The neon tetra is a small schooling fish native to the clear water streams of South America, where it mainly inhabits forest streams and minor tributaries rather than turbid (whitewater) main channels. This red, blue and white tetra grows to an adult size of 1.2 to 1.5 inches. There is also an aquarium bred gold variety available on occasion. Females are larger and visibly plumper than males when in breeding condition.
The neon tetra is one of the most popular and recognizable of freshwater aquarium fish. It is sometimes confused with the cardinal tetra which grows slightly larger and has more red coloration on the body. If maintained in the same aquarium, the two species will often school together.
The neon tetra should be maintained in an aquarium of 10 to 20 gallons or larger, as it is a schooling fish and should be kept in groups of 8 to 10 or more. They will look their best on a dark, sandy substrate (CS6631) with driftwood (ZM2000) in a well planted tank. Dried leaf litter, such as Indian almond leaves (CS706), can provide extra cover and a secondary food source. Moderate water flow and subdued lighting is preferred.
The neon tetra prefers a temperature of 70°F to 83°F, a pH of 4.0 to 7.5, and a hardness of 1 to 12°H.
The neon tetra is typically a very peaceful fish. When kept in groups of 8 or more, it makes a suitable resident for a community aquarium. Do not keep the neon tetra with any fish large enough to eat it. Good tank mates include cory catfishes, other tetras, pencil fishes, hatchet fishes, dwarf cichlids, and small algae eating catfishes (otocinclus, bristle nose, clown, and rubber plecos).
The neon tetra is not a fussy eater and will accept most aquarium foods. A balanced diet should include quality flake foods (AL165) and frozen foods(SF1001, SF8173).
For maximum color, growth, and these fish like cardinal tetras will look their best when given probiotics. We have seen amazing results from AquaLife Bio-Pro Plus and CS Pro Flakes with Calanus and Spirulina used along with baby brine and Calafin both whole a fine. Calafin should be soaked with CS Pro. Calafin is a 100% Calanus Plankton and one of the best sources of color and nutrients available.