Neon Tetras are a great, non-aggressive, community fish and spend the majority of their time in the middle of the water column. A great fish for the beginner with some experience and a well established tank. Adult Size 4 – 6 cm, minimum tank size 40 litres.
The Neon Tetra (Paracheirodon innesi), are native to the warm rivers of South America including Brazil, Colombia and Peru. The largest gathering of them can be found in the Amazon River basin. This fish is often confused with the Cardinal Tetra. If you look closely you will notice that the vibrant red horizontal line of the Neon Tetra only runs from the middle of their body to the tail.
Behaviour These fish should generally be kept in schools with at least 15 members. Smaller schools than this can feel threatened and this can cause stress. The smallest size tank is 40 litres. However if you’re keeping the minimum number of Tetras we recommend (15) then you should get a tank that is at least 80 litres.
Interestingly, except for their blue/red coloring they are transparent; in the wild this will help to hide from predators. When they feel really threaten they can even ‘turn off’ their red/blue iridescent hue to stay safe. Their coloring will also fade when they are sleeping or sick.
Tank Conditions With Neon Tetras your aquarium should be heavily planted. You can use driftwood to help create yet more shade and darkness for them. You should also make sure that substrate you use is a dark color; you can use small rocks and pebbles like you would find on the river bed.
Compatibility In general Neon Tetras are very peaceful fish; with the only exception to this being throughout mating season. They can make the perfect community fish, and a school of them really helps to bring vibrant colors to your tank. As they are such a small fish you should only place them in a community tank with other non-aggressive fish that aren’t big enough to eat them. Small, peaceful bottom dwellers make perfect tank mates for them. As for ideal tank mates you should be thinking of:
- Gouramis (Avoid the Giant, Pearl and Opaline)
- Small Catfish (e.g. Cory)
- Dwarf Cichlids
Fish to AVOID in the tank with Neons:
- Anything big enough to eat Neons
Feeding In their natural environment in the wild, neon tetras are omnivorous. This means they will eat both meat and vegetables/plant matter. They eat algae, larvae from insects and other miniscule invertebrates. Fortunately, they aren’t fussy eaters and will enjoy eating all different types of food including pellets, flakes, frozen and live. As always a high quality pellet/flake should make the core of their diet. You can supplement the flake with live/frozen food offerings such as:
- Blood Worm
- Brine Shrimp
Only feed extremely small pieces otherwise Tetras can have problems trying to swallow them.
Care Tetras are very sensitive to changes in water conditions. This means that newly cycled tanks are not suitable for your Tetras; generally the changes in the water chemistry during this time will kill them. You should only add Tetras to an established, matured tank. Tetras produce a very small bioload so their filtering needs are very small; a regular sponge filter will do. Finally in terms of water changes, you should aim to perform a 25% water change each week. Make sure not to exceed this recommendation as too much water change can be deadly for Neons.
Neon Tetra disease and the false Neon Tetra disease. Unfortunately both diseases are fatal and currently no cure exists. The disease is named such because it was first found in Neon Tetras. However the disease can also attack other Tetras and completely separate breeds. It’s a parasite in the intestinal tract that will eat the muscles starting from the inside out.
Common symptoms include:
- A sudden loss of color.
- Irregular swimming patterns and turning into a bottom dweller.
- Developing cysts on their stomach.
- Stomach shrinking and losing mass.
There is currently no cure and if one of your fish catches this disease it’s generally recommend that you destroy ALL the fish in the tank. The best cure is prevention by maintaining the water temperatures properly. You should also make sure that any fish or live organism added to the tank is healthy and disease free before adding it; you should quarantine and inspect new fish before adding them to your main tank.
|Adult Size:||4 – 6 cm|
|Aquarist Experience Level:||Beginner with some experience|
|Minimum Tank Size:||40 litres, 80 litres for 15 fish|
|Temperament:||Peaceful, good community fish|
|Tank Level:||Mid dweller|
|Temperature:||21 to 27°C|
|pH:||6.0 – 7.0|
|Hardness:||less than 10 dGH (soft)|