Neon Tetra Complete Care Guide 2024

The Neon Tetra is probably one of the most popular and widespread aquarium fish. This is due on the one hand to its great colors but also the uncomplicated care. He gets along as well as with any other fish and requires little knowledge.

Nevertheless, as with any fish, there are some aspects to know so that the Neon Tetra lives healthy and in a suitable environment for him.

In this guide, we would like to give you all the important information about the Neon Tetra. This includes the appropriate environment, food, reproduction but also diseases.



Scientific name

Paracheirodon innesi

Care Level





Bright red and neon blue


6 - 10 Years


1.5 inches





Minimum Tank Size

10 Gallons

Water Type


Water Temperature

72 °F - 78 °F

pH Level

5 – 6,8

Possible Tank Mates

South American ornamental fish (Guppies, Hatchetfish, Harlequin Rasboras)

Neon Tetra Overview

Next to the Red Neons, the Neon Tetras (Paracheirodon innesi) or also called Neontetra, are probably the most popular ornamental fish in aquarium history. Hardly any other ornamental fish is found so frequently in aquariums worldwide. Not surprisingly, after all, the beautiful blue-red coloring of the Neon tetra brings life and color to any aquarium. Also, its distinct swarming behavior is a real splendor that delights many people.

It is an optimal beginner fish and requires little knowledge. Especially children can be introduced to the keeping and care of fish. Neon Tetras should always be kept in a group of at least 15 animals, as they are swarm fish. In a swarm, the small fish feel safer and take care of each other. Otherwise, they can suffer from a lot of stress, which reduces their lifespan.

Appearance of Neon Tetra

The Neon Tetra has a white, silvery-colored belly and a silvery, olive green-colored back. At the level of the eye, there is a blue-green shimmering stripe. Under the blue stripe is a red stripe, which does not extend over the entire body but only from the middle of the body to the tail fin. Neon tetras have transparent fins with white fin rays.

A special feature of the Neon Tetra is that it does not shine itself. Rather, it reflects the incident light. In a large shoal, this is particularly impressive. This process can be observed very well in the aquarium. When the light is switched on in the morning, the Neon Tetra has not yet unfolded their full-color splendor. This happens only with increasing incidence of light. Due to their lineage, neon fish are particularly effective in the aquarium with a dark substrate and low lighting.

Neon Tetra Lifespan

Neons are often seasonal fish in nature, like many other small tetras. They live an average of 1 to 2.5 years in the wild. In the aquarium, they can live 6 to 10 years if kept properly.

Typical Behavior

Neon Tetras are very peaceful, unaggressive fish. Thus, they make perfect additions to a communal tank.

They spend most of their time as a school. They rarely swim individually as they are too weak on their own. In a group, they form a strong school, which lowers their stress and calms them down.

How many Neon Tetra should you get?

To provide a familiar and good environment for Neon Tetras, they should never be kept alone. A number of at least 15 fish should never be undercut for this. In the wild, they live together in huge schools. These reach up to thousands of fish. This makes the animals feel safe, and they have less stress.

As a school, they act like one huge fish and are not attacked as often. To not disturb the natural behavior, one should also remember not to have too few animals in the aquarium keeping. Because if the animals are exposed to too much stress and fear, their life expectancy decreases significantly.

Aquarium Conditions

For keeping Neon Tetras, an aquarium width of 23 inches and a volume of 15 gallons is required. The larger the aquarium and the swarm, the better. Keeping in nano aquariums with less than 15 gallons is not appropriate for the species.

Neon tetras like densely planted aquariums to be able to retreat. Some fine fleshy plants, as well as some broad-leaved plants, should be used. In addition to some densely planted areas, there should be enough free swimming space. The use of some floating plants is also advisable. They create some darkened areas where the neon tetras like to hang out.

Neon tetras prefer rather a dim lighting. The substrate should be dark and fine-grained. The neon tetra feels most comfortable in low flow, almost stagnant areas of the aquarium. Stones and roots of mangrove or bogwood are suitable for structuring the tank.

Water Parameters for Neon Tetra

Clear water streams of the Amazon are characterized by particularly soft water. Accordingly, the water conditions of the tank provided should not deviate too much from these. The optimal pH-value for the Neon tetra would be a value of 6.0 – 6.2, but of course, it may be between the above-mentioned values.

The optimal temperature, on the other hand, is between 72 °F and 78 °F. Nevertheless, neon tetras can also be kept at medium temperatures around 78 °F. A permanent keeping above 78 °F is not recommended because the animals die relatively early or are susceptible to diseases.




72 °F - 78 °F 


0 ppm


0 ppm


<20 ppm


6.0 - 6.2


<10 dGH (<166.7 ppm)


1 - 2 dKH (17.8 - 35.8 ppm)

Varieties of Neon Tetras

As with many other fish, there are several Neon Tetras varieties besides the “normal” one.


The Longfin is a special, very large variant of the Neon Tetra. The fin of the fish is almost twice the size of the natural variant.


Equal to other albino species, the Neon Tetra Albino lacks different colors. They only have a bright, shimmering color. The eyes of this variant are pink, by which it can be easily recognized.


The Golden variant of the Neon Tetra is a malformation where only some of the color is missing. They can be either blue or red. The more color they are missing, the more they resemble albinos.

Neon Tetra Diet and Feeding

In nature, Neon Tetras are omnivores. They feed on plants but also on small creatures, depending on what is available to them. How to feed your Neon Tetras and what to keep in mind, you will learn in the following section.

Natural Diet

Neon tetras are omnivorous, feeding on whatever is available to them at the time. This ranges from plants to small creatures. This ability is essential to survive in the wild.

What should I feed Neon Tetras?

The Neon Tetra prefers to eat small water fleas and crustaceans, such as Artemia and Daphnia, which are also common in its native waters. It takes this food in the form of live food and as frozen food. You can feed the Neontertra also with commercial dry food, but it is important to note that it is advantageous for the fish’s colorfulness if you feed, at least at regular intervals, live or frozen food.

How often should I feed Neon Tetras?

Neon Tetras are very active fish, which is why they have a very high energy consumption. That is why you can feed them every day. You can feed them 2 to 3 times a day.

How long can Neon Tetras go without food?

If you cannot feed the fish for a longer period of time, they can reduce their energy consumption very much. This allows them to survive for a very long time without feeding. Neon Tetras are also able to use plants in the aquarium as food. So they can survive at least one week but in a planted tank also up to two weeks without food. To prevent this from happening and to avoid stress for the animals, an automatic feeder is recommended. We have also prepared a detailed report on automatic fish feeders.

Read more about it here: How long can Fish go without Food?

Neon Tetra Tank Mates

When selecting suitable tank mates for the Neon Tetra, there are a few aspects to consider. In general, the fish species must be compatible with the tank requirements. Most important is the temperature, which must be between 72°F and 78°F.

Furthermore, you can recognize a suitable Tank Mate by its size. Other fish should not be larger than 3 – 4 inches. Otherwise, there is a risk that they will eat the neon tetras.
Besides, they will crowd the shoal, which will have no more space and will be exposed to greater stress.

Well suited fish are, for example:

  • Hatchetfish,
  • Guppies,
  • Small Catfish,
  • Cory Catfish,
  • Dwarf Cichlids,
  • Guppies,
  • Zebrafish,
  • Mollies,
  • Platies,
  • Other Tetra species.

Fish that should not be together with Neon Tetras in the same tank are:

  • everything bigger than the Neon Tetra,
  • aggressive species.

Breeding Neon Tetra

Breeding can already be done in an 8-gallon tank at GH 3°, KH 1°, pH 5.7, and 73,4 °F, if not too much offspring is needed. If possible, live food should be given before the batch.

The young are so small that they are almost invisible. The eyes can possibly be detected as black dots in gravel crevices.

Common Neon Tetra Diseases

Like all other animals, Neon Tetras can also fall ill with typical diseases. These include the typical diseases in an aquarium but also the Neon Tetra disease specifically. Typical signs for sick Neon Tetras are changed behaviors. This includes, for example, the separation from the shoal. Sick fish often withdraw to rest. They also often lie on the bottom because they are too weak to swim. A terrible sign is also a curvature of the fish.




Suggested Action

Neon tetra disease

Fading of colors, milky white spots on the body of the fish (back and trunk), curvature of the spine.

Transmitted by parasites, which can enter the aquarium through new fish.

The disease cannot be cured. A diseased fish should be separated immediately and the tank cleaned so that the disease does not spread further.

Fish tuberculosis

The disease is difficult to recognize. The fish become emaciated and withdraw. 

Is transmitted by bacteria, which often come into the tank through new fish.

The disease cannot be cured. A fish should therefore be immediately separated and the tank cleaned.

Cotton-Wool Disease/ Saddleback Disease

Symptoms include a white discoloration on the fins and mouth.

The pathogens are in almost every tank, but only attack weak and stressed fish.

When the disease breaks out, the water should be changed frequently and the stress of the fish should be reduced.

Conclusion – Is the Neon Tetra the right fish for your tank?

The neon tetra is a more widespread aquarium fish that fascinates thanks to its striking coloration. The neon tetra is a peaceful “beginner fish” that can be easily socialized with other South American small fish that can put up with its preferred water temperature. Its demands on the water condition are very restrained. It stakes out territories and therefore demands a structure-rich decoration, which can offer it. The breeding of the animals is relatively simple.


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