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Are Tetras Livebearers? Are They Lay Eggs?

are tetras livebearers
Tetras are one of the most recognizable freshwater aquarium fish when it comes to fishkeeping hobbies. For someone new to getting Tetra fish for their aquarium might have a number of questions lined up. One of the major queries often asked is whether Tetras are livebearers or not.

The answer is no. Tetras aren’t livebearers. The term livebearer is used for fish that gives birth to live, free-swimming babies. However, this is not the case with Tetra fish. They spawn by laying eggs which get fertilized by the male.

If you got the freshwater Tetras on your tank or are planning to get some, you must know about their breeding process and the ideal conditions that promote better health and growth. The following article got all the information covered for you in a much comprehensive way. So if that appeals to you, here we go.

Are Tetras Livebearers or Egg Layers?

As clearly mentioned in the introductory part, Tetras are egg layers. They scatter eggs in the water that requires a male afterward to fertilize them. Whereas fish that come under the livebearer category undergo internal fertilization and directly give birth to fully-formed live babies.

This may come to you as a surprise, but Tetra is not a formal taxonomic name. It’s a term commonly used for various small, often colorful, freshwater species. It is mainly due to the popularity of the Tetras that many unrelated fish of different families and subfamilies got included with it.

Ideal Tank Conditions for Breeding Tetras

beautiful aquarium
These vibrant color species are easy to maintain; however, they can be a little fussy about requiring favorable conditions when breeding. To reduce the complications that come with Tetras mating and egg-scattering process, follow the tips given below.

Firstly, you have to separate the breeding pair into another tank. When choosing the adults to breed, pick up the healthy ones which are at least 12 weeks old. You can create perfect conditions that will trigger Tetras to mate and spawn by simply focusing on aquarium contents and water conditions.

If you are facing any sort of dilemma as to what to put into the aquarium’s bed, simply place some small rocks on the lower side of the tank. It will serve as a landing spot for the eggs. Many hobbyists suggest going for plant-less tanks as they work best for breeding Tetras. When fish scatter eggs into the water, they tend to stick on the leaves, so it would be wise not to have any plants in the aquarium you are using for breeding purposes.

As you might know, Tetras are sensitive freshwater species that demand favorable water conditions. So before you transfer the breeding pair, make sure the tank is fully matured and has stable water chemistry. You can keep the water temperature around 72-75 degrees Fahrenheit with a pH level between 6 and 7.

Avoid regular filters as they aren’t suitable for eggs and fry and can be quite dangerous. For best results, you can go for a sponge filter. Additionally, place a lid on the aquarium to prevent the fish and young ones from jumping over it. Needless to say, the water quality should be optimal to promote better conditions.

The light in your aquarium also plays a major role in inducing the fish to mate and spawn. Ideally, you should place your aquarium in a low-light environment. Keeping them in the dark for at least 12 hours/day would be much better. After mating, Tetras will usually lay their eggs in the morning. So, it also helps to gradually increase the light time in the tank, as it mimics the daybreak and induces Tetras to spawn at a much better rate.

How to Tell If a Tetra Fish Is Pregnant?

are tetras livebearers
A swelling belly is a telltale sign of a pregnant tetra who is ready to spawn. You will see your female tetra has gained mass around the abdomen area when it’s time for them to lay eggs. Although, a slightly swollen belly could be a result of overfeeding.

First, you have to identify the female Tetras in your aquarium and then point out the ones with bigger bellies. Female Tetra fish are usually fatter and wider than males and have rounded bellies. Furthermore, male Tetras are mainly seen with straight stripes, whereas females have curved ones.

If you are a novice and have never dealt with Tetras before, you may not get the distinct difference at first glance. It’s advisable to observe your fish, and you will be able to tell if they are ready to lay eggs.

How Often Do Tetra Fish Lay Eggs?

In the wild, when enough food is available, and the conditions for mating are fulfilled, a fully grown pair of healthy Tetra will usually spawn every two weeks. However, in captivity, it’s hard to predict the exact frequency for breeding.

As mentioned earlier, Tetras are pretty demanding and will not lay eggs unless the water conditions are favorable. Therefore, sometimes it can be quite challenging to breed them. In a home environment, Tetras will be able to reproduce as many times in a year as ideal conditions are met.

On average, a female Tetra will spawn about 60 – 120 eggs at a time and will take anywhere around 15 minutes to an hour for that. Out of these, only 30 – 40 will hatch and result in viable fry. After the eggs have been scattered in the aquarium, the hatching process takes a minimum of 24 hours.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Do tetras eat their eggs and babies?

Yes, Tetra fish can eat their eggs and fry. To prevent it, once the eggs are laid and fertilized, you should return the adults back to their regular tank.

Q. Can Tetras breed in a community tank?

As we know, Tetras are active schooling fish, they will breed in a community tank if the mating conditions are fulfilled. However, the matter of concern is parental cannibalism. You shouldn’t leave the eggs in a community tank because they will be eaten away even before they hatch into fry.

Q. What to do if your Tetras aren’t breeding?

Firstly, make sure the water temperature and pH level are ideal. Take out the breeding pair if they are in a community tank and put them into a separate aquarium. Make sure the tank is placed in a low-light environment. However, it shouldn’t be utterly dark either. That’s all there is you can do from your side to make sure the breeding conditions are met.

Q. What do Tetra fish eggs look like?

Tetra eggs are round in shape and very small. These eggs look like tiny jelly balls and have whitish and yellowish color to them. You may not be able to see the eggs in your aquarium. However, if you look closely, you might find some of them sticking to the plant’s leaves and on the bottom over the substrate.


As we are close to wrapping up this detailed article on Tetra fish and their reproduction process, we hope you got the answers you were looking for. If you still have any doubts surfacing your mind, do let us know. We will be happy to answer it for you.