November 15, 2013 PetGuide
PetGuide logo

Neon Tetra

  • Group: Freshwater
  • Size: Small
  • Temperament: Non-aggressive
  • Aquarium Size: Medium (30 gal)
  • Swimming Region(s): Middle
  • Suitable Tank Mates: Guppies, Rummy-nose Tetra, Cardinal Tetra, Glow Light Tetra and other small species of tetra
  • Difficulty Of Care: Daily care – Not recommended for the beginner aquarist

New Search

Neon tetras are an incredibly beautiful species of tropical freshwater aquarium fish. It gets its name from the iridescent blue horizontal stripe that runs along each side of the fish from its nose to the base of the adipose fin, and the iridescent red stripe that begins at the middle of the body and extends to the base of the tail fin. The neon tetra also has a light blue back and a silver abdomen. Except for these markings, the fish is completely transparent and often loses its coloration in the night or when under stress. Neon tetras usually grow up to around 1.2 inches in length and can survive for up to three to four years given adequate care.

Neon tetras are an incredibly beautiful species of tropical freshwater aquarium fish.

The neon tetra is native to the black water and clearwater streams of south-eastern Colombia, eastern Peru and western Brazil.

In addition to the more common red and blue variant, neon tetras have also been bred into a light yellowish color (Gold Neon Tetras) and a variety called the Diamond Neon Tetra, where the blue stripe has been reduced to a tiny spot on the tetra’s head.

neon-tetra-1While most commercially bred neon tetras are hardier than their wild cousins, and are able to adapt to a wide range of water conditions, they are still very sensitive to abrupt changes in water quality. Neon tetras thrive in mildly acidic, warm water in heavily planted aquariums. They are a shoaling fish and are best kept in schools of ten or more. The neon tetras’ extremely peaceful temperament makes them excellent additions to most community tanks. But they are also incredibly timid and should not be kept with more aggressive species of fish or larger tank mates that could eat them whole.

Neon tetras are omnivores and can be fed on a diet of crushed flakes. Their diet should also be occasionally supplemented with live foods such as brine shrimp, daphnia, frozen bloodworms and tubifex worms.

Neon tetras thrive in mildly acidic, warm water in heavily planted aquariums.

It is fairly difficult to sex neon tetras, but females will often be plumper in shape than the males and their blue lines will be slightly more curved.

To breed neon tetras, you will need to set up a dedicated breeding tank. The water of the breeding tank should be slightly acidic and as soft as possible. The tank should also be dimly lit and should include fine leaved plants or spawning mops for the eggs to be deposited in.

The eggs and resulting fry are extremely sensitive to light and the aquarium should be kept as dimly lit as possible for a few weeks once the fry eggs are laid. The parents should also be removed promptly from the breeding tank as they will devour their own eggs on sight.

Neon Tetra, Gold Neon Tetra, Diamond Neon Tetra

Photo credit: Corpse89/Wikimedia

Other Fish

Go to New World Cichlids

New World Cichlids

  • Group: Freshwater
  • Size: Small, Medium, Large
  • Temperament: Vaires
  • Aquarium Size: Medium to Large
  • Swimming Region(s): Mid-Range
  • Suitable Tank Mates: Other New World Cichlids; Peaceful Community Fish
  • Difficulty Of Care: Weekly
Go to Lake Tanganyika Cichlids

Lake Tanganyika Cichlids

  • Group: Freshwater
  • Size: Small-Extra-Large
  • Temperament: Semi-Aggressive
  • Aquarium Size: Medium, Large
  • Swimming Region(s): Mid-Range
  • Suitable Tank Mates: Best Kept Singly or as a Pair; May be Kept with Non-Conspecific Lake Tanganyika Cichlids
  • Difficulty Of Care: Weekly