The Blue King Tetra: Ideal Tank Setup, Breeding & Other Essential Tips

Species Snapshot

  •       Species Name: Boehlkea fredcochui
  •       Common Names: Blue King Tetra or Cochu’s Blue Tetra
  •       Size: Average adult size: 2”
  •       Lifespan: 3-4 years
  •       Native Distribution: Amazon River Basin 

As one of the few “true blue” species available in the freshwater aquarium hobby, this active, shoaling fish can add a pop of color to any setup. Hardy and easy to keep, the Blue King Tetra is an excellent choice for aquarists who are looking for a unique tetra to liven up their tanks.

Anatomy and Appearance

The “blushing”, iridescent sheen that can be observed is thanks to the hints of pink coloration distributed along their body that is more noticed towards their tails.

Both sexes have broad, black longitudinal stripes that run along the middle of the body. Males have a shimmering steel blue coloration, while females are slightly lighter. Females are also more robust and sturdy in appearance, their adipose fins can also be slightly more reddish than their male counterparts.

Ideal Tank Setup

Temperature: 72-82 degrees Fahrenheit (22.2 - 22.7 degrees Celsius)

pH: 5-5-7.6

KH: 5 - 12 dKH

Ideal tank size: ≥ 20 gallons

Like many tetras, the Blue Tetra is an active fish and as such appreciates a tank that has space for it to swim freely. They thrive in well-planted tanks that offer open space, ideally in a school of at least 5 or 6. If there is insufficient room, fin-nipping of other tank inhabitants has been observed by hobbyists. 

Though the waters of their Amazon origin are soft, slightly acidic, they are available largely tank raised and as such are relatively adaptable. Their natural habitat is rich in tannins and leaf litter, such as Indian almond leaves and lotus pods. Darker substrates do an excellent job of allowing the bright, blue coloration of the fish to be fully displayed. 

Diet and Feeding

The Blue Tetra is not a picky eater, and will readily accept many small foods whether they be prepared dried foods or live. They are most active in the top middle half of the water column, but have been observed exploring and feeding from the lower levels/bottom of the tank as well. Hobbyists have had much success feeding them anything from high-quality flake foods to brine shrimp, daphnia, freeze-dried bloodworms & tubifex. Of course, you can expect their coloration to be at its very best when fed live foods. 

Temperament and Tank Mates

A peaceful fish, paired with a small mouth means that the Blue Tetra is highly compatible with a wide variety of organisms from fish to invertebrates. Being an active fish, it may not be optimal to pair them with slower-moving fish. Many hobbyists have successfully kept their Blue Tetras with a range of invertebrates, including neocaridina, sulawesi, Amano, and dwarf crabs. Snails are also commonly kept with this fish, species such as nerite and mystery snails do extremely well when kept with the Blue Tetra. 

Blue King Tetra Breeding

Spawning can occur in home setups, with Blue Tetra being egg scatterers. Breeding is best encouraged by having softer, acidic water as it provides optimal hatching conditions for the eggs. Ideal breeding pH is between 5.5-6.4, with water temperature being between 75.2 - 80.6 degrees Fahrenheit (24-27 degrees Celsius). As the parents are spawning predators, employing the use of thick moss tufts or a spawning grid can aid in ensuring the increased survivability of newborn fry. Alternatively, the adult fish can be removed from the tank after spawning. Brine shrimp are readily fed and taken by the newborn fry and juvenile tetras.

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