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Fish - Neon Tetra Fish

Tetra fish are a small species of fish that are originally from Africa, Central, and South America. The most commonly tetra fish sold as a pet is called a neon tetra. They are characterized by their bright, vibrant colors that are light blue. They are usually housed in groups of five or more since they can be prone to being shy and antisocial if left on their own. Neon tetras add beauty and movement to your aquarium, making them a pleasure to watch.


Neon tetras are omnivores. They will eat flake food for the majority of their diet. In order to add variety to their diet you should add small foods, including brine shrimp and freeze-dried bloodworms. You can also add a micropellet food to help supplement their diet even more. A tropical sinking pellet will work the best because these include nutrients that bring out the color in neon tetras. Make sure to carefully monitor the amount of food that you give your fish because it will not stop eating on its own accord. Overeating can lead to stress, disease and excess feces adding bacteria to the aquarium. Within a few feedings you will quickly find out how much food is enough and how much is too much based on any breaks that your fish takes from eating.

Care and Handling for Your Pet

Neon Tetras can live to be 10 years, but a lifespan of 5 to 6 years is more common in captivity. They have a very even temperament and are fairly active. Keep in mind that since there are so many Neon tetras sold in captivity that there may be underlying health issues or stress incurred by the fish before purchase. This may lead to a premature death due to its low quality, rather than anything you have done.

The best type of housing for neon tetras is a community aquarium at least 24 inches long with a pH level of 6.0 to 7.8 and a KH of 0- 2.0. Neon tetras are easy to care for, especially in a community aquarium. It is important to make sure that the water temperature is the same when transferring your fish to its new home. The ideal water temperature for a neon tetra is between 71 and 81 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature closely mimics their native Amazon environment, making it just right for their new home. Neon tetras tend to be timid and should not be housed with large and aggressive fish that may eat them. Good fish to add to your aquarium with your new Neon tetra include guppies, tetras and other community fish that will adapt well to the ideal tetra water conditions.  Neon tetras do very well with other tetras and are best to be kept in a school of six or more. This will give off the shoaling effect which gives a bright burst of color as they swim around the tank. It is best to keep your Neon tetra in a densely planted tank that has a very dim light. Make sure to give your neon tetras plenty of time to become familiar with their new home and carefully monitor to remove any dead or aggressive fish.

Some Neon tetras become ill with ‘neon tetra disease’ (pleistophora). The disease cycle begins when a microsporidian parasite enters the spores of the fish after it has consumed the infected material which can be dead fish, or even live food. Symptoms of this disease include restlessness, loss of color and cysts. The cysts can cause curved spines and fin rotting.  It is often incurable and can be fatal to the fish. In order to prevent or discourage any diseases it is important to take the time to carefully clean your aquarium removing all waste and excess food.


It is important to minimize stress for the transition for your neon tetra to its new home. This can be achieved by having the majority of the aquarium set up prior to purchasing your fish including gravel, shells, plants, the right temperature of water and filters. Since Neon tetras are a shoaling species, it is important to keep at least 5 tetras together. You should try to mimic their natural habitat as much as possible in your aquarium. Plants are very important, because it can give hiding spots and darker areas within the tank.  A ‘bio-wheel’ is also important because it helps make the water infused with oxygen as well as grows beneficial bacteria that eliminate ammonia and nitrite. Make sure to give your neon tetras plenty of time to become familiar with their new home and carefully monitor to remove any dead or aggressive fish.

Now that you have your Neon tetras at home in their new aquarium, you can enjoy the sparkle and activity that they bring. You can watch as the Neon tetras travel together and create a beautiful shoal and flash of color. Make sure that you place your aquarium somewhere that the light is somewhat dim so that you can watch their reflective coats shine.