Tetras are one of the most popular freshwater aquarium fish in the fishkeeping hobby. But, unless you want to keep a species only tank (which is perfectly fine!), what else should you stock your tank? Tetras are generally peaceful fish, so other peaceful species are a must. They are also most comfortable in larger groups, so make sure you have a large enough aquarium to accommodate other fish. Keeping those things in mind, here is our list of 25 tank mates that are great for tetras.
Corydoras, also known as cory cats or cory catfish, are great candidates for tetra tank mates. Many kinds of tetras and cory cats are found together naturally in the wild, so keeping them both in the home aquarium makes good sense. Corys generally stay in the bottom levels of a tank, so they are great to add if you’re looking for activity at different water levels. Be sure to get a group of them – just like Tetras, they must have the company of their own species.
Plecos are another excellent option for bottom-level additions to your tetra tank. However, some plecos can grow up to two feet long in the wild, which can be quite intimidating to tiny tetra varieties. If you think a pleco is right for you, check out the bristle nosed type. They come in several color and pattern varieties and only grow to around 3-5 inches.
Tetras and rasboras go together so well they’re often listed in the same section on online retail for-sale sections. They both share general sizes, body shapes, and dispositions, so they get along great in a community tank.
Platies are one of the most common fish for beginners because they are easy to care for, making them a perfect tetra tank mate. Platies are active swimmers, so make sure to pick a tetra species that won’t be intimidated by the three-inch platy’s athletic lifestyle. They can and do jump, so make sure to have a tight-fitting lid to ensure none try to escape!
Another popular fish for beginning aquarists is also an excellent option for tetras. Guppies come in every color of the rainbow and have dazzling patterns. They’re very peaceful, and not the fastest swimmers because of their gorgeous long tails. Guppies produce a lot of waste, so make sure to keep an eye on your water parameter and perform regular tank maintenance.
Mollies and platies can be easy to confuse, especially when they are both juveniles. Don’t be fooled! While they look similar, there are some key differences. First, mollies get bigger than platies, coming in at nearly five inches when fully grown. Second, their body shapes are different. Mollies have more elongated, oval-shaped bodies, while platies are more rounded. No matter which (or both!) you go with, they both get along just fine with tetras.
- Endler’s Livebearers
Coming from the same family as guppies, Endler’s Livebearers are perfect for sharing space with Tetras. In fact, my 20-gallon planted nano tank is currently housing Blue Star Endler’s and Ember Tetras together quite happily! Endler’s look similar to guppies, but they come in different colors, patterns, lack the long, flowy tails, and are a little smaller. Their name comes from the fact that they bear live offspring instead of laying eggs.
- Peaceful Dwarf Cichlids
I know what you’re saying – “Cichlids? Aren’t they aggressive?” While many cichlids are aggressive, such as the Jack Dempsey or Striped Convict cichlids, some dwarf varieties are peaceful. The German Blue Ram is a favorite of mine. These little fish only get to about two inches long and display gorgeous yellow, blue, and green coloration. They don’t need others of their kind to be happy, so you can easily keep one in your tetra tank, as long as they have enough space and a high protein diet.
- Dwarf Gouramis
Along the same lines as Cichlids, Gouramis can get a bad rep in community tanks. However, dwarf gouramis, like Flame Gourami, can get along quite well in a tetra tank. Their vibrant red, orange, and blue scales make them a popular color variety. They also only grow to two inches max, so they’re great for smaller aquariums, such as a 20+ gallon. They like a densely planted tank with pristine water, so make sure to stay on top of your partial water changes.
- Other Tetras
What are better tank mates for tetras than other tetras? You can’t go wrong keeping different varieties of tetras together. They prefer the same type of environments, temperatures, and water parameters, which takes some of the legwork out of doing your research. Tetras come in a wide variety of colors, so you’re sure to find a few that will perfectly complement your aquarium. The ever-popular neon tetra is always a great choice, so why not pair that with a rarer variety or one with contrasting colors?
Danios are another popular beginner fish that go well with tetras. Be careful which variety of tetra you choose, though. Danios are very boisterous swimmers, especially during feeding time. They can easily frighten shyer tetras into hiding. But, just like there are many kinds of tetras, there are many different kinds of danios. Be sure to do your research before making any purchases. The Celestial Pearl Danio has become quite popular with some of the smaller, shyer tetras.
- Discus Fish
Discus Fish, also known as just ‘discus,’ also get a bad rep for being aggressive. While this is true in the beginning, they quickly settle down after they’ve established a pecking order. They generally don’t harass tetras if they have enough tank space and are fed properly. Discus are some of the most beautiful freshwater fish in the aquarium trade. Still, they are notoriously hard to care for. They have a high bioload yet need absolutely pristine water conditions. There are plenty of tetras that do well with discus, like Cardinal or Neon tetras. Discus are definitely not for beginners, so be sure to have plenty of experience under your belt before attempting to keep these beauties.
- African Dwarf Frogs
African dwarf frogs are fully aquatic frogs that are very popular to keep with tetras. While they don’t require any sort of above water abode in their tanks, they still breathe air, so make sure to have enough space at the top of your tank for them to take a breath. Also, being frogs, they are prone to jumping, so ample space at the top of your aquarium paired with a solid, snug-fitting lid is essential. They aren’t particularly fast movers, so make sure the tetras aren’t eating all their food before they get to it.
Freshwater angelfish are sometimes referred to as a semi-aggressive species, but they do well with most tetras. Angelfish are some of the largest fish on this list, growing up to eight inches high and six inches long. They prefer a tall tank with plenty of tall plants in which they can hide. They can be territorial at times, so be sure to have plenty of space for them to stake their space. When kept with tetras, a 55+ gallon tank is recommended.
Some loaches are considered semi-aggressive. But, they generally don’t bother tetras, as they stay in middle and bottom levels of established aquariums. Yoyo loaches are my favorite. Their quirky and active personalities make the bottom of the tank a joy to watch. As juveniles, their black and white stripes seem to spell out ‘yoyo,’ which is where they get their names. As adults, they have an exciting labyrinth pattern.
- Ghost Shrimp
While there are many shrimp that are candidates for a tetra tank, the ghost shrimp is the safest option. Since tetras need a high protein diet, they may see small shrimp as a great snack. The ghost shrimp, however, is nearly see-through. This, paired with the fact that they are fast swimmers and adept at hiding, make them the most likely variety to live a long life with tetras. Just be sure to have plenty of plants and hiding places for them to hide in case the tetras get hungry!
- Mystery Snails
Mystery snails are great pets all by themselves, but they make great companions in tetra tanks too. They’re entirely peaceful and won’t bother your tetras in the slightest. They’re relatively active – well, for snails that is – and come in almost any color you can imagine. A great thing about mystery snails is that they lay eggs above the waterline in your aquarium, so it’s easy to prevent infestations of unwanted baby snails.
Barbs are another species that like the same water parameters as tetras. They also want to be in large schools, so they look really great mixed with a big group of tetras. While most barbs are peaceful some, like the Tiger barb, might be intimidating to shyer kinds of tetras. Make sure to research your chosen barbs and tetras to make sure they are around the same size and of similar temperaments.
- White Cloud Mountain Minnows
These stunning tetra tank mate options only reach about 1.5 inches. They have lovely iridescent scales in shades of silver and green, with accents of pink and red. As you might expect with a minnow, they’re rather gregarious fish when kept in groups of their own kind. Still, they can be very nervous around boisterous species. Additionally, White Cloud Mountain Minnows prefer slightly cooler waters, so make sure to do your research before adding these to an existing tetra tank to ensure they will be comfortable.
- Glass Catfish
Glass catfish are also known as ghost, skeleton, and phantom catfish because of the way they look. Their bodies are entirely transparent, allowing you to see all their bones and organs. They’re super fun to watch, and being beginner-friendly, are very popular with children. They get pretty big though, so make sure you have a large enough tank to keep them with your tetras.
- Betta Fish
It’s a common sight in the fishkeeping world to see bettas alone in a tank. There is indeed a reason behind the nickname ‘fighting fish.’ They generally do better alone, but if you’re looking for a tank mate for your betta, tetras might just be the way to go. Since tetras can be known to fin nip, make sure to go with a docile variety, such as neon tetras. A group of 6-12 neons goes great with a betta in a 20+ gallon tank.
Swordtails come from the same family as guppies, mollies, and platies, so, just like their cousins, they make great companions for tetras. The swordtail looks very similar to platies and mollies. But they differ in that they have a long, sharp point on the bottom of their tail. They’re straightforward to take care for, peaceful, and colorful, making perfect tank mates.
- Nerite Snails
If you’re looking for a super interesting cleanup crew, look no further than the nerite snail. Nerite shells come in all kinds of neat patterns, like spots or zebra stripes. While no animal is a replacement for regular tank maintenance, the nerite snail can help keep pesky algae in check.
There are several different kinds of pencil fish (aka pencilfish), but all are known for their long, slim bodies. The variety you’ll usually find in stores has sharp muzzles and lovely silverish bodies with a black strip. Their fins stand out due to their color, ranging from orange to bright red. Some aquarists keep pencilfish as an alternative to tetras, so it’s no wonder they make great tank mates!
- Otocinclus Catfish
More commonly known as ottos, otos, or those monikers in combination with cat or catfish, oto cats are arguably one of the best algae eaters around. Even the largest varieties of the species only grow to just over two inches long. They’re very docile and cautious fish who prefer to hide in shadowy areas even with the meekest tank mates.
They’re cute and small, but the best thing is, they love algae. Otos will help rid and control even the most robust aquarium algae around. So, in addition to being cute and unassuming, they’re super useful too!
Tetras are popular aquarium fish for a reason. They come in a great variety of colors and sizes, are generally simple to care for, and are compatible with a large number of tank mates. We hope this list of 25 great tetra tank mates has given you some good stocking ideas. Know some other awesome tetra tank mates? Make sure to leave them in the comments below!