Black Skirt tetra fish black skirt tetra Gymnocorymbus ternetzi 
Black Skirt tetra


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Black Skirt tetra

Gymnocorymbus ternetzi 

Black Skirt tetra information:

Scientific name:                 Gymnocorymbus ternetzi 
Common name:                Black Skirt tetra, Black tetra, Skirt tetra                      
Max. size:                           6.0 cm  / 2.4 inches                                  
pH range:                          6.0 – 8.0
dH range:                           5 - 19
Temperature range:         20 – 26°C (68 – 79°F)

The Black Skirt tetra is a popular aquarium fish. It can be recognized on its characteristic black “skirt”. There exists an albino version of the Black Skirt tetra that is quite common in pet shops and known as the White Skirt tetra. Unfortunately, White Skirt tetras are often dipped in pastel colours and marketed as Fruit tetras. The dying process hurts the fish, and this is not only a problem for the fish itself – it is a problem for the aquarist as well since dyed fish will be highly prone to illness and have a greatly reduced life span. You can however also find White skirt tetras that are pastel coloured because they have been fed coloured food. These tetras are usually healthy, but they will of course loose their colouration if you start giving them normal fish food.

Black Skirt tetra habitat and range:

The Black Skirt tetra is native to Bolivia, Brazil and northern Argentina and inhabits subtropical river basins where the water temperature stays between 20 and 26° C (68 and 79° F). The Black Skirt tetra was earlier regarded as native to Paraguay too, but this turned out to be a case of mistaken identity. The Black Skirt tetra has today been introduced to nearby Colombia as well as too far away Thailand. The Black Skirt tetra is a pelagic species that will spend its time in the middle and upper water layers.

Black Skirt tetra description:

The Black Skirt tetra can be easily recognized on its characteristic black dorsal and anal fins. The body is decorated with black vertical stripes. The Black Skirt tetra will reach its adult size when it is roughly one year of age, and this is also when the Black Skirt tetra will display its strongest colouration. As the fish grows older, the Black Skirt tetra will become duller and the colouration will fade to a silvery gray shade.

The anal fin of the female Black Skirt tetra is narrower than the male anal fin. The front edge runs parallel with the second vertical line on her abdomen. The dorsal fin is also less pointed in females. In male Black Skirt tetras, the front edge of the anal fin slants back towards the tail. You can also distinguish the two sexes by looking at their body shape; the female is typically plumper than the male. Male Black Skirt tetras will sometimes sport white dots on the caudal fin.   

Today, you can purchase a captive bred long-finned Black Skirt tetra variant as well as several colour variations. These genetic colour variations should not be confused with the artificially coloured skirt tetras. 

Black Skirt tetra setup and tank mates:

gymnocorymbus  ternetzi - Black skirt tetra
Black skirt tetra picture. Copyright

The aquarium where you keep your Black Skirt tetra should be at least 60 centimetres (24 inches) long. Keep at least five Black Skirt tetras together. Black Skirt tetras that are kept alone or in really small groups will typically become shy and much stressed. They will spend most of their time hiding and the stress can weaken their immune system and make them more prone to illness.

Black Skirt tetras are generally peaceful and can be kept in community aquariums with other peaceful fish species of similar size. They can however be a bit nippy when kept with fish that have long and flowing fins, such as Angelfish and Bettas, especially if the Black Skirt tetras are kept in a small group. If your Black Skirt tetras start to nip, you can often solve the problem by purchasing more Black Skirt tetras and create a larger shoal.   

Black Skirt tetra care:

The Black Skirt tetra is a very hardy fish that is suitable for beginner aquarists. Since it is native to subtropical waters, it will appreciate a lower temperature than what is found in most tropical aquariums. Ideally keep the temperature between 20 and 26° C (68 and 79° F).

The Black Skirt tetras can adapt to a wide range of conditions, but rapid changes and extreme conditions should naturally be avoided. The recommended pH range is 6-8 and the dH should be kept between 5 and 19.

Try to mimic the natural Black Skirt tetra habitat when you set up the aquarium and include a lot of large plants. The Black Skirt tetra will appreciate subdued lighting. The recommended substrate is neutral coloured gravel.

Black Skirt tetra feeding:

Wild Black Skirt tetras are mainly carnivores and feed on insects, worms and small crustaceans. They do however also ingest smaller amounts of algae and plant matter. Healthy Black Skirt tetras are happy eaters in the aquarium and will accept virtually any type of food. Keeping them on a varied diet is recommended. They will eat live and fresh food as well as frozen, freeze dried and flake food. You can use a high quality tropical flake food as a base, and combine it with worms, brine shrimp and spirulina. 

Black Skirt tetra breeding:

The wild Black Skirt tetras are very prolific and have a minimum population doubling time below 15 months. If you want to breed Black Skirt tetras in captivity, you should provide them with an aquarium that is densely planted with fine-leaved plants. The Black Skirt tetra is an egg-scattering species that prefers to release the eggs among fine-laved plants. The male will claim a territory during the breeding period and defend it. If you want to ensure a high fry survival rate, you should set up a separate breeding aquarium from which the parents can be removed as soon as the eggs have been released and fertilized. The eggs will typically hatch within 24 hours. Feed the fry egg yolk or newly hatched brine shrimp. As the fry grows larger, you can give them larger and larger brine shrimp.

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Black Skirt tetra