Black Darter Tetra (Poecilocharax Weitzmani)



Poecilocharax weitzmani is in abundance in many river drainages in Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, and Colombia. The wild specimen caught from Brazil and Colombia is much more brightly colored than other fish caught from the same family in Peru.

Slow-moving rainforest streams with tannin-stained, soft, and acidic water are the most favorite habitat for this fish. The natural habitats also contain sandy or muddy substrate with plenty of submerged trees and lots of decomposing leaf matter.

This environment is mostly available in tropical rainforests where the shade is constant from the canopy of dense jungle trees. The organic acids from the decomposing plants give the water a dark tea color. Places like the Río Inírida, Casiquiare canal, Río Orinoco, the Río Negro, and Río Solimões have these proper living conditions throughout the year and often the black darter tetra is collected from these areas.

Description & Appearance

Poecilocharax Weitzmani is from the family Crenuchidae. In common, it is called Black Darter Tetra. In nature, the lifespan of the species varies from 3 to 5 years. It is a small fish with a size of around 3.5 – 4.5 cm. Its slender and long body resembles a killifish and has the outlook of a dwarf cichlid. The body color is pale yellow-brown; a bright black lateral band with neon blue “portholes” runs from the gills to the caudal fin. Males of this fish are more colorful and have longer anal and dorsal fins that do not exist in the females.

By nature, this fish is shy and does not live with other species. Also, keeping this fish in an aquarium successfully is difficult because of its special needs and specific nature. That is why it is advised that only advanced level aquarists to keep it which can provide the proper tank conditions.

Behavior and Compatibility

The behavior of male Darter Tetra is aggressive but not towards the females only the males. That is why you keep a group of females for each male and it is good to have only one or two males in one tank. Otherwise, the males will fight fiercely with one another which may cause one another’s death or hurt.

The behavior of this fish is not social like most of the other tetra species. It is a shy fish and only a few other types of fish are suitable to co-exist with this fish. Nannostomus, Carnegiella, Axelrodia, smaller Hyphessobrycon spp, Hisonotus spp, or Otocinclus are appropriate tank mates for Black Darter Tetra.

In their natural environment, they co-exist with Apistogramma, Hemigrammus, Moenkhausia, Fluviphylax, Copella, and a few unidentified characids and Gobiidae. But, tank conditions are always different than the open water environment. So, it is better to keep the Weitzmani Tetras as a single species and enjoy successful breeding and their impressive display.

Tank Conditions:

Temperature: 24-28°C
pH                : 3,0 – 6,5
Hardness      : 5 – 19 dGH

The tank size should never be less than 40 liters. Accomplishing long time survival and breeding of Weitzmani Tetras in the aquarium environmental requirements is extremely difficult but not impossible. The water should be exactly acidic. There must be ample hiding places to prevent stress because this fish is very shy. Rock caves, pieces of PVC pipe, a broken flowerpot, or dried leaves are good objects for creating hiding places and safe enclosures for laying eggs.

Weitzmani Tetra needs immense care and tank maintenance. The experts recommend that you must keep it as a single species and provide it the proper tank environment. The tank should have a sandy soft substrate. Adding some driftwood roots improves the environment scape as well as making the fish feel more comfortable. Some branches and floating plants can also be added to create natural environment-like shading. To maintain the pH levels low and beneficial tannins available, adding some dried leaves in the water is a must. Indian Almond Leaves, beech, or oak leaves are all suitable for creating the biotope tank and all effectively maintain the tanning conditions the fish needs.

In plants, you can choose Taxiphyllum, Cryptocoryne sp. or Microsorum. To keep the stable conditions in the tank, a gentle filtration with an air-powered system is necessary. Instead of air-driven filtration, a very low flow rate external filter will be more efficient for the filtration. The main point is to properly choose the filter according to the aquarium size.

Never add them to a tank that is not already maintained and biologically well cycled for a month or so. And if you add them to hard water, they will surely die soon. They flourish in a biologically mature biotope system with water conditions that are soft and acidic which is appropriate for Poecilocharax Weitzmani.


The Black darter tetra is a carnivore fish. It is a predator and hunts water insect larvae, crustaceans, worms, and possibly fish fry while living in the natural habitat. It is difficult to feed this fish in captivity because a constant supply of live food is essential. Due to its shy nature, during the feeding, it is necessary to directly drop the live food close to the fish so that it catches its attention and entices the fish to chase and catch the food.

Because these fish are mostly collected from the wild and they are small predators, Poecilocharax Weitzmani simply won’t eat any food that is not moving. That is why they need live-food sources such as Daphnia, Brine shrimp, microworms, chopped live bloodworms, grindal worms, etc. It is not possible to make them feed on dried or frozen food or flakes when they are first introduced to the new environment. Only after a long time, they can be attracted to eat frozen live foods like bloodworms, artemia, or tubifex worms.

Warning: Do not buy fish with markedly hollow bellies because they are shipped under poor conditions and most of the time these fish do not survive and require treatment in the quarantine period.

Breeding & Care:

Poecilocharax Weitzmani is the only Tetra among the other Tetras that do not live in big shoals. That is why you can keep a few of these fish in the aquarium. The males are aggressive and fight fiercely with each other. So, the number of males should not exceed two for every 20 liters of water volume. Adding plenty of females is a good choice because the males tend to spawn with more than one female in the spawning season.

When the time of spawning draws near, you can see that the color of the fish becomes more intense. The tips of the fins in male fish become white. Females grow a red anal fin and their overall body color becomes darker. The enlarged dorsal fins of the male fish look beautiful during the spawning season.

You can condition the fish and trigger the spawning by feeding them small portions of live food. In the spawning season, the male chooses a cave in the aquarium and stay there. The female ready for the mating search for the male fish and swims into his territory. They spawn within two days and the female lays 50 to 100 eggs and deposits them on the roof of the cave. The female then leaves the cave while the male guards the eggs until they hatch. The eggs usually hatch after 4 or 5 days.

The fry starts swimming independently 2 days after hatching. You can feed them newly hatched baby brine shrimp. At this stage, the father leaves the fry to go on its own. In this stage, it is better to remove the fry into a separate raising tank to save them from becoming live food for the parents.

The most important thing during the brooding stage is feeding the male who keeps the guard on the eggs. You need to direct the live food to the place where he is. He can spawn with more than one female during the spawning period. So, find his whereabouts to feed him.

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