Neon Tetra - Paracheirodon innesi

Published May 14, 2020
Author: Mike - FishLore Admin
Social Media: FishLore on Social Media

The Neon Tetra fish is one of the most attractive of all the readily available tropical fishes. This tetra has been getting a bad reputation in recent years for the difficulty in keeping them alive in the home aquarium. This bad reputation could be attributed to the increasing public demand and the methods by which breeders are meeting those demands by the inbreeding of this once hardy tropical fish.

Paracheirodon innesi

Common Variety

Try to add at least 6 or more neons to your mature, fully cycled aquarium in order to increase your chances of success. Spending a little more time during the acclimation process may help as well. If you do the floating bag method, at least try to add small amounts of the tank water into the bag every 10 minutes so that they can slowly adjust to pH as well as temperature. Float them and add the small amounts of tank water for an hour. The drip acclimation method would be the preferred way to go with this fish in my opinion.

Keep up with those water changes to prevent the nitrate levels from getting too high!

This tetra, like many other tetras, will accept tropical fish flakes, frozen and freeze dried foods.

Neon Tetra Types

Albino Neon

Diamond Head Neon
Diamond Head

Gold Neon

Gold Neon

Common Neon

Paracheirodon innesi Common Variety

Neon Tetra Fish Care Details

Scientific Name : Paracheirodon innesi

Common Names : Neon Fish

Care Level : Moderate - it's a good idea to stay on top of your Water changes to prevent the nitrate levels from accumulating.

Size : Up to 1.5 inches (4 cm)

pH : 5 - 7.5

Temperature : 69°F - 79°F (21°C - 26°C)

Water Hardness : 1° to 10° dH

Lifespan : 5 - 8 years

Origin / Habitat : South America - it is one of the most imported freshwater fish species.

Temperament / Behavior : Neons are peaceful tropical fish and best kept in schools of 6 or more.

Breeding : They are difficult to breed in the home aquarium. They prefer slightly acidic and soft water around 77 degrees F (source)

Aquarium Size : 10 gallon or larger.

Tank Mates : Many, given their peaceful nature. Avoid keeping with tropical fish large enough to eat them.

Disease : Freshwater Fish Disease - Diagnose, Symptoms and Treatment

Diet / Foods : Will go after flakes, live and freeze dried foods.

Tank Region : Mostly middle to bottom.

Gender : The male is usually smaller than a female of the same age.

Photo Credit : Photos copyright

References :

Fish Lore Forum : Neon Tetra Forum

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Neon Tetra

Neon Tetra Comments

From: Craig D. via email
Hi there, I have recently bought my daughter a small aquarium, to which we introduced a dozen Neon Tetra. In the 3 weeks my daughter has had the aquarium all of the fish have died. The latest culling was today after a water change. 6 fish died within a few hours of each other. The PH level has been fine but I suspect the chlorine level from the tap water is the culprit. Is there a precautionary treatment I should of done prior to adding the tap water? Great site, Craig.
Hi Craig.
We need to know more about your water parameters. With your aquarium test kit, test your ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels as well as your tap water for chlorine and chloramine. It is quite possible that chlorine or chloramine is the culprit. There are products on the market that will neutralize chlorine and chloramine. Try using something like AquaSafe. If your tank was not cycled then another potential culprit is ammonia. Check out the Nitrogen Cycle for more information.

From: Sierra
Should I even try to get neons? I've heard so many bad things about them not living, but I really want some!
If you are monitoring your water parameters, doing those water changes on a regular basis and your tank can accommodate more fish, then you should try them. One of the prettiest sites is to see a school of them darting around a tank.

From: Dale
I think a lot of people have the common misconception that just because the neon tetra is so popular that they can just put it in any tank with any water and it will flourish. I have a species tank with 12 neons and 2 leopard cory cats and I have found that black water extract, a wide variety of food, and a ph of around 6.5 to 6.8 and my neons color is great and the health is excellent. Just like any fish they have requirements too.

From: Ashley
I have been considering Neons for awhile and am now going to be getting some. I am going to be getting a 3 gallon tank and was wondering how many Neons will be well suited for this size tank?
If you can provide good filtration, a suitable heater and your tank has completely cycled you may be able to have one or two neons in it. Having a smaller tank means that you will have to monitor your water paramenters more diligently because it will be less stable than a larger tank. Using a small tank setup also means that you won't get to see the beautiful schooling behavior that a group of 6 or more neons would display.

From: Kim
I was wondering what kinds of other tetras shoal with neons?
Sometimes they will group together with other tetras such as the glowlight tetra but mostly they will stay with the other neons.

From: Fish Lover
These are fun fish. I had three senior zebra danios that chased each other around the tank. Then the tetras started doing that too! Keep in mind that they are NOT a very hardy fish, though. One got close to the filter tube during the night and got stuck to the side of it. In the morning I found a very dead and very mangled tetra. Also, the heater had a MAJOR malfuntion and the water got way too hot. When we took the heater out of the water, it sizzled. The zebra danios and goldfish acted like nothing was wrong. As for the tetras, they literally baked. Oh, and was also dumped the faulty heater in the garbage and bought a new one. So be careful with tetras(and old heaters)! I had a run of bad luck killing mine.
The tetra could have passed of other causes and was pulled onto the aquarium filter intake after it died. It's not recommended to keep goldfish with tropicals due to the temperature differences and because goldies are large waste producers.

From: SDMatt
I've found that the Neon tetras I've kept had a hard time with hard water (high KH). Southern California tap water is extremly hard. I managed to keep my neons healthy by using softer water. Just make sure it's not too soft, as it's hard to manage PH is water that is extremly soft (too few buffers)

From: Aquatics
I have found them to be hardy once they get past the acclimation process (introducing them into your tank after purchase). There is better chance of success if you float them for more than an hour with every fifteen minutes adding a small amount of water from the tank to the bag. Using Blackwater Extract, some live plants, and making sure to do partial water changes bi-weekly are good ideas.

Also make sure the neons get their food! I used to have neons with zebra danios and the danios were eating all the flake food before it sank to the neons and some died as a result. Don't give up on neons if you have early failures. They are one of the neatest colored tropical fish available and you can keep them just like easier danios/barbs if you treat them like a fish needing a few 'special' precautions.

From: Bronwyn
Tetras are probably one of the easiest fish to keep as far as I'm concerned. I've never known a huge amount about keeping tropical fish but whenever I've had a tank setup I've had neons and have always had a very good survival rate (besides the possible couple lost to bigger fish). All I'd say is when you change the water, make sure you put a quick cycle product and an anti-chlorine product into the water. You should have great success after this. One thing I have found though is that children have a tendancy to put their fingers into the water and this can cause problems!

From: Connor
Try to keep a school of neons or they could get into TROUBLE! They also don't like silver sharks in their tanks! I got 8 neons , after 2 days 3 died and 2 have been eaten by my silver shark called Timmytummy. I also have 1 apple snail that cleans the tank and eats the bacteria and dead fish.

From: Calvin
Neons are simple. If you don't want to have to check water parameters, put lots of porous driftwood in the tank. This will create a blackwater environment similar to their wild habitat. Put some plants in and your tank will do even better.

From: Vincent
I have a 25 gallon tank with 5 white cloud mountain minnows, 3 cherry barbs, 5 rummy nose tetras and 9 neon tetras. I am close or I am at my max, but might still add a couple of bottom feeders. I have a planted environment with a grapevine trunk which adds a slight brown tone to the water. I change 4 gallons of H2O every four days. Have been feeding flake food and occasional frozen goodies. Have not lost a fish yet. I started with a small fish tank, less than 3 gallons, but do not recommend it for school fish. There simply is not enough water for a stable environment and multiple fish.

From: Gary
Neon tetras are wonderful little fish. I keep 12 of them in an established 10 gallon, well-planted tank. Since I have hard well water with a pH of around 8.5, I have to get distilled water for the neon tank to keep the pH and hardness within their range. I have heard that adding peat moss to the filter will help to soften the water and lower the pH but haven't tried it yet, since distilled water is really pretty inexpensive. I use black gravel for the substrate and have a darkly colored background. I also have a few ghost shrimp in the tank to help clean the bits of food from the gravel, since the fish don't much like feeding from the bottom. These little fish are great fun to watch as they shoal around the tank, but I wouldn't recommend them for someone just starting out.

From: Anonymous
I currently keep 4 tetras in a five gallon tank with one platy. They do just fine. However, I recommend getting at least 6 for a nice shoal and keeping them in a 10 gallon tank or larger for full appreciation. These little fish are hard to breed, but easy to care for as long as you have the right water parameters (i.e., softer water). Good luck keeping these little beauties!

From: Tom H.
Some people say that you need 6 or more neons in a tank. That is not the case in my 33 gallon tank. I have 1 neon, 6 harlequin rasboras, about 14 platys (3 adult, 11 babies), a clown loach, 2 chinese algae eaters and a snail. My neon gets along great with my 6 harlequins and they don't bother it what so ever. I don't think that my neon would need any more of it's kind since it looks perfectly healthy and it has even brighter colors than in other tanks I have seen at the store, or other tanks.

From: Kimberly
It was recommneded to me and it has worked really well, to use bottled drinking water. Not the distilled water, just drinking water. It will have all the correct settings for neons, as well as being easy to determine exactly how much water you are changing each week.
Might not be a bad idea for smaller tanks, but may be cost prohibitive for larger tanks.

From: Wendy B.
Just started in this great hobby. 75 Liter aqua one tank. 10 now 9 neon tetra's and one bristlenose, plus two mystery snails. My Question: Should my Tetras be very pale and faded in the mornings? Their colour returns quickly after I turn the aquarium lights on in the AM but initially the red tail is white. Water parameters are as advised on this great site. Looking forward to your replies.
If your water parameters are in line and you're giving them a good quality and varied diet, they should be fine. Many species assume different colorations and markings depending on their mood and the situation, in this case, night time.

From: Christie
I have four neons and just added three glo-lite tetras. It seemed that they all became instant best friends. Within 5-10 minutes they were all swimming together. With the black gravel and fluorescent lite they all look so beautiful. I recommend tetras for all beginners like myself.

From: Chris
We had 6 Neons but due to water problems we lost 5 of them. After we got the water right we added another 5 and they school with our 7 glowlights and look great.

From: SDMatt
I've found that the Neons I've kept had a hard time with hard water (high KH). Southern California tap water is extremely hard. I managed to keep my neons healthy by using softer water. Just make sure it's not too soft, as it's hard to manage PH in water that is extremely soft (too few buffers)

From: Jabe
I have a large aquarium and got a great bargain on Neons - 20 for only $20. I ended up with 21 as they are hard to count! Within a matter of hours a few had died. By the next morning I fished out 7 of them. Every morning I would get up and fish out the latest casualties. All my other fish were fine (danios, corydoras, clown loaches). After three days I only had one neon left. A month later he is still alive!! The fish I paid for all died and the free one survived. I still have no idea what killed the others - I know they're sensitive but for one to survive is strange. I suspect he was up to no good... I've named him Killer.

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