Neon Tetra Care Guide: Breeding, Life Span, Behavior, Food

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General Overview

The neon tetra is also known as the Paracheirodon innesi. The neon tetra is a freshwater fish native to the blackwater and clearwater streams in the amazon basin. The neon tetra would be found in the wild in South America. Neon Tetras belong to the characid family which isn’t surprising since they are found in South America.

Neon Tetras In The Wild

In the wild neon tetras have many enemies to worry about. The neon tetras’ natural enemy however is the angelfish. When the angelfish is big enough they will pursue the neon tetras as a food source.

The neon tetras’ bright colors of blue and red would make it very visible to other neon tetras. This was a great adaptation to help them locate one another amongst the blackish water streams. As it’s a no-brainer, it is this coloration that has made the neon tetra as common as it is today.

How Big Do Neon Tetras Get In The Wild

Generally, the neon tetra would stay in a group of 5 to 8 and get to be about 3.5 cm (1.3 in.). Unfortunately due to their size, they would be small enough to fit in most fish mouths so they would have to be on constant guard. Having their groups prove useful in the wild.

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Here is a cute Neon Tetra Animation On Our Giphy Account

Neon Tetras Natural Habbitat

Since the neon tetra is found in the wild amazon basin it raises the question of how they would get here. Most of the population brought to the states is 5% wild-caught. When they are caught it is usually downstream where the waters are more shallow.

Many are raised in captivity and sold globally. They are generally raised in Singapore, HongKong, and bred in a variety of local breeders. Due to being raised in captivity, they have been developed to withstand different and harsher conditions than they would have had to experience in the wild making the neon tetra a hardier fish.

What PH Is The Neon Tetra Use To

The ideal ph balance for the neon tetra is between 5.5 and 6.2. Earlier on we talked about how they can withstand more of a hardier environment so they can also withstand a ph between 5.5 and 7.0.

Neon Tetras In Your Aquarium

Neon tetras are very peaceful fish, community fish, and also beginner-friendly fish as well. Since they are peaceful fish you shouldn’t have a problem with them having any bad interactions with their tank mates.

neon tetras will however sometimes have playful fights over food but other than that I haven’t heard of them being a nuisance to other fish.

It’s recommended to keep neon tetras with other small fish so you will not have to worry about other fish-eating them in your aquarium or vice versa. Since they only get to be about an inch it’s definitely something to remember.


First things first, medicate your neon tetras. Unfortunately, these little guys can get many different types of diseases. They can get fin rot, ich, worms, and neon tetra disease. Medicating their water will help them fight these potential infections and overall increase their survival.

Tank Mates For Your Neon Tetra

  • guppies
  • platys
  • minnows
  • mollys
  • Harlequin Rasboras
  • Zebra Danios
  • betta

Neon Tetra With Betta Fish.

United States Neon Sticker by AquariumMe
Here is our neon tetra and betta animation on Giphy.

You may think adding your neon tetra with your betta may be a bad thing because of your neon tetras peaceful nature and your betta’s attitude. However, they can make great tank mates actually.

Neon Tetras move very fast so that makes them very hard for your tetra to catch which is a good reason! They both can eat the same types of food so that will not be a problem.

The neon tetra is not very good with fluctuating ph levels so having regular water changes is very good for them.

Though they are used to swimming in schools you should add real plants or fake plants for some added protection. You wouldn’t want your neon tetras getting the chomp by your betta.

Blackish Water

Since the neon tetras enjoy blackish water you should consider adding driftwood and Indian almond leaves. Having their water be a bit darker will make them happier and also enhance their blue stripes making them feel safer and easier to alert each other of their position.


Driftwood is best found out in nature although you can make your own driftwood at home. When looking for good driftwood you want to have aged driftwood so you can drill into the wood easier, be more waterlogged more, and cause it to release that sticky sap you do not want in your fish tank.

DIY Driftwood

Indian Almond Leaves

Indian Almond Leaves are believed to help induce breeding as well as heal fish when they sustain injuries. Indian Almond Leaves are also known to lower water hardness on your fish. How else could it be better? Well generally the water out of your faucet wouldn’t be ideal to meet their kind of water in the wild and this would make it much better.


The ideal temperature would be between 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit since they are tropical fish use in warmer climates. Having a good reliable heater would help bring you peace of mind.

How Many Neon Tetras Should You Have In A Tank

The recommended amount of neon tetras to have in a tank would be for every 1 gallon you should have 1 tetra. This way you wouldn’t have to worry about overcrowding issues.

For example, you would put 5 neon tetras in a 5-gallon tank, and in a 10-gallon tank, you would have 8 to 10 neon tetras.

Neon Tetras School

Neon Tetras Schooling

Neon Tetras are schooling fish. This is why they enjoy the large company and since they love this in the wild you want to try and emulate this in your aquarium to give them the best possible home for them.

Whats the best filter for neon tetras

Small Intake Filters.. enough said. Due to their small bodies, it’s very easy for you to lose some over the filter alone so it’s ideal to have a small intake flow filter. You should consider keeping a sponge filter. Having an intake cover would help with this issue.

Neon Tetra Food / Diet

When you pick up neon tetras at a pet store they will try to sell you on some fish flakes and tell you that this is all they need for food. This isn’t entirely true because just like our own pets we don’t want food that’s okay. We want food that is perfect for them which is why since they are omnivorous a variety of plants and proteins will be perfect for them.

High Quality Micro Pellets

There are many micro pellets on the market today to siphon through. It’s best to try and stick to the best quality food pellets. The food pellets are essential to help maintain nutrients they would normally be missing but since they are omnivores it’s good to keep real protein for them and not just food pellets alone.


Bloodworms are a good source of protein for most fish including the neon tetra but unfortunately, the bloodworms get to be a bit too large for the neon so it’s best to not feed these guys normally to them. I would suggest feeding them frozen baby brine shrimp as a supplement for their protein.

Frozen baby brine shrimp

Baby brine shrimp are the main protein source for many fish. Due to the brine shrimps size, it makes them a perfect food source for the neon tetra. You can find them at your local pet store usually raised and kept in a refrigerator.

Live baby brine shrimp

In the wild neon tetras will enjoy chasing down their prey so why should it be too much of a difference in your aquarium? Live baby brine shrimp is a way to have them do just that.


The Daphnia is one of the most popular feeding fish food sources for most fish hobbyists. Daphnia is considered filter fish because of its ability to clear hard green algae build up. Having them in ponds and aquariums is very beneficial as well. This acts as a double whammy for our neon tetra. Having the Daphnia being able to help clear green algae yet also being a tasty meal for our neon tetras is perfect.


Neon Tetras are a perfect beginner friendly fish but also a favorite of long time fish owners. They are a center piece to add to an tank due to theur beautiful and stunning color. They go well with just about any small fish and are a good community fish. The Neon Tetras are mid range tank dwellers with a good peaceful nature.

Neon Tetras under these circumstances we discussed will have a good and peaceful, happy life with little to no problems.

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