When it comes to building your first ever fish tank, it will be important to include fish that are very easy to feed and maintain.
Buying fish that are inappropriate for your tank in terms of size and climate is certainly a feeling we can all identify with, especially when we wake up one morning and they’ve all passed away!
Neon tetras might not be fish that all of us have heard of, but anyone who has ever visited an aquarium will certainly recognize these small blue, red-tailed miniature fish that shuffle in shoals through smaller tanks.
These fish are ideal for entry-level fish keepers, in that they are very peaceful creatures that won’t get hostile with other fish and require very little feeding and maintenance.
They are also very energetic in nature and their brilliant red and blue colors will certainly liven up any fish tank.
But what are the best conditions to keep a neon tetra in? How many of them can you keep in a smaller tank? What is the ideal climate for a neon tetra and how will it affect them?
Well, for neon tetra fans everywhere, we’ve got the answers to all of these questions and a few more! We want you to get the most out of your fish and give them the best chance of thriving in your first fish tank for years to come.
What Are Neon Tetra?
Neon tetra fish were first discovered in the jungles of the Amazon in 1934. They are freshwater, known for their vivid coloration and their quick-fire movements. These are also a very popular fish amongst aquarists, with over 2 million of these sold for breeding in captivity every month!
These fish are very community-orientated, they aren’t hostile to each other or other fish and can often be found swimming in the central column of water in any fish tank.
If purchasing these fish for the very first time, it is worth bearing in mind that they should be purchased in a school of around 15 to reduce the feeling of them being threatened and lower their overall anxiety levels.
Their lifespan in the aquarium compared to in the wild is radically different. In the wild, they live upwards of 8 years, whereas in captivity, if treated well, they only live for around 5 years.
The unique blue and red color combinations make them instantly recognizable to most fish hobbyists. An interesting fact is that in the wild they can reduce the vibrancy of this coloring to become transparent so they can hide from predators more effectively.
They also go see-through when they are tired or sick.
Neon Tetra Tank Conditions
Neon tetra evolved in the warm rivers of South America, so they will more than likely thrive in a warmer tank temperature, so you might want to invest in a heater to keep their climate consistent.
They are also accustomed to dense vegetation, swimming in rivers that are clotted with fallen leaves. This is why they are colored so vibrantly, so they can see their fellow Neon Tetras in the dark, green, murky waters.
You should try and replicate the natural environment of the neon Tetra in their aquarium as closely as possible. Make sure there's a lot of dense green vegetation in your tank in which they can hide and play.
You can also include driftwood to create more shadow and dimness for them. They usually thrive in a rock substrate, so ensure your tank is lined with small rocks and pebbles. This will more accurately replicate the Amazonian riverbeds in which they evolved.
Tetras will not survive in a newly cycled tank, they have to be introduced to a tank that has been matured over a long period.
Neon tetras need a temperature that is between 70 and 81 degrees Fahrenheit, with a pH level of around 7 and 6 and soft water. They also prefer subdued lighting, much like the kind they will be used to in the Amazon jungle. Use a low watt fluorescent light that gives you around 2 watts per gallon.
Neon tetras produce very little in terms of waste, so they won’t need a great deal of filtering. They are very sensitive to water changes, so try and change around 25% of the water every week. If you exceed this percentage, the likelihood is that your tetras will die.
What Size Tank Is Best For A Neon Tetra?
When deciding what size tank you want for your small colorful fishy friends, you’ll need to consider how many you plan on having in the long run and whether you’re planning on breeding them.
If you purchase around the minimum recommended amount of 15 fish, then you’ll probably need a tank that is at least 10 gallons.
However, if you plan on breeding your fish, then we’d recommend that you have a much larger tank capacity of around 20 gallons which will cope with the added guppies.
What Other Fish Can You Keep With Neon Tetras?
As mentioned above, Neon tetras are some of the most peaceful fish you can find, however, during mating season they are certainly known to be a lot more aggressive. So you might have to keep an eye on them eating much smaller fish.
Apart from this, these fish are very sociable and operate best in a medium-sized community, their lush colors bringing a lot of vitality and life to your bustling fish tank.
You should ideally keep these fish in a tank with similarly-sized or smaller fish that cannot eat them. Bottom-dwelling fish with a softer temperament make great tank mates for Neon Tetras. Here are some breeds of fish that we would recommend keeping with Neon Tetras:
- Gouramis - be careful to avoid the Giant, Pearl and Opaline breeds of this fish.
- Barbs these colorful fish are often less aggressive if kept under groups of 5.
- Small Catfish such as Cory.
- Dwarf Cichlids - these are not aggressive when kept in tanks with fish that are not small enough for them to consider as prey.