Neon Tetras Keep Dropping Dead!

Brenden

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So I have been fighting this problem for months now.

I go to the store, purchase Tetras, and within 3-4 days they die.

The tank is solely around 6 tetras, 6 ghost shrimp, and 2 nerite snails.

It is a 10 gallon, planted with an Amazon sword currently and using the plant fertilizing gravel.

I have lost around 10 tetras so far, and the people at the store keep telling me "oh it's common, we hear they die all the time".

However from what I've researched, Tetras are supposedly hardy fish.

I've had a Betta in the tank, long before getting Tetras that lived a long and healthy life until he unfortunately got Ick from..you guessed it...tetras I put in the tank from the pet store.

So I have since switched stores, and the problem still persist. Which led to me believe, obviously I'm doing something wrong. I'm tired of flushing them, they're one of my favorite fish to keep and it's just getting depressing. I don't want to quit the hobby, I just can't keep throwing money at it.

-Water is treated for Ick every water change or with any new fish-

-I tested PH and found it was a tad high at around 7.4 but isn't in the deadly levels yet..-

-I look closely at the ones that are dying. No fin rot, no brown gills, no puffed out eyes, they look entirely healthy...except they're dead-

-1 or 2 of them swam radically prior to death. The rest swam completely normal the day before, with no signs of distress, no awkward movement, nothing. I simply wake up to find them in my filter.

So the question I'm having is this. Is it stress related?

I feel that one fish dying out of a batch of them is to be expected from chain stores. But I wonder if seeing one die, sets off that chain reaction in the group due to the stress of seeing another fish die.

I frequently have to scoop the dead ones out, so I wonder if me constantly disturbing the water is to blame for them all dropping dead.

I realized that the one Tetra I had the longest lived quiet a long time, until I introduced new tetras into the tank. Then I found him dead the next day.
 

AquaticJ

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“Tetras” include many many different species. Most are fairly hardy, but Neons are by far the most unhealthy. I wouldn’t keep wasting money.
 
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Brenden

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“Tetras” include many many different species. Most are fairly hardy, but Neons are by far the most unhealthy. I wouldn’t keep wasting money.
So is this a common issue for them to just die even if you made sure to provide EVERY thing possible to ensure they don't.

I mean, I'm okay moving away from Neons. Just sad because I really do like them. It's just hard on my wallet to have to keep replacing them after every death.
 

AquaticJ

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So is this a common issue for them to just die even if you made sure to provide EVERY thing possible to ensure they don't.

I mean, I'm okay moving away from Neons. Just sad because I really do like them. It's just hard on my wallet to have to keep replacing them after every death.
Look up Cardinal Tetras, you’d need a larger tank for those but you’ll like them. Yes very common, however, I’d make sure your tank is cycled and not poisoning them.
 
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Brenden

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How old is your tank ? What are your water parameters ? Ammonia and nitrites ?
Around 2 years old.

I'll be honest with you, I never tested for nitrates but I know for a fact they were high at one point. However I been checking the gills of the neons when they die to see if it's nitrate poisoning, with no real indicator. I have also done a lot to try to reduce the nitrates and every other species in the tank has been living fine with zero distress. Even my ghost shrimp which I've had issues raising in the past, are swimming around normally.

I'm planning on buying the test kit for ammonia and nitrates when I can get to a store. I don't believe those are the issues but then again, that IS the one thing I haven't looked at...

Look up Cardinal Tetras, you’d need a larger tank for those but you’ll like them. Yes very common, however, I’d make sure your tank is cycled and not poisoning them.
Space is the key issue rn.

I'd love to upgrade but don't think I can. I also keep a tortoise, and I collect various things that take up space. 10 gallon is what I have to deal with for now.

Any other species of fish you'd recommend that are as colorful as the Neons that would be okay in 10 gallons?

I've heard that Guppies are common as long as you get them all in one gender to avoid being flooded with fry.
 

yinoma2001

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I had a school of 13 neons that have whittled down to 11. They are very delicate fish and from what I've read, the breeding has not been great. What I've tried to do whenever I get tetras is to do a super slow acclimation with them. They seem to get stressed more (notice how pale neons get when you have them in a bag compared to when they're comfortable in a school and they're literally glowing). So maybe try a different acclimation process?

But yeah, it may just be poor breeding stock. It's so tempting b/c they are gorgeous in a big school but they're also so fragile.
 

mattgirl

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It seems neon tetras are not as healthy as they once were. I too love them but have decided not to add any more to my tank. Right now I have 5 very healthy ones. The last time I tried to up their shoal I lost some of the new and some of the original. I don't want to take a chance on losing the ones I have right now so as their numbers decrease over time I will just eventually have none.

BTW: The 5 I have right now are at least 2 years old and are huge for neon tetras.
 

yinoma2001

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Space is the key issue rn.

I'd love to upgrade but don't think I can. I also keep a tortoise, and I collect various things that take up space. 10 gallon is what I have to deal with for now.

Any other species of fish you'd recommend that are as colorful as the Neons that would be okay in 10 gallons?

I've heard that Guppies are common as long as you get them all in one gender to avoid being flooded with fry.
I actually got 5 ember tetras and they live with our betta in peace. They are less than 1 inch so you can get more.
 
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Brenden

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Appreciate all the replies tbh.

Did not know Neons have had such major issues lately. Think I'll move away from them for a bit and try to get a different type of tetra, or different species all together.
 

Redshark1

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Neon Tetras can be healthy and robust fish.

However, 50% of batches from the fish farms carry a Columnaris bacteria strain which is virulent.

My LFS says batches they buy are either healthy or they lose the lot. As the wholesaler supplies them they do not know where each batch comes from.

Another LFS has described buying them 500 at a time and losing 50 per day from the sale tank.

My own experience is that if an infected batch is purchased you can expect to lose a proportion of the fish in the first few days and feel awful about it.

For the rest of the fish around half may die over a longer period and half may survive and become free of the disease.

It took 18 months for my fish to stop showing any symptoms and of course the disease is in the aquarium waiting to strike if things go downhill.

I feel experienced fishkeepers may rescue the situation by making improvements to their care but beginners may struggle.

For me Neon Tetras were essential so despite some doubts they were eventually worth it. They were the one I wanted. I prefer them to Cardinal Tetras, but these are more reliable I think though not always problem free.

19.02.07 Cube Aquarium Steve Joul (9) - Copy.jpg
 

NotYourAverageJoe

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I personally started an exclusive neon tetra tank a few years ago. I too found that it took several attempts to get it going, and sadly a few fish did end up paying for it. I did finally get the tank established with 5 that actually lived for about 2 years. It sounds like your tank is cycling...?? Did you replace the filters, or reuse the old ones? And with no Ammonia tester, if you did replace filters when re-decorating.... I'm thinking the bio filter may have been affected and the water has no good bacteria yet and isn't being treated for ammonia...? So, long story short, did you replace the filters?
 
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Brenden

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I personally started an exclusive neon tetra tank a few years ago. I too found that it took several attempts to get it going, and sadly a few fish did end up paying for it. I did finally get the tank established with 5 that actually lived for about 2 years. It sounds like your tank is cycling...?? Did you replace the filters, or reuse the old ones? And with no Ammonia tester, if you did replace filters when re-decorating.... I'm thinking the bio filter may have been affected and the water has no good bacteria yet and isn't being treated for ammonia...? So, long story short, did you replace the filters?
Nope. I have used the same filter for around 2 years now, and I let algae grow on it (to a degree) so that it aids it a bit
 

Noroomforshoe

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What do you mean you treat for ich every water change? Ich medicine is very hard on fish.

Do you carefully aclimatw all fish?
https://www.fishlore.com/acclimating-tropicalfish.htm

A 10 gallon is a small tank, it is not easy to keep exact stable temperatures , low nitrates, and waste builds up fast, you need to do more water changes in the small tank for sensitive fish, which is bad for sensirtive fish.

I would not but neons or any other tetra in anything under 20 gallons.
I suggest the Salifert nitrate tester. API sells to many snake oil products and I avoid giving them my money.
 
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Brenden

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What do you mean you treat for ich every water change? Ich medicine is very hard on fish.

Do you carefully aclimatw all fish?
https://www.fishlore.com/acclimating-tropicalfish.htm

A 10 gallon is a small tank, it is not easy to keep exact stable temperatures , low nitrates, and waste builds up fast, you need to do more water changes in the small tank for sensitive fish, which is bad for sensirtive fish.

I would not but neons or any other tetra in anything under 20 gallons.
I suggest the Salifert nitrate tester. API sells to many snake oil products and I avoid giving them my money.
Yeah I have since learned to stop using the ich treatment. This post is a bit old.

The tetras were acclimated, and I later discovered after talking to an somebody that the Neon stock at the Petsmart was infected, and it wasn't just me. Numerous people complained of their fish dying within days of buying them.

As far as 20 gallons for Neons, I have heard they tend to do better in bigger tanks however I've also heard that a small amount of tetras are fine in a 10 gal so idk. Either way, I have decided to stay away from Neons, and lean on the side of caution. If I ever get tetras again, likely going to be once I get a 20 gallon.
 

Dechi

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I’m having the same problem with my neons. I bought 10 over a period of 4-5 weeks and only 6 remain so far and they keep dying.

Very frustrating. I might try cardinal tetras, which I love, but I’m afraid a 36 inches long tank might be small for a school of 12-15 fishes.
 

treadingwater

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A few months ago I bought 10 for my 125 gallon. They sent me home with 15. Woo hoo! free fish! By the time I made the 30 min drive straight home, I lost 4. 3 months later, I have 4 left. I won't buy them anymore. I agree with @mattgirl; neons have declined in quality over the years and thats a shame. Those are in my top 3 favorite fish.
 

mattgirl

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A few months ago I bought 10 for my 125 gallon. They sent me home with 15. Woo hoo! free fish! By the time I made the 30 min drive straight home, I lost 4. 3 months later, I have 4 left. I won't buy them anymore. I agree with @mattgirl; neons have declined in quality over the years and thats a shame. Those are in my top 3 favorite fish.
I know that had to be heartbreaking

I have seriously considered trying to breed my neons but I fear the stress of catching them to move them to a breeding tank might stress them out and I will lose my big healthy ones. Catching them in my 55 gallon community tank would not be an easy task.

Breeding them myself is the only way I know to end up with healthy fish. I would dearly love to have a huge school of them.
 

Noroomforshoe

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Ten gallons is very very limited on what fish it can hold. the only tetra that should be in their is ember tetra. Micro rasbora are another possability, but If I spent 15 bucks a pop on a galaxy rasbora, I would use at least a 20 gallon tank.
 

Redshark1

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I’m having the same problem with my neons. I bought 10 over a period of 4-5 weeks and only 6 remain so far and they keep dying.

Very frustrating. I might try cardinal tetras, which I love, but I’m afraid a 36 inches long tank might be small for a school of 12-15 fishes.
I would think that a 36 inch long tank would be ideal for a shoal of 15 Cardinals. Why not?

Overall Cardinals have been more reliable for me, but I have had a bad batch many years ago which was wiped out by what I think was Columnaris.

I also had a batch with worm-in-a-bubble (Dermosporidium), but although worrying I found that this does not harm them and passes with time.
 
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