Neon Tetra Care Guide

The neon tetra is very popular among fish keepers due to its beautiful colors and active movements. Each month, around two million of these fish are sold in the United States. Most are either captured in South America or imported from breeding facilities in Southeast Asia. They were first identified in the early 1930s and immediately became well-known.

This little fish is a fantastic addition to any tank due to its vivid blue stripe. The neon tetra is best kept in groups of at least six. They are simple to care for and a great option for beginner fishkeepers.

When you initially get them, there is a learning curve, just like with any other fish. Everything you need to know to effectively maintain neon tetras in your home aquarium will be covered in this post.

In this article we’ll cover neon tetra care requirements, tank setup instructions, water parameter requirements, tank mate compatibility, and mating. By the end of this article, you’ll know whether they’re a good fit for you and your tank.

Who Discovered Neon Tetra?

The neon tetra was discovered by chance by explorer Auguste Rabaut, a collector of animals and flora. His attention was caught by this vividly colored fish while he was in the Amazon gathering butterflies.

He shipped some to Europe where he sold them for a significant profit. More neon tetras were removed from the Amazon during the following few years. This vibrant fish quickly became popular, and it still is.

There are numerous types of vividly colored tetra. These include the diamond tetra, golden tetra, cardinal tetra, and glowlight tetra. This article will focus on the neon tetra and the benefits it may provide for your aquarium.

What Does a Neon Tetra Look Like?

They have a narrow, torpedo-shaped body. It can reach a length of between an inch and 1.5 inches. Neon tetra  has a broad, rounded nose, and its huge eyes take up most of its head space.

Their color is just amazing. Its body is striped in iridescent blue color from nose to tail. In the wild, where the water may not be clean, it is believed that this stripe serves as a beacon for other members of the species.They have a silvery white belly. Below the blue stripe, from the base of the caudal fin to about midway down the belly, there is a red stripe.

This stripe is also iridescent, which adds to the allure of the tetra. The fish’s entire body, including its fins, are translucent aside from the striking colored markings.

The colors disappear when they are anxious, scared, or sleeping. This also occurs if the fish gets sick. They can block out the colors as a defensive measure to hide from predators in their native environment.

Though they have been known to live longer, their normal lifespan ranges from five to eight years. It can be difficult to tell the difference between the sexes. While the males have a straight iridescent stripe, females have a somewhat broader belly and a bent iridescent stripe. To distinguish these changes in such a thin, little fish requires a skilled eye.

What Are Their Natural Behaviors?

These calm, slowly swimming fish get along nicely with other fish in aquariums. They like to be in a group of  six or more. They can be seen swimming between the tank’s middle level and its bottom.They will also school with other characin fish, such as cardinal tetras and green neon tetras, when housed in small numbers. Keeping less than four together is not recommended since they will become stressed, pale, stop swimming, and eventually die.

It’s interesting to note that numerous other species use neon tetras as spotter fish by observing their behavior. They will cluster together tightly in a school if they feel threatened.

This action may encourage more cautious tank mates to venture out into the tank’s open area. They’ll keep an eye on the tetra and be aware of when to move away. Additionally, when they are swimming around and are widely spread, it shows that they are content and happy.

What Sort of Tank and Habitat Do They Need?

They can be found in warm rivers in Brazil, Peru, and Colombia. They are endemic to South America. The Amazonian river basin has the highest concentration of them.

They are typically found in slow-moving water tributaries to larger rivers, where they congregate in shoals midwater. There are dense forest cover areas that don’t let much light reach these dark waterways. Their neon hues are likely so vivid so that other fish may easily spot them in the low light.

In Eastern Europe and the Far East, neon tetras are now almost exclusively reared in captivity. Captive-bred neon tetras include gold, diamond, and long-finned neon tetras.

What Size Tank Is Best?

The smallest tank size is 10 gallons. This is enough for a small group of six to ten.

Water Type and Parameters?

The ideal temperature for neon tetra is between 68 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit. The KH should be between four and eight, while the pH should be between 7.0 and 6.0.It’s worth mentioning that they may not survive in a newly cycled tank that hasn’t settled and stabilized completely. They are susceptible to changes in the water’s quality.This means you should add tetras to an already established, mature tank. Or one that has been stabilized after a “fishless cycle.”The suggested rate for water changes is 25 percent each week.

What Substrate Do They Like?

The substrate should be dark in color to resemble a riverbed. Use little gravel, pebbles, or rocks, or black sand.

What Sort of Filters Do They Need?

You should “peat-filter” their water. This will make the water softer, which is what this species prefers.As they prefer to swim in the middle of the water, powerheads or canister filters that provide a modest current for their water return outlets can be used to provide them with the slight current they require.

Due to their small size, ensure your filter intake cannot suck the fish in. In order to prevent accidents, cover it with foam or mesh.

What Lighting Is Preferred?

It is advisable to use dark lighting to showcase their iridescent color and to replicate their native habitat. If necessary, you can grow floating plants in your tank to create shaded areas.

What Decorations and Plants are Suitable?

It’s not difficult to construct a biotope that resembles the natural habitat of neon tetras. As a substrate, you can use river sand and plants with twisted roots. The addition of some driftwood will provide them with a place to hide.

It might be an excellent idea to include plants native to the Amazon River, such as the Amazon sword plant (Echinodorus paniculatus).The water in the tank will turn a light brown color when a few dried leaves are added, resembling the color of their river home. To prevent the leaves from decomposing and contaminating the tank water, remember to replace them every few weeks.Allow some free area in the middle of the water for them to swim or suspend. This will enable them to school together while showcasing their lovely colors.

How Many Neon Tetras Should You Have in a Tank?

One gallon of water per inch of fish is the typical norm. A 20-gallon tank is therefore adequate for a community of 20. The tank size should be increased by one gallon for each additional member.

What do neon tetras eat ?

This fish is omnivorous, meaning it eats both plants and meat. They aren’t picky about what they eat and are simple to feed.

What Would They Eat In Their Natural Habitat?

The neon tetra will move around the Amazon River while grazing on algae. Insect larvae and other small invertebrates are also on their menu. They prefer not to eat from the bottom and instead grab food in the middle of the water or from the water’s surface.

What do neon tetras eat in captivity ?

Feed your neon tetras with  a mixture of plant and animal-based proteins, such as meat or fish. According to one study, fish proteins should make up 45 percent of a fish diet if they want to grow and stay healthy.

Their food should be built on high-quality flakes or pellets. This can be supplemented with live feed such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, tubifex, or daphnia. Aim to give them only small portions or food that has been finely ground.

Can neon tetras eat any human food?

You can feed your fish small bits of frozen peas that have been defrosted and shelled. This could benefit their digestive system.

How often should you feed neon tetras ?

Neon tetras like being fed several times each day. Feed them twice a day when they’re young, following the “three-minute rule.” This implies that after three minutes of letting them eat as much as they can, you should stop feeding them and remove any food that is still in the tank. This prevents overeating.

Once fully grown, you can feed your pet only once a day while still using the same technique. In order to prevent them from gaining weight and to periodically let their digestive systems empty, it is a good idea to miss feedings or have a “fast day.”

Are there any special care requirements for neon tetras?

While neon tetra care is simple, they can get “Neon Tetra illness,” also known as Pleistophora. It is unique to this species and is caused by the parasite Pleistophora hyphessobryconis being consumed by a dead or decaying organism.

The illness starts eating the fish’s muscles as soon as the parasite is within the fish’s intestines. The condition is contagious, and any fish suspected of having it should be removed from the tank immediately.Although unlikely, it is possible for other species to contract this illness. Symptoms include a bending of the spine, loss of normal color, bloating, and unusual swimming patterns.

Unfortunately, there is no known treatment for this illness. It typically enters an aquarium through an infected fish. As a result, it’s wise to quarantine any new fish before putting them in your aquarium to ensure that they are healthy enough to go into the communal tank.

Which Fish are Friends for Neon Tetras?

Many other smaller tropical species, especially other tetras (like congo tetras), will get along nicely with these friendly fish. They are friendly creatures who enjoy swimming in groups.

However, neon tetras are the ideal food for larger fish because of their small size. If you put fish in a tank with them, be sure the fish don’t have mouths big enough to swallow your neon tetras..

The following are examples of good tankmates:

  • Livebearers like mollies and guppies.
  • Minnows like the “white cloud.”
  • Aquatic snails.
  • Shrimp ghosts.
  • Fish that live at the bottom, like cory catfish.

Can You Keep More Than One Neon Tetra in a Tank?

Yes, absolutely. These friendly fish like the company of other tetras and members of their own species. As they swim about the tank, they will communicate and explore together.

Buying Advice

They are accessible at practically any tropical aquarium business or online pet shop. Neon tetra  usually costs between $1 and $2 each, however buying more than one can save money.

Neon tetras are now primarily raised in captivity in Asia or Florida, with very little wild species still being sourced.Make sure the fish are not pale or faded and are displaying their actual colors. When shipping, many vendors include a few extra  in case some of them perish on the way.

Can You Breed Them at Home?

Although it is possible to breed neon tetras at home, doing so is thought to be very challenging. Sterilizing the breeding tank and everything in it requires extreme care. You should also use soft, acidic water.

In rare situations, given optimum conditions, a breeding pair may spawn in the tank. A separate tank for breeding would be preferable because there is a possibility that the eggs will be consumed.

When the fish reaches the age of around nine months, they start to reproduce. With a minimal ratio of two females to each male, they can be bred in pairs or as a small school.

For breeding, the tank should hold one gallon per pair or up to 20 gallons per school. The ideal water conditions for breeding are 72–75 degrees Fahrenheit, 1.0–2.0 dGH water softness, and a pH of 5.0–6.5.

A modest air-powered sponge filter should produce gentle water flow. The breeding tank’s substrate should consist of roughly a half-inch of rock or gravel and some finely structured clumps of live plants.

The tank’s lighting should be black or very dim at start, gradually increasing the light to encourage spawning.A 50% water change is another method to promote breeding. This encourages them to breed by simulating a severe downpour in their native habitat.

The female will lay up to 130 transparent eggs, which will be dispersed all over the tank. After spawning, the parents must be taken out immediately because they will eat the eggs.

Given that both eggs and fries are photosensitive, the lighting should be kept low. Fry should be given infusoria after hatching until they are large enough to consume newborn brine shrimp or small pieces of bloodworm. The fry won’t have their distinctive brilliant neon tetra colors for about a month.


Interesting Facts about neon tetras

Here are some interesting informations about neon tetras:

  • They are members of the same fish family as piranhas.
  • In 1934, the initial neon tetra imports into France were offered for sale for $6500.
  • Neon tetras traveled on the Hindenburg in 1936. Five fish were transported to Chicago, but only one of them survived.
  • An estimated two million neon tetras are brought into the US each year, according to estimates.
  • There are roughly 150 more tetra species.
  • They are one of the most widely bred commercial fish.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Do Neon Tetra Eggs Look Like?

Neon tetra lay small eggs that are a pale yellowish white tint. If they aren’t consumed, you might find some in your tank.

Do They Eat Their Babies?

After spawning, it is crucial to remove adults from a breeding tank since they will consume the eggs that they lay. You must move any eggs you find in the main tank to a juvenile tank if you want to see if fry will hatch from them.

How Can I Tell if a Neon Tetra Is Pregnant?

They are egg layers; a bloated belly could signal that the fish is carrying eggs or that it is constipated. Take note of how the men are treating her. She might have eggs in her if they are “dancing” all around her.

Can I Keep Neon Tetra With a Betta?

They will avoid bettas and typically hang out in the middle of the tank. They can get along as a result. To avoid any aggression, it might be wise to feed your betta first during dinnertime.

Can I Keep Them in a Five Gallon Tank?

The general rule is one gallon of water for every inch of fish, and they can grow to be 1.5 inches long. Since they enjoy company, it’s best to have six or more together in one tank. You need a 10-gallon tank or larger to keep them cozy.

How Do They Get Their Glow?

Iridophores” are a type of cell found in the bodies of fish with an iridescent shine. These cells contain guanine crystals, which when light strikes them and reflects back, can intensify some hues.

When there is light, the iridophores can enlarge, and when there is darkness, they can contract. This explains why neon tetras are bright blue in the sun and pale green in the evening or early morning light.

In the Amazon River’s blackwater ecosystem, these color changes may serve as beacons for other neon tetras. It informs stray fish of the location of the school.

Is a Neon Tetra the Right Fish for You?

Neon tetras are among the most well-liked aquarium fish, and they require little maintenance. These tranquil fish are best kept in tiny schools and are prized for their eye-catching, iridescent blue and red stripe.

They will perform a stunning, colorful spectacle by swimming or suspending themselves in midair in a tank. A school of roughly 10 of these fish will fit in a tank with a minimum capacity of 10 gallons. Make sure they have other neon tetras to keep them company because they dislike being left alone.

They are capable of reproducing in a home aquarium, but a separate breeding tank will be required. Make sure they are taken out after spawning because they are also cannibalistic toward their eggs.

The neon tetra is appropriate for both beginners and experienced fish keepers.We sincerely hope you find our neon tetra care instructions to be helpful and that you will enjoy watching your own brighten your tank.

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