Neon Tetra: Full Care Guide

The Neon Tetra ( Paracheirodon innesi ) belong to Characidae family. It is a freshwater small fish native to America. They are the most popular fish among fish keepers because of their variant colors.

The care is not so difficult which makes them ideal for beginner fish keepers. They are peaceful. In this full care guide, you will learn everything to keep a healthy Neon Tetra in your aquarium.

Care Level:Easy.
Color Form:Blue, Red, Translucent.
Lifespan:8 Years.
Size:1.5 inches.
Minimum Tank Size:10 Gallons.
Tank Set-UpFreshwater: Planted.

Overview of Neon Tetra

The Neon Tetra is also known as Neon fish. They are native to South America. They belong to the Characidae family. They are popular for their dazzling colors and energetic temperament. They are non-aggressive which makes them a great community fish.

They will spend most of their time in the middle of the water. These fish should generally be kept in school at least 15 members. A smaller number than 15 can feel threatened and this can cause stress to them.

They are pretty much available year-round at any live fish store. They are not too hard to breed, so the vast majority of these are bred in captivity.

How long do Neon Tetra live

These little guys have a really long lifespan. They can live up to 8 years in the wild. In aquariums, they will generally live for around 5 years.

The Appearance of Neon Tetra

The first thing that comes to mind is their coloring. It has a blue line that stretches from its eyes down to its adipose fin (The small fin between the tail and the dorsal fin). They also have a red stripe that runs from the middle of their body down to the caudal fins.

They have transparent bodies except for their red and blue coloring. This will help them to hide from predators. If they feel really threatened they can even turn off their red and blue iridescent hue to stay safe. Their coloring will also fade if they are sick.

They have a spindle-like body and around the nose, eyes make up the majority of their head. The average size is around 1.5 inches but they can be grown up to 2 inches long. The females are being slightly shorter.

Cardinal Tetra VS Neon Tetra

These fish are often confused with the Cardinal Tetra. If you look closely will notice that the vibrant red horizontal line of the Neon Tetra only runs from the middle of their body to tail. With the Cardinal Tetra, their red line runs the entire length of their body.

Varieties of Neon Tetra

The Neon Tetra has several varieties that differ from the true wild form. Some of the popular names are listed down:


The Longfin has fins that are nearly double the length of the wild form. They look like little bettas.


They lack all red and blue color. The Albino has a pearly white, shimmery color. Like most albinos, they have pink eyes.


The Golden is actually leucistic, so they are missing some coloration, but not all of it. The blue color is missing from the heads and backs. The Golden’s eyes are a striking blue color.

The Behavior of Neon Tetra

The Neon Tetra are peaceful fish and also non-aggressive fish. They can make fantastic additions to the community tank. Most of the time they will be swimming in the middle of the water.

The Tank Requirements of Neon Tetra

They are native to the warm rivers of South America including Brazil, Colombia, and Peru. These rivers are cover by dense frosts which block the natural daylight. Because of their vivid color, they can identify their fellow fish in these dark murky waters.

They live in schools and spend their time in the middle of the water. You should attempt to replicate their natural environment into the aquarium as close as possible.

The aquarium should be heavily planted. Use driftwood to help create more shade and darkness for them.

What Size Tank Do Neon Tetras Need

The minimum size is 10 gallons. If you keep the recommend (15) then you should get a tank that is at least 20 gallons.

Tank Conditions

It is important to say that Tetra is very sensitive to changes in water conditions. The newly cycled tanks are not suitable for them. The changes in the water chemistry during this time will kill them. You should add them to an established, matured tank.

They produce a very small bioload so their filtering needs very small; a regular sponge filter will do. 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.

Water Parameters for Neon Tetras

  • Temperature: 72oF-76oF
  • Ammonia: 0 ppm
  • Nitrite: 0 ppm
  • Nitrate: <20 ppm
  • pH: 6-7
  • GH: <10 dGH (<166.7 ppm)
  • KH: 1-2 dKh (17.8-35.8 ppm)

Neon Tetra Diet

They are omnivorous this means they will eat both meat and vegetables/plants matter. They will eat algae, larvae from insects, and other minuscule invertebrates. High-quality pellet/flake should make the core of their diet. You can also feed them with live and frozen foods.

  • Blood Worm.
  • Brine Shrimp.
  • Daphnia.
  • Tubifex.

You should aim to feed them twice a day as much as they can eat in 3 minutes. When they mature you can reduce this to once a day and still follow the 3-minute feeding guide.

Tank Mates for Neon Tetra

You should only place them in a community tank with other nonaggressive fish that are not big enough to eat them. Peaceful bottom dwellers make perfect tank mates for them.

  • Gouramis (Avoid the Giant, Peral, and Opaline)
  • Barbs.
  • Dwarf Cichlids.

Fish which must be avoided include:

Hey, I am Shuvradeb Biswas a content writer. Fishkeeping is my hobby. There are many problems I faced during my first fishkeeping. So, I made the blog to help new fishkeepers.

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