Neon Tetra
Paracheirodon innesi


Neon Tetras have been a staple in the aquarium trade for decades. Many people think of these fish whenever a tropical fish tank is mentioned in conversation, they are that well known and ingrained in the very fabric of the hobby. This is most likely due to their beautiful colours, peaceful nature, and ease of care.

These fish are native to the Amazon basin in South America, more specifically the countries of Brazil, Colombia and Peru.

Although some are wild caught, millions of these fish are bred in captive fish farms each year to be distributed to stores and enthusiasts the world over.

Latin Name: Paracheirodon innesi

Difficulty Level: Beginner

Temperament: Docile and Hardy

Life Span: 6 – 8 Years

Size: 3cm – 4cm

Habitat: Amazon Basin – Freshwater and Blackwater Streams.

Diet: Very small Insects, Algae, Daphnia, Bloodworm, Tubifex, Brine Shrimp, Good quality Tropical Fish Flake (Insects / Worms can be live or frozen). Feed up to 2 times per day – Be sure to offer a varied diet. Make sure to remove any uneaten food after 30 minutes.

Hours of Activity: Diurnal – Neon Tetras are more likely to be active during the day time, preferring to sleep at night.

Handling: Do not handle. If you need to move the Neon Tetra to a new aquarium for any reason, be sure to use a small, fine net and gently scoop the fish up. Do not keep it out of the water for longer than absolutely necessary.

Water Temperature: 22°C – 24°C

pH of Water: 6.0 – 7.0

Hardness of Water: 2 – 9 dGH / 1 – 2 dKH

Aquarium Size: 10 Gallons (45 Litres) per 6 Neon Tetras (Minimum)

Aquarium Type: Tropical Freshwater – add plenty of live plants and hiding places to closely mimic the Neon Tetra’s natural environment.

Substrate Type: Sand, Gravel, Rocks, Pebbles, or more elaborate Aquascaped environments.

Equipment Necessary: Aquarium, Heater, Pump, Thermometer.

Cleaning Instructions: Remove any food that remains uneaten after about 30 minutes. Perform a 10% water change once per week, making sure to syphon any muck from the substrate.

Behaviours – Healthy: Shoaling, Quick response time, Feeding well.

Behaviours – Sick: Not feeding, Lethargy, Bloating, Unable to keep upright in the water, Fin Nipping if stressed or uncomfortable.

Neon Tetras are active shoaling fish that prefer to be kept in groups of at least 6 fish, but more is always better.

Males and Females look very similar. The Males have slightly longer dorsal fins and Females have slightly more rounded bellies.

These fish are difficult to breed in the home aquarium, but it can be done. To initiate breeding behaviour, be sure to feed them a good diet along with dimmer lighting and a lot of tannins present in the water.

This will be closer to their natural habitat. After the Female has spawned, it is wise to remove the parents to another tank to avoid them eating all the eggs.

Neon Tetras have the ability to change the colour of their stripes depending on lighting. They can appear blue/green in bright lights, a deep indigo in dimmer conditions, and even grey or black at night.

They should be kept in Aquaria with similarly peaceful tankmates. If kept with more aggressive fish, they can become susceptible to bullying.

Common Problems:
As stated above, they can become mildly aggressive and prone to fin nipping if they are stressed out or uncomfortable.

Dropsy – This is caused by poor water quality or inadequate husbandry. More of an indicator of a greater problem that needs to be addressed. Fluid will build up in the fish’s body cavity causing it to swell up and its scales to display “pine coning”. You should perform water tests to check for the presence of ammonia, or an imbalance of Nitrate and Nitrite. Do a water change as necessary and take steps to treat the underlying issue once you find it.

You can attempt to treat any affected fish by adding 1 teaspoon of salt per gallon of water to the Aquarium. This helps raises the salinity of the water to more closely match that of the fish’s blood salinity and helps it to remove excess water from its body by osmosis.

Ich (White Spot) – This is a common parasitic infection in the home aquarium. It is called by an organism called “Ichthyophthirius multifiliis” and will cause your fish to have irritating white spots on its body. To treat an outbreak of Ich, it is recommended to put any affected fish into a separate tank and treat either with a commercial Ich medicine, or by adding 1 teaspoon of salt per 5 gallons of water. Increase the temperature gradually by about 2°C.

Fin and Tail Rot – If there is poor water quality over a prolonged period of time, your fish may start to display ragged fin tips that will slowly progress closer to the fish’s body. To address the issue, carry out a full water change and keep on top of your water quality going forward.

Neon Tetra Disease – So called because it was first identified in Neon Tetras, this insidious disease is caused by a microsporidian parasite called Pleistophora hyphessobryconis” and is always fatal. It doesn’t just infect Neon Tetras and can easily decimate your entire aquarium if not dealt with quickly. It is caused by feeding the fish infected live food, so be sure to purchase your bags of live food from reputable shops and dealers.

This disease is highly contagious, and the spores released by the parasite can linger in the water column for a long time. You must immediately remove any infected or dead fish and carry out a complete water change.

Symptoms to look out for include; Restlessness, Difficulty Swimming, Curvature of the Spine, Cysts, Muted Colouration. Some fish can survive longer than others once infected, but it is unfortunately always terminal.

Most problems can be prevented with proper care and maintenance, so be sure to practice good husbandry.

If you opt to dose salt to treat any of the aforementioned conditions, please be sure to measure the amount correctly. It is highly recommended to have a salinity meter on hand.
You must also remember to do a full water change around 24 hours later, as many people forget that the salt stays in the water unless removed.

If you have any questions about the health of your fish, please ask us in store and we will be happy to give you guidance on the best treatments for your aquarium.