Tetras – Neon Tetra (Paracheirodon innesi)

Updated on January 30, 2021 by

If you wish to give your aquarium some sensational coloration, then you’re probably asking for the Neon Tetra. They have great personalities that have made them one of the most popular species in the fishkeeping world.

Neons are small, peaceful freshwater fish with exuberant coloration and are easy to care for, which makes them suitable for beginner and experienced hobbyists as well.

Quick stats – Neon Tetra

OriginSouth America
Max size1.5” / 3.8 cm
AquariumMin 10 gallon / 35 liters
Water70-81° F / 22-26° C

KH 2-10, pH 6.0-7.0

Care levelEasy
ColorsRed, translucent blue

Neon Tetra description

Neon Tetra (Paracheirodon innesi) are small and peaceful species originating from the Amazon river basins of South America and belonging to the Characidae family.

They are community and school species, usually found in its school of 15 members or more and often occupying the middle region of the water.

They possess a spindle-like body, a rounded nose and wide eyes which occupies most of their head.

They are endowed with exquisite coloration and personalities which makes them remarkable and stand out from other species in the tank. They are slightly transparent, possessing a light-blue back over a silver-white abdomen.

Their body has a turquoise blue line which stretches from the eye to the adipose fin and a red line that runs from the middle of the body to their caudal fin.

They can also fade their body coloration and pattern to hide from predators.

They exhibit slight sexual dimorphism with the female being rounder and slightly larger than the male. The iridescent straight stripe on the male is rather bent on the female.

Being one of the most popular fish species, they can be easily found in most pet and fish stores. With just a few dollars, your home would be radiating from the beauty of these lovely species.

Providing them with the right environment and adequate water condition, the Neon Tetra can live up to 5 years. However, in the wild, they can live even longer, up to 7 years.

Neon Tetra in the natural habitat

Neon Tetra is native to the Amazon river basin of South America spreading through Brazil, Leticia, Colombia and Peru. The water flow is usually slow with less turbidity, and flows through dense forests.

They are most often found in blackwater with thick vegetations. The substrate is often rocky with lots of plants covering. They thrive in a typically acidic water ranging between 6.0-7.0 pH level and having a temperature of 22-26˚C (70.0-81.0F).

In the wild, they are often seen swimming in schools of the same species and spend most of their time in the middle region of the water. The larger their school, the confident they are and the brighter their coloration.

Neon Tetra in the ideal aquarium

Neon Tetra - Paracheirodon innesi

To give these little beauties the best stay in their home, setting up an aquarium for the Neon Tetras should mimic their natural habitat.

This will require a well filtered minimum of 10 gallon tank to house about 10-15 school members of the Neon Tetra. However, they enjoy the company of lots of school members, so if you should increase the school members, then you should increase the tank size too.

The water flow should be slow, having a pH of 6.0-7.0, temperature of 22-26˚C (70.0-81.0F) and hardness of 2-10 dGH. Based on the room temperature, the tank might require a heater to warm up the water for the Neon Tetras.

These species are sensitive to water changes, so adequate water conditions should be maintained (we recommend using water test kits for that). The water should be changed every week, replacing up to 25% of the water at each interval.

The substrate should be a dark sand filled with rocks and lots of plant coverings. Driftwood roots and branches can also be used to add decor to the tank. Driftwoods also help to break the water flow and induce acidity.

They thrive in areas with dense vegetation, so the tank should be heavily planted with lots of floating plants too. The floating plants will also help to sublimate the light that enters the tank. Aquatic plants such as Microsorum, Taxiphyllum, Cryptocoryne and Ceratopteris spp are excellent plants suitable for the Neon Tetras.

They do not require high lighting, rather a low energy fluorescent light can be suitably provided.

As small and peaceful species, the Neon Tetra are most suitable with similar small and peaceful species adaptive to the same water chemistry. These include small Gouramis, Barbs, Dwarf Cichlids and Small Catfish.

Large and aggressive species should be greatly avoided. Large species with a mouth size as much as the size of the Neon Tetra may prey on them and the aggressive species will make their stay uncomfortable. These can include Bettas, Cichlids and Angelfish.

However, Neon Tetras are social species and the best tank mates of the Neon Tetra are more Neon Tetras as they are more comfortable in the school of larger members.

Neon Tetra feeding

In the wild they are omnivores and can feed on both meaty food and vegetable matters alike. They are often seen feeding on larvae, insects, algae and small invertebrates.

Frozen and live foods such as Tubifex, bloodworm, Brine Shrimp, Daphnia, insect and other invertebrates are meaty food for the Neon Tetra.

Blanched Cucumber and Spinach would meet their vegetable needs. Moreover, they are not fussy eaters and can be fed with high quality flaked meals and pellets.

They should be fed 1-2 times a day with just enough they can finish in 3 minutes, and must be fed in small bits they can swallow. They can have problems with swallowing their foods if they are fed with large chunks of food.

Every leftover food should be removed as soon as they are done eating. This will ensure a high quality of water at all times and help in keeping the fish healthy.

Neon Tetra breeding

Breeding Neon Tetra can be a hassle as they require adequate water conditions to induce breeding. Therefore the breeding process is not recommended for beginner aquarists, but for experienced fish keepers.

To encourage breeding, a breeding tank should be set up. The water condition of this breeding should be slightly different from the main tank. The pH level should be reduced to 5.0-6.0 and the temperature level reduced to 23˚C and a hardness level less than 4 dGH.

The water should be changed more frequently, replacing up to 50% of the water at each interval. This is to mimic the frequent freshwater rain the Neon Tetra gets in their natural habitat.

A breeding pair can be fed with mosquito larvae to induce breeding. The tank should be without lighting, but this can be gradually increased until they reproduce.

Neon Tetras are egg scatterers and will lay up to 100 eggs, after which the male will fertilize.

The parents should be removed as soon as the eggs are fertilized. This is because the parents may lack parental instincts and might feed on the fry as soon as they hatch.

The eggs are sensitive to light and will hatch in 1-2 days if they are exposed to adequate lighting.

The fry should be fed with infusoria, nauplii, shaved cattle liver and recommended diets.

The fry will mature in about one month after which they can be introduced into larger tanks.

To conclude

The Neon Tetra is one of the most popular species in the fishkeeping world.

They are peaceful species with ease of care which makes them suitable for beginners and experienced fish keepers alike, although the breeding process might be off the chart for the beginner fish keeper.

The Neon Tetra is found with exquisite coloration which makes them stand out from other fish in the aquatic world.

They are omnivores and can be fed a variety of meaty and vegetables supplemented with high quality flaked meals and pellets.

The breeding process is especially recommended for experienced fish keepers. But beginner enthusiasts can of course always take a shot, but must be rightly guided.

The fry hatch in about 1-2 days after they are laid. After a month they are mature enough to explore other aquatic worlds.

With adequate water condition and proper care, the Neon Tetras can live up to 5 years.

Neon Tetra FAQs

How long do Neon Tetras live?

With proper care and right tank condition, Neon Tetras can live up to 5 years.

What is the maximum size of Neon Tetras?

Neon Tetras can grow up to 3.81 cm long.

What are the suitable tank mates of Neon Tetras?

They are compatible with peaceful and community species suitable with their tank condition such as the Dwarf Gouramis, Barbs, Dwarf Cichlids and Small Catfish. However, they are most suitable with larger school members of the same species.

What are the food requirements of the Neon Tetra?

They are omnivores and are not fussy about what they eat. They would feed on meaty food, vegetables and high quality flaked meals and pellets including tubifex, bloodworm, brine shrimp, daphnia, insect and other invertebrates, blanched cucumber and spinach. But Neon Tetras must be fed in little chunks with just enough they can finish in 3 minutes.