Neon Tetra (Paracheirodon innesi)

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Neon Tetra

Neon Tetra

Paracheirodon innesi

57 Litres (15 US G.)

2-3.8cm (0.8-1.5 ")




4.6 - 7.6

22 -26 °C (71.6-78.8°F)

4-10 °d

1:2 M:F

Pellet Foods
Flake Foods
Live Foods

3-10 years



This animal is available captive bred

Additional names

Neon, Neon Tetra, Neon Fish

Additional scientific names

Hyphessobrycon innesi


An Amazonian South American Tetra from blackwater or clearwater stream tributaries of the Solimões River.


Females tend to have a more "triangular" belly, as well as having the blue band bend upwards to some degree. Males have a noticeably flatter belly, compared to the females.


Breeding occurs in the morning after a rainfall. Temperature should be 24-26°C (75-78°F). Water should be soft, 0-6 GH. If you cannot put fish into a separate breeding tank with soft water a 50% water change can sometimes simulate rainfall. Prepare mature fish by feeding them a high protein diet for several days. Afterwards, select a breeding pair or small group and transfer them into the breeding tank. The tank should be prepared with a spawning mop or plants like java moss to allow the eggs to fall through and into. The tank should be kept in full darkness for a period (overnight) and then the light levels should be slowly increased (position the tank by an east facing window).
Spawning should occur during the morning. The eggs are the size of sand and not sticky. The adult neon tetras will eat the eggs, so remove them after spawning. Cover the tank again to maintain darkness. The eggs and young fry are very light sensitive. After 24-36 hours the eggs should hatch and fry should be swimming in another 4 days. They should be fed infusoria, newly hatched brine shrimp, or fry food. They prefer soft water and are sensitive to water changes, so begin with very small (5-10%) water changes often and maintain a gently flowing sponge filter in their tank. Once they are large enough to eat micro pellets they can be acclimated to a general tank.
You can grow your own infusoria by taking a bottle and putting in a lettuce leaf and an algae wafer. These bottles should be placed somewhere with heavy sunlight. After a week or so, the bottles should begin to grow infusoria making it cloudy / pinkish. You can then take this food with a pipette and feed it to the babies.

Tank compatibility[edit]

Gets along fine in a community tank. Prefers to be a middle to bottom swimmer. Should not be kept with larger predatory fish such as Angelfish as the Neons may get eaten. Keep them in schools of 6 or more of their own kind, in smaller numbers they will be shy and nervous fish.


The Neon Tetra is an unfussy eater accepting most foods. In an aquarium use flake and granular foods along with micro pellet, supplemented with small live and frozen foods such as artemia and daphnia. Some bite snails' tentacles (maybe mistaken for worms). Like mosquito larvae.

Feeding regime[edit]

Feed once or twice a day. Due to a natural fear of predators, this fish may be resistant to eating food from the water's surface. To overcome this hold your fish food underwater for a moment and release the food. As with all fish, you should only feed the fish what they can eat in 5 minutes.

Environment specifics[edit]

While Neons like a pH under 7, they can adjust to a more alkaline pH, but will be unlikely to breed. Most Neons are mass bred and are well adjusted to a higher pH. They do not like a varying pH or a high GH value, so ensure an adequate KH level. They live in stagnant pools in the wild and so do not like much current inside the tank because they are not physiologically adapted to cope with it. Some current is necessary because of internal filter currents but try to keep this to a minimum. They tend to prefer tropical water temperatures, but have a wide range of preferred temperatures from 70-82 degrees. They have a low bioload, but a school should be kept in a minimum 10 gallon aquarium, with that number increasing based on the other fish in the aquarium.


Peaceful and a good community fish. Will school in groups of 6 or more. Although they school with their own species if there are enough of them, they will also school with Cardinal Tetras (Paracheirodon axelrodi) and Green Neon Tetras (Paracheirodon simulans), or any of the other small, torpedo-bodied characins, if there are not enough Neon Tetras. If they are kept in groups of under four then they may stop swimming and go pale and die after a couple of days. Other fish use this fish as a spotter fish; that is, if there is a predator about these fish will spot it first. Therefore, other more timid fish, such as Rams, will come out into the open more if you put these fish in your tank. Useful to the aquarist as an indicator fish. If they are closely packed together, then they are alarmed and feel threatened. Usually if they are settled, they will disperse over your tank.


Like a Cardinal Tetra, the Neon has a brilliant blue upper body and a red underside. However, unlike the Cardinal, the Neon's red underside ends halfway to the head, becoming a white belly. They are very distinctive and commonly available.
There are other selectively bred varieties available, including a Gold variety with a pale creamy gold body and faint lateral blue line, and one called "Diamond Head" which has far more iridescent blue on its head than the regular variety.

Species note[edit]

Neon Tetras are known to suffer from a species-specific parasite, aptly named Neon Tetra Disease. This disease is also called Pleistophora. It is highly contagious and any fish thought to be suffering from it should be removed. It can be, but is rarely, passed on to other species. The main cause of the disease occurring in neon tetras is when a parasite found in a dead, rotting organism is eaten by the neon. Symptoms of the disease include:
  • Loss of normal colouration
  • Curved spine
  • Bloating
  • Strange swimming patterns
Unfortunately, NTD cannot be cured, however, you should remove the infected fish from the tank as soon as possible so you can prevent infection of your other fish. This disease is caused by a protozoan parasite, the sporozoan, Pleistophora hyphessobryconis.



In a petstore holding tank: In a planted tank:

External links[edit]