Neon Tetra: Care, Size, Lifespan, Diet & More

Neon Tetras (Paracheirodon innesi) are a freshwater species of fish that are native to South America. They get their name from their bright, neon-colored bodies. Neon Tetras are a popular choice for aquariums because they are relatively peaceful and easy to care for.

In this article, you will learn how to take care of Neon Tetras and everything else there is to know about keeping and caring for this beautiful fish. 

Species Profile & Overview

Neon Tetra is native to South America. They are commonly found in the Amazon River basin in Brazil, Peru, and Colombia. However, they can also be found in low numbers in other parts of South America, including Ecuador, Guyana, and Suriname.

Neon Tetras originate from the Amazon River Basin but are now being kept as pets in many countries around the world. 

Their natural habitat has slow-moving waters with plenty of vegetation. However, Neon Tetras are very adaptable and can live in a variety of different water conditions, but they prefer slightly acidic water that is well-oxygenated.

These fish are small and peaceful species that make great tank mates for other similar-sized peaceful fish. They are schooling fish, so they do best in groups of at least six. They are also shy fish and can be easily intimidated by larger, more aggressive fish or events outside a tank.

Neon Tetras are definitely a beautiful addition to any community aquarium. They are peaceful fish that get along well with other tank mates. Neon Tetras are active and fun to watch as they swim around the tank in a school.


Neon Tetra
Neon Tetra

The Neon Tetra is popular for its unique colors in the aquarium hobby. They are named for their bright neon blue coloration which is really stunning to see. Neon Tetras are smaller fish, but they make up for it in personality and beauty!

These fish are one of the most popular freshwater aquarium species for a reason: their bright colors and small size make them the perfect addition to any tank. But what many people don’t know is that these little fish have some other color variants as well.

Neon Tetras come in a variety of colors such as the common blue and red neon, Green Neon Tetra, and Black Neon Tetra.

Regardless of their colors, the Neon Tetra is a very small fish. Their body is laterally compressed and has an iridescent blue stripe that runs from the head to the tail. The belly of the Neon Tetra is white and there is a red stripe that runs from the middle of the body toward the tail fin. 

The fins of the Neon Tetra are clear with a hint of blue. Because of the small size of the fish and its transparent fins, you’ll have to look very closely to see its fins.

These fish are a popular choice of schooling fish for many aquarium enthusiasts. They are also relatively easy to care for, making them a good choice for beginners. Neon Tetras are peaceful fish that will add beauty and interest to your aquarium.

Adult Size

Neon Tetras are a small species that typically grow to about 1.5 inches in length. There is usually very little difference in size between males and females, although some females may be slightly thicker than males.

Neon Tetra is a good pets because they are small and easy to care for. They do not require a lot of space and can be kept in a small aquarium. They are also relatively inexpensive and easy to find.


These fish can live up to 10 years when kept in similar conditions as they get in their natural habitat. However, most Neon Tetras can live for up to 2 – 3 years in captivity.

This is due to a lack of care and attention from their owners. Their lifespan can drastically fall when they are kept in poor water conditions or receive a low-quality diet.

Several other factors can contribute to a shortened lifespan in Neon Tetras, including genetics, stress, and diseases.

Behavior & Temperament

Neon Tetras are peaceful fish that do well in community tanks. They are great schooling fish, so they should be kept in groups of at least six. They are not aggressive and get along well with other peaceful fish.

These fish will school tightly when they are in a larger aquarium and are kept in large numbers. Other factors like water flow and their tank mates will also affect their schooling behaviors. Generally, when a larger fish is present, they tend to school tighter to defend itself.

In the wild, they can be found in groups that are thousands in number, living in freshwater streams and rivers. Neon Tetras are social creatures and prefer to be around other fish. 

In captivity, they should be kept in groups of at least 6 if not more! They are peaceful and get along with most other species of fish and invertebrates. 

They are very active fish and love to constantly swim around in the tank. But they are shy and get scared easily. So don’t expect them to come to you when it’s feeding time or when you are near their tank.

Neon Tetra Care

This fish is a popular choice for home aquariums because of their vibrant colors and small size. They are relatively easy to care for, but there are a few things to keep in mind when setting up a tank for them. 

Neon Tetras prefer water that is slightly acidic and on the cooler side. They also need plenty of hiding places and plants to feel comfortable and thrive. However, Neon Tetras are very adaptable fish and can live in a wide range of aquarium conditions. 

In our experience, the best way to care for them is to match your tank parameters to what they have in the wild. This will ensure their long-term health and well-being.

In the wild, Neon Tetras inhabit slow-moving streams and rivers in the Amazon basin. The water in these habitats is typically soft and acidic, but the water conditions change drastically, but gradually, from one season to another. 

If you’re thinking about getting a Neon Tetra, be sure to read the next few sections as we will share with you a few ways to create similar conditions in your aquarium. 

Tank Size

Neon Tetra needs a minimum tank size of 10 to 20 gallons. This is because these fish need to be kept in groups as a single neon tetra can not live individually for a long period. 

However, the larger the aquarium the more neons you can keep. It’s best to keep these beautiful fish in a large aquarium in large numbers. This is how you can see the true beauty and schooling behaviors of these fish.

What To Put In A Neon Tetra Tank

When decorating an aquarium for Neon Tetras, it is important to create an aquascape that resembles their natural habitat. This can be done by using plants, driftwood, and rocks to create a lush, jungle-like environment. 

These fish prefer a shaded tank with plenty of hiding places. They are timid fish and will be easily stressed by bright lights with no shaded areas. Stick to dark, natural colors like black, brown, or green for your Neon Tetra tank.

Natural decorations like rocks and driftwood help to make your aquarium look more beautiful and natural. They also provide many benefits for the fish and other animals in the tank. Rocks and driftwood can provide hiding places for fish, as well as a place for them to graze on algae. Driftwoods can also help to keep the water more acidic which neons like.

The substrate is another item you want to pick carefully. The substrate can help to keep the water clean and clear by providing a place for bacteria and other organisms to grow. This can help to improve the quality of the water and make your tank more natural for the fish. 

The best substrate for a Neon Tetra aquarium is one that is dark in color and has a high surface area. This will help more beneficial bacteria to grow in your tank keeping it clean and healthy.

These fish also need a lot of plants in their aquarium. There are many benefits of having live plants in an aquarium. They can help to create a more balanced and healthy environment for Neon Tetras. 

Plants can help to improve water quality by providing oxygen and absorbing nutrients from the water. They can also provide hiding places and shelter for fish which is vital to the long-term health of your pet fish. 

Live plants will also make a tank more aesthetically pleasing and can help to create a more natural environment. Creating a beautiful aquascape is a rewarding activity you can enjoy for many years to come.

However, one of the best things about Neon Tetra is that they are compatible with a wide variety of live plants. This means that you can easily create a beautiful and thriving aquarium that is perfect for your tetras. 

Some of the best plants for a Neon Tetra tank include Java FernAnubias, and Hornwort. These plants are all easy to care for and will provide your tetras with plenty of places to hide and explore. You can also pick other types of plants to create more beautiful aquascapes.

Neon Tetra
Neon Tetra

Light Requirements

Neon Tetra looks more beautiful in brighter light conditions. A full spectrum aquarium light with blue LEDs can help make the fish stand out and look more vibrant. Make sure to have a lot of plants to create shaded areas where fish can hide when under stress.

There are a few things to consider when choosing a light for an aquarium. First, what types of other fish and plants will be in the aquarium? Different fish and plants require different amounts of light.

 Second, what is the size of the aquarium? A larger aquarium will need more light than a smaller one. Third, what is your budget for the light? There are a variety of lights available at different price points.

Water Conditions & Parameters

Neon Tetras are also pretty adaptable and can survive in a wide range of water parameters. However, they are more sensitive to fluctuations in water parameters than most other fish. 

That’s why it’s important to keep the parameters in your tank as stable as possible. It is also recommended to match the water parameters of the tank as closely as possible to the natural habitat of this fish.

Neon Tetras come from the tropical rainforests of South America. In their natural habitat, they live in clear, slow-moving rivers and streams with dense vegetation. The water is typically soft and acidic, with a stable temperature throughout the year.

Here is the ideal range of parameters for Neon Tetra in captivity:

  • Temperature: 72 – 78 Degrees Fahrenheit
  • pH: 6.0 – 7.0 
  • TDS: 80 – 150 PPM

It is important to change the water on a regular basis to keep the water quality high and to prevent the build-up of toxins. A general rule of thumb is to change about 10-20% of the water each week.

Filtration System

Filtration is another important part of any Neon Tetra tank as it helps to keep the water clean and free of harmful toxins. There are a variety of different filtration systems available on the market, so it is important to choose one that is best suited for your particular tank.

A good filtration system will help to keep your Neon Tetras healthy and free from disease. You may consider picking a filter that is rated for the size of your aquarium. If you have more fish, you might want to pick a larger filter to ensure clean water at all times.

Common Diseases and Prevention

Diseases are a common problem in Neon Tetras in captivity. These fish are sensitive and can easily get sick. This is why we do not recommend neon tetras for first-time fish keepers. 

Many of the diseases this fish contract are caused by toxins in the water and can be fatal if not treated promptly. When the quality of water in the aquarium is low, neons will easily develop different types of diseases.

Some common aquarium diseases that affect Neon Tetra include bacterial infections, fungal infections, parasites, and also Neon Tetra Disease. Neon Tetra is also susceptible to stress-related illnesses, such as ulcers and fin rot.

The best way to prevent diseases in an aquarium is to maintain a clean and healthy environment. This can be done by performing regular but small water changes, keeping the tank free of debris, and using a good filtration system. If fish do get sick, it is important to identify the disease and treat it accordingly.

Diet and Feeding Requirements

Neon Tetras are native to the rainforests of South America; in their natural habitat, they eat a variety of small insects, crustaceans, and plant matter. They typically feed near the banks of the water, where they can find plenty of food. 

Neon Tetras are omnivores; meaning they are not picky eaters and will often eat whatever is available. The food is often seasonal and they are usually forced to eat what they have available in the wild. 

It is best to feed cardinal tetra small meals several times a day rather than one large meal. Live or frozen foods are best, but high-quality dry flakes can be offered on a daily basis.

Dry fish foods are typically made from a variety of different ingredients and then dehydrated. These foods can be high in protein and fat or algae and other plant matter. This makes them ideal for Neon Tetra, as they require a well-balanced diet.

Frozen fish foods are a great way to add variety to your Neon Tetra’s diet. They should receive frozen foods every other day. Try to feed in low amounts to prevent constipation or other digestive issues. 

Make sure to nerve overfeed your fish as it’s not healthy for the fish or the aquarium. When fish are overfed, they can produce too much waste, which can pollute the water and make it unhealthy for the fish. Overfeeding can also cause fish to become obese, which can lead to health problems.

Breeding Neon Tetra

To breed Neon Tetra in an aquarium, you will need to set up a breeding tank with soft, acidic water. The tank should be well-planted and have a dark substrate. You will also need to provide hiding places for the fry.

When male and female Neon Tetra are ready to breed, the male will chase the female and nudge her belly with his nose. If the female is receptive, she will allow the male to wrap his body around hers in a “T-position.” The two fish will then release their eggs and sperm starting a new cycle of life.

Neon Tetra lay a large number of eggs each time they breed. They can lay up to 200 eggs at a time, but the average is around 100. The female Neon Tetra will lay her eggs in a secluded area, often near plants or other objects that can provide some protection. The male Neon Tetra will then fertilize the eggs and the parents will leave the area.

Once they laid their eggs it’s best to remove the parent from the breeding tank and add Methylene Blue to prevent mold. The eggs will hatch in 24 – 48 hours so you will have to have newly hatched brine shrimps ready to feed your neon babies.

Tank Mates

Neon Tetra is generally peaceful towards other tank mates but will school with their kind. That being said, you will need to keep them with non-aggressive fish that are around the same size.  

Larger tank sizes will allow you to keep them with bigger fish that have a small mouths. But you have to keep a larger group so other fish do not try to harm them. When keeping them in larger numbers they will also school more peacefully and it’s more enjoyable to watch them. 

Considering this information, here are our top picks of tank mates for Neon Tetras:

Neon Tetra
Neon Tetra


Neon Tetras are a species of freshwater fish that are popular among aquarium enthusiasts. They are known for their vibrant colors and peaceful nature. Neon Tetras are relatively easy to care for, making them a good choice for beginner fish keepers. These fish are also relatively small, so they do not require a large tank. Neon Tetras are a social species and should be kept in groups of at least six fish. These fish are omnivorous and will eat a variety of foods, including live, frozen, and flake foods.

We answered some of the commonly asked questions about Neon Tetras here: Commonly Asked Neon Tetra Questions

If you have any questions or need more help please reach out to us on social media or via our contact us page. We would love to hear from you.