Skip to Content

The Surprising Truth About Black Skirt Tetras And Shrimp

The Surprising Truth About Black Skirt Tetras And Shrimp

Not many fish species are good tank mates for shrimp! These tiny invertebrates can be tricky when it comes to community tanks. Some people have attempted to keep black skirt tetras and shrimp together.

As an avid fishkeeper, I have also tried keeping these two pets together – I have combined a small colony of blue velvet shrimp with 7 black skirt tetras. What has happened has surprised me. 

So, is it possible to keep black skirt tetras and shrimp together? Dwarf shrimp, to be precise? 

Here’s the truth!

Can You Keep Black Skirt Tetras And Shrimp Together?

Black skirt tetras are peaceful, omnivorous fish that are becoming popular in the fish trade business. They are known for their monochrome bodies and ease of care. They are relatively small, and most grow to be around 3 inches in size. 

Dwarf shrimp, on the other hand, are not a single species but rather a group of tiny crustaceans that rarely grow larger than 2 inches. The most common species are cherry shrimp and amano shrimp, but dozens more exist. 

Due to their small size (and the fact that they are a rather tasty snack!) dwarf shrimp are rarely suitable tank mates for omnivorous or carnivorous fish. 

This is why you might be surprised to hear that it is possible to keep black skirt tetras and shrimp in a community tank! Of course, some precautions should be made. 

In fact, I have managed to keep my tetra-shrimp community alive and well for over a year now! While I have been skeptical about it, it turns out that the two truly can coexist. 

I’ll explain what I have found out.

Why Are They A Good Match?

While some fish of the same size, such as smaller kribensis cichlids and even many types of tetras, will gladly eat your cherry shrimp, black skirts are usually rather safe for these tiny pets.

In fact, once you scratch the surface, you’ll see that there are many reasons why the two are such a great combination.

Here’s what I mean:

They Are Compatible In Size

While it might seem that black skirt tetras are much larger than your dwarf shrimp, they actually aren’t that different in size.

Black skirt tetras grow to an average size of 3 inches, while dwarf shrimp usually reach around 1.5 inches in length. 

While black skirts are twice the size of tiny crustaceans, their mouth is rather small. As such, the size difference makes it unlikely for the tetras to consider the shrimp as prey, reducing the chances of aggression or predation.

Black Skirts Are Very Peaceful

Dwarf shrimp are very peaceful pets – this is probably clear as day. They are skittish and like to stick to themselves, but are not going to attack your aquarium fish. This is what makes them such easy prey for carnivores and aggressive animals.

While tetras can occasionally display nipping behavior, black skirts are typically non-aggressive towards tank mates. 

Sure, they might nip the fins of your angelfish so you might want to reconsider keeping the two together, but they are not going to attack and eat your blue jelly shrimp.

Compatible Living Areas 

Another reason why the two are such a good combination is because they won’t get in touch with each other that often.

In their natural habitats, black skirt tetras inhabit the middle and bottom levels of the water column, while cherry shrimp are primarily bottom dwellers

This also means that each animal gets to occupy different areas, reducing potential competition for territory. 

Possible Issues

black skirt tetra and cherry shrimp

Of course, as you might’ve guessed, keeping the two together isn’t without its own challenges. 

Here are a few things that might go wrong:


While black skirt tetras are not typically aggressive predators, there is still a chance that they may view cherry shrimp as food, especially if the shrimp are small or vulnerable.

Some individual black skirt tetras may have a stronger predatory instinct and actively hunt the shrimp, potentially leading to the shrimp population dwindling over time.

Not just that, but if the shrimp are very small or newly hatched, there is a higher risk of them being consumed by the tetras.

Another weird thing that has happened to me once is that my black skirt exhibited some nipping behavior towards my blue velvet shrimp! 

I noticed a few of my blue velvet shrimp have disappeared, so I closely monitored my tank. What I saw surprised me!

Turns out that if the tetras mistake the shrimp’s antennae or appendages as food or a threat, they may nip at them, causing stress or injury to the shrimp. It turned out three of my velvets had died out due to one male black skirt nipping at them!

Fortunately, once I removed the said tetra from the tank and placed it in my black skirt and guppy community tank, my shrimp colony kept living normally. 

Shrimp Can Get Stressed Out

Finally, dwarf shrimp are sensitive to stress and require suitable hiding places to feel secure. The active and curious nature of black skirt tetras may cause stress to the shrimp, leading to decreased activity, reduced breeding, or even illness. 

Without adequate hiding spots, the shrimp may become more vulnerable to potential predation or aggression.

And yes, your tiny shrimp can die due to too much stress!

Can You Increase Their Chances of Getting Along?

Fortunately, you can do a few things to reduce the chances of the above-mentioned issues happening. 

As you have seen from my example, sometimes this includes removing a challenging fish from the community. However, this is a drastic measure, as the damage has already been made.

Fortunately, there are a few other steps you can take to ensure the two animals get along. Here are a few pieces of advice:

  • Provide a spacious tank of at least 20 gallons. A larger tank reduces territorial conflicts and allows the shrimp and tetras to establish their respective territories without excessive competition.
  • Create a well-planted tank with hiding places for the shrimp. Dense vegetation, mosses, and driftwood can provide hiding spots where the shrimp can retreat if they feel threatened. This will help reduce stress and increase their sense of security.
  • Start with a well-established colony of dwarf shrimp rather than introducing just a few individuals. A larger population can help dilute any potential aggression from the tetras and increase the chances of successful coexistence.
  • Keep black skirt tetras in a small group of at least six individuals. Larger groups can help disperse aggression and minimize the chances of any single tetra becoming fixated on harassing the shrimp.
  • Ensure both the shrimp and tetras receive adequate nutrition. By meeting their nutritional needs, you can help reduce competition for food.
  • Consider introducing other suitable black tetra tank mates. Peaceful fish species such as small rasboras, guppies, or corydoras can help create a more diverse and harmonious community, reducing the focus on the shrimp by the tetras
  • Finally, closely monitor the interactions between the shrimp and tetras. Pay attention to any signs of aggression, nipping, or stress. If any individual tetra shows persistent aggression towards the shrimp or if the shrimp appears overly stressed or injured, it may be necessary to separate them to prevent further harm.

Final Words

After following the advice that I have also shared with you – and having to take one step to protect my tiny shrimp – I have managed to keep my community tank alive and functioning for quite some time. They are still going strong!

So, I can confirm from my example that keeping black skirt tetras and shrimp together is not just possible, but also pretty straightforward.

Still, learn from my example and always keep a close eye on your community tank. If anything goes awry, you can react and minimize the damage. Otherwise, your shrimp colony can be in danger. 

Good luck!