Beginner's Guide to Neon Tetra

Published on October 1, 2016
Beginner's Guide to Neon Tetra

For a new aquascaper, it might not be an easy task to choose which fish to add to your brand new aquarium.

If you ask other experienced or aquascape gurus, the fish we are going to discuss in this article will be one of the many you will often hear.

The fish is called neon tetra.

What Is Neon Tetra Fish


Neon tetra fish (scientific name: Paracheirodon innesi) is quite favorite and famous among the beginners fish lovers.

What makes this fish distinctive is its body’s patterns that are colorful and surprisingly glow in the dark.

Every month, people bring about 1.8 million neon tetra fish into the United States of America. And the top exporters are Singapore, Hong Kong, or Thailand.

If you are planning to harvest neon tetras in the wild, I suggest you find them in clear or dark water streams.

These fish have vivid and bright colors while also having strip lines of the rainbow pattern on their skin; they are more visible in the dark as well.

Its Origin

neon tetra origin

image source

Theis exotic aquatic is a species from the family of characin, also called as Characidae or characiforms.

Mostly it is native to eastern Peru, eastern Columbia, Brazil, and Solimoes.

It usually lives in water with the temperature of 20 to 26 °C (68 to 80 °F).

Let's have a look a quick overview of neon tetra fish:

  • Size: 2"
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Water Conditions: 68-78° F, KH 4-8, pH 5.0-7.0
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Color Form: Blue, Red
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Origin: Farm Raised, Malaysia
  • Family: Characidae

Also read

Common Diseases of Neon Tetra Fish

Every aquascape fauna always comes with its strengths and weaknesses. Neon tetra, even though is known to be easy to take care of, it has several common diseases that you have to know.

"neon tetra disease" (NTD) or else pleistophora ailment, a sporozoan affliction triggered by Pleistophora hyphessobryconis. In spite of as a well-known ailment, it's usually not curable and often lethal to the fish.

On the other hand, this disease is hard to cure, but can be prevented with carefully taking preventive steps.

The ailment spiral starts when microsporidian parasite spores hit the fish after it eats contaminated material, for example, dead fish, or live neon tetra food for example tubifex, which can serve as excellent hosts. Once a fish is infected, there is a big chance that it will infect the other tetras, so make sure to quarantine them to avoid further infection spread.

Signs and symptoms consist of trouble sleeping, loss of pigmentation, protuberances on the body as ovarian cysts, problems floating around, curled spines as the ailment moves along, and secondary bacterial infections, for example, get rotten and flatulence.

Neon Tetra Breeding & Care

Natural Environment

neon tetra fish care
By Tan Meng Yoe at English Wikipedia (Author: Faltasian.) [CC BY 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

They do well in water having a pH of 5.0 - 7.0. Captive bred Neon Tetras apparently do great in any pH. Neon tetra temperature range of their surroundings is critical in that it must be kept constant.

On the other hand, Neon Tetras have the ability to reside in a variety of temps. But according to records, the best is between 68F -- 84F (20C -- 29.9C). 78F -- 80F (26.6C - 25.7C).

Sexing: Sexing fish is always a tricky job to do. Not only they look similar, in some cases males and females look exactly the same.

But luckily, neon tetras are pretty easy to differentiate.

Male Neons are more torpedo shaped and slimmer. They have a different blue strip which is straight on their body. On the other hand, the female neon is bulkier and rounded as compared to male.

Behavior: Although this fish is very social so they have to be kept in proper and arranged tanks.

Letting a neon tetra living alone isn't a good idea. If you want to have a healthy environment (social), try to keep a group of 6 to 10. 

Usually, they live in groups of hundreds of thousands in the wild.

Tank mates

What you must keep in mind is that these neon tetras are peaceful creatures. As they are very social, they make good friends to each other.

Because of its size, that's relatively small; bigger predators can hunt and consume them quickly. That's the reason they like to keep themselves in the group and feel safe.

tank mates for neon tetra
image source

Some recommended neon tetra tank mates are other tetras like gouramis, rasboras, larger cichlids, barbs, and dwarf.

Tank Arrangements

Neon love tanks with lots of plants and steady (relatively slow) water movement, or stream.

Here are some good examples of perfect aquariums for your neon tetras.

blue neon tetra
image source

caring for neon tetra
image source

neon tetra fish size
image source

These plants will be ideal for the females to hide their eggs.

Neon Tetra Breeding

We have reached the most-loved discussion topic, breeding our neon tetra.

Ok so.. You've bought your beautiful neon tetras, what's next? Let's dig in.

The one of the best breeding of Neon fish is to place a couple in a special breeding tank. The tank should be darker, and the light should be increased gradually when reproduction occurs. Let the level of nitrates rise, to simulate the fresh rain, change the water at least

You should remember that most adult fish eat newly hatched fish, so it would be the best idea to keep them separated, they should be taken out and shifted to another grouped tank.

But if you don't want to move them another tank, there is another option that not every can do. It's to take the neon tetra eggs and put them somewhere safe.

Common Questions

Q: Do neon tetras lay eggs?

A: Yes, they do lay eggs. And their eggs are light-sensitive, and hatch in only 24 hours since laying.

Q: Do neon tetras need a heater?

A: Yes, they do. Remember that tetras are tropical fish, they live in a warm water by nature, and you need to "recreate" the living conditions that they are comfortable to live in.

Featured image: By H. Krisp (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

A hub for aquarists and aquascapers is aimed to be the top rated hub for all aquarists and aquascapers around the world. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to