Neon Tetra Eggs 101: Appearance, Care, Hatching Time & More

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Neon tetra eggs can pose a significant challenge when it comes to hatching. That’s exactly how I felt when I first encountered them in my own tank.

Understanding this, I have taken it upon myself to compile an article that gathers all the crucial information, providing a step-by-step guide to the hatching and caring process.

For those of you with limited time, here is a chart that summarizes the key information about neon tetra fish eggs:

Size1.0 – 1.5 millimeters in diameter
ColorClear, translucent
Hatching Time24 – 48 hours post-fertilization
Eggs in a Single BatchApproximately 60-130 eggs
Hatching RateTypically 50-70% (optimal conditions)
TemperatureIdeal range is 74-82°F (23-28°C)
pHIdeal range is 5.0 – 7.0
HardnessSoft water is preferable (< 10 dH)
AmmoniaShould be 0 ppm
NitriteShould be 0 ppm
NitratePreferably less than 20 ppm

Also Read: Neon Tetra Care Guide

What Do Neon Tetra Eggs Look Like?

Neon tetras eggs typically present the following characteristics:

  • Size and Shape: Neon tetra eggs are extremely tiny, typically measuring less than 1 millimeter in diameter, and have a spherical shape.
  • Color and Transparency: When freshly laid, they are semi-transparent with a whitish color that becomes slightly opaque as the egg develops.
  • Clutch Arrangement: The eggs are usually laid in clutches on the underside of broad-leaved plants or the tank’s glass surface.
  • Undeveloped Appearance: Infertile or undeveloped eggs may turn white or grayish and could potentially develop a fungal growth.
  • Development Signs: As the embryos develop, you may notice a tiny dark spot forming in the center, which is the baby fish or fry starting to form.

Also Read: What Do Neon Tetra Eggs Look Like?

How To Care For Neon Tetra Eggs

Caring for neon tetras eggs is more challenging than you think. This is what you should know:

Step 1: Choose The Proper Mating Pair

  • Healthy Fish Selection: Choose a pair of healthy neon tetras; the female should be round and full-bodied, indicating she’s ready to spawn, while the male should be brightly colored.
  • Age Consideration: Tetras that are at least nine months old are best suited for breeding, as they are more likely to be mature and fertile.
  • Pairing: A 1:2 ratio of male to female is commonly recommended for a better chance of successful breeding.
  • Behavior Observation: Watch the fish for active swimming behavior and a healthy appetite, both of which indicate good health and readiness for breeding.

Also Read: Are Neon Tetras Livebearers Or Egg Layers?

Step 2: Prepare Your Neon Tetras For Spawning

  • Diet Enhancement: Feed your neon tetras with high-quality, protein-rich foods, such as brine shrimp or bloodworms, to promote egg production.
  • Lighting Regulation: Maintain a lighting schedule that mimics natural conditions, such as 14 hours of light and 10 hours of darkness.
  • Stress Minimization: Limit noise and movement around the aquarium to avoid stressing the fish, which can impede successful spawning.
  • Regular Monitoring: Check your fish regularly for signs of disease or stress that could affect spawning, and treat any issues promptly.

Step 3: Modify The Aquarium Conditions

  • Water Conditions: Adjust the water conditions to mirror the neon tetra’s natural environment – soft, acidic water (pH 5.0-6.0) and a temperature around 75-82 degrees Fahrenheit (24-28 degrees Celsius).
  • Separate Breeding Tank: Set up a separate tank for breeding to minimize disturbances and control conditions more effectively. Aim for at least 10 gallons.
  • Tank Cover: Cover the tank with a dark material or place it in a dimly lit area, as neon tetras prefer subdued light for spawning.
  • Frequent Water Changes: Regularly change 20-30% of the water to keep it fresh and optimal for spawning.
  • Use of Filter: Install a gentle, slow-flow filter or air-driven sponge filter to maintain water quality without creating a strong current that could displace the eggs. My recommendation: SunGrow Betta Sponge Filter (link to Amazon).
  • Use of Heater: Use a reliable heater to maintain the water temperature within the ideal range, as a stable temperature is vital for successful spawning and egg development.

Step 4: Create An Optimal Environment For Egg Dispersal

  • Plant Addition: Add plants with broad leaves or a spawning mop to the aquarium for the female to lay eggs.
  • Substrate Selection: Use a mesh or marbles as the substrate to protect the eggs from being eaten by adult tetras.
  • Tank Cleaning: Keep the tank clean and free from any pollutants to increase the eggs’ survival rate.
  • Tank Space: Ensure the tank has enough space for the tetras to swim freely and comfortably, which encourages spawning.

Step 5: Safely Remove The Adult Neon Tetras In Time

  • Observation: Watch for signs of spawning, such as color changes in males and a swollen abdomen in females.
  • Immediate Removal: Remove the adult tetras immediately after spawning to prevent them from eating the eggs.
  • Careful Handling: Handle the tetras gently to avoid causing them stress or injury.
  • Separate Tank: Move the adults back to the original tank or a separate holding tank to allow the eggs to develop undisturbed.
  • Post-Spawning Care: Monitor the adult tetras after spawning to ensure they are recovering well and are not showing signs of stress or illness.

Also Read: How To Breed Neon Tetras

Feeding Neon Tetra Fry After The Eggs Hatch

Neon tetra fry are delicate creatures, and feeding them inappropriate food can result in stunted growth, diseases, and deformities.

Here is a table that compiles what they should eat at various ages:

Food TypeNeon Tetra Age
InfusoriaFrom hatching to around 7 days old
Baby brine shrimpFrom around 7 days old to 3 weeks old
Freeze-dried/frozen foodsFrom 3 weeks old to 5 weeks old
BlackwormsFrom 5 weeks old to 7 weeks old
Dry pelletsFrom 7 weeks old onwards

1. Infusoria

  • First Food: Infusoria are microscopic organisms that serve as an excellent first food for neon tetra fry due to their tiny size.
  • Growth Promotion: Infusoria promote healthy growth in the initial days due to their high nutritional content.
  • Preparation: Start an infusoria culture a few days before the eggs hatch so you have a ready supply when needed.
  • Feeding Amount: Add a few drops of the culture into the tank 3-4 times a day, ensuring not to overfeed as it can pollute the water.
  • Culture Maintenance: Keep the infusoria culture in a warm, lit place to ensure continuous production.

Here’s an informative YouTube video that demonstrates how to culture infusoria using banana leaves and a simple plastic container:

2. Baby Brine Shrimp

  • After Infusoria: Baby brine shrimp are a great second food once the fry are big enough to consume them, typically after about a week.
  • Nutritional Value: These shrimp are high in protein, encouraging healthy growth and development.
  • Feeding Frequency: Feed the fry baby brine shrimp 2-3 times a day in small quantities to avoid overfeeding.
  • Hatchery Setup: You can set up your own brine shrimp hatchery at home to ensure a fresh, readily available supply.

I highly recommend using Ocean Nutrition Instant Baby Brine Shrimp (link to Amazon). A single jar contains approximately 1.5 million nutritious baby brine shrimp.

3. Freeze-Dried & Frozen Foods

  • Alternative Diet: As the fry continue to grow, freeze-dried and frozen foods like daphnia or bloodworms can be introduced.
  • Size Consideration: Ensure the food is finely crushed or small enough for the fry to eat.
  • Nutrient-Rich: These types of food are nutrient-dense, providing the necessary proteins and fats for the fry’s development.
  • Storage: Keep these foods stored correctly to maintain their nutritional value and prevent spoilage.

You might want to consider Hikari Bio-Pure Freeze-Dried Blood Worms (link to Amazon). I’ve used this in the past, and my neon tetra fry loved it.

4. Dry Pellets & Alternatives

  • Transition Food: Dry pellets or flakes can be introduced once the fry have grown significantly, typically after about 4-6 weeks.
  • Size and Quality: Choose high-quality, finely ground pellets or flakes small enough for the fry to consume.
  • Feeding Schedule: Feed the fry with this food 2-3 times a day, removing any leftovers after a few minutes to maintain water quality.
  • Diversity: Introducing a variety of food sources at this stage can help ensure balanced nutrition and promote healthy growth.

Also Read: Neon Tetra Diseases

How Often Should I Feed My Neon Tetra Fry?

Feed neon tetra fry 3-4 times daily using small portions of appropriate food based on their developmental stage.

Be cautious not to overfeed, as it can cause water pollution. Feed them only what they can consume in a few minutes to maintain a clean environment.

How To Tell If Neon Tetra Eggs Are Fertilized

Fortunately, it’s not that difficult to tell if neon tetras eggs are fertilized:

  • Coloration: Fertilized neon tetra eggs are semi-transparent and maintain a clear or slightly amber hue, while unfertilized eggs often turn white or opaque.
  • Size and Shape: Fertilized eggs remain tiny and spherical, while unfertilized eggs may appear irregular or start to disintegrate over time.
  • Fungal Growth: Unfertilized eggs often develop a fungus or mold, appearing fuzzy or cottony, while fertilized eggs should remain clear and free of such growths.
  • Development Indicators: Within approximately a day, fertilized eggs will exhibit signs of embryo development, including the emergence of a small dark spot (the fry’s eye) at the egg’s center.
  • Movement: Once the eggs are closer to hatching, you may notice slight movements within the eggs, which indicate that the embryos are alive and developing.

Also Read: Fertilized vs. Unfertilized Neon Tetra Eggs

How Long Does It Take For Neon Tetra Eggs To Hatch?

Neon tetra eggs generally hatch within approximately 24 to 36 hours after being laid. 

However, the exact timing may slightly vary depending on factors like water temperature, genetics, light exposure, oxygen availability, and pH.

Also Read: Neon Tetra Eggs Hatching Time

How Many Eggs Do Neon Tetras Lay?

Typically, neon tetras lay between 60 to 130 eggs, but on rare occasions they can spawn up to 200, leading to an overcrowded aquarium.

On the flip side, some enthusiasts struggle with their tetras producing too few eggs, often due to missing the important step of conditioning their fish for optimal spawning.

Although conditioning helps, it’s rare for females to spawn over 200 eggs, and parents may consume some eggs to keep their offspring numbers manageable.

Also Read: How Many Eggs Do Neon Tetras Lay At A Time?

Can Neon Tetras Lay Eggs Without A Male?

Yes, female neon tetras can lay eggs without a male present.

Typically, if there’s no male tetra in the tank, the females may reabsorb the eggs, which is not harmful and is a common behavior among neon tetras living in unfavorable conditions. 

However, female neon tetras can also release eggs without a male. Conditioning and a friendly tank environment can encourage this, especially for females on a protein-rich diet. 

Finally, it’s worth noting that female neon tetras may consume the eggs they’ve laid, which might lead some to assume that they can’t lay eggs without a male.

Also Read: Can Neon Tetras Lay Eggs Without A Male?

What To Do With Unwanted Neon Tetra Eggs

If you have unwanted neon tetra eggs in your tank, there are several options to choose from:

  • Offer to Local Pet Stores: Many local pet stores or aquarium shops might accept or buy neon tetra eggs, as there’s often a market for them among fish hobbyists.
  • Give to Fellow Fish Keepers: Offer the eggs to friends or other local aquarists who may be interested in breeding neon tetras.
  • Local Aquarium Clubs or Online Forums: Reach out to local aquarium clubs or post in online fish keeping forums, as these platforms are often full of individuals looking for specific fish species to breed.
  • Research Centers or Schools: Some educational institutions or research centers might be interested in taking fish eggs for study or educational purposes.
  • Return to Pet Store: If you purchased the neon tetras from a pet store, they might be willing to take back the eggs or offer store credit. Always check their policy first.
  • Advertise Online: There are online marketplaces specifically for fish and fish supplies where you might be able to sell or give away the eggs.
  • Humane Disposal: If you have no other options, the eggs can be humanely disposed of. This should be done by first freezing them to put them into a state of torpor before disposing in household waste.

Also Read: What To Do When Neon Tetras Lay Eggs?


Let me give you a rapid review of the details I talked about earlier:

  • Neon tetra fish eggs are small, transparent spheres about 1.0mm in diameter, often hatching within a day. They may change color to a yellowish shade as the embryo within develops.
  • Breeding neon tetras involves selecting a healthy mating pair, preparing them for spawning, adjusting aquarium conditions, creating an environment for egg dispersal, and removing adult neon tetras post-spawning.
  • Neon tetra fry require a carefully staged diet, starting with infusoria, progressing to baby brine shrimp and freeze-dried & frozen foods, and eventually transitioning to dry pellets. Despite their small portion sizes,the fry can be fed up to five times daily.
  • Neon tetra eggs typically hatch within 24 hours post-fertilization. A neon tetra can lay between 60 to 130 eggs, but can occasionally spawn up to 200 eggs.
  • Female neon tetras can lay eggs without a male, often reabsorbing or consuming these eggs in the absence of a male.