How To Set Up Biotope Aquarium For Tetra Fish: Keep Them Happy

biotope aquarium for tetras

The best way to keep a pet in your house happy and safe is by giving them the natural environment that they live in. This is where the biotope aquarium kicks in. It is essential to set up a biotope aquarium to create a surreal look for the fish you are trying to pet.

To set up a biotope aquarium, you first need a tank and the knowledge of the real natural environment that the outer of your choice lives in. After this, you can put in the substrate, rocks, plants that are found in the same area. This will give the fish a natural vibe and they will feel safe.

Let us learn more about biotope aquariums and how to set them up for tetras.

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Where Do Tetras Live?

To give tetras the exact environment that they live in, you need to know where they live first. Tetras are mostly dwellers in America and Africa.

The majority of the tetras are found in the Amazon basin as well as other river systems in South America. Rivers and streams are where tetras mostly live. Only the blind cave tetra is a native of the cave system in Mexico.

Are Tetra Tropical Fish? Find out more about Tetra Origin and Habitat from our article.

Why Is a Biotope Aquarium Necessary For Tetra?

A Biotope aquarium is necessary for a tetra because of various reasons. I have mentioned some of them before. However, there is much more that I am going to explain below. Take a good look over the points so that you know all the benefits you can get before deciding to set up one of them.

Relief From Stress

Any living being finds it difficult to adapt to a new environment. Especially when the life cycle is small, it becomes even harder to adapt.

So by creating a biotope environment for your fish, you will be able to decrease their stress. This means that your fish will be healthier. You can get a better knowledge about Tetra Fish Diseases and Treatments to remain on the safe side.

Natural Environment

Biotope aquarium imitates the natural environment of the tetras. As mentioned earlier, they generally come from the Amazon basin.

So, creating the natural environment there will be the best way to put their life to optimum satisfaction.

Happy Pets

An owner of pets knows that it is the best compliment for you if your pet is happy. Most owners even refer to their pets as their own children.

That is exactly why you need to maintain a better lifestyle for your pet tetra fish and give them the environment that they deserve. Not only will the tetra fish be happy but you will be even happier.

Get a better outlook on the 4 Step Process on How To Keep Tetra Fish Happy And Healthy.

Long Life

Most of the diseases in the fishkeeping world are the result of stress. Hence, if you are able to create a better home for the fish, you decrease the stress.

Thus, ultimately the fish will be free from diseases and live a long life. The lifespan of tetra fish lets you know the ways of keeping your tetras healthy and happy.

Types Of Biotope Aquariums For Tetras

There are various options that you can choose from to create the best environment for your pet. Let us look at all the possibilities:

South American Whitewater River

South American Whitewater Rivers consist of muddy brown water and have low visibility. This is major because there are heavy sediments in the water. These are generally best for blackwater species like neon tetras, cardinal tetras, black neon tetras, and many more.

There are very few plants or no plants at all. The main river has a low abundance of aquarium fit fishes as only large fish are present.

However, in the back areas, aquarium fish species are abundant with larger vegetation.

The ecosystem of whitewater rivers takes in the Amazon, the Orinoco, and the Napo.

African Biotope Aquarium

Some of the tetras like the Congo tetras and African tetras are a part of the African Congo River. The African aquarium also has blackwater and is abundant with plants. Hence, tetras can feel secure and sound with various hideouts.

How To Set Up A Biotope Aquarium For Tetras?

To set up a biotope aquarium for the tetras, we must understand which type of aquariums we have to set. Different species may require different types of environments. So, we ought to keep different species of fish that have similar water requirements for ease of looking after.

Prepare The Tank

To set up the tank, first of all, get a tank with appropriate space. You can use the tank size according to the fish you are trying to raise and their number. Remember that tetras are schooling fish and avoid many beginner mistakes. Clean the tank with vinegar and clear water before you put in any accessories or decorations.

Add-In Substrate

For substrate, you can take in fine gravel or clay. 12 Pounds River Rock Stones, Natural Decorative Polished Mixed Pebbles Gravel, Outdoor Decorative Stones for Plant Aquariums, Landscaping, Vase Fillers would be the best substrate for whitewater rivers.

Make sure you rinse the gravel in the water before you put it in the aquarium. Moreover, this will avoid any kind of parasites that might enter in to your aquarium and kill your fish due to diseases.

The whitewater rivers are generally full of floating plants. So, the substrate is an option to make it look close to the natural environment only. However, if you are willing to add bottom dwellers, they will love your idea.

Add Some Plants And Decor

After adding the substrate, you must furnish the tank with appropriate aesthetic driftwoods. Make sure you leave some open swimming areas too.

The best plants for whitewater aquariums are:

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Check The Water Parameters

To set up a whitewater river aquarium, you have to maintain the following parameters. You should maintain water with a pH of 6.8 to 7.1.

Similarly, the hardness of the water must be between 3 dH to 8 dH. For the hardness and pH maintenance, you can bring in a water testing kit for assistance. I love API Aquarium Test Kit personally. It works best for tetra aquariums.

Water Parameters for Tetra Fish: Stable Water conditions will help you learn more about the water parameters.

Likewise, the temperature of the water must be between 79 F to 84 F (26 C to 29 C). For temperature, you can definitely use some heaters with adjustable temperature patterns for ease. I would recommend a heater with a thermometer for constant checking of the temperature spike.

Add The Fish

After the tank is set up, you are now ready for adding up your fishes. You can add a variety of fishes. This does not just include tetras. Eartheaters, Angelfish, Corydoras, Oscars are the best dwellers of the whitewater rivers.

On top of these, you can add any tetras you want in the tank which makes you open to many options. The best thing is you can use your own imagination and creativity to decorate and create the best biotope aquarium for the tetras.

To add in the fish, you can put it in the bag and slowly release it gradually after thirty minutes until they are floating. After that, dispose of the transported water into the sink.

Types of Technical Equipment Necessary To Set Up The Biotope Aquarium

There are various types of equipment you need to set up the biotope aquarium. These are the equipment that helps in creating the natural look for your aquarium. The fish in your aquarium has a feeling of living in their natural habitat which is the best gift that a pet owner can provide. Check these out:


Lighting is necessary for the fish and the plants to grow better. However, some tetras do not have the requirements for lighting. In fact, the tetras that live in blackwater are very sensitive to light like neon tetras, Congo tetras, ember tetras, etc.

Floating plants help to cover the lighting for these tetras. So, I would suggest a fixable lighting system for the biotope aquarium.

NICREW ClassicLED Aquarium Light, Fish Tank Light with Extendable Brackets, 48-Inch, 32 Watts works pretty well. Personally, I find it useful as it is adjustable according to the need of the fish I choose.


Heaters are essential to make the aquarium the best place to live in for the tetras. It helps to adjust the temperature to replicate the place that the tetras usually live in.

For this, hygger 50W Mini Submersible Digital Display Aquarium Heater would be best. The compact and fast heating thermostat comes with an external controller and built-in thermometer.

Sudden temperature spikes may cause stress and even death of the fish you are trying to pet. While some tetras are sensitive to cold water too. So, a heater maintains such disorders for you.

You may also find it useful to learn how to maintain tetra fish tank temperature without a heater during power outages.


Filtering the water is also an equally essential part of nature. Naturally, the water gets filtered because of the constant change of the flows but in a congested area like that of the aquarium, it is not quite possible.

Thus, you can look for mechanical filtration both internal and external to maintain proper flow as well as clean water for the tetras.

Mechanical Filters

These filters are necessary for the filtration of plant residues and algae. Natural pollutants like dead plants and excreta are taken care of in a natural biological manner.

The filter systems also work in the same manner by converting pollutants into nutrients. You can also add microorganisms or beneficial bacteria to the aquarium for the same purpose. My recommendations are:

External Filters

The external filters are necessary if the take is bigger. Internal filters are small. Thus, they are not able to filter the water efficiently if the tank is large. My suggestion is:

Gravel Cleaner

Gravel cleaner helps to make the aquarium clean. The gravel in the aquarium can round up many pollutants like extra food, excreta, etc. It becomes pretty difficult to clean manually too because they are so closely put together.

Thus, COODIA Vacuum Gravel Cleaner Automatic Aquarium Sludge Extractor will assist you best to keep the aquarium clean. The best part is that it is easy to use.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Tetras Live Without Air Pumps?

Air pumps are a piece of the necessary equipment to put oxygen into the tank. This helps the fish to breathe easily. Aquariums are generally smaller than the native space of the fish.

Hence, it has low amounts of oxygen due to a lack of water. Air pumps are an accessory rather than a necessity. If you get an air pump, it provides a better facility for your fish.

However, it can also be replaced by plants in your aquarium. That would be the natural way to build up oxygen as well as set up a biotope aquarium as you want.

Do Tetra Fish Like Bubbles?

Many aquarists notice the fish in the aquarium swimming near the bubbles. Majorly tetras are very curious creatures. These fish love to explore every corner of the aquarium and inspect any new activity occurring there.

Tetras find it fascinating to have bubbles in your aquarium and are ready to explore. Additionally, they also give oxygen to fish as these are bubbles.

Tetras need oxygen to live in the aquarium. When you use filters in your aquarium, toxic substances are easily removed without much difficulty. This will push the air in aquarium water by stirring it.

To create air bubbles you can use air pumps. One of the best in the market is Tetra Whisper Easy to Use AP150 Air Pump for Aquariums.

How Do Tetras Get Enough Sleep?

Tetras are generally the dwellers at the middle and bottom of the aquarium. The tetras that might seem like the dwellers at the middle of the tank can be bottom dwellers at night when they sleep. These tetras can also come to the top to feed themselves when they are hungry.

Tetras are also schooling fish. They sleep with proper group work. Like we camp in the wild with one person awake, the tetras might do the same to be safe from predators. Hence, they maintain teamwork and support each other to sleep well. How fascinating, right?

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