Tetra Fish Diet | What do Tetra Fish Eat: A Complete Guide

tetra fish diet

If you are an owner of an aquarium having varieties of fish, you must be familiar with tetra fish. Tetras are very common fish for home aquariums, and most fish enthusiasts prefer these fish because tetras are very easy to care for. There are almost 700 species of known tetras, and all the different tetras exhibit different attractive traits. Tetras are perfect, even for beginning aquarists. Besides, you will not find any difficulty in setting up the tank for these fish. But the lingering question is what exactly is Tetra Fish Diet? What foods do these tetras eat?

Tetras are omnivores mostly except for few. Hence, you can feed them food chips to algae wafers, frozen foods to live ones. It completely depends on your choice and the type of tetra you have. They readily accept any kind of foods you provide them with, making them easy to feed.

Tetras are freshwater fish that come from the regions of Africa, Central America, and South America. Tetra family is common to three different families, Alestidae, Characidae, and Lebiasinidae.

These tetras are compatible with various other species and are peaceful in the community tanks. Tetra fish are very undemanding as these fish can adapt to various water parameters. You will also find feeding them convenient even in the community tank.

In this article, you will learn about the tetra fish diet, what and how to feed them in detail. Keep reading for more.

Tetra Fish Diet

Tetra fish are very popular schooling fish, and we must keep them in a group of at least 6 of their kind. In the context of their diet, these tetras are omnivores and need a diverse balanced diet.

Most of their diet can comprise mainly a mixture of food chips, wafers, flakes, frozen foods, etc. Pellets, wafers, and flakes should mostly be meat-based with some vegetable matter.

Other live or frozen foods that tetras enjoy are brine, shrimps, bloodworms, mosquito larvae, fruit flies, and micro worms.

Another factor that you should consider when feeding your tetras is the amount and quantity of the food. You should only feed them with the foods that they can consume within 3 to 5 minutes.

If you have any uneaten food in the tank, you should immediately remove it. The excess food in your tank can cause harmful chemicals like ammonia, which leads to various diseases in your fish.

Hence, you should be careful while feeding the tetra fish. To avoid illness in your tetras, you need to make an effort for water maintenance. Water quality is one of many factors that can directly affect your fish.

Therefore, you need to change the water of your tank every week, around 20 to 25%.

What Do Tetra Fish Eat In The Wild?

In the wild, tetra fish are omnivorous; they are pretty much similar to scavengers, eating anything that fits in their tiny mouth.

Tetra fish are from freshwater rivers, streams, and ponds of Central America, South America, and Africa. They live in blackwater streams, so the vast majority of their diet consists of small insects, larvae, dead plants, and algae.

Most people say that they require more meat products to get healthy, this isn’t true. In your aquarium, their diet should be a mixture of both plant and meat fish products.

The nutrition that the fish gets from plant-based food is different compared to meat products and vice-versa.

What Do Tetra Fish Need In Their Diet?

As we humans need carbs, protein, and other nutrients in our food, fish need the same. The protein-rich food is going to keep them strong and healthy, and fiber-based foods will keep their digestive tract strong.

Likewise, they require vitamins like phosphorus for their cell growth, fats as energy storage, calcium for bone strength, and carbohydrates for energy.

And where do you get all these nutrients? A simple example is processed foods like tetra food flakes, pellets, wafers, and so on. These food formulae are developed to provide all the required nutrients to the fish.

Choose The Best Fish Food For Tetras

There are many different foods available for your fish. But, you might face confusion as to which is the right food for your tetra fish.

For this, you can consult with caretakers who have experience in this matter. You can also conduct self-research regarding the best food available for your tetras.

Tetras are mostly surface feeding fish, which means the fish only eats the food particles floating on the surface. So, it is suggested that you provide your fish with the kinds of foods that float on the water.

Some of the best-selling food for tetras are listed below. Have a look at it.

TetraColor Tropical Flakes with Natural Color Enhancer

TetraColor Tropical Flakes with Natural Color Enhancer is created so that the fish can get all the nutrition for your fish. This particular food item can also help to enhance your fish’s natural color. The price of this food is $7.08.

TetraMin Plus Tropical Flakes, Cleaner and Clearer Water Formula

TetraMin Plus Tropical Flakes can provide your fish with the flavor and aroma of real shrimp. It can cost around $7.89.

Tetra TetraPRO Tropical Color Crisps With Biotin for Fish

Tetra TetraPRO Tropical Color Crisps With Biotin for Fish is made using a low-heat process, which helps to preserve essential vitamins and nutrients in the food. The biotin present in this item helps to improve the immune system. This also helps to enhance the coloration of your fish to its natural, rich, and beautiful colors. The price of this item is $8.38.

TetraMin Nutritionally Balanced Tropical Flake Food for Tropical Fish

The specialty of TetraMin Nutritionally Balanced Tropical Flake Food for Tropical Fish is it is highly digestible.

The food is composed of antioxidants for healthy cells, proteins for growth, and prebiotics for digestion.

These kinds of food provide less waste and do not cloud the water when you use it directly. It cost around $6.54.

I have also listed 10 of the best tetra fish food that I have used for my tetra fish which gave my neon tetra greater color. If you are interested please have a look.

Types of Tetra Fish Food

There are various types of food in the market for your tetra fish. Since these fish are omnivores, they are not meticulous about what they eat.

They can eat both plant and meat food products for fish making them easy to feed. You can see their colors more brightening when you feed them with healthy balanced diets.

You can also mix up the different kinds of tetra foods so that your tetra will get a balanced diet. In this article, I am listing highly recommended foods for our tetra fish that will brighten up their color.

Here are the different kinds of foods that you can buy for your tetra fish.

Prepared Foods

Prepared foods are one of the most common types of fish food that you can give to any type of aquarium fish.

And these are the types of fish food commonly sold in your local fish store. However, you should get the prepared food that is packed for your tetra fish as the composition of nutrients may differ from fish to fish.

The most common types of prepared fish foods are flakes, pellets, and wafers.


Pellets are a common form of prepared foods that you can get for your fish. The reason pellets are popular as compared to flakes is that they are often high quality, and it’s easier to watch how much you are giving to your fish.

As being higher quality than flakes or wafers, they have the benefits of looking more natural for your tetra fish.

Normally, you can get high-quality pellets just for $5 to $ 10. But you have to make sure that you get the pellet that has at least 30% crude protein.

There are two types of pellets you can get: Floating pellets and sinking pellets. However, for your tetra fish as they feed on the surface and mid-level of your tank often, get them floating pellets. Getting floating pellets also has its benefits; you can scoop out any uneaten food easily.


Fish flakes also form the bulk of the diet of an aquarium fish. There are indeed different kinds of flakes. You should try to mimic the diet that tetras eat in the wild.

You must feed the tetras with the meaty flakes having some vegetable matter. Additionally, you must avoid flakes that contain more fillers such as wheat than meat.

Flakes and wafers aren’t used as much as pellets for tetra fish. However, if you have got one, make sure you give them the right amount; do not add too much at once.

They sink too quicker than other types of food and may end up rotting on the substrate of your aquarium, creating an unfavorable environment for your fish to live in.

Freeze-Dried Foods

Freeze-dried foods can be a great addition to a balanced diet for your tetra fish. This type of food has more nutrition as compared to pellets and flakes.

Freeze-dried foods are those foods made up of a single organism, such as bloodworms or mosquito larvae.

Because they are just freeze-dried animals, the moisture is removed from them. This means they are a bit difficult for your tetra to digest.

You can feed these foods to your tetra in the same way you feed them with the flake foods. However, I won’t recommend you to feed freeze-dried foods daily.

You can feed your fish with freeze-dried food 3 times a week, combining with fish pellets or flakes.

Keep in mind that you store these food items in a dry and cool environment as it may lose quality.

Live Foods

In the wild, the tetras are adapted to eating more live foods. Hence, you can feed them with live foods on your tank as well.

Live food is the most nutritional type of food for your tetra fish and is also the most expensive one.

You can buy any other types of fish food for your tetra fish online. However, for live food, you will need to visit your fish store to buy it.

And in most of the cases, they are out of stock. Even if you find them on the internet, they are way too expensive.

Few of the foods favored by tetra fish include brine shrimp, micro worms, fruit flies, mosquito larvae, daphnia, and other small insects. Live foods are available in nature if you can find them. You can grow them as well.

For example, brine shrimp, you can buy brine shrimp eggs online and create a hatchery to hatch those eggs.

If you collect the live foods from nature, be careful as these insects might contain parasites. These parasites can be passed onto your tetra fish that can make your fish sick and even die.

However, all these things cannot take away from the fact that live foods are the best form of food for your tetra fish.

Live foods bring out the most natural behavior of your tetra fish. They will haunt their food as they hunt in the wild.

Related Article: Fun And Interesting Facts About Neon Tetra

Frozen Foods

One of the popular food choices for tetras are frozen foods; they are also a great alternative to love foods.

They are packed with all the nutrients that you can find in live food and aren’t expensive too. You can easily find the frozen foods for your fish in your local grocery stores or pet stores.

As frozen food is, yeah well, frozen, you should not feed them directly to the fish; rather, you need to wait for the food to defrost.

You can feed frozen food to your tetra fish as a treat once in a while.

Tetra Color Bits

You can provide your tetra fish with tetra color bits. These are the foods containing balanced nutrition and color enhancers, specially designed for tetra fish.

These will help your tetra in bringing their bright coloration. The tetras mostly eat the foods that are on the surface. Thus, this type of food has the advantage of sinking at a slower pace.

Always remember how much you should feed the fish. Make sure that the fish are finishing the food by 3 to 5 minutes. Do not forget to crush the tetra’s food if it is too big for them to swallow.

How Much to Feed?

The always-lingering question commonly asked by fish enthusiasts is how much you should feed your fish.

Most tetras are omnivores making it easier for you to feed them and few tetras like Black Neon tetra care carnivores.

Besides the tetra’s actual diet, you can also feed them with supplement foods, which can help in improving the fish’s diet.

You should first check how much your fish could consume when you get them for the very first time.

First, you should let the fish eat only small quantities and monitor how much your fish can ingest within 2 to 3 minutes.

If they finish the food too soon, then you can add some more amount to the tank. Again, you can repeat how much more they can eat in the monitoring process.

The amount of food your fish can consume can depend on the type of fish you have. Larger tetra fish have more appetite and can consume more food than smaller ones.

There will be no problem as long as the fish eat all the food you provide them. Once the fish stops eating, you will realize the potential of the fish, and you only need to provide them with the amount they can eat.

When the fish stops eating, there can be small traces left in the tank. You need to ensure you remove the food particles as quickly as possible.

The leftover foods can spoil the water quality in the tank by increasing the amount of ammonia, which is very harmful to the fish’s health.

To overcome this, you need to replace the water by 25% once a week to establish the Nitrogen Cycle.

Also Read: How Much And How Often To Feed Your Neon Tetra

How Often to Feed Tetra Fish?

The ideal fish feeding routine should be twice a day and not more than that. The timing can be either day and evening or afternoon and night. It is totally up to you.

Once you pick what time to feed them, ensure that you feed your tetras at that particular time. This routine should be consistent as the fish builds their other habits on this basis.

Even though tetras are very adaptive, you should not fluctuate or disturb their routine regularly. Doing so can stress your fish.

If you cannot schedule feeding time, you can buy an automatic feeder where you can adjust the time and amount of food to dispense. This will make sure that your fish gets food at the right time.

Since the aquarium is a closed system, your tetras will not have any other source of food. Moreover, if you are not able to feed them regularly, a lack of food can cause them to become malnourished. This can cause your fish to become very sick and their immunity to becoming weak.

Importance of Good Quality Diet For Tetra Fish

In our daily life, we eat a balanced diet with protein, carbohydrates, fat, and other nutritional elements.

Without all of this, our health and body cannot perform very well. The same conditions apply to the fish. Fish’s natural habitats are rivers and streams of the wild.

Most fish consume a wide variety of foods in the wild. You should be able to mimic the balanced diet tetras consume in their natural habitat to keep them healthy.

You can find different brands of ready-made food in your local stores. Brands such as Tetras provide foods that have carefully formulated formula consisting of the right quality and quantity of nutrients required by the fish.

Such foods produce minimum waste, which helps your fish receive more nutrition, and you can take care of the aquarium easily.

When you provide your fish with a proper diet, it does not only help your fish but also keeps the aquarium water clean.

Also, the balanced diet keeps your fish more colorful and more pleasing to look at. It also helps to control algae by reducing the production of dissolved nutrients.


Tetra fish catch their supplies from the surface of the water. They will ignore the food at the base of the tank, as they live in the middle area of the tank. It is, therefore, better to feed them pellets that float on the water.

Make sure you do not overfeed your fish and always remove any uneaten food from your tank. Only feed your fish the amount of food that they can consume within 3 minutes. When you feed them with a large volume, they cannot finish it, and food settles down on the bottom of the tank and increases biomass. If a good filter in these tanks is lacking, Tetra fish will become sick and ill.

I hope that from this article, you are clear about the different food items you can provide your tetras. The tetras are wonderful shoaling fish, which can brighten up your aquarium. Tetra fish need proper care and diet. If you wish for a healthy and colorful tetra, you need to feed them with a good mixture of packed, frozen, and live foods.

If you are a beginner and want to know about how you can set up your aquarium, you can check our other article. We also have articles on different types of tetras that are suitable for keeping in the aquarium.


Image Credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLIbevYGXWM

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