Neon Tetra Tank Size, Care Guide & Species Profile

The neon tetra is a freshwater fish belonging to the tetra fish family. Neon Tetras sport vibrant blue bodies and striking red markings running from the belly up to the tail.

Due to their toughness, the neon tetras have low maintenance requirements, which makes them a favorite option for novice fish keepers.

There are many variations of neon tetras such as black neon tetras and diamond head neon tetras.

Neon Tetra Overview & Facts

Scientific name:Paracheirodon innesi
Common namesNeon Tetra
Distribution:Brazil, Colombia, Peru
Size:1-1.5 inches
Life expectancy:6-8 years old
Colour:Silver, blue or translucent with red marks
Neon Tetra tank size:Minimum 10 gallons
Temperature:70-81degF (21-27degC)
Hardness:2-10 dGH
Care level:Easy
Breeding:Egg scatterer

Neon Tetra Origin

Neon Tetras can be found in the western and northern Amazon basins of Peru, Brazil, and Colombia.

The water in the region is acidic with a pH of as low as 0.4. Neon Tetras can be found in clearwater and blackwater streams.

The natural habitat of the neon tetra is decreasing due to deforestation and farming, however, there’s still a large number of neon tetras living in the wild.

Over 1.5 million neon tetras are brought in through fish farms into the U.S. every month.

Adult Size & Lifespan

Neon Tetras are among the tiniest kinds that you can find in aquarium fish, and adult neon tetras are only 1.5 inches long.

Male and female neon tetras are alike in dimensions, however, males have larger dorsal and anal fins than females.

Female and male neon tetras have the same life span of between eight and ten years. When in the wild, fish could live for as long as 10 years, depending on the number of predators that live within their natural habitat.


Neon Tetras are readily sold in the United States. It is possible to purchase neon tetras at pet fish stores in your area and on the internet.

The typical cost for a neon tetra is between $3 and $5. Neon Tetra fish should be placed in groups of at most six, which brings the total cost to $18-30.

  • LiveAquaria offers neon Tetras, as well as a few of neon tetra variants which include black neon tetras.
  • Imperial Tropicals sells neon tetras in sets consisting of 3, 10, 25, and 50

Appearance & Behavior

Neon Tetras are a vivid blue with a strong red line that runs from between the stomach and the tail. Neon tetras are calm and, serene fish, and they aren’t often aggressive in a tranquil community tank.

Patterns, Colors, Fins, and Gender Differences

Neon Tetras are vibrant blue heads and backs with a dark blue stripe running from an eye towards the tail and an indescribably red stripe along both sides of their body.

The body of neon tetras is slim and torpedo-shaped. The tail and fins of the fish are tiny, translucent, and sharp.

Breeders have introduced various varieties of neon tetras. These are only found in captivity. The types of neon tetras are:

  • Longfin neon tetras: this species has fins almost double their length than the neon tetra that is wild.
  • Albino neon tetras, are distinctive because of their pale white bodies and eyes that are pink.
  • Neon tetras with diamond heads — the fish resemble neon tetras but have diamond-shaped heads.
  • Golden neon tetras: These fish look similar to albino neon tetras however they have more colour than albino fish.
  • Black neon tetras – These fish feature silver bodies as well as an elongated black stripe that extends from behind the eye and up to the tail.

Male neon tetras tend to be brighter than females. Males also have flatter stomachs than females, and straight blue stripes, whereas females’ blue stripes are upward due to the female’s round body shape.

If it is stressed, a neon Tetra sheds some of its vibrant colors and looks faded. Neon Tetras change into a dull violet-blue color in darkness and then a vibrant violet-blue-green in bright light.

Tiny neon tetras have a lighter color in comparison to adult neon tetras and it takes a few weeks before the fry turns vibrant blue in color.

Typical Behaviour

Neon Tetras are peaceful schooling fish that are able to get along with peaceful fish of the same size. If they feel stressed or uncomfortable, neon tetras display signs of aggression such as fin-nipping.

Neon Tetras are active fish that require a lot of energy. They are active most of the day and are usually running around the aquarium.

They can be found swimming in the water column and love playing and hiding in the underwater vegetation. The more relaxed the neon tetra is in its surroundings the less often the fish will seek refuge.

Neon Tetra Tank Size

A lot of aquarists like neon tetras due to their appealing colors. It can be difficult for an aquarist who is new to decide on the size of the tank for a fish that is tiny like neon Tetras.

Since neon tetras are avid swimmers, they require ample space to move around freely. So, what’s the ideal size for a neon tetra’s tank?

The ideal size of the neon tetra tank is determined by the amount of fish that are in the tank. Neon Tetras can grow to 1.75 inches long, and every inch of fish requires at minimum 1 gallon of water.

Therefore, the Suggested Neon Tetra Tank Size is 20-gallon as they are very active swimmers and thrive in a group of 6 or more.

It’s thought that the bigger the aquarium is, the better your fish are. A peaceful environment will ensure that neon tetras remain fit and healthy throughout their entire lives.

We’ll now discuss the number of neon tetras that can be kept in different tank sizes. Before we do that, let’s consider what factors determine the size of the neon tetra tank.

Neon Tetra Tank Requirements & Care

Maintaining neon tetras in the aquarium is simple. They are tough fish that adapt well to brackish and clearwater environments; however, a freshwater tank that is cleanly set up will ensure that the fish are healthy in living conditions.

Neon Tetras are omnivores, and are omnivores and have diverse diets in the wild, something you can duplicate in your aquarium.

Habitat and Tank Requirements

Neon tetras reside in humid flowing waters, with dense vegetation, including floating plants as well as roots.

You can recreate this environment inside your aquarium by making sure that there are low-light hideouts for your neon tetra.

Decorate your neon tank using floating vegetation such as hornwort or Java Moss. These plants can create shady hidden hideaways that neon Tetras appreciate. Driftwood is also utilized to create hiding spots for fish.

Neon Tetras don’t have to spend a lot of time digging into the substrate, therefore the substrate choice isn’t as important for neon tetras as it is with bottom dwellers.

But, a dark substrate, such as black sand can help your neon fish feel more at home, and show off the stunning neon coloring of the fish.

Darkening the three sides of the glass allows you to replicate the neon tetra’s dark wild habitat.

Conditions of Tank

The best conditions for the neon tank for Tetras are:

Type of water:Freshwater, hard and hard
Tank Dimensions:Minimum 10 gallons and one additional gallon of water per additional fish
The temperature of water:70-81degF
Substrate:Sand, rocks, pebbles
Tank configuration:Plants floating, caves
Acidity:6.0-7.0 pH
Water hardness:2-10 dkH
Filter:It is beneficial because filters aerate the water and decrease the chance of getting sick But they aren’t necessary since neon tetras can survive without filtering
Bubbler:It’s not a problem as long you have enough vegetation and filters that can do the job without bubblers
Lighting:No, neon tetras prefer dark environments
Water heater:Yes, you can, to ensure an even temperature in the tropical waters

Neon tetras can be adapted to tank conditions however, it is not recommended to add neon tetras in a new tank due to the fact that fish cannot take well to changes to the chemical composition of the water. Additionally, it is important to consider the appropriate tank size for neon tetras. For optimal health and well-being, it is advisable to provide at least 10 gallons of water per neon tetra. This ensures that they have enough space to swim and thrive in their environment. Therefore, when setting up a tank for neon tetras, it is crucial to consider how many gallons a tetra needs.

Introduce neon tetras into tanks that are fully mature to ensure that the fish thrive in the environment.


In stressful or in stressful environments neon tetras are susceptible to many common illnesses in aquariums:

Neon Tetra Disease

Neon tetra disorder is named this way because it was first discovered in neon tetra. It is caused by a Microsporidian parasite that causes neon tetra disease, it can cause anxiety, loss of color, and cysts, as well as difficulty swimming and, in more severe cases, a curving spine. The parasite is responsible for neontetra disease is transmitted when fish consume live food items.

There isn’t a remedy for neon tetra. Therefore, you must remove the affected fish from your tank to stop the spread of the illness to the whole tank population.


Ich, also known as white spot disease, is a parasitic illness that is caused by protozoans Ichthyophthirius multifiliis.

Fish that suffer from Ich have salty white spots on their tails, bodies, and fins. They rub themselves against the rough surface to ease itching.

To treat Ich, you must quarantine the fish in an additional tank. Include 1 tablespoon of salt for five gallons of water in the tank, and raise the temperature of the water by two degrees.

Fin and Tail Rot

Neon Tetras living in poor conditions of the water are at risk of being affected by fin rot as well as the tail becoming rot.

The disease starts near the ends of the tailor fins and slowly progresses toward the body of the fish, which causes the fins to become frayed and ragged.

To treat fin rot, carry an entire water change and apply antibiotics when suggested by your doctor.

Neon Tetra Tank Mates

Neon tetras are calm and passive, which makes them ideal tank companions for a wide variety of fish species.

The same-sized, bottom-dwelling, and non-aggressive fish are able to be added to a tank for community use with neon Tetras.

The best tank companions for neon tetras are:

Neon Tetras are:

Neon Tetras are schooling species, so be sure that they are kept in groups of at least six prior to considering other species of fish for your tank.

Diet and Feeding

In the wild neon tetras are all-animal and consume a diverse diet of fish and meat.

Based on the food source within the environment of the fish, the neon tetra can consume insect larvae, tiny insects, algae, and various organic matter.

You must duplicate the diet of the neon tetra by providing a similar variety of animal and plant-based food items inside the tank.

High-quality fish flakes rich in minerals and vitamins are the most common food item fed to neon Tetras.

Each week they feed neon tetras live or frozen foods such as bloodworms, daphnias, tubifex brine shrimp, and tubifex. Break live meals into smaller pieces to stop neon tetras from eating the food.

Be sure that your neon tetras have enough plant food to eat. Feed the algae-rich fish with cucumbers, wafers grapes, and strawberries up to three times a week.

At six months, neon tetras need to be fed twice daily. Feed them enough food to allow the fish to eat for about two minutes.

After that, discard the food that has not been eaten to maintain high water quality. In excess, neon tetras could make your fish sick. So make sure to stick to a schedule of feeding and do not put too much food in the tank.


It is difficult to breed neon tetras due to the specific parameters of water needed to initiate mating.

Aquarists who have experience will have more chances than novices when it comes to breeding these fish in their home aquarium.

How to Breed Neon Tetras

For breeding neon tetras take these steps

  1. Choose a healthy male and female neon Tetra. Both fish must be at least twelve weeks of age and are ready to breed.
  2. At night, you can place the tetras in a designated breeding tank. The tank must be at a lower pH levels that is within 5.0 and 6.0, and the temperature of the water should be kept at 75 degrees. Put a filter in the tank, and then relocate it to a dim area.
  3. Let the tetras remain in the tank that they breed in for up to two days. If they aren’t reproducing, check that the temperature of the water and pH are in the right range and make the water less abrasive than normal in order to replicate the season of rain that occurs in nature.
  4. In the next two days, in case Tetras haven’t yet spawned then add a significant quantity of soft water to the tank.
  5. If breeding fails, swap the female for another female, and continue to alter the tank’s conditions.
  6. If the experiment is successful If the experiment is successful, males and females will hatch behind a plant or caves, and the female will scatter around 130 translucent eggs across the plant and substrate of the tank.
  7. Once you have seen the eggs, take their parents out of the aquarium in order to stop them from eating the eggs.
  8. The 50 eggs will hatch within 24 hours.
  9. Tetras that are young are sensitive to light and therefore you must keep them in darkness for the initial five days.
  10. The neon tetras’ babies will be able to get enough food for the initial three days through eating egg sacs.
  11. In the initial three months after the first three days of eating eggs The baby fish should be fed with special fry food as well as baby brine shrimp.
  12. After three months, you can place the young fish in the house aquarium with the adult fish.

Can Neon Tetras Live In A 2 Gallon Tank?

It is not recommended to store neon tetras in the 2-gallon tank. A tank that is 2 gallons is tiny since it is only able to house one neon tetra. Neon Tetras are most effective when they are kept in an aggregation of at most six.

An individual neon tetra might not be comfortable in the tank. If you want to keep an energized and healthy neon tetra in your tank, ensure that you have ample space as well as plants and rocks within the tank.

How Many Neon Tetras Can You Keep In A 3 Gallon Tank?

You could have a couple of neon tetras within the 3-gallon tank. As with a 2-gallon tank, however, a tank of 3 gallons isn’t big enough to house several neon tetras.

The idea of keeping neon tetras in a tank of 3 gallons isn’t a good idea since they won’t have enough tankmates for school.

Additionally, if you dream of breeding neon tetras the 3-gallon tank is small enough to hold each of them.

How Many Neon Tetras Can You Keep In A 5 Gallon Tank?

There is the possibility of keeping 3 to four neon tetras in five-gallon tanks. A tank of 5 gallons is not a huge amount in comparison to a 3-gallon tank. Therefore, it is impossible to keep more than six neon tetras in a five-gallon tank.

It is often believed that small aquariums are simpler to keep than ones with a larger size. However, this isn’t the case in fact. Small tanks require regular inspections and maintenance because issues can arise quickly.

To ensure that neon tetras are kept in a smaller tank There should be plenty of space horizontally for them to freely swim.

In addition, neon tetras are like an aquarium with a large amount of vegetation. So, you must put in live plants and stones in order to replicate their natural surroundings.

Also, you must be aware of the water parameters since they can change quickly in a small tank when compared to a bigger one.

Additionally, a 5-gallon tank will be too small in the event that you want to breed neon Tetras. Then, you will need to transfer neon tetras to a larger tank.

It is therefore recommended to keep at least a 10-gallon tank to store neon Tetras.

Let’s look at the reasons why a tank of 10 gallons or bigger is suggested for neon Tetras.

How Many Neon Tetras Can You Keep In A 10 Gallon Tank?

According to the Golden Rule, each inch of fish needs a minimum of 1 gallon of water in the tank in order to live. Because neon tetras expand to a dimension that is 1.75 inches, you can fit six neon tetras into tanks of 10 gallons.

In addition to what size of the fish, you must consider the area that is covered by plants and other decorations that are inside the tank.

Therefore, a maximum amount of 6 neon tetras is recommended. If you exceed that limit the neon tetras will be crowded for space.

Additionally, keeping neon tetras in the tank by taking into consideration the tank’s size ensures that the water is fit for the fish.

In keeping six neon Tetras in a tank that holds 10 gallons it is important to keep the following factors in your mind:

  • Perform frequent tank maintenance,
  • Install a quality filter,
  • Be sure to maintain the ideal parameters for water,
  • Decorate with live plants,
  • Do not overcrowd the tank.
  • Beware of feeding too many neon tetras.

The suggestions above can be used for any size tank that you purchase for neon tetras.

How Many Neon Tetras Can You Keep In A 20-gallon Tank?

It is possible to keep 10 to 12 neon tetras in the 20-gallon tank. This is the perfect tank size for several reasons.

First of all, neon tetras feel safe when they are kept in large numbers. A 20-gallon tank allows you to maintain a large number of fish.

Additionally, neon tetras can be active swimmers. They are therefore not restricted in space as long as the tank is big enough.

Additionally, neon tetras are fish that school. The 20-gallon tank provides enough space for neon Tetras to school in groups. They can also swim horizontally in the school without space limitations.

Finally, neon tetras are like extensively planted tanks that closely resemble their natural surroundings.

A larger tank will allow you to include plants, rocks as well and other accessories for decoration and still have plenty of space for fish.

Furthermore, plants and rocks can provide a safe area for neon tetras to hide and relax when they are overwhelmed or feel sick.

What Is The Ideal Tank Size For Green Neon Tetras?

The ideal tank size for green neon tetras is 20 Gallons. Even though green neon tetras are tiny fish, they require tanks with plenty of space because they are swimmers.

Green neon Tetras are schooling fish that remain healthy by being kept in groups. They should be kept in a school of 6 to 8 fish, at a minimum.

In order to do that, there needs to be enough room in the tank to allow every fish to feel content.

What Is The Ideal Tank Size For Black Neon Tetras?

The ideal size tank that is suitable for black neon tetras is a minimum of 20 inches in length, with a capacity of 20 gallons or more.

The bigger the tank the better, as black neon tetras are active swimmers. They require adequate space in the tank to be able to swim freely.

In addition, neon tetras are schooling fish and should be kept in groups of 8 to 10. Additionally, black neon tetras prefer an area with a lot of plants.

Thus, the tank has to be bigger in order to accommodate plants and decor, and also have enough space in the middle to allow black neon tetras to swim freely.

Should You Get a Neon Tetra for Your Aquarium?

Neon tetras are calm and hardy fish that are ideal for novice as well as experienced aquarists.

You should consider getting a neon tetra to add to your aquarium if it has an aquarium that is freshwater and has enough space to accommodate a school of a minimum of six fish.

If your aquarium houses large, aggressive fish, you should either purchase a neon tetra or set up a separate tank that can keep the Tetras.

So long as neon tetras are housed in tranquil community tanks that have proper water conditions and conditions, they can thrive in a tank that is a home aquarium.


Dibyajyoti Bordoloi is the creator and author of, a third-generation experienced fish keeper and owner of a successful pet breeding farm. He is also a member of the Center for Wildlife Rehabilitation And Conservation (Assam), the Marine Aquarium Societies of North East India, and the Kaziranga Nature Conservancy of Assam.

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