Neon Tetra: You’ll Love These In Your Tank


Neon Tetra: You’ll Love These In Your Tank

Who doesn’t love the Neon Tetra? Neon Tetras have been a part of the aquarium hobby since 1936 and are immensely popular as a result. Roughly 2 million are imported into the US each month for the aquarium hobby - one of the MOST popular aquarium fish.

Small, vibrantly colored, and easy to care for, these are popular first fish for beginners. Even expert aquarists find them appealing additions for planted tanks.

I'm going to be giving you all the information you need to know on how to care for Neon Tetra.

Overview of Neon Tetras

The neon tetra Paracheirodon innesi is generally considered an easy fish to keep in the aquarium hobby. They could even be a great option for your first-ever aquarium with Guppies and Platies without any problems.

Neon tetras are little swimming balls of energy. They love to cruise around and explore their surroundings. So, make sure you give them plenty of room to swim, otherwise, you'll have a bunch of unhappy fish on your hands.

Plus, these little guys are pretty tough, they can adapt to a variety of water conditions, so whether you're a fish-keeping newbie or a seasoned pro, neon tetra are a solid choice.

Neon Tetra Appearance

Paracheirodon innesi are like little free swimming colorful gems in your tank. The bright blue stripe and red stripe running down an adult neon tetras side, paired with their translucent blue-green body, is something to behold. You can even find black neon tetras that have got a dark black body with an iridescent red stripe that pops out like crazy.

How Long Do Neon Tetras Live?

Neon tetras are known to have a relatively long lifespan, with many individuals living for up to 5-10 years when they are kept in a suitable tank environment. However, factors such as water quality and diet can affect how long neon tetras live, so it's important to provide them with the best care possible.

One important thing to note, due to the fish farms and breeding conditions of this popular fish, the neon tetra is no longer considered to be a hardy fish. Make sure to take care when selecting Neons, have them eat at your local fish store, and quarantine them to avoid neon tetra disease.

How Big do Neon Tetras Grow?

Neon Tetras generally grow to be under an inch in size at maturity. Due to their small size, keep them in an aquarium with other small fish to avoid any larger tankmates preying on these peaceful fish.


Sexing Neon Tetras

Due to the Neon Tetra’s small sizes, and it can be difficult to tell the difference between males and females. However, there are a few key differences that can help you to determine the sex of your neon tetras

Male neon tetras tend to have a more pronounced red stripe on the side of their body, while females tend to have a more subdued coloration.

Additionally, males tend to be a little larger than females, and their dorsal and anal fins are also a little more pointed.

The surest way to tell a male Neon Tetra from a female is to examine a group of them that are all the same age.

Even when not ready to breed female Neon Tetras are a little more robust than males because their ovaries take up extra space in their body cavity.

In fact, the way the ovaries take up space causes the neon blue line on her flanks to bend slightly. This visible bend is a sign you’re definitely looking at a female since males have a straight blue line. When she begins to ripen with eggs in preparation for spawning her silvery belly may become wider as well.

Optimal Water Conditions for Neon Tetras

Wild neon tetras are a freshwater fish that are native to the clearwater streams of South America.

To ensure that neon tetras fish thrive in captivity, it's important to provide them with water conditions that mimic their natural habitat as closely as possible.

These ornamental fish do well in an aquarium with a low intake filter, such as a sponge filter, and it's important to have an intake cover for hang-on-back filters to prevent them from getting sucked up. They prefer warm temperatures, around 72-80 degrees Fahrenheit (22-26 degrees Celsius).

If the temperature fluctuates too much, it can stress the fish and make them more susceptible to neon tetra disease. A good-quality aquarium thermometer should be used to monitor the water temperature, and a heater should be used to keep the water at the appropriate temperature.

As a freshwater fish, Paracheirodon innesi are sensitive to water chemistry, and it's important to maintain the appropriate pH level, water hardness, and quality of water.

The ideal pH level for neon tetras is between 6.2-7.3 and water hardness is between 5-15 dGH.

It's also important to ensure that the water is clean and free of harmful chemicals and toxins. This can be achieved by performing regular water changes and using a good quality water conditioner.

A water test kit can also be used to test the water chemistry and ensure that it is at the appropriate levels for neon tetras.

Proper filtration and maintenance are essential for keeping neon tetras healthy, and remove debris and waste from the water, and it should be cleaned and maintained regularly.

A filter that is too powerful can also create a strong current, which neon tetras are not comfortable with. A power filter that is adjustable or a sponge filter can be a good option for neon tetras tanks.

In addition to filtration, regular water changes are also important for maintaining the quality of the water. A water change of around 25% should be performed once a week to keep the water clean and healthy for the fish.

Tank Setup for Neon Tetra Care

When it comes to keeping neon tetras, tank size is an important factor to consider. Neon tetras are a tiny fish species and do not require a large tank, but they should be kept in groups of at least 6 individuals.

This means that a tank size of at least 20 gallons is recommended for a group of neon tetras and an aquarium with a few Corydoras as tank mates.

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Tank Decorations

When decorating a neon tetra tank, it's important to keep in mind the natural habitat of the fish. Neon tetras are native to the water streams of South America, so it's a good idea to include decorations that mimic this environment.

This can include adding plants, such as floating plants, to provide hiding places and shade for the fish. It's also a good idea to add a substrate to the tank, as this can help to create a more natural environment for the fish.

As egg scatterers, Paracheirodon innesi prefer thickly tangled plants to deposit their eggs on. Some good spawning plants to step up your Neon Tetra tank:

Compatible Tank Mates for Neon Tetra Care

Neon Tetras are a peaceful fish species that can be kept with a wide variety of other fish species.

They are best kept in a community tank with other tiny fish species such as cardinal tetras, and other peaceful tetra species. They can also be kept with other brightly colored fish such as betta fish, but it's important to ensure that there is plenty of space for all the fish to swim around in.

Neon tetras love having some hiding places in the tank, such as dense vegetation or low light hiding places, to provide them with a sense of security.

It's important that you don't keep them in a tank with angelfish, cichlids, and other fish that might be predators, because it might be an absolute nightmare.

It's also important to keep in mind that neon tetras are schooling fish and should be kept in groups of at least 6 individuals, so it's important to ensure that the tank is large enough to add neon tetras.

Here are some good fish to pair with your Neon Tetras:

Neon Tetras do poorly with large, territorial, and aggressive fish. Many dwarf cichlids are peaceful – unless they spawn. Cichlids of all sizes tend to be defensive parents so don’t keep breeding pairs with Neon Tetras.


Neon Tetra Diet

Feeding Neon Tetras is easy: they are omnivores, so they like to eat plant matter and high protein meaty foods. It's important to feed Neons a variety of different dry and frozen foods.

Often when visiting a fish store, you may be offered general tropical flakes as a food option. While these flakes may work, it's important to note that specialized food may be necessary for optimal health.

Feeding a varied diet to these tropical fish could result in better health, more color, and increased activity in your aquarium. While still easy to take care of, feeding a variety of different dry foods such as fish flakes and high-quality micro pellets, as well as frozen food like baby brine shrimp and blood worms could provide optimal nutrition and enjoyment for these tropical fish.

Even better than frozen foods are live foods like light baby brine shrimp or Daphnia but that’s that's definitely not necessary. Just making sure that you don't feed neon tetras only tropical flakes is going make a huge difference for to the health of these beautiful fish and the enjoyment you're going to get out of them.

Breeding Neon Tetras

Breeding neon tetras is relatively easy, but it's important to ensure that they are in good health and that the water conditions in the breeding tank are optimal. It's also a good idea to use a separate breeding tank, as this will help to keep the breeding fish and the fry separate.

Neon tetras will spawn readily in a mature tank, with a pH between 6-7 and a temperature of 75-79 degrees Fahrenheit.

How Do I Condition Neon Tetras to Spawn?

Soft, acidic water conditions are essential in getting Neon Tetras to spawn. You’ll want to start measuring the water for dGH (general hardness) as this tells you the concentration of dissolved minerals. The dGH needs to be at or below 2 degrees, meaning you’ll need a source of demineralised water.

Distilled or R.O. (reverse osmosis) water can be added to tap water during water changes to help bring the GH down. You’ll also want to add indian almond leaves or driftwood, which both contain tannins that help push the water towards acidity and replicate their native home in South America. Coupled with generous feedings of live and frozen food, you’ll see the females begin ripening with eggs!

How Can I Tell if a Neon Tetra is Pregnant?

It can be difficult to tell if a neon tetra is pregnant, as the fish do not display obvious physical characteristics. However, one way to tell if a female neon tetra is pregnant is to observe her behavior. Pregnant females may become more reclusive and spend more time hiding in the vegetation.

Additionally, a female fish belly may appear slightly rounder or larger as the fry develops.

It's important to note that not all females will display these behaviors or physical changes, so it's always best to keep a close eye on your neon tetra population and monitor their behavior and health to identify any potential pregnant females.

To breed neon tetras correctly always remember, as egg scatterers, Neon Tetras provide no parental care after they spawn. In fact they will likely eat their eggs within a few hours. So any plants that the eggs attach to should be removed in order to save the fry.

Frequently Asked Questions for Neon Tetra Care

Are Neon Tetras Good Beginner Fish?

Neon Tetras are great beginner’s fish so long as your aquarium is fully cycled. They are slightly sensitive to ammonia and other waste products.

Are Neon Tetras Easy to Breed?

While not as easy to breed as livebearers, keeping a group of Neons with multiple of their same species will likely lead to breeding. If this is your goal, keep them in a well decorated separate tank and condition the water to optimal conditions by raising the water temperature.

What is neon tetra disease and how can it be prevented?

It's important to know about the common infection called neon tetra disease. It is a bacterial infection that affects neon tetra fish and can cause symptoms such as lethargy, loss of color, and eventual death. It is caused by poor water conditions, such as low oxygen levels, high levels of toxins, and high levels of nitrites and nitrates. Make sure to look out for false neon tetra disease!

To avoid false neon tetra disease, it's important to maintain optimal water conditions, including proper temperature, pH, and water quality. It's also important to ensure that the fish are being fed a balanced diet and that the tank is cleaned and maintained regularly.

How many neon tetra fish should be kept in a tank?

They like to be in schools because they are schooling fish. They can get lost sometimes because they are small, so it's best to keep them in groups of at least eight.

Can neon tetra fish live in a community tank with other fish?

Yes, neon tetra fish are peaceful. They are best kept in a community tank with other small fish such as cardinal tetras, small catfish, and other peaceful tetra species. They can also be kept with other colored fish such as betta fish, but it's important to ensure that there is plenty of space for all the fish to swim around in. Try not to keep them with larger fish.

How often should I change the water in my neon tetra fish tank?

It's important to perform regular water changes and prevent the buildup of harmful toxins and chemicals. A water change of around 15% should be performed once a week to keep the water clean and fish healthy. It's also important to use a high quality water conditioner like Seachem Prime when performing water changes.

How Many Neon Tetras Should I Keep?

6 is the minimum with more always being better! Do you have any more questions? If you still have questions about the Neon Tetra or would like to show off your tank, be sure to join our Facebook Group to join the discussion!



These fish are a great addition to your aquarium, they add color and activity, they are easy to take care of and can be a great choice if you are looking for something new to add to your aquarium. Keep them in a planted aquarium, with a varied diet, and they will be healthy and happy, and you will enjoy having them in your aquarium.

Feeding neon tetras is simple as they pretty much take any kind of food like tropical flakes, frozen brine shrimp, and little micro pellets. While there are many suitable tank mates, try to keep them with other non aggressive fish.

It is relatively easy to breed neon tetras, but it's important to ensure that they are in good health and that the water conditions in the breeding tank are optimal, it is also a good idea to use a separate breeding tank.

There is no question these are some of the most popular fish in the aquarium trade. When they display adult coloration, these fish's body are some of the most beautiful out there. Keep them in optimal water conditions and it will be easy to avoid diseased fish.


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