Neon Tetra FAQ

In Tropical Fishby PaulK

Neon tetras are a very popular tropical fish in the aquarium hobby because of their beautiful coloration and attractiveness in your fish tank. They are also very peaceful and a good addition to any community fish tank. They’re not exactly a fish for novices as they are sensitive to water conditions and are much better in numbers. A larger fish tank is better for this type of aquarium fish.

Neon tetras region of origin is the Amazon basin of Peru and Brazil, but are bred quite extensively in captivity for the pet fish hobby.

Are neon tetras hardy?
Neon tetras are not very hardy as an aquarium fish. Neon tetras can’t tolerate poor water quality, so you should have good filtration. A filter that is strong enough for the size tank you have. The water temperature should remain consistent in the mid-70s Fahrenheit. You will need a reliable aquarium heater for that. The pH level should be slightly acidic at around 6.5 or so. Make sure you are checking water parameters consistently every week along with weekly water changes.

Newly cycled tanks are not recommended for Neon Tetra. They need a more established, well-planted tank.

Are neon tetras aggressive?
No. Neon tetras are a peaceful community fish. In fact, they are quite shy at first and will hide out in the plants until they get acclimated to your fish tank. They should be kept with other peaceful community type fish like rasbora or bottom dwellers like plecos. They don’t do well with larger more aggressive fish.

Are neon tetras a schooling fish?
Yes, neon tetras are a schooling fish, but they are not the best schoolers out there. You need to have a larger tank like 50+ gallons and a large number of tetras to really see them school.

Are neon tetras fin nippers?
Neon tetras are known as a peaceful community fish. They are very small and aren’t fin nippers so you can keep them with other small community fish like guppies or corydoras.

Are neon tetras cold water fish?
Definitely not. Their region of origin is the Amazon basin of Brazil and Peru which has quite warm water. Tetra can survive in water temperatures between 71 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. You need a reliable aquarium heater for this. If the water gets too cold or not filtered properly, they will tend to get diseases such as fin rot.

Are neon tetras freshwater fish?
Neon tetras are exclusively freshwater aquarium fish. They need a well-planted freshwater fish tank to keep the water nice.

Are neon tetras top swimmers?
Tetras mostly swim bottom to mid-tank level. At first, they like to hide among the plants until they become more acclimated to the tank. When they get acclimated and there are enough to school, they will get more lively.

Are neon tetras hard to keep?
Neon tetras are not really a beginner fish. They can be difficult to keep when the water parameters are not right. If you don’t have strong enough filtration for your fish tank and you overstocked the tank with tetras and other fish, the water could get quite foul. Tetras can’t really handle that. Also, if your heater breaks down and the water temperature gets too cold (or hot), the tetras would be susceptible to certain diseases that would cause them to die.

Are neon tetras livebearers?
No, they are known as egg scatterers and the female will spread the eggs throughout the tank on plants and other decorations. Then the male will fertilize the eggs. This can be difficult to achieve if you are trying to breed Tetra. They need certain water conditions and a dark environment, some java moss and other plants.

Are neon tetras hard to breed?
Neon tetras are not the easiest species to breed, but once you learn how to do it properly it’s not so hard. There are just some steps to it and you have to get a few things right. Here’s an article I wrote on how to breed neon tetra along with some video.

Do neon tetras need an air pump?
An air pump for neon tetra or any aquarium fish for that matter is not a necessary item for the fish to survive. What an air pump does is provide more surface agitation allowing for more oxygen exchange at the surface level. While helpful, it’s really more for aesthetic looks. If you have a hang on the back power filter, this should be sufficient in providing enough surface agitation to provide oxygen to the water.

Do neon tetras need a heater?
Yes. The average temperature for neon tetras should be about 71 to 80 degrees. If you don’t provide a heater, the water temperature could dip below 70. Neon tetras are very sensitive to water condition changes, although that’s becoming less so as they’re being bred in captivity.

Do neon tetras need plants?
Neon tetras prefer a heavily planted tank that’s closest to their natural environment. However, if you have a good amount of neon tetra, they will feel safer in numbers since they’re a schooling type of fish. is a participant in the Amazon Affiliate Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

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