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Can Different Types Of Tetras Live Together?

Everyone wishes for an aquarium with all types of fish swimming beautifully in it. And of course, the tetras are the most beautiful when kept together. Their varieties are vast with different colors and shapes. But the question remains the same. Can different types of tetras live together? Can different types of tetras form a school?

Yes, different types of tetras can live together in a tank, only when there are enough species of each to form a different school. The same species of tetra tend to school together and only live well if there is sufficient member in a school.

 It is not rocket science. It is simple. If you want different tetras in one tank, get 6 of each so that each has their school.

Here you will know the most asked WH questions asked about tetras and their school. Whether different types of tetras live together or not? Can these different types of tetras school together? What factors determine if they can school together or not?

Let’s dive in and know the basics before making any rash decisions with uncertain facts.

Why Is School Important For The Tetras?

Every living-being seeks a company to live with, and fish do the same as well. These small tetras can survive alone but the life-span increases with the school.

Learn more about ‘Are Tetras Schooling Fish? – Easy Schooling Fish’

Tetras are adapted to live in a school in their natural habitat, and they prefer the same in the tank too.

You just cannot change the adaptability of a fish because the consequences are not something you will generally like.

Everything is stronger in a group, that is why tetras tend to find a school and live together. They feel safe and sound in a school with sufficient members.

The school with a large number of similar species can protect themselves easily from larger fish, predators. It is difficult for predators to attack a large group of smaller fish swimming together.

The movement of a whole synchronized group confuses the predators and they can not separate or focus on individual prey.

These small fish stress and start showing health issues when kept alone. And it is quite understandable as no one prefers when someone alters their natural condition.

I have written another article with more information about Tetra Fish Diseases and Treatments. Check it out!

Do All Tetra Fish Get Along?

Most of the time, ‘Yes’, tetra fish get along with each other, but there is always an exception with biology.

A species of tetra, Serpae tetra to be precise, gets nippy sometimes. They behave rationally when the members seem insufficient to them in a school.

And, of course, the size plays a villainous role with the living together motto of tetras. Bigger tetras like Buenos Aires tetras intimidate and scare smaller tetras with their active nature and large body.

You can find more in our next article, Buenos Aires Tetra – Helpful Information for the New Hobbyist.

Tetras, however, with similar sizes and similar nature tend to live together and few even form a school with each other.

How Many Tetras Can Form A School?

Before you just hazardously put tetras together, it is best to know your tank size and then decide further.

Tetras, generally prefer to live with school and do best when kept in appropriate numbers.

If you have a 10 gallons tank, then go for 6 tetras or more. This is ideal for most of the species of tetras.

For instance, Neon tetras do well with 4-6 members in a 10 gallons aquarium. And the case with ember tetras is the nearly same, they prefer a school with 8 ember tetras in 10 gallons tank.

To have a better idea, click on this article about ‘How Many Tetra Fish Per Gallon of Water?’.

Can Different Types Of Tetras Live Together?

Living together is never an issue for tetras if each of them has their school to live with.

So, the answer here is simple. Yes, different types of tetras can live together in a tank given that tank is appropriate to handle all tetras.

Their living together depends on the water condition and presence of their species in the tank.

Related article: Water Parameters for Tetra Fish: Stable Water Condition

If you have a tank with 6 neon tetras and 6 Glowlight tetras, then they will live in harmony; but only when they will live separately in different schools even if they are in the same tank.

Most tetras are tropical fish, and prefer warm water, while Buenos Aires Tetras prefer cooler water. So, these Buenos tetras can not be kept together with other tetras due to dissimilar water requirements.

Can Different Types Of Tetras Form A School?

This one is quite tricky to answer, the answer is both Yes and No. When we go on a general basis, it gets confusing.

The answer is generally No because tetras prefer to school with the members of their species, not different types.

The reason behind this is simple and unarguably understandable. The school of similar species of tetra with the same body features confuses the predator.

The similarity in a school not only confuses their predators but also guarantees the safety of each member.

Tetras are schooling fish, and often die when they are kept alone. A school with similar species makes them feel secure and familiar with the surroundings subtracting the stress and issues.

And as said, biology is full of exception. Yes, tetras, sometimes school with different species of tetras for no apparent reason.

And, sometimes, the similarity in size, color, and needs make different tetras live together making a single school.

The best example of this is Neon Tetras and cardinal tetras. These two species of tetras are the most common pair to school together. Their similar features and appearance give them the compatibility to live together.

You can read more on Neon And Cardinal Tetra Tank Mates – Compatible Tank Mates here.

Another thing that acts as a boon is selective breeding that develops some species into different breeds. These different breeds, although altered, remain the same species.

Golden Neon tetras and Diamond Neon Tetras are, although, different breeds but are selective breeds through neon tetras.

Related article: Diamond Tetra (Moenkhausia pittieri) Care Profile: Everything You Need To Know

That’s why these two selectively bred tetras, despite having different colors and features, a school with Neon Tetras.

What Factors Determine Which Tetras Live Or School Together?

Each of the tetras has different requirements and you need to study each of them to know what to do.

There are a few factors that can determine when and which tetras can go together. But you can not entirely rely upon these factors as each tetra has a different preference.

Size And Color

Similar size and color make tetra trust and rely upon each other, especially those small tetras. Cardinal tetras have a similar size and nearly the same color except for the longer redline as neon tetras.

And these two tetras are known for their capacity to school with each other. They are quite similar to look at, which makes them ideal for schooling together.

Similar size and shape, however, do not always play a combining role within different species of tetras. Glowlight tetra, although, is similar in size and shape as neon and cardinal tetras, does not school with them.

Glowlight tetras, generally, a school with their species only and tank companion can be few slow-moving, long-finned fish.

And size also determines the predators and prey among these tetras. Larger tetras tend to devour small tetras making them unlikely to live together.

Related article on Glowlight Tetras:

  1. Glowlight Tetra Profile: A Beginners Guide
  2. Albino Glowlight Tetra – Everything You Need To Know About
  3. Glowlight Tetra’s Diet: How Often To Feed Them And Best Food?
  4. How Many Glowlight Tetras To Keep In A Tank?
  5. 7 Best Glowlight Tetra Tank Mates To Pick From

Water Conditions

Most of the tetras prefer acidic water which is warm enough as the tropical climate. But few exceptions are making it hard to school or even keep them together.

Buenos Aires Tetras prefer cooler water, making it quite impossible for them to keep with warm water tetras.

Tank Conditions

The tank size and environment play an important role in the determination of school size and tetras number.

If you have a small tank with 10 gallons capacity, then you cannot keep different varieties of tetras. So, if you are thinking of schooling different tetras, I suggest you go for Tetra 55 Gallon Aquarium Kit with Fish Tank, Fish Net, Fish Food, Filter, Heater, and Water Conditioners.

Each variety asks their own 6 members, and 10 gallons tank can only maintain 6 tetras at once. So, either you have to increase the tank size, or settle with single species of tetras.


Sometimes fear makes living beings do things, they normally will not do. The same happens with these small tetras.

To protect themselves from predators, some tetra tends to adjust to a school with other tetras.

What Type Of Tetras Will School Together?

Tetras with similar sizes and familiar nature along with water conditions generally school together.

The most common example is Neon Tetras’ schooling with cardinal tetras. Neon tetras do school with ember tetras as well, but the presence of any larger fish stress them both.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Tetras Kill Each Other?

Yes, size plays a key role in this case. Larger tetras, sometimes, devour small tetras if they are kept in the same tank. And the other factor is the male and female points of view. If there are two males and one female in a tank, then they will fight with each other over a female tetra.

Find more on Are Tetras Aggressive – List Of Aggressive Tetra Fish.

Can Tetras Live With Other Tropical Fish?

Yes, tropical fish with similar water conditions as tetras can live together. The ideal example of this is Neon tetras with guppies. Check out more on ‘Neon Tetra and Guppy – Are they compatible?‘.


In conclusion, the solution here is simple, if you want to keep tetras together, keep them along with their school. Different types of single tetras may not form a school as you prefer, but their school lives together in the same tank.

To conclude, if you want a variety within the school, then go for cardinal and neon tetras. They have similar size and features and generally form one together too.

Related articles:

  1. Can Neon Tetra and Goldfish Live Together? – Are They Good Tank Mates, Or Not?
  2. Neon Tetras And African Dwarf Frogs: Can I Keep Them Together?
  3. Neon Tetras And Betta Fish: Can You Keep Them Together? – Here Is How

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