- Aquatic Life

Fishes - Neon Tetras

Neon Tetras
by Linda Paquette

Neon tetras are one of the most popular community fish and an excellent choice for those new to fish keeping. Their purchase size is often under ¾ of an inch and at full size, they reach a big 2 inches in length. If you like color in your aquarium fish, the Neon tetra will add real sparkle and flash to your aquarium. A silver fish that darkens to iridescent blue along its backbone, the neon tetra also sports a bright red tail. In addition, these active little fish like to school in groups of 6 or more, so a tank of neon tetras continually flashes with red, silver-white, and blue!

Although in the same family as the Piranha, neon tetras are completely unaggressive fish and if kept with more aggressive types are more apt to become prey than predator. The main diet of neon tetras is tropical flake food with tubifex worms, bloodworms, or brine shrimp introduced as an occasional treat.

Maybe because of their size, neon tetras do like an aquarium that provides them with lots of places to hide. This makes them wonderful fish to keep in a live plant aquarium. In addition, a dark substrate is closer to their natural surroundings. Other good hiding places for neon tetras can include pieces of driftwood or fish caves. Tetras in general also like highly oxygenated acidic water, so another accessory you should consider is a good aeration system.

One major problem with the neon tetra is its susceptibility to neon tetra disease. When you buy your fish, inspect them closely for any signs of disease or weakness. Physically a sick fish will be paler in color than the healthy ones, but an easy way to spot illness is when a neon prefers to be alone rather than joining in its school. Unfortunately, there is no cure for neon tetra disease. In its advanced stages, the fish becomes crippled. It loses use of its tail and its spine is noticeably curved. Neon tetra disease is a degenerative disease, believed to be caused by environmental factors. Because of this, it isn't thought to be contagious, but it will keep affecting your school until you have rectified the conditions that cause it. Common causes of neon tetra disease include poor water conditions and harassment by other fish. Neon tetras are also very sensitive to loud noises and bright lights.

About the Author

Linda is editor of Tetra Fish and Cichilds sections on