15 Things You Should Know About Neon Tetras

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Neon tetras are among my favorite types of fish, mainly because they are beautiful and easy to care for. However, there are a few things to know about them if you’re just starting out.

If you have no previous experience with neon tetras, this is the guide for you. Here, I will walk you through all the basic information you need.

So, without further ado, let’s get started.

Also Read: Neon Tetra Care Guide

1. Neon Tetra Size

Neon tetras are small, vibrant freshwater fish. They usually reach a mature size of between 1.2 to 1.5 inches. This compact size makes them suitable for many aquarium setups.

Also Read: Neon Tetras Size

2. Neon Tetra Lifespan

Neon Tetras are known for their relative longevity in the world of small freshwater fish.

With proper care, these fish typically live for 5 to 10 years. Their lifespan can be affected by factors such as diet, water quality, and stress levels.

Also Read: How Long Do Neon Tetras Live?

3. Neon Tetra Tank Requirements

Neon Tetras are social fish and prefer to be kept in groups.

Generally, it is recommended to have at least 1.5 gallons of water per neon tetra. This allows them adequate space for swimming and reduces stress.

Also Read: How Many Neon Tetras Per Gallon

4. Neon Tetra Sexing

Identifying the gender of neon tetras can be challenging due to their similar appearances. However, female neon tetras generally have a rounder body shape compared to males.

Here are some factors to consider:

  • Body Shape: Females usually have a fuller and rounder body than males, especially noticeable when looking from above.
  • Stripe Color: Both males and females have the same bright blue stripe, but in males, it tends to be straighter, while in females, it may be slightly bent due to their rounder belly.
  • Size: In many cases, female neon tetras may be slightly larger than their male counterparts, much like the molly fish.
  • Behavior: Males are often more active and display more aggressive behavior during breeding times.
  • Comparison: The most reliable way to differentiate gender is by comparison, observe the group and identify the rounder, larger individuals as females.

Also Read: Male vs. Female Neon Tetra

5. Neon Tetra Temperature Requirements

Neon Tetras thrive in water temperatures of 72°F to 78°F (22°C to 26°C).

These tropical freshwater fish prefer warmer water conditions. Temperatures outside this range may cause stress and potential health problems.

Also Read: Stress In Neon Tetras

6. Neon Tetra Feeding

Feeding neon tetras should be done with a variety of high-quality flake foods, brine shrimp, and daphnia.

Neon tetras, like the molly fish, should be fed once or twice daily, keeping the portions small. Consider the following:

  • Varied Diet: Provide a mixture of food for optimal health and coloration, much like you would for a molly fish.
  • Portion Control: Overfeeding can lead to water pollution and health problems. Feed only what they can consume in about 3 minutes.
  • Specialized Food: There are specially formulated tetra diets available in the market that contain all the necessary nutrients.
  • Live Food: Occasional feeding of live or frozen food like brine shrimp can provide beneficial proteins.
  • Feeding Time: Regular feeding times help to reduce stress and maintain a healthy appetite.

7. Neon Tetra Compatibility

Neon Tetras are generally peaceful community fish, compatible with many other species. 

However, they should not be kept with larger, aggressive species that might see them as food. To ensure a peaceful tank, keep these points in mind:

  • Size Matters: Avoid keeping neon tetras with significantly larger fish that could potentially eat them, much like you would with a molly fish.
  • Temperament: Neon tetras do well with other peaceful, community fish, including molly fish.
  • Tank Mates: Good companions include other small tetras, guppies, and small catfish.
  • Schooling Fish: Neon tetras are schooling fish and feel safer in larger groups, which also makes them less likely to be targeted by other fish.
  • Avoid Predators: Predatory fish like larger cichlids or bettas are not recommended companions for neon tetras.

8. Neon Tetra Illnesses

Neon Tetras, like other fish species including molly fish, can be susceptible to a variety of diseases. Early identification and appropriate treatment are key to a successful recovery. 

Here is what you should know:

  • Neon Tetra Disease: This is a common illness characterized by loss of color, restlessness, and eventual cysts. It’s incurable and infected fish should be isolated.
  • Ich: This is a common parasitic disease recognizable by white spots on the fish’s body. It can be treated with over-the-counter medications.
  • Fungal Infections: These manifest as white or grey patches on the body. Antifungal treatments are usually effective.
  • Poor Water Quality: Many diseases can be avoided by maintaining good water quality, similar to the care you would provide for a molly fish.
  • Regular Check: Regularly observe your neon tetras for any signs of abnormal behavior or appearance as this is often the first sign of disease.

9. Encouraging Neon Tetra Breeding

Neon Tetras, like molly fish, can be encouraged to breed under the right conditions. These conditions involve correct water parameters, diet, and the establishment of a breeding tank. 

Consider the following:

  • Water Parameters: The water should be soft and slightly acidic for breeding neon tetras. A pH of around 5.5 to 6 is ideal, much like for molly fish.
  • Temperature: A slightly higher temperature (around 78°F to 80°F) can encourage spawning.
  • Diet: A high-quality diet, including live foods, can help condition the fish for breeding.
  • Breeding Tank: Set up a separate breeding tank with dim lighting and include fine-leaved plants for egg attachment.
  • Pairing: Usually, a well-fed female will be ready to spawn. Pair her with a vibrant, active male for the best results.

10. Neon Tetra Sleep Patterns

Yes, neon tetras do sleep, but it’s not sleep as humans understand it. They enter a restful and less responsive state, often at night when the lights are out.

During this time, their activity levels significantly decrease, and their vibrant colors may appear duller.

Also Read: Do Neon Tetras Sleep?

11. Sudden Death in Neon Tetras

Neon Tetras can suddenly die due to various reasons, often linked to stress, water conditions, or disease.

While neon tetras, like molly fish, are hardy, they can be sensitive to sudden changes. Here is what you should know:

  • Water Quality: Sudden changes in water parameters can lead to shock and death.
  • Stress: Stressful conditions, like aggression from tank mates or improper handling, can be fatal.
  • Disease: Diseases like Neon Tetra Disease or ich can quickly become fatal if not treated.
  • Overfeeding: This can lead to bloating and internal issues, leading to sudden death, much like in molly fish.
  • Poor Acclimatization: Improper acclimatization when introducing the fish to a new environment can cause death.

Also Read: Why Are My Neon Tetras Dying?

12. Disappearance of Neon Tetras

Neon Tetras can disappear in an aquarium due to several reasons, often involving predation or death. Just like molly fish, small and vulnerable fish can sometimes go missing.

Here’s what you should consider:

  • Predation: Larger or aggressive fish in the tank may eat smaller fish, including neon tetras.
  • Disease or Death: A sick or dead neon tetra might be quickly scavenged by other tank inhabitants.
  • Hiding: Sometimes, stressed or frightened fish hide or even burrow in the substrate.
  • Jumping: Like many fish, including molly fish, tetras can jump out of the tank if there’s an opportunity.
  • Check Filter: Dead or weak fish can sometimes get sucked into the filter intake.

Also Read: Why Did My Neon Tetra Disappear?

13. Ideal Tank Size for Neon Tetras

Neon Tetras are small, but they thrive in groups, meaning they need ample space.

A 20-gallon tank is an ideal starting point for a neon tetra school. This size allows for appropriate swimming space and water stability.

14. Creating a Natural Habitat for Neon Tetras

A natural habitat for Neon Tetras mimics their native Amazonian water conditions and environment.

Dark substrate, plenty of plants, and soft, slightly acidic water can help replicate this. Here are key points to consider:

  • Dark Substrate: Darker substrates, like river sand or soil, can simulate the river bed of their natural habitat.
  • Plants: Use a variety of aquatic plants to provide cover and mimic their natural environment, much like you would for a molly fish.
  • Driftwood and Leaves: Adding driftwood and leaves can help to mimic their Amazonian habitat and can also soften the water.
  • Lighting: Neon tetras come from shaded waters, so a dimly lit tank can help them feel more at home.
  • Water Parameters: Soft, slightly acidic water (pH 5.5-6.5) closely mimics their natural water conditions.

15. Maintaining Water Quality for Neon Tetras

Maintaining water quality is crucial for the health and well-being of neon tetras, much like for molly fish.

Regular water changes, monitoring water parameters, and not overfeeding are key to achieving this. Consider the following:

  • Regular Water Changes: A regular schedule of partial water changes helps to keep the water clean and free of toxins.
  • Testing Water: Regularly test the water to ensure appropriate pH, hardness, and ammonia/nitrite levels.
  • Good Filtration: A good quality filter helps to remove toxins and keep the water clear.
  • Avoid Overcrowding: Overcrowding can lead to poor water quality quickly, similar to what can happen in a molly fish tank.
  • Avoid Overfeeding: Uneaten food decays and pollutes the water, so feed only what the fish can consume in a few minutes.


For those of you in a rush, here is a brief summary of what I discussed earlier:

  • Neon Tetras are small, vibrant fish, ideal for various aquarium setups due to their compact size.
  • With proper care, Neon Tetras can live for 5 to 10 years, making them relatively long-lived among small freshwater fish.
  • Keeping Neon Tetras in groups with sufficient space promotes their social behavior and reduces stress.
  • Differentiating between male and female Neon Tetras can be challenging, but factors like body shape and behavior can provide useful clues.
  • Maintaining proper water temperature, between 72°F to 78°F, is crucial for the health and well-being of Neon Tetras, avoiding stress and potential health issues.