The Black Morpho Tetra (Poicelocharax Weitzmeni) is one of the most attractive types of tetra fish you can get. They are widely distributed throughout the tropical waters of Brazil, Peru, Venezuela and are commonly known as The Weitzman Tetras or Black Darter Tetra.
The Weitzman Tetras are found in soft acidic water and has a rather odd appearance for being a fish from the Tetra fish family. The appearance of the Balck morpho tetra resembles closely to a dart, so the fish is also known as The Black Darter Tetra.
|Scientific Name||Poecilocharax weitzmani|
|Common Names||Black Morpho Tetra or Black Darter Tetra|
|Origin / Habitat||The fish originates from the Amazon basin of Peru, Venezuela, and Cambodia.|
|Color Form||The Black Morpho tetras have large and beautiful fins, and their body closely resembles a dart.|
|Adult Size||Average 1.5 to 2 inches (4-5 cm)|
|Lifespan||5 - 6 years|
|Fish Behavior/Temperament||Generally peaceful, but males will spar with one another. May chase very small fish.|
|Water Temperature||76°F - 82°F (24°C - 28°C)|
|Water Hardness||3° to 7° dH|
|Water pH||6.5 - 7.2|
|Water Movement||Keep the water movement moderate. You can tell current is too much if you see your fish laying flat against the aquarium glass.|
|Lightings||Requires the lights to be on at least 8-10 hours a day. They prefer dim lighting conditions. It can be achieved with surface vegetation(will diffuse artificial lights).|
|Tank Region||Middle to bottom|
|Tankmates||Similar or smaller sized species (tetras, rasboras) that are comparable in temperament. It does well with other tetras.|
|Diet and Food||Omnivore and micro-predator; will accept almost all frozen and prepared foods|
|Gender Difference||Males are considerably more colorful than females. Females on the other hand are slightly larger and developed extended dorsal and anal fins as they mature, to a spectacular extent in some individuals.|
|Breeding Difficulties||Not often bred in captivity but certainly possible. Arrange the aquarium parameter and feed a diet rich in small live foods to bring the fish into spawning condition.|
|Disease||White Spot Disease or ICH, Pop-Eye, Gill Parasites, Hemorrhagic Septicemia, Tumors, Mouth Fungus, Anchor Worm, Eye-Cloud / Cloudy Eyes, etc. Learn more about:- Tetra Fish Disease and Treatment.|
|Aquarium Size||20-25 gallon|
Origin of Black Morpho Tetra
The Black Morpho Tetra or the Weitzman tetras originates from the slow-moving, shallow, and tannin-stained water of rivers from Peru, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, etc. The native species of the Morpho tetras collected from these areas are more darkly colored and pigmented. The Black Morpho Tetra or the Black darter tetras are found in soft waters having low pH levels. The low pH levels are due to submerged tree logs and scattered tree leaves on the surface of rivers. These types of environments are usually found in tropical areas. And the Black Morpho Tetras are mainly predominant in these tropical areas. These waters with tannins from the wood and low pH level are perfectly suited for the Black Darter Fish.
Black Morpho Tetra Appearance
The Black Morpho tetra or the Black darter tetra’s body shape closely resembles a wild Betta fish. However, the fins of The Black Morpho Tetra are very peculiar. The male Black Morpho Tetras have flaring large fins. The body of the Black Morpho Tetras has a solid black line along its body. And the color of the fish depends upon the environment and season. The color of the Black Morpho Tetras varies from pale brown to bright blue and even black at times. These sparkly fish are sure fun to watch.
The Black Darter Tetras have very different body shapes and fins rather than a normal and regular body shape of the tetra fish variety. The body of the Black Morpho Tetras closely resembles that of a dart, so it is also named as the Black Darter Tetra. These interesting traits make the Black Morpho tetra or the Black darter tetra one of the favorites among the Fishkeeping vets.
The Black Morpho tetras can be pretty hard to find. It is not one of the easiest fish to find. The Black Morpho Tetras rarely breed in captivity, so producing the Black Morpho tetras in mass numbers can be an issue. And it is an issue faced by many fish distributers. The wild-caught ones are imported very less often. And once the Black Morpho tetras reach the local fish stores, the rack is immediately cleared off. You will have to be pretty lucky to get your hands on a pair of The Black Morpho tetra. The Pair of Black Morpho Tetras can also be sourced from the internet. You might not get the fish alive as the Black Morpho Tetras are shipped from across the seas.
However, the best option for you is to preorder the Black Morpho tetra is your trusted local fish store. And if you do encounter these fish in any store you better buy it without thinking for a second.
The prices of the Black Morpho Tetras fluctuate according to their availability. I’ve seen shopkeepers charge up to 25$ for a pair of the Black Morpho Tetras. However, a decent pair of Black Morpho Tetras can cost anywhere from 4$ to 10$ per pair. And during off-seasons, the price can hike up to 15$ per pair for a Black Morpho Tetra. You can also get a better deal online. But you will have to deal with more accidents like death on arrival (DOA), lost packages, etc.
The Black Morpho Tetras or the Weitzman Tetras are very hard to keep and care for. The requirements of this fish are pretty hard to fulfill. In the wild, The Black Morpho tetras live for about 5-6 years and if you can provide proper care to the Black Morpho Tetra. The Black Morpho Tetras can live for 3-5 Years in captivity.
You can easily differentiate the Male Morpho Tetra from the female. The male Morpho Tetras are almost always larger than the female Morpho Tetras. And the colors of Male Morpho Tetras are brighter and more vibrant. The body of the Male Black Morpho tetras is very pigmented than the female black Morpho tetras. The dorsal fin and the anal fins of the male morpho tetras are also longer than the female Black Morpho Tetras.
And during the breeding process, the male Black Morpho tetras appear dark, and the pigments become more prominent. This behavior of the fish accounts to attract female Black Morpho tetras to breed.
Social Behavior and Tankmates
The Black Morpho Tetras are very timid and shy in nature. They usually hide around small caves or stone crevices. But at times, the Black Morpho tetras get fierce. The Male Black Morpho Tetras establishes its territory. The Black Morpho tetras die defending its territory, but it won’t let go. Regardless of the size, it can get very aggressive to other fish. You should not put fish with long fins. The Black Morpho Tetras tend to nip long fins of slow-moving fish.
You can keep Black Morpho Tetras with other micro predators like Scarlet Badis, dwarf snakeheads, paradise fish, etc. You can also try your luck with wild bettas. But you will have to monitor your fish closely. You can house almost any fast-swimming fish. And you should avoid slow swimming fish at all costs.
The Black Morpho tetras are by no means for beginner fish keepers. You need to take care of water parameters, which are a crucial part of keeping your Black Morpho tetra alive. Keeping Black Morpho tetras is not the easiest thing to do. You need to keep the pH of the water to the acidic side. You should do regular pH tests to make sure the water in your aquarium tank is on the acidic side.
Maintaining the water parameters is only one of the many problems you will face while keeping Black Morpho Tetra. You will face some hardship while feeding the Black Morpho Tetras. The Black Morpho Tetras only accept live food, so feeding them with normal flake food can get tricky at times.
The Black Morpho Tetra or the Black Darter Tetra is defiantly not for the beginners. You will need plenty of experience under your sleeve to keep the Black Morpho tetra. And you also should have abundant knowledge about water parameters and how to change them according to your will.
The Black Morpho Tetra usually remains in one place and swim around that place. The Black Morpho Tetras don’t dart around like other tetra fish like Neon Tetras and Cardinal Tetras. So the size of the tank should not be that big of an issue. However, you must have a minimum of a 10-gallon aquarium tank for a pair of the Black Morpho tetra.
But if you want to keep a community of the Black Morpho Tetras, you must have a tank larger than 30 gallons. The male black Morpho Tetras tend to get territorial sometimes. And it won’t stop from anything to defend its territory and kill any fish that tries to invade the territory of the Black Morpho Tetras. So if you want to house multiple Black Morpho Tetras in the same tank, you should make sure that the aquarium tank is large enough and has plenty of hiding spaces throughout the tank.
The Black Morpho tetras come from shallow dark waters. You should use dim to medium light. Any bright light will stress out the Black Morpho tetras. If you choose to use a bright light, you place various dark places for your fish to hide in.
Substrate and Decoration
In the natural habitat of the Morpho tetras, the bottom of the river either consists of swampy mud of coarse sands depending on the regions. The water is filled with logs from broken trees. This is a perfect place for the Morpho Tetra to establish its territory. The water also has a lot of leaves that fall from the trees from the side of the river.
The best substrates for the Morpho tetras are soil or sand. You should always avoid substrates with a coarse surface. If you use good quality soil it might help you lower the ph in your water. You should add Indian almond leaves too. The Indian almond produces tannins and also has antibacterial properties.
Adding driftwood creates an overall appeal to your tank. It will also allow the Black Morpho tetra to interact with. The driftwoods will create a cover for the fish to hide when it feels threatened.
The Black Morpho Tetra or The Black Darter Tetras are voracious micro predators. In the natural habitat of the Black Darter Tetra, it preys on small invertebrates, crustaceans, worms, and fry of other fish. The Black Morpho Tetras are purely carnivorous in nature. You might have a hard time feeding the Black Morpho tetras in your aquarium tank. As a live source of food is a must for the Black Morpho tetras. You can feed them with live blood worms, Brine shrimps, small shrimps or any source of live food possible. The food has to fit in their mouth, or the fish will have trouble eating it.
You can feed the Black Darter Tetra with frozen bloodworms too. And over time you can try to feed them with prepared flake foods or pellets. It might be possible but won’t be easy. However, even if you are able to feed the Black darter Tetra with prepared food, the primary diet of the Black Darter Tetra should still consist of live foods with high protein content.
Some of the best foods that you can feed your Black Darter tetras are Daphnia, Tubifex worms, Grindal worms, and Brine shrimps.
Maintaining Water Quality
You should be very careful while maintaining the water quality in the tank holding the Black Morpho Tetras. The pH can get misbalanced pretty easily. The addition of foreign materials can cause a huge change in the water parameters than what you expect. Just doing regular water changes can cause changes in water parameters. Since the Black Morpho Tetras are so sensitive to water parameters and water pH. It is very important to make sure the water parameters and pH is correct.
I would suggest you keep a water pH test kit with you and use it every time when you perform a considerable amount of water change. This is above 30%. You should also always run a pH test when you add new decorations in your tank. Adding substrates in your tank tends to mess up the pH by quite a bit.
The tropical zones are usually warm and the regions where the Morpho tetras originate the temperature remains about 75-82 °F throughout the year. You should maintain the water temperature in your aquarium tank to about 80°F. Your fish will show beautiful coloration around this temperature.
The black Morpho Tetras prefer a softer and acidic type of waters. In its natural habitat, the ph ranges from 3.0 to 6.5. So you cannot use your tap water for your Black Morpho Tetras. You will need to add water conditioners to lower the ph. There are easier ways of making the water in your aquarium acidic. Some of them are:
Doing water changes
Water changes can be an easy way of lowering the pH in your aquarium tank. The accumulation of waste and toxins tends to increase the pH in the water. So you can perform water changes to lower the pH of water in your aquarium tank.
Adding driftwoods can lower the pH in your tank naturally. The driftwoods also work as a biological filter as it is cable of holding a ton of beneficial bacteria. Driftwood also adds up to your aquarium decoration and allows the Black Morpho Tetras to hide around and behind it. Driftwoods also release some amount of tannins making the water in your aquarium, tank more suitable for the Black Morpho Tetras.
Adding limestones to your aquarium will lower the ph within hours. It is the best way to lower the pH in your aquarium tank. You can easily monitor the pH level as the limestones instantly decrease the pH of water. You can remove the limestone after you get the desired water pH.
Indian Almond Leaves (Catappa leaves)
The Indian Almond Leaves are the safest and most common natural agents used to lower the pH in your tank. The Indian almond leaves also have an antibacterial property which is beneficial for the fish. It also releases a lot of tannins which make the color of the water darker just like how the Black Morpho tetras prefer.
So to lower the pH of water in your aquarium tank I would suggest you use Catappa leaves or the Indian almond leaves. You can place 2-4 leaves depending on the size of the tank and let time do its job. With time the pH of the water will be lowered and the water will look a lot darker and cleaner at the same time.
The Black Morpho tetras or the Weitzman Tetras are found in slow-flowing and almost stagnant water bodies. The waters are very gentle in their natural habitat. So the Black Morpho tetras prefer slow-moving gentle water flow. High current and fast-moving waters tend to stress the Black Morpho tetras.
You should use any kind of air-driven filter that produces gentle water flow. I would suggest you go with sponge filters, as it provides adequate filtration. And sponge filters are very affordable too. You can get a pretty decent sponge filter for about 5$ to 10$. Some of the best sponge filters I’ve used over the years are Hujuikon Sponge Filters, Upettools Ultra Quiet Sponge filter, etc.
You might have some problems during water maintenance in the tank having the Black Morpho Tetras. It is slightly tricky than normal water changes. Since the water needs to be soft and acidic. I would suggest you perform a water parameter test every time you do water changes. And during water changes, you should use R.O. water or distilled water. If you can keep these things in control the water parameters will stay in control for the Black Morpho Tetras.
The Black Morpho tetras are prone to many diseases. It is not because of its poor immunity. It is because it’s hard to replicate the natural environment in your aquarium tank. The Black Morpho Tetras are very sensitive when it comes to the water parameters. If you do not maintain the proper water parameters, your fish will get stressed easily. And if the Black Morpho Tetras are stressed they become prone to diseases like white spot disease, parasitic infestations, and skin flukes. And if you don’t treat these diseases in time your Black Morpho tetras are going to end up dead in your tank. This is primarily because of the imbalance in water parameters.
Breeding Black Morpho Tetras
The Black Morpho tetras rarely breed in captivity. And if you do encounter this majestic process you can consider yourself very lucky. However, breeding the Black Morpho tetra is not impossible. You can follow a few steps to encourage the pair of Black Morpho tetras to breed.
You can set a separate 20-gallon aquarium tank. I would strongly suggest you add a PVC pipe for the female Black Morpho tetras to lay eggs in. You should add many rocks, cave, and crevices.
The female lays the eggs in the upper surface of small cave-like structures. And the male Black Morpho Tetra fertilizes the eggs later.
The Male Black Morpho Tetras take care of the egg. And it also defends the egg from other invaders that might cause a threat to the eggs.
The eggs of the Black Morpho Tetras hatch in about 4-5 days. And after the fry hatch out of the egg, they become free swimmers within 2 days.
You can feed the fry of Black Morpho Tetras with baby brine shrimps, or finely crushed bloodworms. You can also try your luck by feed the newly hatched fry with crushed flake foods. The fry may not accept the crushed flake food. However, you can try out your luck.
You can later remove the female Black morpho tetras or both the male and female Black Morpho Tetras after the fries are able to freely swim. You will have a higher rate of success with this method.
Caring for the Fries
The eggs of the Black Morpho Tetras hatch about 4-5 days after the breeding pair spawn. The Black Morpho Tetra fry will be free swimming in about 2-3 days. The male Black Morpho Tetra cares for the egg. However, after the fry hatches out of the egg it is better for you if you remove the breeding pair out of the tank and separate the Black Morpho Tetra fries. You will have higher chances of raising the fries on their own. The newly hatched fry if the Black Morpho Tetras will also accept Baby Brine Shrimps (BBS). You can also feed the fry with small-sized daphnia and micro worms.
The Black Morpho Tetras are some of the most interesting looking tetra fish. However, it is not suitable for everyone. The Black Morpho Tetras have high risk and high reward. They look absolutely amazing in your tank. But maintaining the water parameters for the Black Morpho Tetras can be a hassle at times. You should perform regular water parameter tests.
The water from different sources around the different parts of the world has different characteristics. It is okay to use water with soft G.H. (general hardness). But if the water in your areas is harder you must decrease the hardness of the water to soft. You should also make sure that the water is acidic. If you are capable of maintaining all these parameters around any time of the year, the Black Morpho Tetras is best suited for you.
You will also need a stock of a live source of food for your fish. The Black Morpho tetras rarely accept prepared food, so you should be prepared with a live source of food.