Neon Tetra

Amy Tokic
by Amy Tokic
fast facts

About Neon Tetra

Aquarium Size
Medium (30 gal)
Swimming Region
Fish Water Condition
Suitable Tank Mates
Guppies, Rummy-nose Tetra, Cardinal Tetra, Glow Light Tetra and other small species of tetra
Difficulty Of Care
Neon Tetra General description

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.

Maintenance and care

While 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.

Aquarium varieties

Neon Tetra, Gold Neon Tetra, Diamond Neon Tetra

Photo credit: Corpse89/Wikimedia

Amy Tokic
Amy Tokic

Amy Tokic, Editor of, is a passionate animal lover and proud pet parent of Oscar, a Shih Tzu/Chihuahua cross, and Zed, a Japanese Chin. Her love of animals began in kindergarten, when she brought her stuffed dog Snoopy into class with her every day. Now, she writes about her adventures in pet ownership and tirelessly researches products, news and health related issues she can share with other animal enthusiasts. In her free time, Amy loves perusing used book and record stores, obsessing over the latest pet products available and chasing squirrels with wild abandon (a habit attributed to spending too much time with her pooches).

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