Penguin Tetra: A Guide to Care, Tank Mates, and Breeding

Penguin Tetra

The world of aquarium fish is vast and diverse, offering a myriad of species to choose from. One such fascinating fish is the Penguin Tetra (Thayeria boehlkei). Known for its unique appearance and interesting behaviors, it is a popular choice among aquarium enthusiasts. In this article, we will explore various aspects of caring for Penguin Tetra, including suitable tank mates, differentiating between male and female, aggression tendencies, size and growth, pregnancy and breeding, as well as their lifespan and ideal tank size.

Penguin Tetra

Suitable Tank Mates for Penguin Tetra

When creating a harmonious community aquarium, it’s crucial to select tank mates that are compatible with them. Fortunately, this species is generally peaceful and can coexist with various other fish. Some suitable tank mates for Penguin Tetra include:

  • Neon Tetra (Paracheirodon innesi)
  • Cardinal Tetra (Paracheirodon axelrodi)
  • Harlequin Rasbora (Trigonostigma heteromorpha)
  • Corydoras Catfish (Corydoras sp.)
  • Guppies (Poecilia reticulata)

It’s essential to consider the fish’s size, temperament, and water parameters when selecting tank mates. Avoid keeping aggressive or larger fish that may intimidate or harm the Penguin Tetra.

Differentiating Male and Female Penguin Tetra

Identifying the sex of Penguin Tetras can pose a challenge due to their similar physical traits. Nonetheless, there are nuanced details that can assist in gender determination. Male Penguin Tetras have a sleeker physiques and display more vibrant hues, particularly while mating or attempting to court female counterparts. Females possess a slightly fuller abdomen, notably when carrying eggs. Additionally, observing their actions during spawning behaviors may offer additional insights into their gender variation.

Understanding Aggression in Penguin Tetra

While Penguin Tetras are generally peaceful, occasional aggression may occur, especially during the breeding season or when defending territory. It’s crucial to provide ample hiding spots and visual barriers within the aquarium to reduce stress and minimize aggression. Adding live plants and decorations can create a more natural environment and help mitigate any aggressive behavior.

Size and Growth of Penguin Tetra

Measuring in at around 2 to 2.5 inches (5 – 6 cm) in length when fully grown. The Penguin Tetra has a relatively modest stature compared to other types of fish. This particular species has shown rather sluggish growth patterns that can take up several months before reaching fruition.

For optimum physical advancement coupled with good health outcomes amongst these creatures ensuring that they receive high-quality meals as well as suitable aquatic environments is key.

Pregnancy and Breeding in Penguin Tetra

Breeding Penguin Tetras (Thayeria boehlkei) can be a fascinating and rewarding experience for aquarium enthusiasts. These fish exhibit interesting behaviors during the courtship and breeding process. Understanding the pregnancy and breeding aspects of Penguin Tetras will help you create an environment conducive to successful reproduction.

Preparing for Breeding

To encourage breeding behavior in this fish, it’s important to create optimal conditions in the aquarium. Here are some key factors to consider:

  1. Water Parameters: Penguin Tetras prefer slightly acidic to neutral water conditions. Maintain a pH range of 6.5 to 7.5 and a temperature around 75-79°F (24-26°C) to simulate their natural habitat.
  2. Tank Setup: Provide suitable hiding places and vegetation within the aquarium. Dense plants, such as Java moss or floating plants, offer ideal spawning sites and provide a sense of security for the fish.
  3. Quality Nutrition: Ensure a well-balanced diet for them. Offer a variety of foods, including high-quality flake or pellet food, supplemented with live or frozen options like brine shrimp, daphnia, or bloodworms. Proper nutrition is essential for their reproductive health.

Courtship and Spawning

During the courtship period, the male Penguin Tetras display vibrant colors and perform courtship dances to attract the females. The males intensify their colors and engage in chasing behaviors to impress the females. Pay attention to these courtship rituals, as they indicate that spawning is imminent.

When ready to lay eggs, the female Penguin Tetra will scatter her eggs among the plants or other available surfaces. The eggs are adhesive and will attach to the chosen substrate. It’s important to create suitable conditions for egg attachment, such as fine-leaved plants or a spawning mop, to prevent the eggs from being consumed by other tank mates.

Separating the Eggs

To increase the chances of survival for the newly laid eggs, it’s advisable to transfer them to a separate breeding tank. This helps protect the eggs from potential predators and allows you to closely monitor their development.

When moving the eggs, gently scoop them with a clean net or use a siphon to carefully transfer them to the breeding tank. Ensure that the water conditions in the breeding tank match those of the main tank to maintain stability for the developing eggs.

Fry Development and Care

The eggs of Penguin Tetras typically hatch within 24 to 48 hours, depending on the water temperature. Once hatched, the fry will consume their yolk sac for nourishment initially. After a few days, they will start actively swimming and will require small live or powdered foods, such as infusoria or specialized fry food.

Maintain excellent water quality in the breeding tank by performing regular water changes and monitoring parameters closely. Providing a gentle filtration system and keeping the water well-oxygenated will support the healthy development of the fry.

Penguin Tetra

Lifespan of Penguin Tetra

Penguin Tetras are delightful additions to any aquarium when provided with the right nurturing care. They have an average lifespan range of approximately three to five years under adequate sustainable conditions which involve maintaining optimal parameters such as water quality, nutrition balance as well as selective breeding principles. You can elevate the expected lifespan of these charming fish by addressing these crucial factors concerning them with attentive care tailored toward individual needs.

Appropriate Tank Size for Penguin Tetra

To ensure the well-being of Penguin Tetras, it’s crucial to provide them with an adequately sized aquarium. The recommended minimum tank size for a small group of Penguin Tetras is around 20 gallons (75 liters). This size allows them to swim freely and provides ample space for their natural behaviors.
A larger tank is always beneficial, as it provides more swimming space and reduces the likelihood of aggression between tank mates. If you plan to keep a larger group of Penguin Tetras or include additional fish, consider opting for a larger tank to accommodate their needs comfortably.


The Penguin Tetra is a captivating and peaceful fish that can be a delightful addition to your aquarium. By understanding their care requirements, selecting suitable tank mates, and providing an optimal environment, you can ensure the health and well-being of your Penguin Tetras. Remember to observe their behavior, maintain proper nutrition and water conditions, and be prepared to create separate breeding setups if desired. With these considerations in mind, you can enjoy the beauty and unique characteristics of the Penguin Tetra in your home aquarium.


1. Can Penguin Tetras be kept in a community tank?

Yes, they are typically amiable and easily integrate into a tank that houses other fish species. It’s crucial to select tank companions that display non-threatening tendencies and aren’t substantially larger in size.

2. Are Penguin Tetras suitable for beginners?

Yes, they are a suitable choice for beginners due to their hardiness and ease of care. They adapt well to various water conditions and are generally low-maintenance fish

3. How can I encourage breeding behavior in Penguin Tetras?

To encourage breeding behavior in them, create an ideal breeding environment. This can be achieved by providing suitable water parameters, including a slightly lower temperature (around 75°F or 24°C), soft and slightly acidic water, and dim lighting. Additionally, offering a varied diet rich in live or frozen foods can stimulate their reproductive instincts.

4. Do Penguin Tetras require a heavily planted tank?

While they appreciate the presence of plants in their tank, a heavily planted setup is not necessary. However, having some live plants, such as Java moss or Amazon swords, provides hiding places and adds to the natural aesthetics of the tank.

5. Can Penguin Tetras jump out of the aquarium?

They are not known for their jumping tendencies. However, it’s always advisable to have a secure lid or cover on the aquarium to prevent any accidental escapes or mishaps.

6. Can Penguin Tetras be kept with shrimp or snails?

Yes, they can generally coexist peacefully with shrimp or snails. However, keep in mind that some larger species of shrimp may become prey to the Tetras if they are small enough to fit in their mouths. Always monitor their interactions and ensure appropriate tank size and hiding spots for the shrimp or snails.

Recommended Reading: Double Tail Betta Fish: Rarity, Color, and Lifespan

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