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Neon Tetra: A Complete Species Profile

by Tauseeq Magsi July 31, 2022 9 min read

Neon Tetra: A Complete Species Profile

The neon tetra is a small, popular aquarium fish that is native to the Amazon River basin of Peru, Brazil, and Colombia.

The neon tetra is one of the most popular freshwater aquarium fish due to its bright colors and peaceful personality. These fish are easy to care for and can be housed in a community tank with other peaceful fish.  These tetras have an iridescent blue coloration with a black vertical stripe running down the side of their body. Neon tetras have been selectively bred over many generations to produce a variety of colors and patterns. The most common varieties are gold neon, green neon, and black neon.

Neon tetras are native to South America and grow to about 1 to 1.5 inches long. They inhabit slow-flowing streams and rivers in their native habitat but can thrive in blackwater as well. Neon tetras can live for up to 5 years if cared for properly.

Due to their vibrant colors, they make an excellent addition to any freshwater aquarium. They are omnivorous and will eat both plant matter and meaty foods such as flake food or Daphnia.

Habitat and Distribution

Neon tetras are found in the Amazon River basin of South America. The species is native to the countries of Brazil, Peru, Colombia, and Venezuela. They thrive in slow-moving waters such as small streams or ponds. Neon tetras do not tolerate cold water temperatures or high levels of nitrates. They require a pH level between 6 and 7 with a temperature between 70 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit.

neon tetra

Neon tetras are most commonly found in freshwater aquariums due to their beautiful coloring and peaceful nature. The fish are also popular among aquarists because they can live together with other species in a community tank without any competition for food or territory.

Neon tetras can reach an adult length of about 2 inches (50 millimeters) but most stay between 1 inch (25 millimeters) and 1.5 inches (40 millimeters).

The majority of neon tetras come from the Far East and Eastern Europe, where they are commonly cultivated. There are currently several different variations of specimens that have been produced in captivity. Some examples include the long-finned neon tetra (which is extremely unusual), the golden neon tetra (which seems to be semi-albino), and the diamond neon tetra (whose upper body is covered in metallic scales).

Habitat and Tank Prerequisites

Neon tetras prefer to dwell in water with a lot of flora and roots. Providing an environment with several low-light hiding spots is essential for this specie to thrive.

Plants like Hornwort and Java Moss can be used to decorate your neon tank. As a result of these plants, neon-tetra habitats are shaded and private, just what these fish need. Using driftwood as a hiding spot for the fish is also an option.

Choosing the right substrate for neon tetras isn't nearly as crucial as for bottom-dwelling fish, such as cichlids and goldfish. However, a dark substrate, such as black sand, will make your neon tetra feel at home and will show off the fish's wonderful neon colors.

The neon tetra's natural environment has low light levels, which may be simulated by darkening three sides of the aquarium's glass paneling.

Lifespan and Breeding of a Neon Tetra

Neon Tetras are generally hardy fish that can be kept in community tanks with smaller non-aggressive species.

Neon tetras are generally a long-lived species. While some aquarists have reported they live up to 10 years, the average lifespan of neon tetras is closer to 5-8 years. This is just an average, however; some fish can live longer than that, and others die after only a few months.

Neon tetras are a little bit difficult to breed and it can be tricky to raise the fry successfully due to their small size which makes them vulnerable to predation from larger tank mates or other fish species. The fry grows very quickly so it is important that they have enough food available at all times or else they may starve before they have time to develop properly.

The best way to get the Neon Tetra to spawn is by keeping them in a small tank that can be placed in a dark place (such as a closet). The water temperature should be around 78 degrees Fahrenheit, and the pH level should be around 6.5. The tank should have plenty of hiding spots for the male and female to feel safe when they are not mating, but there should also be open space for them to swim around in so that they can find each other more easily.

Lifespan and Breeding of a Neon Tetra

Before placing the breeding couple in the breeding tank, feed them live meals to prepare them. Start with absolutely no illumination in the tank when you put the breeding couple in there for the first time. To encourage spawning, gradually raise the lighting level the next day. At this time of day, females are most likely to mate. During spawning, the male will clasp the female and then release more than 100 eggs. Transparent and slightly sticky, the eggs will adhere to plants. As soon as the eggs are deposited, the breeding couple should be separated since they can devour the eggs very rapidly.

The eggs and fry are both vulnerable to high levels of light. In around 24 hours, the eggs will hatch, releasing small fry that will feed on their egg sacks for a few days. Hatch rates are low, therefore only about a third of the eggs will hatch into fry. When the fry is three to four days old, they will be able to swim on their own, and they will need to be given very small meals. Soon, they'll be big enough to eat fresh brine shrimp. The fry will begin to show its beautiful and amazing hues after the first month.

Feeding and Nutrition

Neon Tetras are omnivores, meaning they eat both plant material and animal matter. In the wild, they feed on algae and other types of plant matter that grow on rocks and other submerged surfaces. They will also consume insect larvae and any invertebrates that they can catch in their mouths. They will also eat some types of live foods such as brine shrimp, blood worms, daphnia, and tubifex worms.

You should feed your neon tetras a variety of animal and plant-based meals to recreate their natural habitat diet.

A good diet for neon tetras consists mainly of flake food with some frozen or freeze-dried blood worms added to it once or twice per week. You should also include high-quality tropical fish flakes as part of their diet since this will help promote their growth rate and overall health.

Put your primary emphasis on Daphnia as a live food as well as NorthFin foods such as Flake, Veggie, and Community formula.

Take care to include enough plant items in the diets of neon tetras. The fish can receive algae wafers as well as fruits and vegetables as often as three times a week.

Neon tetras need to be fed twice a day for the first six months of their lives. To maintain good water quality, feed the tetras for two minutes, then discard any uneaten food. Neon tetras can become ill if they are overfed, so keep to a feeding plan and don't overfeed your fish.

Feeding and Nutrition

Varieties of Neon Tetra

Neon tetras come in many different varieties including black neon tetras, blue neon tetras, red neon tetras, green neon tetras, and so on. Each variety has its unique coloration which makes them all appealing to aquarists who want something different than just another standard neon tetra type fish in their tank!

The neon tetra has a streamlined body. Its body color is blue with black vertical stripes. Some species have red accents on the anal fin, but these are not as common as the blue or black varieties. The male has a longer dorsal fin than the female and he also has more vibrant colors than his female counterpart.

In addition to the red, blue, and silver-bodied neon tetras (the first fish that interested me), there are other varieties of neon tetras to choose from. Typical Neon Tetra species include:

1.   Gold Head Neon Tetras

Neon Gold Tetras have a red and silver color combination on their bodies. They have bright blue eyes that jut out. They have a transparent peach-colored body with a silvery sheen. From its nose to its tail, it bears a reddish-orange stripe that runs through its body. The edge of their dorsal and anal fins are both red, whereas their pelvic and anal fins are both white. One inch long is the maximum size.

Gold Neon Tetras are docile and simple to care for, making them a good choice for beginners. Neon tetras, cory catfish, and certain barbs and danios are all good companions for these species. Gold neon tetras should be kept in groups of at least six.

A Gold Neon Tetra may live for up to five years. They consume both plant and animal matter and require a pH range of 5.8 to 7.5. They can be contained in a rectangular tank that has at least 15 gallons of water in it. They can withstand temperatures of up to 28°C. It is not uncommon for Gold Neon Tetra to also consume frozen flakes in addition to the live food that they consume. It's best to feed them regularly but in tiny amounts.

The price per fish is between $2 and $3.

2.   Diamond Neon Tetras

Because of selective breeding, Diamond Head Tetras have a diamond-shaped patch on their back, between their eyes, as well as a dorsal fin that has been formed over time. The vast majority of consumers purchase fish when they are still juveniles, and they typically look for colorful varieties of juvenile fish. This species' shimmering skin develops as the fish matures, giving them an absolutely lovely look when they are fully grown. The body of this tetra species is striped with blue and red horizontal stripes. They can reach a maximum length of 2.5 inches.

The Diamond Head Tetra is an easy-to-care-for fish with a laid-back personality. One should utilize taller plants in the aquarium since they are mid- and top-level swimmers.

3.   Black Neon Tetra

Another specie of tetras is referred to merely as black neon. For its adaptability to a wide range of water parameters, this fish is a popular choice for aquariums. It has a one-of-a-kind look. Above its large eyes, there is an orange semi-circle. On either side of the caudal fin, you can see thin horizontal lines. The body has a greyish brown tint with some shimmering yellowish and greenish markings, with one black and one bluish-white line.

A group of six or more Black Neon Tetras is preferable, as is the case with other neon tetra species.  They are gregarious creatures, thus they can readily adapt to the community tank with other little fish.

Black Neon Tetra

Black neon tetras have a five-year lifespan on average. 24-28°C is the best temperature range for them. They can make it on the food of a good quality flake or pellet variety; nevertheless, it is recommended that they also be fed freeze-dried bloodworms and brine shrimp. Black neon tetras do well in a 20-gallon aquarium. To properly care for Black Neon Tetras, we need to keep the pH below 7.5.

They are about $2-$3 each.

4.   Green Tetra

Some people refer to green neon tetras as "blue" or "false neon."  True neon tetras and cardinal neon tetras are commonly mistaken for green neon tetras, which are known as false neon tetras. They have a gorgeous greenish-blue tint on the top and slight red color on the bottom (horizontally; similar to neon tetras). In addition, their entire body is a shade of green.

The lifetime of Green Neon Tetras is between two and three years. Even though they are a friendly species, their small size makes them unsuitable as communal fish. These fish should be maintained alone or in a group of at least eight.

Small insects, mosquito larvae, and crustaceans are some of the items that these omnivores eat in their natural habitats. They can only survive in temperatures ranging from 24 to 35 degrees Celsius. The ideal pH range is between 3 and 6.5.

Is Cardinal Tetra and Neon Tetra the same?

The cardinal tetra is often mistaken for the neon tetra because it has similar coloring on its body; however, there are some key differences between these two fish species:

Color: The most obvious difference between these two species is the coloration. The cardinal tetra has a bright red body with black stripes. In contrast, the neon tetra has a bright blue body with black bands on its sides.

Size: The cardinal tetra is also a slightly larger fish than the neon tetra. Neon tetras usually grow up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) whereas cardinal tetras can grow up to 2 inches (5 cm). However, this may not be noticeable in aquaria because they will grow at different rates depending on the water temperature and other environmental factors.

Behavior: The two species also differ slightly in their behavior. Although both species can be kept together in tanks, this should only be done if there is plenty of space for each fish to swim comfortably without having to compete for food or territory with other members of their species or other types of fish that may be present in your tank (such as catfish).

Conclusion: Is Neon Tetra a Good Choice for Your Aquarium?

Neon tetras are beautiful, peaceful, and hardy fish that can be nice additions to many aquariums. They have reasonable lifespans and are active swimmers, hence they are fun to watch. They prefer well-planted tanks with moderate water flow. These fish do best in schools of at least five or more, so if you want more fish, you'll need to keep them in a larger group. Neon tetras also prefer soft water with low pH levels (around 6.0).

If your tank is already set up and you're looking for an interesting little species, neon tetras could be a great choice!

Tauseeq Magsi
Tauseeq Magsi

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