White Skirt Tetra: A Comprehensive Guide on Tank Size, Feeding, Breeding and More

White Skirt tetra Gymnocorymbus ternetzi

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White Skirt Tetra: A Comprehensive Guide on Tank Size, Feeding, Breeding and More

The White Skirt Tetras (Gymnocorymbus ternetzi) is a popular freshwater aquarium fish. These tropical wonders are highly sought after in the hobby for their striking looks and ease of care, making them a top pick whether you’re a seasoned aquarist or just starting out.

White Skirt Tetras belong to the tetra family, a group of small, colorful, and notably peaceful fish. They’re the type of aquatic buddies that thrive in community setups, helping create a serene and harmonious tank atmosphere.

What sets these tetras apart is their natural schooling behavior. White Skirt Tetras are inherently social, and they truly come to life when they’re in the company of their fellow tetras. Watching a school of White Skirt Tetras elegantly glide through the water is a sight to behold and a real treat for any aquarium enthusiast.

One of their standout qualities is their hardiness. These fish are known for their adaptability to various water conditions. So, if you’re new to aquarium maintenance, White Skirt Tetras are forgiving and can make your journey into fish-keeping much smoother.

Feeding them is a breeze too. Being omnivores, they readily accept high-quality flakes or pellets as their main course. To keep things interesting and provide a balanced diet, you can occasionally treat them with live or frozen foods like brine shrimp.

When it comes to tankmates, White Skirt Tetras are the friendly neighbors of the aquarium world. They’re peaceful by nature and get along well with a range of non-aggressive species. So, if you’re looking to create a thriving community tank, these tetras are a fantastic addition.

In the reproduction department, White Skirt Tetras have an interesting twist. Unlike some tetras that give birth to live fry, they are egg-laying fish If you’re curious about the intricacies of their breeding behaviors and raising their young, we’ll cover all that too.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about White Skirt Tetra care, from setting up their tank to ensuring their overall well-being. We’ll also dive into the captivating world of breeding these beautiful fish. So, whether you’re a seasoned aquarist or a newcomer to the hobby, the White Skirt Tetra promises an enjoyable and rewarding experience in the realm of tropical aquarium fish.

Scientific NameGymnocorymbus ternetzi
ClassActinopterygii (Ray-finned fish)
Size of the FishApproximately 2.5 inches (6.35 cm)
Difficulty ScoreEasy to moderate
Minimum Tank Size20 gallons (75.7 liters) recommended
Water ParametersTemperature: 75-82°F (24-28°C), pH: 6.0-7.5, Hardness: 5-15 dGH
Tank MatesCompatible with peaceful tetras (e.g., Neon Tetra, Cardinal Tetra), other peaceful community fish
DietOmnivorous – Flake or pellet food, live/frozen foods (brine shrimp, daphnia), occasional vegetable matter (blanched spinach, zucchini)
Behavior & TemperamentPeaceful, schooling behavior, active swimmers, social
Lifespan3-5 years in captivity
OriginSouth America (Paraguay and Guaporé River basins)
Source: The Spruce Pets

White Skirt Tetra Appearance

Gymnocorymbus ternetzi White skirt tetra

White Skirt Tetras are prized for their striking appearance, making them a favorite among aquarists. They have a sleek, elongated body with translucent white scales, giving them their name. Here are some key features of their appearance:

  • Body Color: As the name suggests, their body is predominantly white, which contrasts beautifully with their other vibrant colors.
  • Dorsal Fin: Their dorsal fin is marked with a splash of black at the base.
  • Anal Fin: The anal fin displays a similar black accent.
  • Caudal Fin: Their caudal fin, or tail fin, is clear and gracefully forked.
  • Size: Adult White Skirt Tetras typically grow to about 2.5 inches (6.35 cm) in length.

White Skirt Tetra Origin

White Skirt Tetras are native to South America, primarily found in the basins of the Paraguay and Guaporé Rivers. They inhabit slow-moving rivers and streams, often hiding among aquatic plants to avoid predators. In the wild, they are accustomed to warm and clear waters, which should be mimicked in their aquarium environment.

White Skirt Tetra Lifespan

With proper care, White Skirt Tetras can live for an average of 3 to 5 years in captivity. Providing them with a well-maintained tank, suitable water parameters, and a balanced diet will contribute to their longevity.

White Skirt Tetra Size

White Skirt Tetras are relatively small fish, making them suitable for various tank sizes. As adults, they typically reach a size of about 2.5 inches (6.35 cm). Their compact size makes them ideal for both beginner and experienced aquarists, as they don’t require excessively large tanks.

White Skirt Tetra Behavior

White Skirt Tetras are known for their peaceful and social behavior. They are schooling fish, which means they thrive when kept in groups of at least five or more individuals. In a school, they exhibit natural shoaling behavior, creating a visually stunning spectacle in the aquarium.

These tetras are generally active swimmers and will explore their surroundings. They are not aggressive and are compatible with a wide range of tankmates, provided the tankmates are also peaceful.

White Skirt Tetra Male vs. Female

Distinguishing between male and female White Skirt Tetras can be challenging, but there are subtle differences to look out for:

  • Fins: Males often have slightly more elongated and pointed dorsal and anal fins compared to females.
  • Size: Females tend to be slightly larger and plumper, especially when they are carrying eggs.

However, these differences may not always be evident, especially in younger individuals.

White Skirt Tetra Pregnancy

White Skirt Tetras are egg layers, which means that females do not become pregnant in the way livebearing fish do. Instead, they lay eggs, and it’s crucial to provide suitable conditions for breeding if you want to observe this fascinating aspect of their behavior.

White Skirt Tetra Tank Size and Requirements

Best Tank Size for White Skirt Tetra

The best tank size for white skirt tetra is a 20 gallon tank. Choosing the right tank size is a crucial aspect of providing a suitable habitat for White Skirt Tetras. While they are relatively small fish, it’s important to offer them enough space to exhibit their natural behaviors and maintain a healthy environment.

Minimum Tank Size: A minimum tank size of 20 gallons (75.7 liters) is recommended for a small school of White Skirt Tetras. This size provides ample swimming space and allows for the establishment of a stable ecosystem within the aquarium. However, keep in mind that larger tanks are always better if space and budget allow.

Schooling Behavior: White Skirt Tetras are schooling fish, which means they thrive when kept in groups of at least five or more individuals. Keeping them in a group not only enhances their well-being but also encourages natural shoaling behavior. In a school, they tend to display their vibrant colors more prominently, creating a visually stunning spectacle in your aquarium.

Vertical Space: Consider the vertical space in the tank as well. White Skirt Tetras are known to swim at various depths within the water column. Providing them with tall tanks or tanks with plenty of vertical decorations, like tall plants or driftwood, will allow them to utilize the entire tank.

Water Parameters

Maintaining suitable water parameters is essential for the health and longevity of White Skirt Tetras. Their natural habitat in South America provides some guidance on the water conditions they prefer.

Temperature: Keep the water temperature in the range of 75-82°F (24-28°C). White Skirt Tetras originate from warm tropical waters, and maintaining a stable and appropriate temperature is crucial for their well-being. Consider using a reliable aquarium heater to maintain the desired temperature.

pH Level: Aim for a slightly acidic to neutral pH range of 6.0-7.5. The pH in their native waters is typically around this range, so replicating it in the aquarium helps reduce stress and promotes overall health.

Water Hardness: Maintain a moderate water hardness level, ideally between 5-15 dGH (degrees of General Hardness). These fish are adaptable to a range of water hardness, but extremes should be avoided. You can adjust water hardness using appropriate additives if necessary.

Filtration: Invest in a good-quality aquarium filter to keep the water clean and free from harmful substances. White Skirt Tetras are sensitive to poor water quality, so regular water changes and efficient filtration are essential.

Best Plants For a White Skirt Tetra

The best plants for white skirt tetras are live plants. Creating a natural and visually appealing environment in the aquarium not only benefits the aesthetic appeal but also contributes to the well-being of White Skirt Tetras.

Plants: Both live and artificial plants can be used to provide hiding spots and shelter for your tetras. White Skirt Tetras appreciate a planted tank, as it mimics their natural habitat and offers them places to rest and explore. Consider using plants like Amazon Sword, Java Fern, or Hornwort.

Substrate: Use fine gravel or sand as the substrate in the tank. This substrate resembles the riverbeds of their native waters and is comfortable for the fish to sift through in search of food.

Décor: Incorporate driftwood, rocks, and caves into the tank to create additional hiding places and visual interest. These decorations not only offer shelter but also help in breaking sightlines, reducing stress among tank inhabitants.

Lighting: While White Skirt Tetras don’t have specific lighting requirements, it’s advisable to provide moderate lighting. Avoid excessive light, as it can cause stress and algae issues. You can use a timer to maintain a consistent lighting schedule.

Floating Plants: Consider adding floating plants like Water Sprite or Duckweed. These not only provide shade but also serve as natural water purifiers, helping to maintain good water quality.

Aquarium Background: Applying a dark-colored background to the back of the tank can enhance the contrast and bring out the vibrant colors of your White Skirt Tetras.

Maintaining a well-decorated and appropriately furnished tank provides not only a pleasing aesthetic but also a comfortable and natural environment for your fish to thrive.

In summary, when setting up a tank for White Skirt Tetras, consider their schooling behavior, water parameters, and the elements that replicate their native habitat. By providing them with the right tank size, suitable water conditions, and a well-decorated environment, you can ensure that your White Skirt Tetras live healthy and content lives in your aquarium.

Common Possible Diseases

Preventing disease is a critical aspect of White Skirt Tetra care. Here are some common diseases to be aware of:

  • Ich (White Spot Disease): This parasitic infection can cause white spots on their skin. Quarantine new fish and maintain good water quality to prevent it.
  • Fin Rot: Typically caused by poor water quality, fin rot can be prevented by regular water changes and a clean tank.
  • Columnaris: This bacterial infection can manifest as white, cottony growth on the fish. Maintain optimal water parameters to reduce the risk.

White Skirt Tetra Food & Diet

Feeding your White Skirt Tetras a balanced and varied diet is essential to ensure their health, vibrant colors, and overall well-being. These tetras are omnivorous by nature, meaning they eat both plant-based and animal-based foods. Offering them a diverse diet will help replicate their natural feeding behaviors and meet their nutritional requirements.

Staple Diet

  1. Flake or Pellet Food: High-quality flake or pellet food specifically formulated for tropical fish should make up the staple of their diet. Look for products that list fish meal or fish protein as the primary ingredient, as these provide essential proteins.
  2. Micro Pellets: As White Skirt Tetras are relatively small, consider using micro pellets. These are better suited for their mouth size and make it easier for them to feed.

Live and Frozen Foods

While flake or pellet food can be the foundation of their diet, supplementing it with live or frozen foods is highly beneficial. These foods provide essential nutrients and offer variety to their diet, which can improve their overall health and coloration. Here are some options:

  1. Brine Shrimp: Brine shrimp, either live or frozen, are a favorite treat for White Skirt Tetras. They are rich in protein and can be fed as a supplement a couple of times a week.
  2. Daphnia: Daphnia, both live and frozen, are another excellent source of protein. They are also known to promote healthy digestion in fish.
  3. Bloodworms: Frozen bloodworms are a high-protein food that White Skirt Tetras relish. These can be given as an occasional treat.
  4. Tubifex Worms: Live or frozen tubifex worms are appreciated by these fish. However, ensure that the source is reputable to avoid introducing diseases to your tank.

Vegetable Matter

Incorporating some vegetable matter into their diet is beneficial for White Skirt Tetras. This can be achieved by feeding them blanched vegetables such as spinach or zucchini. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Blanched Vegetables: Boil a small piece of spinach or zucchini for a few minutes until it becomes soft. Let it cool and then offer it to your tetras. They will nibble on the soft greens, getting essential fiber and nutrients.

Feeding Schedule

Establishing a regular feeding schedule is important to ensure your tetras receive the nutrition they need without overfeeding, which can lead to water quality issues. Here’s a recommended feeding schedule for White Skirt Tetras:

  • Daily: Offer a small portion of flake or pellet food once a day. Ensure they consume the food within a few minutes. If there’s excess uneaten food, it can foul the water.
  • Alternate Days: On alternate days, provide a treat of live or frozen foods like brine shrimp or daphnia. This adds variety to their diet and provides essential proteins.
  • Vegetable Treat: Once a week, introduce blanched vegetables like spinach or zucchini to their diet.

Remember to observe your fish while feeding to ensure that they are eating well and not displaying any signs of overfeeding or illness.

Adjusting for Breeding

If you plan to breed White Skirt Tetras, it’s crucial to condition the breeding pair with a more protein-rich diet leading up to breeding. You can increase the frequency of feeding live or frozen foods to enhance their overall health and prepare them for the breeding process.

In conclusion, maintaining a balanced and diverse diet for White Skirt Tetras is key to their health and vitality. By offering a mix of high-quality flake or pellet food, occasional live or frozen treats, and some vegetable matter, you can ensure that your tetras thrive in your aquarium and exhibit their beautiful colors and natural behaviors. Always monitor their feeding habits and adjust their diet as needed to maintain their well-being.

White Skirt Tetra Tank Mates

White Skirt Tetras are known for their peaceful temperament, making them great candidates for community aquariums. When choosing tank mates for your White Skirt Tetras, it’s important to consider species that share their peaceful nature and water parameter preferences. Here, we’ll explore suitable tank mates, with a focus on other tetra species that can coexist harmoniously with White Skirt Tetras.

Tetra Tank Mates

  1. Neon Tetra (Paracheirodon innesi): Neon Tetras are a classic choice to pair with White Skirt Tetras. Their small size and vibrant blue and red colors create a visually stunning combination in the aquarium. Both species thrive in similar water conditions, making them compatible tank mates.
  2. Cardinal Tetra (Paracheirodon axelrodi): Cardinal Tetras closely resemble Neon Tetras but have more extensive red coloration. They share the same water parameter requirements and peaceful disposition, making them excellent companions for White Skirt Tetras.
  3. Rummy Nose Tetra (Hemigrammus rhodostomus): Rummy Nose Tetras are another peaceful tetra species that can coexist with White Skirt Tetras. Their distinctive red “nose” adds a unique visual element to the tank, and they appreciate similar water conditions.
  4. Black Neon Tetra (Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi): Black Neon Tetras feature a striking contrast of black and neon blue colors. They are relatively small and peaceful, making them suitable companions for White Skirt Tetras.
  5. Ember Tetra (Hyphessobrycon amandae): Ember Tetras are tiny, colorful tetras that can add a burst of red and orange hues to your tank. They are peaceful and thrive in slightly warmer water, which aligns with the preferences of White Skirt Tetras.
  6. Lemon Tetra (Hyphessobrycon pulchripinnis): Lemon Tetras have a cheerful yellow coloration, making them a delightful addition to a community tank. They share a similar temperament with White Skirt Tetras and appreciate comparable water parameters.
  7. Glowlight Tetra (Hemigrammus erythrozonus): With its vibrant iridescent stripe, the Glowlight Tetra adds a captivating glow to your tank. They are peaceful and compatible with White Skirt Tetras in terms of size and temperament.
  8. Pristella Tetra (Pristella maxillaris): Pristella Tetras, also known as X-ray Tetras, have a distinctive “X-ray” pattern on their bodies. They are peaceful and can cohabitate with White Skirt Tetras without territorial issues.
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Compatibility Considerations

When selecting tank mates for White Skirt Tetras, keep the following points in mind:

  • Size: Choose fish that are of similar size to White Skirt Tetras to prevent them from becoming prey or aggressors.
  • Temperament: Prioritize peaceful fish species to maintain a harmonious community tank. Avoid aggressive or territorial species that may stress your tetras.
  • Water Parameters: Ensure that the water parameter requirements of the chosen tank mates align with those of White Skirt Tetras. Consistency in water conditions is crucial for the health of all fish in the aquarium.
  • Schooling Behavior: Many tetra species, including White Skirt Tetras, are schooling fish. It’s best to keep them in groups of five or more to allow them to exhibit natural shoaling behavior. Ensure that your chosen tank mates are also comfortable in a group setting.

In conclusion, White Skirt Tetras are peaceful and social fish that can thrive in a community tank with other tetra species that share their temperament and water parameter preferences. When selecting tank mates, consider the size, temperament, and schooling behavior of the chosen species to create a harmonious and visually appealing aquarium environment.


Breeding White Skirt Tetras can be a rewarding experience. To encourage breeding, consider the following:

  • Separate Breeding Tank: Set up a separate tank with fine-leaved plants where the eggs can be laid and protected.
  • Conditioning: Feed the breeding pair a varied and protein-rich diet to condition them for breeding.
  • Water Parameters: Maintain pristine water conditions with slightly warmer water (around 78-80°F or 25-27°C).
  • Egg Laying and Care: Once the female lays eggs, promptly remove the adult fish to prevent them from eating the eggs. The eggs typically hatch in 24-36 hours, and fry can be fed with infusoria or powdered fry food.

Breeding Temperature

Maintaining a stable breeding temperature is crucial for White Skirt Tetras. The ideal temperature range for breeding is between 78-80°F (25-27°C). This slightly warmer water simulates the conditions they prefer for spawning.

In conclusion, White Skirt Tetras are captivating and relatively easy to care for, making them an excellent choice for both beginner and experienced aquarists. By providing them with the right environment, social interactions, and proper nutrition, you can enjoy their beauty and observe their fascinating behaviors in your aquarium for years to come.

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Lee Johnson

Lee Johnson

Aquarium Enthusiast

I love sharing my knowledge about all things aquarium related. I have been keeping aquariums for over 20 years and cannot imagine a life without an aquarium. 

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