How Often Do You Feed Tetra Fish?

Estimated read time 7 min read

Obviously, your tetras need to be fed properly to weave their sparkly magic around their aquarium, but how often do you feed tetra fish? Should you feed adult tetras less or more often than tetra fry? Will different tank mates affect how often your tetras eat?

This article focuses on the answer to those questions and more: You’ll find a rundown of how often tetras should get their staple diet compared to their treats. You’ll also get a quick look at the ideal diet of adult tetras and that of the tetra fry.

In addition to that, you’ll know which bad live foods and bad tank buddies to avoid.

Suitable for beginners yet stunning enough for experienced fish caregivers, tetra fish are the true dazzlers of the freshwaters. Their colors run the glittering gamut, from diamond to jewel tones all the way to fluorescent pink.

From the ferocious piranha to the selectively bred Glofish, tetras come in more species than you can imagine. Carnivorous, omnivorous, and herbivorous: There are tetras in each of these groups. Active and big on company, they can coexist peacefully with many other types of fish.

Read on for a detailed look at all of that.


Some Great Fish Food Options For Your Tetras

What Should You Feed Tetra Fish?

Tetra fish have big appetites and they’re not all that picky: Fresh, freeze-dried, or flaked is fine by them. A good diet staple for tetras is any kind of high-quality dry flakes.

Keep in mind that tetras aren’t gorgers. They’re nibblers and can easily choke on larger chunks of food. Make sure everything you give them is chopped up to bite-sized morsels.

Do Adult Tetras Eat Meat?

In addition to basic tetra fish food, you should feed them some form of protein or meat daily. Most tetras are omnivores and some, like many types of piranhas, are strict carnivores. Feeding tetras meat also mimics their natural habitat in the wild, which helps them thrive in your care.

Here are some good sources of meaty treats for your tetras:

Make sure you rotate these treats. The variety is another thing that mimics their natural habitat. Your tetras will appreciate that.

Do Tetra Fry Eat Meat?

The fry definitely need meat to grow. In the first week of their lives, however, they are too small to manage any of the meat treats mentioned above. They can eat flake food, but it won’t give them the necessary nutrition to grow.

Ideally, you should feed your tetra fry several ounces of green water in addition to commercial flakes.


The next best thing is vinegar eels. If you can’t get either, your best bet is sponge grunge.

In the second week, your fry will be big enough to handle bigger foods like baby brine shrimp, micro worms, and fry powders.

Avoid live foods that could prey on your fry. These include dragonfly larvae, hydras, and leeches.

How Often to Feed Your Tetras

Almost all commercial fish food brands aimed at tetras recommend this:

Start by measuring out a certain amount, sprinkle it onto the water, and stand back. See how long it takes your tetras to finish that amount.

Your goal is to see how much your tetras can gobble up in about three to five minutes. That’s the ideal amount your tetra fish should eat per feeding.

That said, many tetra owners online beg to differ. They warn that if tetras eat unchecked for three to five minutes, they’ll end up bloated and might die.

Instead, they swear by feedings that last less than a minute and they have thriving tetras to show for it.

The right answer probably lies somewhere between generic brand instructions and individual experiences. How much your tetras can finish in one to two minutes might be a reasonable compromise. If they seem healthy, they’re almost certainly getting enough.

Here are the main signs of health you need to monitor in your tetras:

  • Clear eyes
  • Healthy appetite
  • Bright, even coloring

It’s recommended to make a habit of watching your tetras eat. Tetras should eat almost all the food you give them. This ensures no extra food sinks to the bottom of the aquarium.

Uneaten food won’t be eaten later. It’ll turn to waste, which can drastically affect the water quality and thus your tetras’ health.

If you’re worried that uneaten food is dissolving before you can notice, there are ways to check. You can simply keep an eye on your filter buildup. You also can use an ammonia sensor, which measures the levels of unsafe ammonia in the water and can save your tetras’ lives.

Tetra Fry

Fry, or very young tetras, should be fed pretty much constantly. It’s a good idea to keep the fry in a separate tank until they’re big enough to survive. If you don’t separate them, watch the feedings to monitor any uneaten food sinking down and turning into waste.

Grownup Tetras

Adult tetras need to be fed one to two times a day. Again, practice restraint when you sprinkle their flakes. Tetra themselves warn not to overfeed your tetra fish.

Assume that you’ll almost always end up overfeeding. As long as you’re monitoring your tetras’ health and avoiding uneaten excess food, you can experiment with less or more frequent feedings.

One More Consideration: Tank Mates

You can follow every step in the book:

Pick the best filter, heater, and gravel. Go all out and splurge on an automatic feeder for your tetra fish or a carbon source like seachem flourish excel for your tetras’ live plants.

However, if you don’t pick compatible tank buddies for your tetras, none of that will be enough.

Because tetras are schooling fish, they need a community of fellow tetras and other fish to live with. Without tank mates, tetras will fall into depression and may fall ill and die. That said, you need to pick those carefully.

Not all fish make good tank buddies for tetras. The best tankmates are those who eat similar food as your tetras and who are as peaceful as they are.

Be realistic: Ask yourself, “Can I feed different types of fish at different times of the day regularly?”

Large tetras grow up between four and five inches. They’re peaceful fish and get along well with other tetras, big or small, as well as small cichlids and several dwarf cichlids. They also co-exist peacefully with discus fish, danios, corydoras, and most livebearers.

Most mid-size tetras will grow up no larger than three inches. Small tetras grow up no longer than two inches. Their ideal tank buddies are other small tetras. Both medium and small tetras get along well with mollies, platys, and guppies.

Bad Tank Mates for Your Tetra Fish

Make sure you avoid fish that will outcompete your tetras for food and aggressive fish in general. More importantly, avoid fish that might consider your beautiful tetra prey.

Here are the main bad tank buddies for your pretty tetras:

  • Gouramis
  • Oscars
  • Aggressive cichlids
  • Barbs
  • Piranhas
  • Sharks

Final Thoughts

Pick compatible tank buddies for your gorgeous tetra fish. Sprinkle their staple flakes with restraint one to two times a day and make sure they clean up their plates. Rotate their meaty treats two or three times a day.

Finally, pick low-maintenance, peaceful tank buddies who eat the same food. This way your tetras will have a healthy feeding pattern and your little ecosystem will get along swimmingly, pun absolutely intended!

Learn More About Tetras

How Often Do You Feed Tetra Fish Adult and Fry Diet Requirements

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