another schooling fish that is interesting for a community tank is the corydora. For a fish that occupies the lower portion of a tank, a school of corydora can provide a lot of activity and interest. They are peaceful cat fish that come in many sizes and colors. They do not cause any harm to other inhabitants, and as an added bonus, they will clean up waste on the tank floor.

There is an amazing amount of schooling fish to consider for a tank, and we’ve only listed a few. As with any stocking decision, research and preparation can ensure that the fish provide a beautiful addition to your tank.

summerSummer Davis is the mom of three kids, four dogs, and several tanks of fish. She boasts a passion for all animals, whether they are in the water or on land. This fish aficionado has kept many different species in her time, but holds a special place in her heart for wild and domestic bettas. When she’s not talking about fish, Summer “spins” her extra time as the director of a baton twirling organization.