Lifespan of Tetra Fish | Keeping you Tetras Healthy and Happy

cardinal tetra | lifespan of tetra fish

If you are a fish enthusiast and are fond of aquarium fish, you must be aware of tetra fish. The tetra fish are tropical freshwater fish, which you can find in many home aquariums all over the world. One of the well-known tetra species is the Neon Tetra. This tetra has bright neon coloration throughout the body that captivates most people. There are over hundreds of other tetras that are very compatible you can house in your home aquarium. I am going to talk about the lifespan of tetra fish in this article.

Generally, tetra fish have an average life span of 5 to 10 years. Tetras come in small as well as large sizes. The popular choice for aquarists to keep in the home aquarium is smaller ones. The smaller size tetras live shorter than the larger ones. The smaller tetras mostly live up to 3 to 5 years.

There are also cases of some tetras such as Glass Bloodfin Tetra, Congo Tetra, Neon Tetra, Black Neon Tetra, Mexican Tetras, etc. that live for 10 years or more.

If you want your tetras to have a long lifespan, then the trick is to purchase the tetras that are young and fresh-bred from the breeders.

In this article, I will provide you with information about the lifespan of tetra fish and also help your fish live longer, happier and healthier in the environment that you will create.

Keep reading for more.

Keeping you Tetras Fish Healthy and Happy

Tetra fish are one of the friendly fish. The tetras are sociable and they love to hang out with other species in the tank. Therefore, tetra fish needs a tank, which is large enough for them to swim freely. These fish would do much better in a community tank with species, which are compatible.

If you can provide the tetras with the right environmental conditions that meet all the requirements, these fish will thrive and live happily.

Keep Tetras in Groups

You need to keep the tetra in groups. Since these are shoaling fish, you need to make sure that they are comfortable. Purchase at least 6 tetras altogether. Tetras also are compatible with other active swimming fish and like to explore the tank. If you keep the fish that matches the energy of the tetras then you will have a very happy tank.

Have Enough Space

When you purchase these fish, you need to make sure that you have enough space in your tank. You cannot keep tetras in a small confined space. You need a tank of at least 10 gallons.

Provide Hiding Spots

Another thing that you need to make sure is the decorations and plants. Tetras love to hide around, especially when they feel unsafe or stressed. Hence, planting lots of vegetation will help them relax a bit when they feel uncomfortable. Not just that, planting live aquatic plants will also filter out the impurities and pollutants in the tank.


In addition, you also need to standardize the feeding habits of your tetras. You cannot just feed them whenever you feel like. You must maintain a proper schedule to feed them and stick to it. A proper diet is very essential to bring out the best coloration and health in your tetras.

Finally, an aquarium is just an artificial home for the fish; you need to bring all the natural elements needed in it. You can check out our other article on how to set up a good tank for tetra fish. Keeping them healthy, can increase the lifespan of your tetra fish.

How Long do Tetra Fish live?

The lifespan of tetras depends on all the care and appropriate conditions that you can provide them. If you are able to give them a good home, with proper nutritional diet, clean environment and care, the tetras will live to their full potential.

The estimated lifespan for tetras under good circumstances is 5 to 10 years. For smaller tetras, however, they live only up to 5 years at most. Even when you take care of tetras needs, it will be hard for them to live more than that because the conditions will not be optimal all the time.

When you clean your tank regularly, it will be helpful to avoid any diseases. You must keep a constant check on the chlorine level, pH level, hardness, ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates in the water.

Never forget about the partial changes in water. You can replace or change around 10% to 15% of the water every two weeks. If you cannot do this biweekly, you need to change around 25% of the water every month.

Additionally, you need to keep the male tetras and female tetras together in a school. This will increase breeding possibilities for your tetras. The breeding tetras can create another full school of young tetra that will help to extend your aquarium family even further.

Help your Tetras Live a Longer life

When you house any fish, you are attached to them. You never want their health to deteriorate and cause them any harm. You will want them to live a good life as long as possible.

Purchasing new Tetra and Acclimating Them to the Tank

First, when you newly purchase the tetras, you cannot directly dump them into the tank. If you put them directly into the water then they will get shocked due to fluctuation in the environment and increase in the ammonia concentration. This a possibility of health risk in your fish. Therefore, you must avoid doing this at any cost.

Removing Excess Food

In order to make sure that there is no loss of fish in the tank, you must keep the tank environment as clean as possible. Cleaning is the optimum requirement. Having a good filter is also not enough, as sometimes the filter itself may need cleaning. You must monitor any kind of change. You need to remove any excess food particles and fish excretes from the tank because it can disrupt the tank environment. This can cause stress in fish and impurities can cause diseases in the fish.

Checking Water Parameters

Another factor that is very important for the good health of your tetras is the water parameters. Especially, with fish like tetras, you need to maintain the right water parameters such as pH level, hardness, temperature, etc.  You should never let the water parameters go out of control. Not just that, you also need to check that there is no ammonia and nitrite concentration. The nitrates level should be between 0-40 ppm, anything above 80 can be toxic. Likewise, your nitrite should not cross 0.75 ppm as this can stress the fish and greater than 5 can be toxic.

You also need to keep in mind the temperature of the tank. The tetras only need around 78 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature is high, there can increase the metabolism rate. This can cause an imbalance in the diet.

Good Diet

For proper nutrition, you need to feed your tetras with food items such as fish flakes, brine shrimp, bloodworms, daphnia, etc. I also like to point out that never overfeed your fish. You need to feed them with what they can eat under 2 minutes. If you want to know about the tetra fish diet, you can go through our article that mentions the tetra fish diet in detail.

Tetra Fish Tank

Finally, never place your tetras alone in a small, compact tank. If you put the tetra fish alone, they can show signs like nipping; keeping them alone can also cause stress in fish opening door to many diseases. It goes the same when you keep them in small spaces. These fish health degrades when they are not able to swim freely.

You will need at least a 10-Gallon tank to keep you tetra happy.

Choose Tank Mates

When you purchase tetras, you should be aware that they come in bulk. Not just the particular tetra school, but they also need other species in the tank. The tetras are active, social and very energetic fish. Keeping them alone will be a huge mistake.

Tetras go along with most other fish. Choosing the tank mates for tetras can become somewhat difficult. If your tetras are tiny, you never put them with the bigger fish. Some fish can show aggressive behavior to the tetras whereas in some cases, your tetras can attack other fish as well. So, you need to know the nature of both the fish when you are planning to put the fish together.

If you want to know more about suitable companions for tetras, you can see our article related to it.

Never Overcrowd your Tank

Many of you will want to add more fish into the tank to raise the energy of the tank. I will not recommend you to overcrowd your tank in any case. If you want to add more fish, you need to increase the size of your tank and there is no exception.

The overcrowding can cause the water in the tank to become polluted quicker than normal. Hence, decreasing the quality of water. When the water quality decreases, there is also a decrease in the quality of life of fish present in the tank.

You must consistently follow the general rule of thumb when you keep the fish. 1 gallon of water for 1 inch of fish length.

Identify any Sick Fish in Your Tank

Sometimes, your fish can fall sick and lose their lives untimely. What can you do when that happens? How can you help them if you are unaware of your fish’s sickness? You must be aware of the different types of diseases that affect your tetra fish. Some of these diseases are ich, fungus, parasites, bacterial infections, anchor worms, etc. I have written a complete article on tetra fish disease and treatment, go read it if you want to learn about how to cure the diseases.

Diseases such as anchor worms are mostly caused by introducing infected fish into the tank. So how can you prevent the spreading of these types of infections? There are commercially formulated treatments for anchor worms.

It is not that hard. You can often see the affected fish scratching itself against the aquarium glass or any decorative items present in the tank. You can also notice whitish-green threads coming off the scales. When this happens, you have to treat the whole aquarium.

If your fish is living in a stressful environment or you have poor living conditions in the tank, there might be chances of fungal infections. Sometimes, you may see your tetras gaining white spots on their head. This disease is Ich. These diseases are very common and can be easily treated as well. So, you do not need to worry a lot.

Purchase Healthy Fish for a Longer Tetra lifespan

Once you can identify the traits of a sick fish, you can choose the healthier fish from the store yourself. You must consider checking the fish attentively before purchasing. By this time, you are already aware that you should never mix the sick fish with healthy fish.

Therefore, you make sure that you get healthy fish beforehand. This will prevent you from unnecessary troubles when caring for other fish. Hence, ensuring a longer lifespan of tetra fish.


Once you purchase your fish, it is very important for you to provide them with love and care. Your fish must not feel they are just a showcase. You need to treat them with attention just as you do with any other pets.

Interactions with your fish will also help them build a connection. Then, you will be able to notice even the slightest changes in their behavior and help them accordingly.

Likewise, a good tank companion will help your tetras to socialize and create a playful environment as well. This will reduce any stress-causing factors in your fish.

Lastly, I want to say that, you need to show some dedication if you want your tetras to live a healthy life. I hope that this article has made you aware of the lifespan of tetra fish, how you can help them live longer by providing a healthier environment.

If you wish to know more about tetra fish, their diet, tank set-up or any individual tetra fish, you can view our other articles as well: Tetra Fish Care.


Image Credit:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top