Neon Tetra Care Guide

Neon Tetra Care Guide

Your Ultimate Neon Tetra Care Guide


Neon tetras are brightly colored species of freshwater fish that are native to South America and great in a community tank. Although they may look a little silly, they actually have many unique and fascinating characteristics that make them worth learning and caring for. They are resilient, vibrant, and serene and always seem to do something interesting, making them an excellent choice for beginners and hobbyists alike. Further capable of enriching your oh-so-well-styled aquarium with active, playful, and spirited displays, they're a welcome addition to your little aquatic kingdom. But despite their peaceful temperament and ability to adjust to a wide range of water parameters, tetras are still fish, and like all, they require specialized care.

If you want to keep your tetra in perfect health, you'll need to know what their habitat requirements are and how to meet them. And to assist you in your endless endeavor to give your neon tetra the best care possible, we've created this comprehensive guide.

By arming yourself with the necessary information related to their natural habitat, diet, diseases, and more, you'll be able to keep these little beauties in perfect health and enjoy their company for years to come. So, read on and discover what it takes to give your neon tetra the best care possible.

A Detailed Overview of Neon Tetra Fish

neon tetras for sale

Paracheirodon innesi, more commonly known as neon tetra, is a Characidae family native to the clearwater streams in the Amazon basin of SA. Their scientific name is a combination of two names, one from Greek mythology and the other from the local language. The first part is Para, which means 'related two .' The second part is Cheirodon, just a generic word. These fish have been in the aquarium trade since the early 20th century, and their neon color and small size made them a trendy choice for fish keepers. In fact, they are believed to be one of the most popular aquarium fish to date.

Neon tetras have almost an oval body shape with a short, pointed snout. Their fins are extremely small compared to their body size, yet their scales on both sides are very hard. Their brilliant coloring comes from their black outline, which matches perfectly with the iridescent blue-green hue on their scales. These fish typically grow up to 4 cm in length and have 8-9 bands of brilliant green and red colors running across their bodies, making them look just like the night sky on a dark and clear night. These colorful bands are what give these fish the name 'neon' tetra.

Typical Behavior of Neon Tetra Fish

Neon tetras are extremely shy, timid, and easily scared. They often blend in with the plants to hide from threats and prefer the dimmer and darker areas of the aquarium. They like to dwell in groups of ten or more individuals and are always on the move, frequently leaping to gain a glimpse of their surroundings. But as mentioned above, these fish are very shy and will require a well-decorated aquarium with lots of plants and areas for them to hide. Further boasting calm and tranquil temperaments, neon tetras are peaceful with other fish of the same species and with most other fish, provided that they don't have predatory characteristics. However, they will often show aggression towards larger fish and even their own kind.

The Lifespan Of Neon Tetra

The average lifespan of Neon Tetras in the wild is around eight years old. However, in a carefully controlled aquarium, this can be increased to 4-5 years. Once you factor in water changes and feeding schedules, these fish can live up to 6-7 years.

Neon Tetra Health & Aquarium Requirements

neons for sale

Neon tetras are highly adaptive and can live in water of both low and high ph. However, they thrive best in slightly acidic water with ph 4 - 7.5. They are fairly durable when it comes to water parameters, but sudden changes are incredibly harmful to them. Therefore, maintaining water parameters is key to their well-being. To achieve this, the fish tank should have good filtration and efficient biological filtration and some carbon for overall better water quality. You should be performing at least 25% of water changes every month and 50% once every two months for optimal maintenance of water parameters and hygiene. If you've added your neon tetras to an established aquarium, then do 20% weekly and 50% bi-weekly water changes. Neon tetras can survive in warm or cold water, but they prefer temperatures between 20-28 degrees Celcius. Water hardness should be in the range of 5-15 dGH for optimum breeding.

Also, make sure you keep water circulated and fresh. Keeping these fish in a small tank is not recommended, as they require a lot of oxygen, and even at the best of times, their tank will not be able to support them for long. Also, make sure that the tank you're planning to use has good filtration and effective biological filtration. You can use these fish in a larger community aquarium, with other small fish and peaceful schooling fish, like danios and tetras, but they are best kept in their own tank.

And now that you know the basic requirements, let's discuss the type of plants and decorations to choose for your neon tetra tank. The best plants for neon tetras are fast-growing, the ones that grow upright with lanky stems. These plants will help to give your fish an illusion of more space. Usually, live plants work best, but if you're using artificial plants make sure that they're sturdy and won't fall apart easily. Also, the planted areas should be higher than the central areas, so that they can rest and hide when they want to. Professionals recommend that you try creating a dark, low, and dimmed area with big, tall plants in the middle of the tank and bright and clear space at the top. This will allow your tetras to stay in the dim area, while still being able to see a big part of their environment. So, you should use lighting carefully and wisely. Also, the decorations you choose should be less opaque, as these fish need to see clearly to stay safe.

Neon Tetra Diet and Feeding

If you are an avid aquarist, you know how important it is to provide your fish with the adequate diet they need to grow and thrive. Just like humans, your fish need nutritious food to provide them with the essential vitamins and minerals to keep them healthy. But just like humans, their food needs vary, based on their size, age, and health. And of course, the same rules apply to neon tetras. The main diet of neon tetras which are omnivorous is made up of flakes, freeze-dried bloodworms, shrimp pellets, and brine shrimp. However, they also eat frozen foods like krill, daphnia, tubifex, worms, and other nutritious treats. They can also eat any type of plant matter and are known to consume the algae off the leaves of plants and walls of the tank. So, you can also add algae wafers and veggies to their diet.

Their daily feeding should be limited to two times each day, and you should consider using the 3-minute rule, which implies that each feeding should be no more than three minutes. Any more than that will result in your tetra being overfed, putting their immune system under stress. This also helps keep your fish healthy and prevents them from becoming obese or contracting ailments such as bloating. Once your neon tetras reach adulthood, you should reduce the feeding frequency to once daily.

Neon Tetra Tank Mates

neon tetra community tank

If you want to keep your neons happy and healthy, you should plan your tank set up wisely. These fish are schooling fish so you should always keep them in groups of at least 5 to 20, depending on tank size. And as neon tetras are peaceful fish in a community tank, and they can get along with their own kind as well as with other species of fish of the same size and temperament. They're great with other species of tetras, especially

  1. zebrafish, as well as gouramis,
  2. small catfish,
  3. minnows,
  4. and dwarf cichlids.

If you want to keep neon tetras with other species of fish, you should make sure they have different water parameters and feeding requirements. In other words, they should not be able to eat the same food at the same time or take on the same type of environment.

You should also keep your tetras away from fast-swimming fish that may bully them around or take advantage of their fearfulness. Some examples of these fish are goldfish, sunfish, and loaches. Other than that, they're perfectly compatible with other docile species of fish, including the popular betta. But the most important rule is that your tank should be able to provide adequate space for your tetras, especially if you plan on keeping them in groups.

A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is one gallon of water per neon tetra. If you decide to keep neon tetras as pets, it is important to remember that it's a good idea to keep your tank away from windows and direct sunlight as well as out of the reach of small children and pets.

Neon Tetra Disease

Although they are resilient and quite hardy, your neon tetras are still subject to contracting certain ailments. One such ailment is the Neon Tetra Disease which is caused by pleistophora hyphessobryconis microsporidian parasite. The fungus, as its name indicates, is transmitted by the microsporidian parasite and causes your tetra to develop liver, muscle, and spleen damage. Another common ailment is Hexamita, a disease caused by a protozoan parasite. This disease develops in young tetras and can lead to loss of appetite, loss of color, hemorrhaging around the head, and red-colored feces. The disease is treatable in freshwater if you act fast enough and immediately treat your fish with appropriate antifungal medication.

Some common symptoms of disease in your tetra include:

  1. Loss of color in your fish's eyes or fins
  2. Tetras that have a large belly due to bloating
  3. Hemorrhaging around the head
  4. Red-colored feces
  5. Hesitancy to move or swim
  6. Lethargy and/or loss of appetite
  7. Cloudy eyes, indicating irritation or infection

Tetra Disease Prevention

There are a few steps you can take to prevent your tetra from contracting the disease. First, you should ensure that your aquarium is well maintained, and the water parameters are stable. If your tetra's habitat is not properly maintained, you're making it easier for disease to develop. However, another way to make sure they stay healthy is to keep your water's ph. level between 4 and 7.5, the temperature between 68 degrees Fahrenheit and 82 degrees Fahrenheit, and the water hardness between 1 and 2 indicators of DH. Tetras are also susceptible to pH shock, so make sure you acclimate them slowly. Make sure that your tetra has a proper diet by feeding them a wide variety of foods so that they receive the necessary vitamins and minerals from their food to stay healthy.

Breeding Neon Tetras

Breeding Neon tetras are somewhat difficult. First, don't leave them in your community tank to breed. Remove them and get them their own tank.They reach maturity at the age of two and a half months, and breeding can be done in large community tanks, as well as in small groups of 10 gallons each. Their breeding requirements are also minimal. They can be bred in a tank with a filter and aquarium lighting with a lot of plants, but they don't need aeration, and they require a temperature of 77F (25C). You also need some quality neon tetra eggs.

For the males to show their best colors, their water temperature should be between 65-75F (18-24C). So, you can either choose to breed them in the summer, or you can raise the temperature in your tank by setting up an aquarium heater. The adult females should be in good health, and they need to be conditioned with live foods before the breeding season begins. Also, there should be a good amount of food available for the fry, but only a moderate amount for the adults. For successful breeding, you should try to keep the water parameters at the same levels as those of their natural habitat.

Males will build a nest with bubble-shaped mucus cocoons and mate with their chosen female. The female will spawn around 60-130 eggs, depending on her size, which will stick to the plants or anything they can find. She will guard the eggs until they hatch, and the fry becomes free swimming. In general, you should move the adults to a separate tank when the eggs start to hatch, and the babies can be fed baby brine shrimp. Their fry can survive in a tank of about 20-25 gallons, and once they are old enough to swim, you can move them to a larger tank. Once you move them to the bigger tank, you can start a small feeding program for them, using infusoria and baby brine shrimp.


So, now you know what it takes to keep your neons in perfect health and provide them with the adequate care they need to live long and prosperous lives. With the proper care, your little neon tetras will soon become a permanent fixture in your aquarium and add a splash of color to your water garden. So, the next time you're looking for a tank to call home, why not pick up some neon tetras?


Can You Keep Neon Tetras (Paracheirodon innesi) Together?

Neon tetras are a peaceful and non-aggressive species, and they get along well with most other community fish. Although they're often found swimming in schools of 15 or more, you can still keep just 10 of them, if you want. They can live comfortably in groups of six or more, but since they prefer to live in smaller groups, it's better if you don't overstock your tank. The best tank mates for your neon tetras are gouramis, danios, angelfish, and guppies. Avoid keeping them with fish like cichlids and Siamese fighters as they may see them as potential predators.

What Size Tank Do Neon Tetras Need

A 20-gallon tank is the ideal size for these south america tetra, as this will allow them to swim freely around the tank, without feeling too cramped.

How Can You Tell If A Neon Tetra Is Pregnant?

Like the majority of fish, female neon tetras are typically larger than males, with rounder bellies and wider tails. And they become much more chubby and round when they become pregnant. If your female tetra appears little rounder than usual, it is time for them to spawn.

Are neon tetras hardy?

Neon tetras are a pretty hardy fish, but we need to classify what is hardy and whats not. For reference, lets use Mbuna African as the most hardy at a scale of 10 and discus at a 2. I would put neon tetras in the 6-7 range and heres why:

If you aren't messing with them as much, not netting them to move them, they are good. They also are very prone to getting ich if the temperature swings more than 2 degrees, so keeping it hotter helps keep the tank more stable for them. I think they are a pretty hardy fish, but just keep in mind the things I mentioned before and you should be good to go.


Do neon tetras need a heater?

Yes, neons do need a heater. While some tetras can handle room temperature in your house, neon tetras can't. They are very vulnerable to temperature swings and are likely to catch ich when the temperature drops more than two degrees. So, do yourself a favor, and go get that heater for your tank.


Are neon tetras livebearers?

Neon tetras (Paracheirodon innesi) are not livebearers. They are egg layers and quite challenging ones to breed at that. If you are looking to breed them, condition the neon tetras with live food and expect them to lay generally in the morning time. Once they lay, make sure to remove the parents so they don't eat the eggs. Minimize lighting as well to make the about to be newly hatched fry feel safe in their environment.


What do neon tetra eat?

Here at the farm we like to feed them a mixture of both dry foods and frozen foods to help keep their gut fluid and happy! We feed micro pellets from Hikari, flake food weve crumbled up in our fingers for a few seconds. Then about two or three times a week, we feed them frozen daphnia from Hikari.

How many neon tetras per gallon?

Not recommended in smaller than 10 gallon tank, but I would put 5 in a 10 gallon tank. So at a ratio of about 1 per 2 gallons.

Are neon tetras aggressive?

No, neons are not aggressive and can be kept in a nice community tank setup. They like to school together in groups of at least 6 or more.

Do neons need a filter?

Yes, not only does neon tetras need a filter, but every fish you keep in your aquarium needs filters ( even bettas).


I hope this guide helped you with all the info you could need for keeping and breeding neons. If you would like to get started with a group, here is a link to them on our store where you can purchase them!

Neon tetras for sale