Top 5 Tetras for Breeding in the Home Aquarium

Tetras for Breeding

Who doesn’t want to see their fish breed and give them cute little fry in the home tank? And I know tetras will be great even if they are small and cute. Hence, the love for breeding tetras either for profit or for fun strikes the heart of any aquarist and I completely understand why. But will all the tetras be easy to breed? Which tetras are easy for breeding in the home aquarium?

While most of the tetras will give you hard time while breeding, few tetras are quite easy to breed in the home aquarium. Emperor tetra, ember tetra, glowlight tetra, black phantom tetra, Pristella tetra, etc. are few tetras for breeding in the tank.

In this article, I will help you select 5 such tetras that are easy to breed in the home aquarium. Likewise, if you are a beginner in all this, I will leave a few instructions and advice to breed these tetras properly.

So, let’s get this started and dive in to know more about breeding tetras at home.

Top 5 Tetras for Breeding in the Home Aquarium

You may already know the number of tetras that are present in this world and how hard it can be to choose the right one for you to pet.

So, you can anticipate how difficult it can be to choose few tetras for breeding purposes when it is difficult to choose the right one to pet in the first place.

However, tetras might be hardy and easy to pet even for beginners, breeding tetra fish is a completely different story.

This is a harsh reality and you need to accept the fact that not all tetras will breed in captivity.

Thus, I gave it a thought for a while and compile the names of the five best tetras for breeding.

Ember Tetra

The first tetra will be talking about is ember tetra. And there is no doubt on why they made it to the first position of this list.

Ember tetra is very easy to breed when you provide the right water parameters and diet to them.

As long as you choose the bright and healthy ember tetra, you will have no worries if they will breed or not.

Go for the female ember tetra that is more than a year old whereas males can be anywhere in the age but need to be sexually mature.

If you have 2 to 3 male ember tetras for several females, you will be just fine and get tetra fry no matter what.

The temperature, pH level, and hardness of the aquarium water need to be 78 to 84°F (26-29°C), 5.5 to 6.0, and 2 to 5 dGH respectively.

Add lots of plants and keep the lighting dim, your tetras will breed and give you plenty of newly born fry in no time.

You will the chase between male and female ember which signals the spawning and courting behavior. After you see the spawning behavior, the female will lay eggs in no time.

Place java moss in the tank and remove the parents immediately after you see eggs in the tank. These eggs will hatch within the next 48 hours and you will see fry in the next 4 to 5 days.

The fry will still have a yolk sac with them after birth, so you don’t need to feed them immediately.

Wait for 4 to 5 days when you start to see them swimming, then you can feed Infusoria to these newly born ember tetras.

Pristella Tetra/ X-ray Tetra

Now for the second tetra in the list of best tetras for breeding, we will be talking and learning about x-ray tetra.

It might not be your wish to get a new aquarium but you have to have another breeding tank of 18”x10”x10” size.

Small spaces are not good for x-ray tetra to breed or even live in. Also, you might have a little hard time picking the breeding pair.

The thing is male x-ray tetras can be quite unresponsive to females so you have to keep at least 6 pairs of them in the tank together.

They will choose their partner on their own and spawn when you provide the ideal water parameters they ask.

These tetras ask for breeding tank temperature between 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit while the pH needs to be around 5.5 to 6.5.

They prefer soft water during the breeding stage so keep the water hardness between 1 to 5 GH. Feed them nutritious food every day and keep the light dim.

They will lay eggs very soon and hatch with 24 to 36 hours. You will see tetra fry swimming in the tank within the next 3 to 4 days.

Like ember tetra, the x-ray tetra fry won’t need food for the first few days because of the yolk sac.

Similarly, you can feed them Infusoria after 4 to 5 days when you see them swimming freely.

Glowlight Tetra

One of the easiest tetras for breeding purposes is Glowlight tetra even the beginner aquarist can successfully breed them in the tank on the very first time.

Glowlight tetras are egg scatters as any other in this list and are quite easily breedable in captivity.

All you have to do is take care of the breeding environment and water parameters, these tetras will spawn sooner than you think.

First thing first, get a separate 10-gallon tank for breeding glowlight tetra and select the healthiest and brightest tetras from the group.

Once you finish selecting the breeding pairs, look at the tank water parameters. Set up the temperature around 78°F to 82°F and pH level between 6 to 6.2.

The water hardness needs to be below 6 dGH while you need to add a few plants and decorations.

Plants will also act as the hiding space for newly born glowlights after they serve the purpose of giving safe space for eggs.

Female glowlight will be full of eggs in no time if you feed them nutritious food more often. Glowlight tetra diet is a very important part of the breeding process.

Once the female is full of eggs, she will start to allow male glowlight tetra around her. Remove the parents glowlight from the tank once you see eggs in the tank as they don’t have parental instinct and will eat their babies and eggs.

After 24 hours of laying eggs, these eggs will hatch into fry. You don’t have to feed them for the first 4 to 5 days due to the presence of a yolk sac.

However, after you start seeing fry swimming around, feed them Infusoria and when they get bigger, you can switch to baby brine shrimps.

Black Phantom Tetra

Here we are in the fourth tetra in our list and I can’t be any less excited. Black phantom tetra is what you would love to see breeding in the tank like any other tetra.

They will not even affect your budget and waste any more money while breeding them. You can breed them in 3 gallons tank as well.

If you keep them in a tank that is dimly lit and has lots of plants you will be just fine. Just remember to keep the 2:1 ratio of male to female black phantom tetra in the tank.

Male black phantom tetras are known to get territorial and aggressive when it comes to female attention.

Manage the temperature of the tank around 77°F and pH level between 5.5 to 5.6.

When all this is done alone with the water hardness around 4 dGH, it will stimulate the breeding black phantom tetra.

You need to careful with what you feed them as they can be very sensitive during spawning. Female black phantom tetra will be weak while carrying eggs and quite susceptible to disease too.

Feed them nutritious food that is enriched with proteins so they stay healthy and fit to breed and lay eggs.

You should remove the adults as soon as female lay eggs and male fertilizes them to stop them from eating their eggs.

Eggs are also susceptible to fungus so it is necessary to maintain the water parameters all the time and keep the light as low as possible.

After 24 to 36 hours, the eggs will hatch however you will not see the fry right away. Feed them after few days and take care of the water parameters till they reach 4 to 6 weeks.

Emperor Tetra

The last but not the least one in the list of tetras for breeding purposes, I have Emperor tetra for you.

They are very easy to breed in the tank and you will even enjoy the process even if you are a beginner.

You need to be careful with few things like the male to female ratio, the breeding tank condition, diet, etc.

First thing first, when you ought to prepare a separate tank for the emperor tetra, look for the one that can hold any number of tetra fry.

Likewise, the male to female ratio needs to be 2:1 as male emperor tetra can get competitive for female attention and turn aggressive towards each other.

Now, the water in the tank should be slightly acidic with a pH level of around 7 or slightly less whereas the hardness of the water should incline towards the soft side.

The water temperature while breeding emperor tetras needs to be around 80 to 82°F and you need to get plants that can stand this temperature.

You should not be worrying about substrate or decoration in the breeding tank of emperor tetra.

Just add java moss or a spawning moss for eggs and you will have these tetras breeding with no complaints.

Keep the lighting dim and feed an adequate and nutritious diet to these tetras.

Remove the parents as they might eat their eggs and babies. 2 days after the eggs are laid, these eggs will hatch and you will have fry in the tank.

Do not feed the tetra fry immediately as they will have a yolk sac to feed on. After few days, you can feed them Infusoria and baby brine shrimps.

Look after the water parameters carefully as tetra fry can be fragile and sensitive.

Steps To Follow For Successful Breeding Of Tetras

You need to care about many things when you plan to breed tetras in the tank. Let me guide you step by step through all the processes so you don’t make a blunder.

You see tetras are weak when they are carrying eggs or on the verge of spawning and breeding. Thus, the slightest mistake can bring death to your tetras.

You might like to read about Why Do Neon Tetras Die After Laying Eggs?

Choosing A Healthy Breeding Pair Of Tetras

First and foremost, you need to make sure the tetras you are about to breed are healthy and infection-free.

You see when you take a fish that has a long history of sickness, then there is very little chance that the fish will survive through the breeding phase.

Female tetras need energy during spawning as well as to lay eggs. Hence, if she has a disease growing inside her, she won’t be able to handle the pressure and die.

Keep a school of tetras in the tank and let them choose their own pair. Or you can take one male and one female and place them in the tank for spawning.

But it is better that these tetras choose their partner naturally for further compatibility. Look for the symptoms and signs to confirm your tetra pairs are disease-free and healthy.

Diet For Tetras During Breeding Tetras

Now, when you know you have the healthy pair of tetras by your side, you need to condition them into spawning.

Tetras can be quite easy to condition because their love for food makes it way easier to trigger spawning behavior.

If you want to see a healthy and proper development of tetras then you need to provide them healthy and balanced diet with all the nutrition they ask for in their dietary need.

You can choose flakes, pellets, frozen goods that are high in protein. But if you want to see faster growth then feed your tetra live foods.

Daphnia, bloodworms, blackworms, Grindal, etc. are some of the best live foods for conditioning your tetras.

Punctuality and appropriate choice of foods are the two main factors to determine how well your tetras will grow and mature.

Tetras prefer to have the food at the same time every day so don’t miss a day or change a schedule. These tetras hate having the same type of food every day.

Fluctuate between dry foods that are high in vitamins and minerals and live foods that are rich in proteins.

This change in diet will balance the diet of tetras. Likewise it will make them healthy and help to reach sexual maturity sooner.

For more information about the tetra fish diet, click on the link and read the article thoroughly.

Maintain The Water Parameters

Tetra fish cannot live in an environment that is high on ammonia or nitrite let alone breeding. It cannot even handle a little pollution in the tank environment.

You need to maintain the ammonia and nitrite level to zero and nitrite to the minimum level. Replicate the similar environment as tetras have in their natural habitat.

The water temperature and the pH level need to be ideal at more than 78 °F and between 6 to 6.5 respectively.

And of course, tetras prefer soft water with the carbonate hardness around or less than 30 ppm. As I already said, tetras are sensitive during the breeding stage so be careful with the water parameters.

Test the water more often to make sure the water is appropriate for tetras to live in. API Aquarium Test Kit will be of great help during this, so I highly recommend you to purchase it.

Setting Up The Breeding Tank For Tetras

Breeding tetra fish cannot occur in the community tank so you need to get a separate tank for breeding purposes.

You need to give them an environment that reflects the rainy season of their natural habitat. They want acidic water with slightly low temperatures than the community tank.

The tank with a 12 *8 * 8 inch base is an ideal one for breeding purposes. This tank will also serve as the home to incubate eggs and newly born fry.

Here are the things you need to do while setting up the tetra breeding tank.

Clean The Breeding Tank

You cannot put the breeding tetras in a tank that is dirty or contaminated. So, you have to clean the tetra tank beforehand and leave no traces of soap or anything else behind.

Lay The Peat Moss

Now when you finish cleaning the tank and are sure there is no contamination left, it’s time to lay the bottom.

Purchase the peat moss such as Espoma PTM8 8-Quart Organic Peat Moss that is organic with no chemical materials.

You have to boil the peat moss before laying it on the bottom of the tetra tank. This will help you to get the muddy texture of water replicating the natural breeding environment of tetra.

Also, this peat moss is known to make the water softer and lower the pH to the acidic side just as the tetras prefer.

Use 1 inch of peat moss on the bottom of the tank and not more than that. Before I forget to tell you, peat moss also absorbs the heavy metals that may harm tetra fish.

Place Plastic Grate, Filter, And Heater

You can contemplate where might the plastic grate will go. And if you can’t et me help you, keep the plastic grate above the peat moss.

4 Pcs Aquarium Divider Tray Plastic Grid Aquarium Egg Crate Light Diffuser will give you exactly what you want.

The plastic grate will save the eggs from the parents when it falls on the bottom of the tank. Install a filter like hygger Aquarium Double Sponge Filter and place AQQA Mini Submersible Aquarium Heater in the tank.

You see these tetras prefer ideal water temperature around 77 °F along with the clean water composition.

Hence, an aquarium filter and an aquarium heater are quite necessary even for the fry. Learn more about Can Tetra Fish Live Without Heater And Filter?

Prepare The Water

You need to use aged water or the water from the community tank to give an ideal environment for breeding tetras.

Do not use tap water in the tetra tank and even if you do, dechlorinate it beforehand. Use soft, slightly acidic, and warmer water while transferring it to the breeding tank.

Add Plants And Decorations

Add plants and decorations for the tetra fish to hide as well as for the space to lay eggs.

Tetras come from the densely planted environment so you need to keep many aquatic plants while they are in captivity. You can learn about 10 best plants for the tetra tank here.

Java moss gives an excellent space for the safety of eggs or you can go for spawning mop too.

You can purchase Greenpro Java Moss Live Freshwater Aquarium Plants from which is quite affordable and reliable for breeding purposes.

Driftwood can also be an excellent décor as well as a factor to keep the lower pH in the breeding tank.


Dim and darker lighting is what you need to provide to your tetras while breeding them. Since the tetras come from the densely planted and dim-lit environment, you need to mimic the same in captivity.

Tetra Hidden LED Stick Light for Aquariums, Brilliant White will help you achieve that easily.

Spawning And Caring For The Tetra Fry

You need to look at tetras to know when they will be spawning. If you have been providing all the things they need in their tank, you will see them spawning sooner than you think.

You have to add female tetras to the spawning tank a few days earlier than male tetras and feed them a balanced diet every day.

They start to show the spawning behavior a night before the spawning really occurs. You need to change the water with 50% aged yet slightly cooler water and add the male tetra to the tank.

Now, after having both male and female tetras in the tank, turn the aquarium light off and cover the tank with a dark towel.

After leaving them like that overnight, uncover the tank and turn on the lights the following morning.

But do not disturb them until and unless you see the eggs in the tank on the bottom. You can use Java moss or spawning mop on the bottom to help you see the eggs easily.

If you don’t see the eggs in the tank, repeat the procedure all over again. Similarly, if you see eggs in the tank, remove the parents from the tank to the community tank immediately.

These tetras don’t have maternal instincts so they will eat their eggs. Now, leave the tank in darkness for another 48 hours before the fry hatch.

Caring For The Tetra Fry

Also, when you see the fry in the tank, don’t get excited and feed them immediately or disturb them in any way.

Avoid disturbing these tetra fry before they start swimming freely for few days. You might like to read about Tetra Fry Tank Set-Up: Fish Tank Requirement For The Fry.

Now, after 5 days of waiting, you can feed them a few ounces of green water. Or switch to vinegar eels or microorganisms present in the sponge filter.

You need to understand the condition of your fry, see they are very fragile and sensitive. So, feed them properly till they start swimming actively. Learn more about How To Feed Tetra Fish Fry Properly | Dos and Don’ts With Alternative Fry Food.

Also, please avoid the water change during the first seven days. After 7 days, you can change 10 to 15% of water just so as to be on the safe side.

However, you can change or have to change 30% water every day after 2 to 3 weeks to make your fry grow properly.

I have also written an article on Aquarium Filters Best Suited For Tetra Fish Fry. Have a look!!!

Baby brine shrimps and few commercial foods will be ideal for 2 to 3 weeks old tetra fry. And, feed them several times till they reach their sexual maturity.

Frequently Asked Questions

Breeding tetras is not a cup of tea for everyone. And I know how questions that follow will definitely give a headache to anyone.

So, I tried to answer few FAQs to make it easier for you to grasp the idea of breeding tetras.

Are Tetras Easy To Breed?

Yes, Tetras are quite easy to breed if you know what you are doing and what your next step should be. Firstly, breeding any fish in the tank will not be your cup of tea if you are just a beginner.

Tetras alone have hundreds of varieties making it hard for you to decide which one to pick. Ember tetra, emperor tetra, black phantom tetra, etc. are easy to breed in captivity however you will have a hard time breeding tetras like cardinal tetra, etc. as they barely breed in the aquarium.

How Long Do Tetra Fish Stay Pregnant?

Technically speaking Tetras cannot get pregnant as they are not livebearers. Tetras are egg layers and female tetras store the eggs in their belly and male tetras will fertilize the eggs externally after females lay those eggs.

So, I will tell you about the time you will see the swollen belly of female tetras in the tank. You have 2 weeks or 14 days window to prepare and set up a tetra fry tank before your female tetras lay eggs.

So, literally, Tetras stay pregnant for 14 days and you will see fry on the 15th or 16th day after the female tetras lay eggs.

I have also written an article on How Long Is Neon Tetra Pregnant For?

Do Tetras Eat Their Babies?

Yes, sorry to say but your tetras will eat their babies as they will feed on anything that fits in their mouth.

You have to remove the adults or parents from the breeding tank immediately after the female Tetras lay eggs.

These tetras will find the egg and eat them even before they hatch. Likewise, if any of the eggs survive the scavenger hunt and hatch into fry, these tetras will eat the fry too as long as that fry is the right fit for tetra mouth.

In A Nutshell About Tetras For Breeding

In conclusion, if you have a hard time deciding which tetra fish to breed at home, then choose from any of these. They are quite easy to breed and I promise you will gain experience enough to try to breed some other tetras too. You have to know tetras are egg layers, not livebearers so don’t expect to see fry directly. The first thing you will see is the eggs that female tetras will lay and male tetras will fertilize.

If you follow the instructions properly, you will be an expert in breeding any tetras. Just remember to condition your tetra to trigger spawning while breeding tetras. Feeding them a high-quality diet either commercial or live food will help you achieve your goal easily and actually faster sometimes.

Have patience and try to understand all the steps carefully. And, if you have any query or problem related to breeding tetras or any other questions related to tetras, drop a comment below on the comment section. I will try to answer your question and solve your query as soon as possible.

Good Luck!!!

Happy Fish Keeping!!!

Recommended Articles:

  1. How to Set up an Aquarium for Tetra Fish
  2. Top 10 Easy to Care Tetra Fish – Perfect For Beginners
  3. Are Tetra Fish Easy to Keep and Care for?
  4. How To Breed Neon Tetras – A Complete Step By Step Guide

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