Neon Tetra – Instructions for Care and Breeding

The Neon tetra (Paracheirodon innesi) is an iconic species in aquaculture. This small, brightly colored fish is one of the most traded aquarium fish.

This fish actually has a number of advantages over other aquarium fish. The Neon tetra is prized for its slender, bright body and beautiful ridges, and its interactive displays when kept in groups. They are very cheap, can live in small tanks and have a long lifespan.

However, there is also a downside Neon tetra fish is not an easy fish to care for. Although they are one of many species of fish that are sold as starters, they have specific requirements to be suitable for living in your aquatic environment.

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General information about Neon Tetra . fish

NameNeon tetra
Some other namesneon fish
Science nameParacheirodon innesi
Tank size (minimum)~ 40 liters
MaintainEasy – Medium
Size~ 3.5 – 4 cm
Optimal temperature20 – 28°C
Optimal PH6,5 – 7,5 
Optimal GH3 – 8  
Optimal customer1 – 6
Residentmiddle floor
NitratesUnder 40
DietCarnivores / omnivores
Longevityup to 5 years
ColorTransparent with blue horizontal stripes and red fins

Origin of Neon Tetra

This fish was first imported from South America and described by the famous hydrologist George S.Myers in 1936, and named after William T.Innes, an American aquarist, fellow He is also the author of many books and articles on aquarium fish and aquarium hobby.

Neon Tetra's Habitat

The Neon Tetra is a freshwater fish native to the clear and black waters of the Amazon basin in southeastern Colombia, eastern Peru, and western Brazil. However, small fishes grow equally well in clear waters.

Black water is the result of tannins seeping into the water as plants decompose, thus forming clear, acidic and dark colored water.

Naturally, the black waters of the amazon basin often flow through dense forests and rich vegetation that often block sunlight.

The description of Neon Tetra

Neon tetra (Paracheirodon innesi) - Detailed Instructions for Care, Diet and Breeding - description

The Neon tetra is a fish worth seeing. Everything about it, from its color to its small length, makes it attractive and popular with aquarists.

Neon tetra is a slender fish. It has a silver belly and is slightly compressed laterally. Large eyes take up a lot of space on the head.

The most striking part of its appearance is its color. Nature has smiled at this creature and styled it in ways that make its colors not only captivating but unique.

Neon tetra shows Noticeable difference in color between day and night .

During the day, the body of the fish has a jelly that emits a green color. At night, the lateral stripes turn pale blue-violet.

Also, it has iridescent blue horizontal stripes on the sides. The construction would not be complete without its caudal fin. Its hind part, including the caudal fin, is glossy red.

Interesting facts: These fish have light sensitive skin. According to research, the longitudinal stripes of Neon tetra skin are under the control of the sympathetic nervous system. In addition, they also respond directly to light and exhibit color changes according to circadian cycles.

This distinct color helps it navigate the murky dark waters where it lives. And its unusual appearance makes it easily recognizable.

Typical behavior of Neon Tetra

  • Temperature:

Neons are creatures quite peaceful.

However, they can become hostile and belligerent if they feel threatened, stressed or confined in a very small group (up to 6).

  • Social:
Neon tetra (Paracheirodon innesi) - A detailed guide to Care, Diet and Breeding - large group (school attendance)

Group size has a significant effect on Neon tetras. Experiments show:

– Large groups of Neon (10 or more) tend to be more concentrated than those with smaller group sizes.
– Neon tetras have reduced aggression in the largest groups.
– The number of larger groups also decreased.

So they must always be kept in groups . A group of fish is called a "school". And Neons love to move in together in a school. They move horizontally, and therein lies their charm.

When one fish in the school notices something strange, the rest will also probe to see what is going on. If you wave to them on the side of the tank, they will come towards you to say hello.

If they are alone in the tank, they will experience a state of depression that will shorten their lifespan significantly.

Note : Remember that different tetra species will not swim together.

  • Work:

They are fish that love to jump. So you need to close the lid tightly and/or keep that water level at least a few centimeters below the tank rim.

  • Location in the tank:

Neon tetras are usually in Between bellows.


  • Society:  Have
  • Work:  Medium
  • Location:  Middle-class residents
  • Peaceful:  Yes but can be agile
  • WOMENhey:  Have

Lifespan of Neon Tetra

Surprisingly, despite their small size, Neon tetras can live for a very long time.

Wikipedia says about 10 years. Personally, I don't believe it. My experience with this fish, combined with the experience of other aquarists and scientific studies, goes against that.

On average, Neon tetras can live up to 5 years in an aquarium , usually 3 to 5 years. They may also have a shorter lifespan due to certain factors, which may include:

  • The amount is too much . Although neon fish like to move in groups, releasing too many can cause them to die suddenly.
  • Stress and Illness. Diseases can quickly spread from fish to fish and kill them.
  • Inappropriate care. For example, Neon tetra does not respond well to sudden changes in water conditions. Although they have a respectable ability to adapt to their surroundings, rapidly changing parameters can kill them.


Neon tetras are omnivores ; they therefore consume both plant and animal materials. They are not picky eaters when in the aquarium. Ideal food options include:

  • Spirulina,
  • frozen foods,
  • flake food,
  • pellets, etc.

This species appreciates equally:

  • crustaceans,
  • grinding depth ,
  • small insects,
  • bloodworms,
  • artemia salina ,
  • daphnia ,
  • tubifex, etc.

They prefer a high protein diet, and animal proteins provide better growth rates than plant proteins.

Feeding frequency and dosage

Neon tetra (Paracheirodon innesi) - Detailed Guide to Care, Diet and Breeding - small group

Feeding is arguably the most important variable in fish farming. We have to find the line between overfeeding and underfeeding.

Read more: Balancing Light And CO2 In Aquarium

For example, if we give Neon tetras their daily diet as a meal, they often cannot consume all the food because the sinking rate of the diet exceeds the rate of consumption by the fish.

Therefore, we recommend feeding Neon tetras at least twice a day. Ideally, inedible portions (leftovers) and waste should be sucked out after each feeding. It will keep the water clean and prevent pollution.

Also, it doesn't matter to have a "hungry day" once a week.

Importance : Remember, it is better to feed less than to overfeed. Feed too much Levels are a major issue in maintaining water quality.

Are aquarium plants safe for Neon tetra fish?

Yes, Neon tetras are really safe. They are even the first choice for aquariums with lots of plants.

I have heard that they can sometimes gnaw trees but this is not common. Personally, I have never experienced that.


  • Diet type:  omnivores
  • Food preferences:  Meat
  • Feeding frequency:  2-3 times a day

Neon Tetra Fish Care

Although very popular in this hobby, Neon tetras not a very tough fish . They are sensitive to temperature fluctuations and water quality.

Note: In fact, scientists use them to see the effects of pollution in water.

However, it is still a good fish for beginners and here are a few things to know to adequately care for Neon tetras.

  • Observe the color of the fish in the morning. Pale body and discoloration of the lateral line are bad signs. If the color is not as bright as the original, then you must pay extra attention to the situation! Check your water parameters, feeding, tank mates, everything you did before (fertilize, add new plants or animals, etc.).
  • Monitor your fish and quickly remove dead ones to avoid contaminating the tank.
  • Make sure to change the water weekly to minimize the amount nitrate in the pool.

Tank requirements and water conditions

It is important that you  Cycle before bringing the fish home. After the tank is cycled, you need to check the quality of the water with  kit for measuring water parameters .

Plus, cleaning your tank is a simple precaution to make sure you're not endangering your fish.

Tank Size:

Normally, Neon fish like to move in groups of at least 6 – 10. Therefore, you need a tank that can hold about 40 liters of water. Such small tanks are more suitable for beginners.

In addition, the tank should have a tight lid so that the fish do not jump.

Water specs:

The best way is to mimic their natural habitat in your aquarium.

Temperature: Neon tetra resides in waters between 20 – 28°C. Experiments have shown that for this species the lethality time is 50 (LT50 – time until death) and the ability to withstand water temperatures above 35° C and below 15°C.
There is some information on the internet saying that low temperature farming leads to fungal fish, all aquarium fish are keeping neon at 24-26 degrees and the fish are very healthy and have not seen any fungus.

PH: Neon fish live comfortably in slightly acidic to neutral waters. The ideal pH range should be between 6.5 – 7.5.

Stiffness:  Neon tetras prefer soft water (3 – 8 GH). Over time, they can adapt to harder water but they really don't like it.


Ultimately, you will need a quality, efficient filtration unit to filter their waste.

Keep in mind the size of the fish. Some filter inlets can suck this little fish in! You will need to use an additional pre-filter in the form of a sponge to prevent them from being sucked in.


There are no special requirements. You can use any type of substrate that is suitable for the plants in your tank.

The light:

Also, Neon tetras live in dark environments. Make sure your tank isn't too bright.

Also, if you have plants, then the light should also match the needs of the plants in the tank.

Water line:

Unnecessary. Neon tetras do not have strong water currents in their natural habitat.

Plants and decorations:

Aquariums should be heavily planted to mimic their natural habitat.

Provide good hiding spots in the tank for your fish. Neon tetras like to hide. You can use floating plants , plant fake ,  driftwood ,  leaf , small rocks to provide a great hiding place for them.

Neon tetras can lose color if conditions are not favorable or when they are regularly threatened by bully fish.

Gradually introduce them to the aquarium. Sudden changes in habitat can be harmful to them. Before putting Neon tetras in your tank, don't forget to take care of the temperature adapt to them .

Give them time to acclimate & isolate before adding them to the main tank. Don't rush. Do it slowly to prevent any unnecessary stress.

Neon Tetras . related issues

Like all fish, Neon tetras can also get sick. It could be Chestnut, Fungus, Pinched Fins, Hemorrhagic Disease, Fin Loss, Fin Rot, etc. Fortunately, most of these diseases are treatable.

However, there is also a disease known as Neon Tetra Disease (or NTD) that can be easily confused with others because it does not have any specific symptoms.

Neon Tetra Disease . The most common symptoms include loss of appetite, loss of color, curvature of the spine, isolation, swelling, etc.

Treatment : Unfortunately, NTD has no cure. So the only way to protect other fish is to isolate the sick fish.

Breeding Neon Tetras

See more: Freshwater Puffer Fish: A Guide to Raising and Caring

Neon tetra is a bit challenge to breed . The reason is that they require very specific water conditions for successful reproduction.

Therefore, for successful Neon tetras breeding, you need a breeding tank where the brood fish can mate, lay eggs and the fertilized eggs can develop. Also, be aware that adult Neon may mistakenly eat eggs if not kept in a separate spawning tank.

Breeding tank for Neon Tetras

The breeding tank must have the following properties:

  • It will be very helpful if you Feed the brood with live food 2-3 times a day to breed. According to the breeding procedure, it should be done during the 3 week period before Neon tetras spawn.
  • Closed lid: Neon tetras jump high during their spawning phase.
  • Start without light. The tank should be dark at first, then gradually increase the light source until the fish lays eggs.
  • You may need 20 - 40 liters of water for the spawning tank.
  • Small rocks should cover the bottom of the tank.
  • Plants with a smooth texture should be planted in an aquarium.
  • The temperature should be around 22°C. High temperature is not good for reproduction.
  • The water is very soft and pH range from 5.5 to 6.5.
  • Filter Bio to filter.
  • Living plants.

Some breeders use nets placed on a frame 1 2.5 cm high from the bottom of the tank to protect the eggs from being eaten.


When they reach a total length of 2.5 cm, they will be ready for their first spawning. Ideally, males and females should be kept separate before spawning.

The females have a more prominent and rounded abdomen than the neon males. Females carry eggs in the abdomen.

They will usually spawn early in the morning. The spawning period usually lasts from 1 to 4 hours.

According to research, Neon tetras can spawn again as short as 15 to 20 days after spawning is complete.


Neon tetras eat their eggs. Neon brood should be removed as soon as possible after spawning.

Note that you should reduce light exposure after the eggs are fertilized because they are very sensitive to light. Maintain only low light in the aquarium.

Eggs are usually transparent and stick to living plants and the walls of the tank.

Each female can lay 20 to 60 eggs.

Importance : Temperature plays a very important role. Warm temperature 25 ° C reduces the number of eggs by 3-4 times compared to a temperature colder than 22°C.

Interesting fact: Laboratory studies also confirmed that keeping Neon tetras between spawns for more than 20 days resulted in significantly impaired gametophyte quality. In other words, they lay fewer eggs (the number of eggs is reduced by 4-5 times).


image 1

Eggs tend to hatch in about 22-24 hours.

The juveniles of Neon tetras are about 2.5 mm long. In general, the body color is pale when hatched. They will show mature color in about a month.

The fry will feed entirely from the yolk sac in the first 3-4 days. Then they will be free to swim.

Providing suitable feed at different larval and postlarval stages is an important breeding aspect in Neon tetra production.

The fry are small and can only eat a small amount of food. They should be given foods such as:

  • green algae,
  • zooplankton,
  • Artemia nauplii.

Experiments showed that detached Artemia were suboptimal choices (low survival (~60%) and growth rate). Early Neon fry have small mouths that restrict them from eating and digesting the detached cysts.

Neon Tetras and matching tank mates

Neon tetras are peaceful fish and can keep other fish and animals in community tanks. Since they do not grow more than 4 cm, there is plenty of room for other tank mates, making the aquarium more lively.


Here is a quick list of some of the animals that can coexist with Neon tetra fish:

  • Guppies,
  • dwarf gouramis,
  • Krill
  • Pygmy Cory ,
  • Harlequin Rasbora ,
  • Danios,
  • Killifish Clown ,
  • Cardinal Tetras,
  • Dwarf Ember Barbs ,
  • Endlers ,
  • Small catfish (such as Otocinclus )
  • Panda Garra ,
  • Loaches, etc


We do not recommend keeping Neon tetras and cloves in the same tank. They will definitely eat all the baby shrimp and maybe even start picking an adult shrimp.

So, if you are planning to keep them together with shrimp, that would be a very bad idea.


Neon tetras are compatible with any freshwater snails any . They will do a good job of clearing food debris, dead plants and algae along with the lower floors of the tank.

The problem is that they can have their beards cut off by neon.


Sometimes Neon tetras will squeeze the fins of longfin fish, like bettas, or exhibit minor aggressive behaviors both inside and outside the individual.

In most cases, this is a sign of a stressed fish, otherwise, they will rarely perform actions such as fin squeezing.


  • Neon arowanas should not be associated with large and/or aggressive fish that may bully them. Larger fish like angelfish, angelfish, redfin sharks, etc. will gladly eat them.
  • Away all kinds of crayfish and most types  freshwater crab. 

A neon tetra fish should not be left alone. It can be prone to stress, thereby weakening its immune system and making it susceptible to disease.

In short

The Neon tetra is a beautiful middle-aged freshwater fish and is very popular in the aquarium hobby.

It is also very fond of other tank mates, as it is a peaceful species. The lovely appearance and peaceful personality in the aquarium make many aquarists love.

Although the Neon tetra can be a bit picky about its habitat, it is often sold as a good fish for beginners.

Read more: CO2 for Aquatic Plants | Which Type Should I Use?

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