Are My Neon Tetras Stressed: Causes, Reasons, Prevention And Solutions

are my neon tetras stressed

Like humans, Neon Tetras do stress over many things that you may not identify. Yes, you read that right. Although knowing their stress behavior is not easy, yet it is possible. Hence, if you are willing to provide better care to your Neon Tetras, learning about the stress problem in them is significant as well. So, I have come up with this article to answer the most asked query, ‘Are my Neon Tetras stressed?’.

Your Neons Tetras get intensified (stressed) if you can not handle all the essential requisite for them in the tank. For instance, unmanaged pH levels and water hardness, small tank size or overcrowding of tank, aggressive tank mates, and inappropriate water temperature can stress the Neon Tetras. Apart from these, sometimes, Neon Tetras stress due to sickness and changes in water in the tank. 

‘What is fish stress?’ Fish stress is a condition where the fish cannot tolerate some regularly happening adverse effects on their well-being. Before getting into the broad information regarding the stress in Neon Tetras, learn what the fish stress is in actuality.

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Understanding The Fish Stress

Have you ever thought of a thing as ‘fish stress’ before? I know, many people don’t. Generally, the stress of a fish is similar to human stress. The only thing that differs is the reason behind the mental burden or stress in fishes and humans, which is the environment in which they are living.

Briefly, fish stress is a condition where the fish tolerates some frequently happening adverse effects on their well-being. As water is the lifelong habitat of fishes, the mental burden or stress in them originates mainly from water only.

However, in medical terms, the definition of fish stress is a condition where the body of a fish releases adrenaline and cortisol (steroid hormone) at large, causing after-effects on their body. Such release can make the fish physically and mentally weak by leading it towards severe sicknesses.

Is Stress In Fish A Common Thing?

At present, fish stress has been one of the common aquarium problems. But it does not mean that every fish in the aquarium has to get through stress in their life.

Fish stress generally happens if you fail to provide a pleasant and accurate environment to them in the aquarium. Likewise, if you do not recognize the symptoms of your fish led by stress timely, the situation can get worse.

Therefore, yes, fish stress seems to be a common aquarium thing at present. But making it a general condition is not that appropriate. I would suggest you prevent this common aquarium problem rather than resolving it later. For this, maintaining a temperature in the tank water environment for them is crucial.

Neon Tetras And Stress In Them

As discussed above, stress has been one of the common aquarium problems nowadays. And in the case of Neon Tetras, yes, they do stress if you fail to provide a temperate habitat for them.

At present, Neon Tetras has been one of the widespread fish species, which people prefer to keep in their aquarium. There are various reasons why neon tetras are the perfect pet for you! As they are peaceful schooling fish, looking after them has been smooth for many fishkeepers. Yet, most of them fail to devote requisite necessities to Neon Tetras, which further leads to stress in them.

Thus, due to the failure in maintaining a proper aquarium environment, the Neon Tetras can start stressing. Also, remember, stress is not only a simple mental problem. It can lead Neon Tetras towards various life-threatening conditions too.

Do The Neon Tetras Living In A Natural Habitat Stress?

Firstly, understand that the Neon Tetras living in the aquarium mainly stresses due to unmaintained or unsuitable water environment. In the aquarium, it requires you to look carefully at the processes to create such an environment, which gives the natural vibes to your Neon Tetras.

But on the flip side, these sorts of work is not necessary for those Neon Tetras who stays in a natural water habitat. The Neon Tetras are tropical freshwater fish, and it thrives better in natural water. Here, there is no requirement of any of the water conditions for Neon Tetras.

However, in the natural habitat of Neon Tetras, they can get across to some of the aggressive fishes.  You can get some help from our List Of Aggressive Tetra Fish. They can slightly affect Neon Tetras, yet the consequences and the stress level does not rise as high as in the aquarium.

Therefore, the Neon Tetras living in the natural water habitat can stress but at a lower level. When compared with the aquarium situation, the Neon Tetras live and thrive better in a natural habitat with little possibility of stress level.

Reasons Of Stress In Neon Tetras – Water Conditions

The main and primary factor for the cause of stress in Neon Tetras is unmanaged water conditions. As you bring Neon Tetras home, the first thing in your mind should be the correct arrangement of pleasant water conditions for them.

You can get better help from Water Parameters for Tetra Fish: Stable Water Condition.

When you fail to provide suitable water provisions for the Neon Tetras, there creates a possibility of stress in them. To acquire about the primary reasons for stress in Neon Tetras due to water condition, read out the following:

Unsuitable Water Temperature

If you are a beginner at fishkeeping, then this is something you should not miss. The water temperature plays a significant role in the aquarium as it is necessary for the survival of Neon Tetras. But, if you fail to provide an ideal water temperature to them, there arises a possibility of stress in them.

Lower Water Temperature

In general, the Neon Tetras require a water temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius) in the aquarium. It is an ideal minimum water temperature for them.

But if you provide a lower degree of water temperature than the required minimum level, your Neon Tetras will get highly inactive. Also, there will be a drop in their appetite.

Find out more on Why Is My Neon Tetra Not Eating? This activity will lead the Neon Tetras towards more stress as it slowly harms their physical and mental health.

Higher Water Temperature

Talking about the higher water warmth, the Neon Tetras need a maximum of 78 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius) in the tank. This maximum water temperature is requisite for your Neon Tetras, not only to survive but shine too.

Here, in case you provide a higher degree of water temperature than the stated maximum degree to the Neon Tetras, they will start feeling discomfort and gets very dull. Also, the metabolism in their body will swiftly speed up, which is not safe for them. If this situation takes place regularly, it will gradually lead to stress in them.

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Inapplicable Water Hardness

Being a tropical freshwater fish, the Neon Tetras cannot grow finely and shine in any tank having irregular water hardnesses. Generally, water hardness refers to the elements and minerals dissolved in the water. Such components and minerals execute in managing a proper and healthy environment in the aquarium for the Neon Tetras.

Here, where the water hardness puts such a life into the Neon Tetra’s well-being, fluctuation and inapplicable hardness degree of water can cause stress in them. Commonly, the Neon Tetras demands 2dGH to 10dGH (degree of General Hardness) and 1dKH to 2dKH (degree of Carbonate Hardness). In short, Neon Tetras prefer soft water level to survive in the aquarium.

However, if there is any rise or fall in the degree of water hardness or any fluctuation than specified, the Neon Tetras will start stressing at a maximum. Thus, the inapplicable of water hardness can build stress on your Neon Tetras.

Unmanaged pH Level

An unmanaged pH level in the aquarium can bring as much stress in Neon Tetras as the unsuitable water temperature does. In general, the pH level is the measurement to learn how acidic/basic the given water level is.

In the case of Neon Tetras, it requires a minimum of 5.5 pH to a maximum of 6.2 pH level in the aquarium. Here, the Neon Tetras can start stressing if the pH levels either fall from the minimum or rises from the requisite mark of pH levels.

The water parameters are further explained better with causes, reasons, and solutions in the articles below:

Polluted Or Dirty Water

The Neon Tetras prefers clean and fresh water in the aquarium to shine and survive. Hence, the most vital thing to do to keep them safe and sound is to clean the water of the tank at least once a week.

If not, the water will slowly start polluting due to the waste of many fishes, some chemical treatments, and sometimes, the accidental pouring of insects chemical or spray. Due to several such wastages, the water in the tank will get dirty.

In such conditions, the Neon Tetras will stress at a huge as the environment around them becomes very unpleasant.

To clean the tank with neon tetra, follow our step to step guide on How to Clean a Tetra Fish Tank and how Often to clean a tetra fish tank?

Changing Water

A change of water at least 20 percent to 25 percent in the tank of Neon Tetra is necessary. Despite the water change being a good thing as the aquarium will stay hygiene, there is a chance for Neon Tetras to mount stress levels.

It happens because Neon Tetras will not get along in unspecified water at once. Water change of 20 percent to 25 percent can make them feel as they are suddenly into a new environment. Such random and sudden removal and addition of freshwater can cause build stress on Neon Tetras.

Additional Causes Of Stress In Neon Tetras

Though the Neon Tetras habitat is solely water, yet sometimes the reason for their stress is not only water. Many reasons can later be the cause of Neon Tetras’ stress.

So, here are some additional causes of stress in Neon Tetras:

Inappropriate Tank Condition

A suitable tank is a necessity to watch for as it is a base for the Neon Tetras proper persistence. Otherwise, the same tank can be a cause for your Neon Tetras’ different kinds of suffering, including stress.

The main two reasons that can build stress in Neon Tetras due to inappropriate tank conditions are:

Small Tank Size

The size of the tank matters a lot for a pleasant environment for Neon Tetras. Talking about the small tank size, it is a 10-gallon tank that you can go for your Neon Tetras.

People generally assume a smaller tank can be sufficient for Neon Tetras as they are small-sized fishes. But do not forget, they are not solely living fish but schooling fishes. Meaning, they should be in a group in any tank size.

That is why a small tank for Neon Tetras brings difficulty for them. It is because you have to deduct the number of decorations, live plants, and also some Neon Tetras in a smaller tank, which can be stressful for them.

To create a perfect tank for your pet neon tetras, go through our articles in detail:


The Neon Tetras are tropical peaceful, and schooling fishes. It means it is necessary to put them in a group for a comfortable stay in the aquarium. When kept together, they get support from one another, which makes them grow and endure better.

However, schooling does not mean keeping large numbers of Neon Tetras in a particular tank. The tank contains not only Neon Tetras but its tank mates, some live plants, decorations, lighting, etc. In such a condition, if you keep large numbers of Neon Tetras, its tank mates, decorations, etc., it will mentally pressurize your fish.

It automatically defines as overcrowding, which can put stress on Neon Tetras at a huge.

Here, note that the overcrowding and small tank size are not the same things. Overcrowding can happen in the smaller and larger tank sizes too. Whereas, the difficulty of smaller tank size occurs mostly in those tanks which cannot contain even the 10 gallons of water.

Aggressive Tank Mates

The Neon Tetras are peaceful, meaning non-aggressive fish species. They are easy-going fish with any tank mates unless their tank mates are aggressive.

However, if you fail to distinguish between aggressive and non-aggressive tankmates, your Neon Tetras will have to face many difficulties. The aggressive tank mates can put lots of stress on Neon Tetras. Later, the Neon Tetras seem to show an aggressive or attacking nature too.

Hence, a selection of aggressive tank mates can cause extreme stress to Neon Tetras.

Improper Feeding And Diet

The Neon Tetras belong to the category of an omnivore. Meaning, they prefer to eat both plants or vegetables and meat. Therefore, it is necessary to maintain a proper diet and feeding routine for them.

Like any other fish species, the Neon Tetras must eat some diet for their health benefits on time. If not, things can go differently. An unsuitable or unseemly diet (either less or more) at irregular feeding routine can put an improper nutritional intake in Neon Tetras.

It will not just build mental stress but physical weaknesses or nausea in your Neon Tetras.

You can learn best from our articles below:

Sickness And Injury

Apart from improper feeding of diet, the Neon Tetras can stress due to other sicknesses too. It happens due to the burden created by aggressive tank mates or by unmanaged water conditions.

A minor injury and sickness can lead Neon Tetras to stress more because of extreme pain and discomfort.

The common diseases that are seen on neon tetras are Growth on Neon Tetra’s Mouth, ich, and other diseases.

Insufficient Aquarium Decorations

When you bring Neon Tetras to the aquarium, note the fact that aquarium decorations play a significant role in comforting them. The aquarium decorations may include stone, driftwood, live plants, hiding spots, etc., which gives the presence of natural surroundings to the Neon Tetras.

An insufficient decoration in the aquarium makes the tank barren or make it look like a vessel filled with water only. There will be a lack of natural presence, which will create discomfort among Neon Tetras to adjust and shine. A discomfort and barren surrounding for Neon Tetras will mount stress on them.

What Are The Ways To Know If My Neon Tetras Are Stressed?

Whenever a human gets stressed, he can express it easily, either orally or in a written manner. But in the case of Neon Tetras, it is not possible.

However, there are certain things that you can see to ascertain if your Neon Tetras are stressed or not. Therefore, I have classified some of the symptoms that you can notice to determine stress in the Neon Tetras.

Behavioral Symptoms

Though the Neon Tetras are peaceful and quiet fishes, they display different kinds of changes in their behaviors if something is bothering them. Likewise, if you are in doubt about whether your Neon Tetras are stressing or not, then the primary thing you can notice is their behavioral patterns.

Hence, to determine the stress in Neon Tetras, you can visibly note some of the behavioral symptoms like:

Loss Of Appetite

The loss of appetite is one of the leading symptoms of stressful fish. The stressed Neon Tetras will not have their diet regularly.

There will be a high downfall in hunger and taste in the stressed Neon Tetras. Or, they might stop eating.

Unusual Swimming Style

The Neon Tetras are schooling fish, which swims in the same direction in the same manner. But most of the time, they cannot swim in a regular pattern due to stress. They unusually end up crashing at the bottom of the tank.

Such unusual swimming style of a Neon Tetra is easily identifiable as a stress symptom.

Tries To Hide

The Neon Tetras are active fishes. But their activeness gradually decreases if they are battling through stress.

The stressed Neon Tetras will start hiding during the stressing period. They mostly hide behind the plants and stones placed at the aquarium.

A stressed Neon Tetras hide in a particular area to stay away from everyone’s reach.

Sudden Movements

Though the Neon Tetras are schooling fish, yet at the stress time, you can note some of their sudden movements.

Generally, a stressful Neon Tetra makes a sudden move from one point to another point in the aquarium. Such swift is either too slow or too rapid. It seems like the Neon Tetra is finding a peaceful place by making sudden movements everywhere due to stress.

It looks like a sudden thing has hit on their body and mind, which is making them do such swift movements.

An Unexpected Aggression

The Neon Tetras are peaceful fishes. They get along with their tank mates without any difficulty, unless the tank mates are aggressive ones.

However, the stressed Neon Tetra tries attacking other tank mates suddenly. A high rise in mental stress can make them do that too. You can notice such aggressive nature of the stressed Neon Tetras in the tank undoubtedly.

So, a stressed Neon Tetra can get aggressive unexpectedly.

Stays At The Surface Area

The Neon Tetras battling through stress usually stays at the surface area of the tank. They do this to gasp the air as they get lower oxygen pressures while stressing.

You can notice the stressed Neon Tetra if it stays at the surface area most of the time for gasping air.

Physical Appearance Symptoms

The stress symptoms in Neon Tetras are not only up to their behaviors but are visible in their physical appearances too. There are some precise changes, which are noticeable due to the stress in Neon Tetras.

Some of the symptoms seen at the physical appearance of Neon Tetras are as follows:

Loss In Color

The normal Neon Tetras has an eye-catching red, silver, and blue body color. Such delightful colors put a charm to the aquarium.

However, a Neon Tetras suffering through stress slowly starts losing its body color. The color will gradually fade, and the Neon Tetra looks very dull.

The loss in the Neon Tetras’ body color is a clear indication of stress in them.

Visibility Of White Spots

Firstly, know that an unusual spot color in the Neon Tetra’s body is not a common thing. It occurs only if their body is suffering through any sicknesses.

Likewise, stressed Neon Tetras can get some white patches in their body. Generally, such white spots or patches in their body refers to itching, which can occur due to high-stress level.

Red Spots In The Fins

Usually, the red spots in the Neon Tetra’s fins occur if the water conditions are not accurate for them. And as we know, an incorrect water level can cause stress in Neon Tetras.

You can precisely see some red spots in the fins area of Neon Tetras, led by stress.

Therefore, these are various behavioral and physical appearance-related symptoms of stress in Neon Tetras. If you see any of the symptoms regularly, you immediately need to consult a vet.

What Are The Effects Of Stress In Neon Tetras?

Stress is not a good condition for any living creatures. For Neon Tetras, it can be even more painful as they cannot seek help then and there.

As humans, you may not immediately figure out the stress problem in your Neon Tetras unless you note some symptoms. Such stress is essential to regard and solve soon. Otherwise, your Neon Tetras can get through several difficulties.

Hence, some of the effects of stress in Neon Tetras are:

Impact On Mucus

Mucus is a barrier in the Neon Tetra’s body, which protects them from getting infected from various infections and bacteria.

In the body of the stressed Neon Tetras, the effectiveness of mucus is usually lesser than in the body of a fit Neon Tetra. Also, a high level of stress for an extended period can slowly eliminate the mucus from the Neon Tetra’s body.

Here, there will be an impact on mucus due to stress. Moreover, the body of the stressed Neon Tetra will not be able to battle against any infections and bacteria due to less effectiveness of mucus.

Damage In The Skin And Scales

The Neon Tetras has an eye-catching appearance that adds beauty to the aquarium. But there is a high chance of damages in the same fascinating and attractive skin of the Neon Tetras due to stress.

Sometimes, the stress caused by the sicknesses can get into the skin of the Neon Tetras. Such kind of stress can severely damage not just skin and scales but gills too if left untreated.

Weakens Immune System

As read before, the stress in Neon Tetras adversely affects their mental and physical health. Likewise, the stressed Neon Tetras generally drop their appetite, which leads them towards the consumption of a lesser diet.

In the same way, the stressed Neon Tetras slowly lose their body strength and power. It eventually makes their immune system poor and weak.

Not only this, the weak immune system of a stressed Neon Tetra can not fight against any infections and bacterias. It will later invite some severe sicknesses where your Neon Tetras couldn’t get proper strength to fight against them.

The stressed Neon Tetra can lead itself to life-threatening conditions, which is not the right thing. Thus, it is significant for you to identify if there exists any stress level in them and reduce and calm them down as soon as possible.

Points To Prevent And Reduce Stress In The Neon Tetras

I am sure you would not want your Neon Tetras to stress a lot where its life is at risk. Therefore, here are some points that can help your stressed Neon Tetras to get rid of it.

But before that, I would suggest you look for these measures carefully and better prevent your Neon Tetras from stress rather than curing it later. So, some of the points are:

  1. Arrange an aquarium thermometer and heater to ensure the water temperature precisely.
  2. Get a water test kit to mark the pH levels and water hardness in a correct manner.
  3. Change at least 20% to 25% of the water from the Neon Tetras tank to remove dirty water. Remember, you should gradually complete the whole changing process, without scarring and disturbing your fishes. Also, this process is suitable to perform once a week only.
  4. Avoid overcrowding the tank. Place an adequate number of Neon Tetras in a group with requisite decorations.
  5. Do not go for a tank that cannot even contain 10-gallon of water. If you are currently doing this, stop and opt for a bigger tank. Also, remember the rule of thumb while managing the tank: 1 inch of fish requires 1-gallon water.
  6. Select peaceful or non-aggressive tank mates for the Neon Tetras. If you are keeping the Neon Tetras with aggressive tank mates currently, separate them instantly.
  7. Manage a correct diet plan and mark high-quality flake as the main diet course for Neon Tetras. You can divide their diet and feed them twice a day, once in the morning and another in the evening.
  8. Ensure suitable decorations in the aquarium. Such decorations give the presence of natural surroundings to the Neon Tetras. But don’t overdo it.
  9. Examine the Neon Tetra’s skin to see if there is any color fading or white or red spots.

Some Frequently Asked Questions

Do The Neon Tetras Die Easily?

The Lifespan of Neon Tetra – How Long Does a Neon Tetra Live For?

Generally, the Neon Tetras has a lifespan of 8 to 10 years. However, if there is any imbalance in the water conditions in the aquarium, there is a high chance of building stress, infections, pain, etc., in them. It will eventually lead the Neon Tetras at a risk where their life expectancy gets uncertain.

What Are The Best Tank Mates To Choose For Neon Tetras?

The best tank mates that you can choose for Neon Tetras are:

  • Guppies
  • Corydoras Catfish
  • Cardinal Tetras
  • Mollies
  • Otocinclus Catfish
  • Zebra Danios etc.

How Many Neon Tetras Can I Put In A 10 Gallon Tank?

There is a general rule of thumb, which says 1 inch of fish requires 1 gallon of water. Here, the Neon Tetras grows up to 1.75 inches at a maximum. By the calculation, 10/1.75 is equal to 5.7, which approximately refer to 6 Neon Tetras.

But as the tank require some live plants in it, do not go for 6 Neon Tetras. A maximum of 5 will be sufficient.


The Neon Tetras are such a peaceful and eye-catching fish mostly preferred at present. It is because they are easy to look for and handle. However, while caring for them, many fish keepers can miss the stress factor, which is harmful.

Usually, the Neon Tetras stresses when they get constant intolerably forces that stake their survival. The stressed Neon Tetras must get help on time. If not, the consequences can be dreadful. As you own Neon Tetras, you should be accountable to them and treat them if you find any symptoms of stress.

In the end, I believe you will look after your Neon Tetras well and treat them if you find any stress symptoms. Also, I hope you got the answer to your ‘Are my Neon Tetras stressed?’ query. Lastly, keep the Neon Tetras well and see how better they thrive!

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