I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. Learn more.

Neon Tetra Fish Care Guide

Owning a pet comes with a great deal of responsibility. Whether you have a hectic schedule or are a first-time pet owner, it is recommended that you have a low maintenance pet.

Fish make great pets because they don’t take up a lot of place and are generally easy to manage. When compared to other pets, fishes are manageable since they aren’t as noisy. Science has also proven that owning fish can lessen stress levels. Additionally, they are aesthetically pleasing in either homes or offices.

Here are many variations of aquarium fish to choose from.

However, one of the most common species of aquarium fish is the neon tetra fish. With this article, future owners will be given an insight of what to expect and how to care for their Neon Tetra Fish..

Background and Appearance

Neon Tetra Fish (paracheirodon innesi) are identified as small freshwater fish who originate from the Amazon jungles of South America.

Out of all the species of aquarium fish, the Neon Tetra is one of the most popular. In fact, an estimated 2 million of these fish are imported to the U.S. each month. Most of these imports come from successful breeding industries located in Thailand, Singapore, and Hong Kong. On the other hand, less than 5% of its population are caught in the wilderness of South America.

As the name suggests, these species possess an exotic and vibrant appearance. They are easily identified for their bright neon blue and red stripe that extends across their bodies. Their stomachs are a white/silver pigment. Aside from their pigmentation, a majority of the fish’s body is transparent. Neon Tetra Fish’s hues tend to fade whenever they sleep, feel threatened, or sick.

There is more to their appearance than just color. Neon fish have large eyes and a rounded nose to go with their spindle-like body. They bare similar features with their “cousins”, the Cardinal Tetra. However, the difference is that the Neon Tetra’s red stripe extends from the belly to the tail whereas the Cardinal’s reaches from the snout to the tail.


As with most aquarium fish, these neon fish are the opposite of aggressive. They are used to living in bigger groups, with at least 15 others of their kind. Any populations less than that could make them feel stress or threatened.

Though they are able to get along with other aquatic creatures, the Neon Tetra fish have a tendency to stick together. They love roaming around the middle of the water column, which makes them an easy eye-catcher.


Neon Tetra Fish need to live in conditions similar to their natural habitat in South America. These fish are usually spotted in warmer rivers that run through forests that are thick enough to cover the sun.

Neon fish are used to traveling in large groups. Because of the surrounding vegetation, fallen leaves, and tree roots in the water, it could be difficult to find each other. With their vibrancy, they are able to easily locate one another despite the murky waters.

Other Characteristics

Scientific Name: Paracheirodon innesi

Other Names: Neon tetra, Neon fish

Family: Characidae

Origin: West Brazil, East Peru, Southeast Columbia

Life Expectancy: 5 years

Breeding: Scatter eggs

Diet: Omnivore

Average Size: 1.5 inches (4 cm)

Neon Tetra Care: The Equipment You Will Need

Now that you have a general idea of what Neon Tetra Fish are like as pets, you can proceed with what kind of equipment you will need.


When it comes to the minimum tank size for Neon Tetras, some pet owners believe in the general rule of thumb that states: “Each linear inch of fish is to 1 gallon of water.” Unfortunately, this has proven to be inaccurate and outdated. Since neon tetras are raised in large groups, it is recommended to get a tank with a capacity of at least 15 gallons.

However, it is never a bad idea to get a bigger tank. Large aquariums for a large school of Neon Tetras looks more beautiful in comparison to a small group in a cramped tank.

If you are looking for a tank suitable to take care of your school of Neon Tetra fish, you can consider the following tanks:

Most Attractive Tank – Coralife LED Aquarium

[amazon box=”B06WP9Q6CZ”]

Tank Capacity: 16 gallons

Product Dimensions: 15 x 16.8 x 17.5 inches

For those who want to show off their fish as a home or office display, you can opt for the Coralife LED Aquarium. It has a sleek design that makes it easily match with any room. The tank comes with its own filtration system that is easy to assemble and maintain. The system is small and built into the back of the tank, so it does not visually ruin your tank. It also operates at quieter levels than the traditional filter, which makes it less distracting.

However, the best part about the tank is that it has a 24-hour timer with three different light options: sparkling blue, bright white, and color enhancing LEDs. Although Neon Tetra Fish are sensitive to bright light exposure, the brightness can be muted through the use of aquatic plants and decor.

You can make your fish feel they’re in their natural environment with the tank’s automatic 30-minute sunrise/sunset. To fully replicate the day’s cycle, the Coralife LED Aquarium also has a 60 minute moon rise and moon set functions.

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Most Budget-Friendly Tank – Tetra Glass Aquarium

[amazon box=”B013BXDZ90″]

Tank Capacity: 20 gallons

Product Dimensions: 24.2 x 12.4 x 16.7 inches

In comparison to other tanks, individuals who purchase the Tetra Glass Aquarium will receive various accessories: an LED hood, a Tetra Whisper Filter and Mini UL heater, four artificial plants, and an artificial Boxwood plant mat.

With the LED hood, you can manipulate a natural day time effect in the aquarium. The Whisper Filter is a powerful filter that works at muted levels so it won’t disturb you or your fish. Your fish will appreciate the included aquarium heater since they are used to warm water temperatures.

The aquarium comes with four artificial plants that your Neon Tetra fish can hide in. Plus, you don’t have to worry about plant maintenance while cleaning the tank out.

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon


Most Creative Tank – SeaClear Acrylic Deluxe Hexagon Aquarium

[amazon box=”B000634GLU”]

Tank Capacity: 15 gallons

Product Dimensions: 15 x 15 x 20 inches

The SeaClear Acrylic Deluxe Hexagon Aquarium gives a new perspective to your Neon Tetras. It is composed of acrylic, which weighs half the weight of glass and is more durable. In addition to that, the acrylic gives a clearer view of your pet fish compared to glass.

The tank also comes with a 12″ light fixture. With a six-sided tank, you can admire your fish at different angles.

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Recommended Large Tank – Tetra 55 Gallon Aquarium

[amazon box=”B07BJ9KPSR”]

Tank Capacity: 55 gallons

Product Dimensions: 51.9 x 16.4 x 24.4 inches

Out of the list of recommended tanks, the Tetra 55 Gallon Aquarium has the biggest tank capacity. It creates a larger environment for fish to swim around in and states to be great for tropical fish keeping.

Aside from the tank, you will get other aquarium accessories such as a heater, filter, digital thermometer, fishnet, tropical fish flakes, 2 Tetra hinged hoods, 2 plastic aquatic plants, green plant shrubs, and aquarium cleaner.

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Tank Decoration Tips


To make your new fish feel comfortable in your tank, you should do your best to imitate their native surroundings. You can start by creating a low light environment by purchasing floating plants. Having the right amount of floating plants gives a sufficient amount of light to both fish and bottom plants.

Bottom plants assist in building a pleasant environment for your Neon Tetras. These plants act as a hiding place for the fish, which will decrease their stress. Broad-leaf anubia plants and narrow-leaf anacharis usually appeal to tetra fish. Whatever bottom plants you choose, make sure you have an abundance of them.

Aside from aquatic plants, you can set up other places for them to hide. Neon Tetra Fish is a shy species that have a natural instinct to go into hiding to escape other fish, relax, or sleep. Decorations such as caves, castles, and coves could boost tank decor and provide safe havens for your fish.

Aquarium Substrate

To go with a more natural feel to your aquarium, use a dark-colored substrate. You can even go the extra mile and incorporate small rocks and pebbles into it. Other than that, they aren’t picky with substrates since they usually swim in middle water levels.

ADA Amazonia Aqua Soil

[amazon box=”B00IEQRW26″]

A suitable substrate for neon fish is ADA Amazonia Aqua Soil. As every experienced fish owner should know, the substrate plays a significant role in the aquarium’s ecosystem. ADA Amazonia is capable of balancing the hardness of the water and lets the plants grow. You don’t have to worry about frequent water changes since it contains less ammonia and nitrogen.

The substrate is a naturally dark color which excellently contradicts with the vibrancy of your plants and fish.

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon


Heaters make sure that the tank water’s temperature is maintained throughout the day, despite possible temperature changes. Neon Tetras originate from tropical areas. With this being said, the tank should remain at a steady temperature of 72°-76°F or 22.2°-24.4°C.

Aqueon Pro Adjustable Aquarium Heater

[amazon box=”B003C5TPF6″]

The recommended heater for Neon Tetra fish care is the Aqueon Pro Adjustable Aquarium Heater. The Aqueon Pro provides even heat distribution, a wide temperature range, and accurate heating.

It is safe to use in aquariums with its shatter-resistant build and numerous safety features. One safety feature is that the heater is activated only when the water temperatures have dropped lower than the preferred setting. After reaching the desired temperature, it will turn itself off. In terms of overheating, the heater is able to automatically turn itself off. It will turn on again once the device has cooled.

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Filtration System

Along with your quality tanks you should get a quality filter to take care of your neon tetra fish.

Marineland Penguin Power Filter 

[amazon box=”B0009IODZ6″]

A popular filtration system you could add to your aquarium is the Marineland Penguin Power Filter. They have various filters to go with different aquarium sizes, from 20 gallons to 70 gallons.

The Marineland Penguin Power Filter functions great among lightly stocked tanks. The filter has a great processing power of 350 gallons per hour. The filter is easy to install since it is a hang off the back (HOB) filter. To set up the filter, you need to secure it with clips on the back of your aquarium. With this filtration system, you are able to have more space for your aquatic creatures and water plants.

The filter system tends to stick out the back of the aquarium, so be sure to distance the tank approximately 5 to 6 inches away from the wall.

When compared to other filters, the Marineland Penguin Power Filter is one of the few to have three major types of filtration: mechanical, biological, and chemical.

Through mechanical and chemical filtration, the filter is able to eliminate pollutants such as tank debris, odor, toxins, and chemicals from the water. On the other hand, the bio-wheel part of the filter assists with biological filtration. The bio-wheel is engineered to develop beneficial bacteria which will help maintain a healthy ecosystem. These bacteria fight ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate from infecting the water.

The filter releases the purified water into the tank through small waterfalls, which helps to incorporate more oxygen into the water. This is important because fish depend on oxygen to breathe.

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon


To be a responsible pet owner, you should know that these tropical fish’s diet consists of both meat and plants/vegetables. As their staple food, you can feed them flakes, pellets, or live/frozen offerings like blood worms and brine shrimp. Considering they are small fishes, you should make sure that the food portions are portioned enough for them to consume.

Neon Tetra Fishes are fed once to twice a day, depending on their maturity. Young adults need to be fed more frequently to help with their growth. As these fish mature, you can lower the frequency to once a day.

Neon Tetra Care: Possible Diseases and Their Treatments

A well-known disease that Neon Tetras can develop is the Neon Tetra Disease. This caused by the entrance of a parasite into the fish’s intestines. From then, it will continue to eat its muscles from the inside out.

There are several red flags that indicate your fish may be sick:

  • Loss in color (while they aren’t sleeping or hiding)
  • Swims on the lower levels of the aquarium, instead of the middle
  • Smaller stomachs / lost mass
  • Stomach cysts
Regrettably, there are currently no cures to this fatal parasite. If you feel that a fish may be infected with Neon Tetra disease, it is best to observe it in isolation as it may spread to other tetra fish. The wisest option to ensure your tank’s health and safety is to keep any new additions in quarantine for close observation before adding them to the aquarium.
Neon Tetras are extremely sensitive to water conditions, which means you should be observant of water parameters. Failure to maintain something as simple as the required temperature could lead your fish to develop fin rot.

Though fin rot can be treated with the right antibiotics, it is better to prevent it. You can prevent fin rot by checking expiration dates of fish food and avoiding overpopulation or overfeeding.


Aaron Boyd
Aaron Boyd

Hello, I’m Aaron Boyd, the proud owner and author behind Aqua Movement. I hope my article was able to answer your questions. If you want to learn more about me, click the home icon above.

Aqua Movement