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What Does Black Skirt Tetra Like To Eat | Let’s Find Out What They Like|

Black Skirt Tetras are Native to South America and one of my favorite tetra species. One reason I like them so much is, they are very interesting to watch. They swim around my tetra tank as a small group, which makes me happy all the time.

However, if you plan to keep Black Skirt Tetras, you have to learn what they eat and their preferred food. Here I give you a complete guide On What do Black Skirt Tetras eat and their preferred foods.

Black Skirt Tetra Appearance

Black Skirt Tetras

First of all, you should know how they look like. As black Skirt Tetras belong to the Characidae family, they have that iconic tetragonal shape, like a rectangular prism cube.

In addition, they have a considerably taller front, and the rear end of the body tapers dramatically to the tail. The shape of the Black Skirt Tetra was made more dramatic by their fins.

The tailfin is relatively thin and has a forked shape. The dorsal fin of the Black Skirt Tetra is tiny and squared off, and they have a dramatic anal fin on the bottom. Some Black Skirt Tetras have short fins, whereas others have longer, flowing fins. 

The average size of Black Skirt Tetra is between 1-2 ½  inches (2.5-6.4 cm), although some tetras grow up to 3 inches long but rare.

Black Skirt Tetras have a beautiful gradient color pattern. The head side is lighter with a translucent silver hue, then the tail side and the bottom side are darker. You can see two distinctive vertical black stripes on the front half of the Black Skirt Tetra’s body. Black Skirt Tetra’s anal and dorsal fins are also black in color.

The darker colors of Black Skirt Tetras fade with age. Female Tetras are much larger than male Tetras. They are also a little rounder than male Tetras. The anal fin of male Black Skirt Tetras is larger than females.

What do Black Skirt Tetras eat? 

Black Skirt Tetras are carnivores species that eat mainly insects, worms, and crustaceans. However, they eat small amounts of algae and plant matter. They do fine with virtually any type of food you feed. So, they are easy-to-care fish you can keep in your aquarium.

What do Black Skirt Tetras in the Wild?

Black Skirt Tetras eat mostly live food such as worms, insects, and crustaceans in the wild. However, they occasionally eat small amounts of algae and plant matter.

What to Feed Black Skirt Tetras in the Aquarium?

They will eat pretty much everything you throw at the aquarium. They are happy eaters in an aquarium and will accept any type of food.

How long can Black Skirt Tetras go without food?

Black Skirt Tetras can go up to 2 weeks without any food.

There may be times that you will not be able to feed your fish, like traveling and hospitalizing. And you may think that how will your fish going to survive in those situations. Luckily, they can go without food for a long time.

Best Black Skirt Tetra food?

As we said before, Black Skirt Tetra will eat pretty much anything you feed, including pellets and flakes. But, as they are carnivore fish, they need higher Protein, which means meat-based food. Below is a list of the food I normally used to feed my Black Skirt Tetras.



Black Skirt Tetras like to eat bloodworms as it is meat-based. You can feed them as a snack 1 to 2 times per week, or if available, you can provide bloodworm as their primary diet. Tetras will enjoy eating bloodworms alive or frozen.


Blackworms are a favorite food of Black Skirt Tetras. Feed them frozen blackworms to be extra careful of bacteria and other infections. Feed blackworms once or twice per week.

Brine Shrimp

Brine shrimp

Brine Shrimp are another great treat for Black Skirt Tetras. Just like bloodworms, feed brine shrimp 1 to 2 times per week along with flakes and pellets. In addition, you can feed live brine shrimp or frozen brine shrimp.

Flake Food

flake food

Black Skirt Tetras will go fine with flake food even without meat-based food as treats. You can feed flakes solely, and your fish will thrive just fine.

Sinking Pellets

Black Skirt Tetras are NOT Scavengers. They will not scavenge the substrate for food. So, sinking pellets is not a good choice for Black Skirt Tetras. However, they will eat them while falling.

Algae Tablets

Algae tablet

You can feed Algae Tablets to Black Skirt Tetras as a treat. Although you can feed them with algae tablets, they will not eat much, so just limit them to about 1 to 2 times per week.

Live Daphnia


Live Daphnia is one of the favorite foods of Black Skirt Tetras. They will eat as much daphnia as you feed them but be careful. Overfeeding is not good for your fish. So instead, feed them daphnia abo

Mysis Shrimp

You can feed Mysis shrimp to Black Skirt Tetras as they are high in Protein. Just like other meat-based food, provide them about 1 to 2 times per week to keep the variety.

Vege Matter

Black Skirt Tetras - vege

Black Skirt Tetras will eat vegetables such as cucumber and carrots, but make sure that they get a more protein-based diet as their primary meal. You can provide vege matter as treats. They will eat them, but they will not enjoy them.

Frozen Foods

Black Skirt Tetras - frozen food

Black Skirt Tetras enjoy eating frozen meat-based food such as frozen bloodworms, blackworms, brine shrimp, daphnia, and tubifex. However, make sure that you cut them into small pieces before feeding. 1 to 2 times per week is recommended.

Finely Chopped Meaty Foods

Black Skirt Tetras food meat

As Black Skirt Tetras are carnivore fish, they enjoy eating meat-based food. So, they will do fine with chopped meaty foods as long as they are not processed. Processed food is not suitable for fish. You can feed finely chopped meaty foods 1 to 2 times per week.

How many times a day should I feed my Black Skirt Tetras or feeding frequency?

It would be best if you fed Black Skirt Tetras two to three times per day. You should avoid overfeeding them. The best way to limit feeding is to keep the food in the tank for ONLY a few minutes. About 3 to 5 minutes is enough.

How To Feed Black Skirt Tetras

Put flakes and pellets directly into the water, and your fish will come to the surface and eat. If feeding vegetables or meat-based food, you have to chop them first before feeding.

Tetras don’t eat fallen food, so if you put any food that sinks, you will have to find a way to keep them on the surface for longer.

How much do Black Skirt Tetras eat?

One tetra usually eats about three pellets or more. The best way to feed your fish is to put as much as your fish eat within 5 minutes regardless of pellet count.

If there are leftovers after 5 minutes, take them away from the aquarium with a fishnet.

Will Black Skirt Tetras overeat or eat too much?

Yes. Black Skirt Tetras have a tendency to overeat, and it is not good for them. You should limit feeding to a maximum of 3 times daily and take out excess food after 3 to 5 minutes to avoid eating too much.

What human food can they eat?

Generally, anything that is safe for humans can be fed to Black Skirt Tetras.

Given that processed foods and food with carbohydrates are not safe for both humans and fish. And also you shouldn’t feed any spices and sauces. Vegetables, fruits, and meaty foods are edible for your fish as long as they are chopped into small pieces.

Flake Fish Food Suitable For Black Skirt Tetras?

Yes. You can feed your Black Skirt Tetras with Flake Fish Food. They will thrive well with fish flakes if they are high in Protein.

What Kind Of Mouth Do Black Skirt Tetras have?

Black Skirt Tetra is a smaller version of Piranha. All tetras have a terminal mouth with sharp teeth, which help them to rip off their prey. Black skirt tetra’s mouth is located in the middle of the head and points forward. Both jaws are the same length.

Frequently asked questions

Can Black Skirt Tetras eat betta food?

Yes. Black Skirt Tetras can eat Betta Food. Betta food is specifically made for Bettas with a higher protein percentage. Betta is also carnivore fish.

So, their nutrition requirements are almost the same. So, Tetras can eat Betta food as their regular diet without any complications.

Are Vegetables Good for Black Skirt Tetras?

Yes. Vegetables are a good source of nutritions Tetras can get in addition to meaty foods. Although they are carnivores, they occasionally need plant-based food to consume nutritions they can’t get from meat-based food.

In the wild, they eat plant matter to fulfill their need. In fish tanks, you have to provide plant matter from outside the tank, which is vegetables. However, occasional feeding is more than enough for Black Skirt Tetras.

Feeding Frozen Foods To Black Skirt Tetras

You can feed frozen foods to Black Skirt Tetras, and they will do fine with them. Tetras actually like to eat frozen bloodworms, blackworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia. Feeding frozen food once or twice per week is recommended.

Will Black Skirt Tetras eat algae?

Black Skirt Tetras eat algae occasionally. But they are not good algae eaters. So, do not depend on Black Skirt Tetras if you have an algae infection in your fish tank. Instead, either buy a good algae eater like Amano Shrimp or clean your tank to remove algae.

Do Black Skirt Tetra eating algae wafer

Black skirt tetras eat anything you feed them. So, yes, they will eat algae wafers. But, do not feed algae wafers regularly because they lack tetra’s primary nutrition need, Protein. As a snack for once or twice per week, algae wafers are a good choice.

Black Skirt Tetra eat mosquito larvae

Black Skirt Tetras eat mosquito larvae. They actually love to eat mosquito larvae because they are live food. Tetras are carnivore animals who love live food.

Black Skirt Tetra eat plants

Although Tetras eat plant matter occasionally, they are not good plant-eaters. If they are given pellets, flakes, or meaty food, they will avoid eating plants. So, you can grow aquarium plants safely with Black Skirt Tetras.

Black Skirt Tetra eat shrimp

Shrimps are crustaceans. Crustaceans are one main part of Black Skirt Tetra’s diet. So, yes, Black Skirt Tetras eat shrimp as long as they fit in their mouth.

What to Feed Fry and Juvenile Black Skirt Tetras

For more petite Black Skirt Tetra fry, you can use egg yolk to feed them. They are so small that they cant feed even smaller bites. So, egg yolk is the best option for them.

You can also provide mature plants, Moss, and algae so they can eat microorganisms from them. For juvenile black skirt tetras, you can use baby brine shrimp or crushed flake food. Then gradually introduce other food by crushing them into smaller pieces.

Irrespective of size, you have to feed them several times per day until they become large enough to provide the usual pellet food.

Credit to: Palmer Aquatics Clips

Black Skirt Tetra Care Guide

Learning what to feed Black Skirt Tetras is not enough if you want a happy fish in your tank. In addition, you need to know about their habitat requirements, water parameters, tank mates, breeding, and more. We will teach you everything you need to know about Black Skirt Tetras from this guide.

Black Skirt Tetra Life Span

The average life span of Black Skirt Tetra is around 3 to 5 years in captivity. However, they tend to live much longer in the wild and prefer larger spaces that imitate natural habitats to live stress-free.

As they don’t get natural habitat in tanks and aquariums, their life span is reduced.

Black Skirt Tetra Typical Behaviour

Black Skirt Tetras are mid-tank swimmers that swim all across the tank to check out what’s happening inside the tank. They are schooling fish so, they tend to school together like a group of high school kids.

But, sometimes, some fish leave the group to have some alone time, to rest (or to think about something? I guess.), and it is so interesting to watch their behavior.

Black Skirt Tetras are peaceful fish species; however, they hate long-finned fish. They will be aggressive when they see long fins and turn into nip mode when they meet a long-finned fish.

Otherwise, they are pretty timid and will appreciate hiding places. They prefer an aquascape with Caves, tall plants, rocks, and wood to hide when there’s something odd going on.

Black Skirt Tetras

Black Skirt Tetra Preferred Habitat

Black Skirt Tetras are schooling fish, and they always are in a group. So, you need to keep at least six tetras together in a fish tank. The minimum tank size for Black Skirt Tetra is 15 gallons. They always appreciate more space as they love to spend the day swimming.

Black Skirt Tetra’s natural habitats are dark and have many hiding places such as rocks, plants, and wood. If you want them to live happily in captivity, you need to provide an aquascape that mimics this habitat. Otherwise, the fish get stressed.

For the substrate, always use dark-colored gravel or sand to mimic the dark bottom of their natural habitat. But, again, the substrate type doesn’t matter as Black Skirt Tetras rarely visit tank bottom.

You have to provide rocks, caves, wood, and tall aquarium plants in your aquarium if you keep Black Skirt Tetras in your tank. This is because they will use them as their hiding places when they get stressed.

Water Condition

Black Water Tetras are freshwater fish that need clean and subpar water conditions. Otherwise, they get stressed, making them more susceptible to disease. Their native habitats are in the rivers of South America. The waters of South American rivers are warm and somewhat acidic, so you have to recreate this water condition in your aquarium.

The optimum water parameters of Black Skirt Tetras are,

  • pH level: Between 6.0 to 7.5 
  • Water hardness: 4 to 8 dKH
  • Water temperature: 70°F to 85°F (21.1-29.4°C)

You have to check whether your tank water passes the marks. You should install a filter to keep ammonia and nitrate levels low.

We recommend testing the water condition often to ensure that the water meets their preferred water conditions and perform a 25-50% water change bi-monthly.

Black Skirt Tetra Tank Size

The minimum tank size for Black Skirt Tetras is 15 Gallons. You can keep six tetras in a 15-gallon tank.  As Black Skirt Tetras are schooling fish, you should keep a minimum of 6 fish in a tank. If you can provide at least 20 gallons of water for six fishes, that’s always better.

Black Skirt Tetra Tank Decorations

Black Skirt Tetras

With Black Skirt Tetras, you can get creative as much as possible with anything you want as Tetras doesn’t eat plants much and does not scavenge.


You can grow aquarium plants with Black Skirt Tetras.

We recommend choosing taller plants as they can provide an ideal environment for Black Skirts. Black Skirt Tetras are schooling fish that stick to the middle of the tank most of the time.

So, if you add taller plants, they will use the plants to explore and swim through, and they’ll appreciate it. And the plants will be great snacks between their primary meals.

However, do not overstock the tank with plants as they need more room to swim. Keep in mind that these fish are active swimmers and need some space to move freely.

The best way to provide both requirements is to keep the plants in the background and perimeter of the tank. With this method, you can provide enough open space for Black Skirt Tetras.


The substrate should be darker in color because the dark-colored bottom mimics decaying leaves at the bottom of the streams they call home in the wild.

You can use any substrate as Tetras don’t go to the bottom often. Many fishkeepers use dark sandy substrate or river gravel.

Other Decorations

Adding many hiding places such as caves, rocks, and driftwood to the bottom of the tank is recommended because they can provide protection whenever the fish are feeling a bit shy or threatened.

Filtration System

You must install a strong filtration system to eliminate waste and keep Ammonia and Nitrate levels relatively low. Although Black Skirt Tetras don’t produce lots of waste individually, a large school can quickly alter the water quality.


Black Skirt Tetras display more vibrant colors if you provide lighting. So, installing a lighting system is an excellent idea.

How Many Tetras per Gallon?

Black Skirt Tetras

Tetras need at least 15 gallons of water to thrive, and you can not keep one tetra in a tank as the fish will get stressed if kept alone.

So you have to maintain a minimum of 6 Black Skirt Tetras in a fish tank to keep them happy. And you can keep six tetras in a 15-gallon tank.

Black Skirt Tetras Tank Mates

Black Skirt Tetras are a relatively peaceful species. So, the best tank mate for Tetras needs to be peaceful as well.

Black Skirt Tetras are mildly aggressive with long-finned fish, but some varieties of Black Skirt Tetras also have long-flowing fins. So, if you keep these two varieties together, the long-finned fish will become targets of aggressive fish that might nip at their fins.

You can put less active tetras with Black Skirt Tetras such as Black Neon, Cardinal, and Neon Tetras. Bottom dwellers like Danios, Dwarf Cichlids, and Rasboras are also good choices because Black Skirt Tetras won’t bother swimming to the bottom.

Here is a list of ideal tank mates for Black Skirt Tetras.


Black Skirt Tetras are easy-care fish that you can keep in your aquarium. They are peaceful and will eat anything you feed and will thrive well in large freshwater aquariums. However, they need to stay in groups, so you have to keep at least six fish in a fish tank. Nevertheless, they will be an excellent addition to your aquarium if you enjoy schooling fish.

Read More: Koi guppy (Poecilia Reticulata) care |complete and easy guide|

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About Dr.Chamika

Hello, I'm Dr. Chamika. I am a Researcher in Water quality, Aquatic organisms, and Environmental chemistry. I am a passionate fish keeper, with10 years of experience. My mission is to help other aquarists experience the joy of fish keeping.