Neon tetra also known as Paracheirodon innesi are peaceful, small-sized shoaling fish. They have stunning coloration, but they tend to fade when they are resting or ill.
However, the neon tetra species are hardy fish. However, they would not tolerate sudden environmental changes.
Learn more about your neon tetra pet fish, its diet, breeding, and ideal tank mates.
Neon Tetra Stats
Neon tetra stats comprises the quick stats and classification stats.
– Quick stats
|Neon Tetra Tank Size||20 inches|
|Neon Tetras Size||1½inches or 4cm|
|Neon Tetra Optimal Water Ph||5.5 to 7.5|
|Water Temperature For Neon Tetras||68°F to 78°F
|Neon Tetra Lifespan||5-10years|
|Hardness||Soft to medium|
|dH range||1.0 – 25|
– Classification stats
- Neon Tetra and Paracheirodon innesi
– Origin and Distribution
The neon tetra is commonly distributed in parts of South America, Northern Peru, western Brazil, and Colombia. Aquarius has also found these colorful fishes in the Amazon rivers, Ecuador, Iquitos, USA, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Thailand.
– General Body Form
The neon tetra is a slim, torpedo-shaped fish with slight side compression and a blunt nose. They have large eyes that seem to be on the same level as their small mouth. The neon tetras adipose fin is round, small, and located between the dorsal fin and its tail.
- Female: The female neon tetra has a rounder belly than the male
- Male: The male has a concave-shaped belly, unlike the female.
– Neon Tetra Size
They grow up to a total of 1.5 inches while in captivity, but hobbyists claim to have seen neon tetras of slightly over 2 inches in their wild habitat.
From the middle point of their bodies, they have a bright neon red marking that appears down to their caudal fin. The other half of the body is of blue coloration with a bit of greenish hue. The blue stripe aids it with visibility to co-specifics.
The color shows from the top part of their eyes up until the adipose fin. Undersides of their bodies are silvery, while the upper is a deep green shade close to the color of an olive. The neon tetra’s anal fin is a range of cream to a transparent appearance.
Their sharp color contrast through their body is one reason they are widely sought after by most fish keepers. Their bodies’ markings are quite similar to a cardinal tetra save for their bright red stripe length. However, your pet fish can turn off its coloration, so it looks dark grey or black when it pleases, particularly if it feels threatened, stressed, or sick and while it is trying to rest.
It turns the color on when it is awake or feeling better. The female neon tetra’s red color stripe appears slightly bent while straight for the male.
Neon tetras are peaceful and get along with most fishes. However, as shoaling fishes, they would rather stay with at least eight to twelve other neon tetras. In smaller schools, they get stressed and feel threatened that they could become sick.
You will observe that they spend most of their time swimming around the mid-part of their home. They are indeed fascinating to watch because of the glow of their coloration. They are not aggressive but would behave a bit erratic during mating periods. They are a great suggestion for a community aquarium.
– Neon tetra Lifespan
The neon tetra lives up to a range of 5 to 10 years on average. Some aquarists claim the neon tetra live longer in their natural habitat than in captivity. Also, if they are not Ill, they would live long.
Neon Tetra Care
Neon tetra care is easy to achieve if they are comfortable. Their wild habitats usually contain soft, acidic, tropical, and black to clear waters. You should try to simulate these to keep your neon tetras happy.
Below is an in-depth discussion about their basic needs in a tank.
– Tank Size
As earlier mentioned, the neon tetras are small fishes but like to be part of a group. You would need a tank size of about 20 inches and at least 10 gallons. However, a bigger aquarium would give the schooling fish more room to move around. Also, the bigger the tank, the easier it is to maintain it.
The neon tetras are middle strata dwellers, so the substrates do not matter to them. However, because of their bright body coloration, a dark substrate would look nice. You may pick between a sand, plant-based substrate, or gravel; either of the three is a good option for the neon tetra.
– Tank Decorations
The neon tetras natural habitat has an immense amount of greenery. They love a heavily planted tank because it blocks off the aquarium lighting. You can plant some floating plants like red river floaters and water lettuce.
However, if you want to pick other options, you should consider if they can survive in little light and acidic waters. Other suitable plants suggested for the neon tetra tank include the Java Fern, Amazon Sword, waterweed, java moss, Ludwigia, and pennywort. Apart from being a source of shelter, the plants also help purify the neon tetra water.
The green color of the plant against the fish’s beautiful coloration creates a thrilling sight. Neon tetras like rocks, driftwood, and caves in their tank because they serve as shelter.
Also, confirm that your choice of decor has blunt edges because sharp edges can be hazardous to the fish.
– Aquarium Lighting
The neon tetras thrive in an environment with subdued lighting. You can install lightning of a ratio of two watts to one gallon. However, the plants would help ensure the right dim ambience.
– Water Conditions
The right environmental conditions are very crucial to the neon tetras. They require an aquarium that is well cycled and mature, or they might develop complications. You should regularly test to confirm that their water doesn’t contain nitrates or ammonia.
The neon tetra requires water with a PH range of 5.5 to 7.5 and a dH range of 1.0 to 25. Also, they prefer a water temperature of 68°F to 78°F (20-25°C) because they are tropical fishes.
In their natural habitat, the water moves slowly to permit the decomposition of organic wastes like wood and leaves, causing the water to look black. You can use peat to make the water slightly acidic and murky, like their natural habitat.
They are small species and are less likely to produce a ton of waste. Therefore, a hang-on-back filter would work just okay for the neon tetra tank. Purchase a powerful model that works for big aquariums because the neon tetra requires clean water.
Alternatively, get a sponge filter and install it in the aquarium. You should create a schedule to perform water changes at least once a week with a ¼ of the water content replaced. It is essential not to drain all the water simultaneously as it can disrupt the nitrogen cycle.
The ideal neon tetra tank mate is other neon tetras fishes because they enjoy each other’s company. If you keep them alone, they may become stressed, which can make them prone to sickness. They can also live peacefully with other small, non-aggressive fishes. They do not harass their tank mates because they are timid.
You should pair your neon tetras with black neon species, guppies, cardinal tetras, barbs, harlequin rasboras, platies, otocinclus catfish, bristle nose plecos, corydoras catfish, and black skirt tetras. They can get along with some gouramis like dwarf gouramis but not opaline, pearl, or giant gourami. You can add some invertebrates like shrimps (such as ghost shrimp) and freshwater snails.
Some unsuitable neon tetras tank mates the angelfish, cichlids, goldfish, betta fish and other large tetras because they are bullies and stress or eat the neon tetras. Their bright color attracts large predator fishes to them. Finally, you can pair your neon tetra fish with top or bottom strata dwellers, so they do not get into each other’s way.
– Before Breeding
You should be able to identify and separate the male and female neon tetra in your tank. The female has a slightly producing belly, so you should look at them closely. Put about five young neon tetras into the tank with a ratio of more female to male like 2:1.
They are mature for breeding for twelve weeks. You should feed your fish pet with nutritious live food before the breeding sessions. Also, you need a breeding tank to increase the chances of a successful process.
– Tank specification
The neon tetra requires a PH slightly lower than their normal aquarium water, ranging between 5 to 6. The water temperature should specifically be around 72 -75 degrees Fahrenheit and a water hardness of 2dGH.
To simulate their dark, murky waters, you should cover the sides of the tank and put off the aquarium lights. Also, use an aquarium cover for the top, so they do not jump out. Perform large water changes of about 50 percent as it simulates the rainy periods.
– During Breeding
The darkness is a way to trigger mating in the neon tetras. For the first 24 hours, block off any light source and gradually reintroduce light into the tank daily. The neon tetras breeding are different from most species. They would spawn early in the morning after staying together for 24 hours. They scatter their eggs and would spread them out through the tank.
The female lays and scatters while the male stands guard. She lays about 100 tiny translucent eggs, which would stick to any surface easily. The neon tetra needs rock or plant surfaces in random places all through the tank.
Delicate plants such as “Myriophyllum” would be great for spawning. Then the male would go around the tank and fertilize them. Once you observe they are done, scoop out the couple and allow the eggs to hatch. The neon tetra tends to eat their eggs.
– After Breeding
The eggs also need low light levels, so keep the aquarium dim. Nonetheless, not all the eggs would hatch, so make sure you follow specific directions to increase survival rates. A neon tetra can breed every two weeks, so if your first attempt didn’t work, try it again.
It takes them a day to hatch as you would see tiny fry afterward. The first few days, it isn’t easy to spot the neon tetra babies because they appear translucent and tiny, but they would begin to show and swim actively after four days.
Like most fish species, the fry would absorb the yolk in their sac as food for the first few days. You should feed them commercial food or industrial food next, but they would be mature enough to eat bloodworms and brine shrimp in a few weeks.
The neon tetra species are prone to the “neon tetra disease.” It affects them as a result of a protozoa parasite called “Pleistophora hyphessobryconis.” The sickness is common yet has no known cure and has a high fish fatality rate. However, there are standard preventive measures to take to prevent your neon tetra from contacting it.
– The Neon Tetra Disease Cycle
The cycle starts when the neon tetra mistakenly takes in the parasite mostly by eating infected live food or nibbling on the carcass of a dead fish species. In another case, it gets it from other infected surfaces in the tank. The parasite may have been an in-between host, or a new fish was introduced into a community aquarium without quarantine.
Once the microsporidian spore is ingested, the neon tetra is automatically a carrier. The spore would grow until it got to the fish intestine. Eventually, it starts feeding on the neon tetra muscular tissues and gradually kills it.
The only known preventive measure at this stage is to try to stop the spread. Take out the infected fish and closely monitor the other fishes because it can go bad fast.
Symptoms Of Neon Tetra Disease:
- The fish would be restless and have challenges swimming
- It would have lost its vibrant coloration
- The fish would have cysts and lump all over its body
- Its stomach region would start to shrink
- In severe cases, their spines begin to bend
- They become susceptible to other diseases like bloating and fin rot
There is also another disease known as the “false neon disease.” However, unlike the Neon Tetra Disease, it is of a bacterial origin yet causes the fish to exhibit almost the same indications. To further buttress how similar they are, you can only differentiate them with a laboratory culture test. Some aquarists also mistake the false neon disease for the columnaris.
Treatment of the False Neon Disease:
- You should isolate the sick fish, so it doesn’t infect the others
- You should create a medication cocktail or a fish bath and put the fish into the tank
- Install a diatom filtration system to help get rid of the existing water parasite
However, prevention is a better strategy for both false neon and neon tetra diseases because both can quickly wipe off a whole community tank.
The neon tetra diet contains mainly omnivorous food. In the wild, the neon tetras eat insect larvae, dead and fallen leaves, and crustaceans that can fit in their mouth. A tank-bred neon tetra eats pellets; they are fish food for neon tetra. Tropical pellets have color enhancers that improve the neon tetra’s natural glow.
They also eat small-sized flaked feed. You should also occasionally give your neon tetra chopped-up live food such as blood worms, tubifex, brine shrimp, and daphnia. However, be careful of the live feed as infected materials can lead to neon tetra disease.
You should feed your mature neon Tetra pet at least once daily, but the fry must be more frequent, like thrice. Then you gradually reduce feeding to twice as they grow.
- The neon tetras are peaceful small-sized schooling fishes
- They are tropical fishes from murky waters
- They have a fascinating coloration
- They are hardy fishes but prone to neon tetra disease
However, they need minimal care, and as long as you feed them daily and perform water, they are happy. You should get a dozen of these beautiful fishes.