Neon Tetra: Fish Species Profile and Care Facts

There are currently 157 species and 13 genera of tetra fish, many of which vary in patterns and coloration. The neon tetra (Paracheirodon innesi) is an awesome freshwater fish which is placed in the family Characidae under order Characiformes. Native to South America, they were introduced to the United States from the Amazon River basin in the early 1960’s by American importers. In the wild, it lives in slow moving waters with trees overhanging the water’s edge.

Systematic Position

Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Characiformes
Family: Characidae
Genus: Paracheirodon
Species: Paracheirodon innesi

The neon tetra can be found in many locations around the world. Its teleost ancestor probably originated in the Cretaceous period, about 100 million years ago. They are also distributed in some parts of Bolivia and Peru. It was first described by the famous German biologist, Dr. H.G. Reichenbach in 1850. In Latin, “Paracheirodon” means “somewhat cheery.”

Physical Description

In appearance, they are light gray to beige on the back with a nose spot of striking red. Their small size, coupled with their striking coloration, makes them excellent for aquariums that have limited space. They are usually available as small fish, but grow to about 3 inches (8 cm) long in captivity, although neon tetra that grow up to 7 inches have been reported. They can achieve up to 1.5 inches in length after 12 months. They are known to live 5-8 years in captivity, but could live up to 10-15 years if maintained properly.

The body shape is similar to other fish, it has round scales with distinct dividing lines near the tail. It has silver scales around its eyes, dorsal fin, and tail.

Neon Tetra vary in color but are typically silver, gold, green, blue, orange, pink, red or yellow. The body is covered with short black or brown scales. The neon tetra’s scales are small, only 1/16 inch (1.6 mm) long. This species can be distinguished from other species of danios by the presence of 10 to 20 setae on the caudal peduncle.


There are many species of tetra that make great tankmates for neon tetras, if you can find them. They are generally safe to be kept with others of its kind. There are a few fish species that could work well with this timid shoaling fish.

You may keep them peaceful and tetra-compatible, shrimps, snails, daphnia, etc. It will, however, harass other long-finned fish such as Bettas, Dwarf Gouramis, and fancy guppies. Because the Neon Tetra likes small schools in nature, it is suggested that you keep at least 6 in your tank. If you have a school of Neons in your tank, you can house them with other small fish, but combine them with long-finned fish only when the school is large.

Neon Tetras are friendly, lively, schooling fish. They are not aggressive toward each other or other fish. They swim in small groups or pairs and are active swimmers. A school of tetras will swim together in a school-like formation for protection from predators.

Neon Tetra Care Facts

Tetras are popular because they are inexpensive, small enough to fit in most aquariums, and easy to care for.

Neon Tetras require certain conditions to do well. Proper habitat, water quality, diet, and care can ensure your Neon Tetras have a long and healthy life that will add excitement to your tank for years to come.

Neon Tetras are lovely little fish. As long as you remember they require lots of oxygen, perfect water conditions, and the right tank mates.

The Neon Tetra is one of the most well-known fish species in the aquarium hobby. It adapts well to captivity and poses little difficulty for aquarists.

It is a small but hardy fish, it is popular in tropical aquariums because of its bright colors, ease of care, and small size. Their bright coloration makes them prized among aquarium hobbyists. They are also popular epibionts for catfish that scrape off algae growing on submerged logs or tank walls.

It is generally a fairly hardy fish considering its size, disease susceptibility, and juvenile metabolism. It is a popular species of tropical freshwater fish among aquarists and is occasionally used for water treatment in ponds and aquariums, where it may or may not successfully breed.

They should only be kept in peaceful tanks with no more than six other fish. In this case, careful water chemistry and water parameter control should be maintained. Although this schooling species is very beautiful, the delicate Neon Tetra is not suitable for community tanks or most beginner aquarists.

Neon Tetras can be kept in a variety of aquariums. A number of adults will be comfortable in a 5 to 10 gallon tank, as long as it is well oxygenated and maintained correctly. Like most tropical fish, the Neon Tetra is a sensitive species that requires a well-maintained environment.

Neon Tetra Fish make great starter fish for beginners or experienced aquarists alike. They are hardy, live under the same water conditions as African Cichlids and love to be in schools.

The neon tetra is the epitome of the sparklingly beautiful tropical fish. Its electric pink hue gives it a unique, yet elegant look.

Feeding Neon Tetra

Neon Tetras love to eat! Their tiny mouths allow them to grab food from the surface of the water. They are easy to feed, taking most flake or pellet foods.

Neon Tetras should be fed a high quality flake or pellet food. Generally, they should receive about one-quarter of the volume of their tank in food per day. It is best not to feed them more than this because they are very small fish. A rule of thumb is that the fish should only just be able to consume the food within 2 minutes. This is generally enough time for most foods to sink to the bottom and not interfere with the water circulation in the tank, which is crucial for good bacteria growth and waste removal. It may help to place some sinking food at the top of the tank near

Neon tetras are easily maintained in the home aquarium. You need to know the ideal diet for each species of fish before adding them to your aquarium.

Feed these fascinating little fish live foods such as daphnia or bloodworms for some variety. They readily accept all prepared foods. Frozen or live foods are accepted as well. Because of their small size, they are better suited to the smaller aquariums. With their bright colors they make an attractive addition to any aquarium exhibit.

Neon Tetras are very efficient algae eaters. They do not require a big aquarium or live plants because their food, algae, can grow on the walls of the aquarium.

Breeding Neon Tetra

Neon Tetras are beautiful schooling fish that are perfect for beginning aquarists. They are easy to breed when kept in their preferred water quality. You can keep them long term in a cycle tank that contains no ammonia, nitrites or nitrates. Tank size is the only thing needed to be correct to get them to spawn, with 5-10 gallons being ideal.

Sexing Neon Tetra

There are significant gender differences between male and female neon tetra. The below comparison chart gives the reader an idea, at a glance, of what to expect when keeping this species.

The neon tetra has several distinct gender differences that are quite easy to see. Males are larger in size compared to the females, their coloration is brighter, their anal fin is longer and pointed, and they have a well-developed, pointed gonopodium at the end of their anal fin.

Thanks to their translucent scales, Neon Tetras are easy to sex. Males are more brightly colored than females, flashing reds and purples on the fins, while females appear greenish brown with subtle red markings. The males’ colors intensify during spawning.

And in fact, you will be surprised to know that Neons are one of the most sexually dimorphic fish in the world. Not only in shape but also in behavior, several differences occurs between male and female Neons .The female fish has a larger, rounder belly while the male’s belly is slimmer.

Quick Facts

Scientific Name: Paracheirodon innesi
Origin: Southeastern Colombia, eastern Peru, western Brazil
Adult size: 8 cm
Temperament: Peaceful
Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
Tank Level: Mid-dweller
Diet: Omnivore
Breeding: Egg scatterer
Water pH: 7.0
Hardness: 2 to 10 dGH
Temperature: 68 to 79 °F (20 to 26° C)
Care level: Intermediate
Lifespan: 5-8 years


The Neon Tetra is one of the most popular tropical fish on the market today. They are extremely active, making them very entertaining to watch. They are also relatively easy to care for, making them appealing for beginners.

The Neon Tetra’s shimmering coloration is an eye-catching display of personality. These fish are perfect for novice aquarists ready to get more advanced in the hobbies of fish keeping. They are generally peaceful, but can be kept in groups of twenty or fewer under the right conditions. Bullying males that are larger than females can sometimes occur in smaller aquariums, but these fish are undoubtedly a low maintenance and interesting addition to almost any freshwater setup.