The Best Water Parameters For Neon Tetras In The Tank

Best Water Parameters For Neon Tetras

Are you confused about the ideal water parameters for Neon Tetras in the tank? Is it swirling your head around worrying about the water quality they need?

Water quality is the first and foremost priority to care about in Neon Tetra tank; good water quality ensures neon tetras’ health and safety present in the aquarium. They have an ideal temperature, pH, hardness, and alkalinity parameters and will die if those parameters are not met.

Maintaining good quality is a challenge for every fishkeeper. This article will help you understand the basics of water parameters need for Neon Tetras.

About Neon Tetras: Water Parameters In The Wild

Before deciding anything, you ought to know the climate Neon Tetras originally belong to.

Neon Tetras are tropical fish native to the Amazon Basin of South America; that’s why they have specific water quality requirements.

These tetras are pretty selective about water in their habitat; in the wild, they live in warm acidic water with lots of vegetation.

Neon Tetras are blackwater fish with decayed plants giving the water its tea-like color.

The water they naturally live in, are free from muds and slits, so there is no chance they can survive in muddy water.

Water Parameters For Neon Tetras In An Aquarium

Neon Tetras are very picky about the water in the tank. They have some basic needs to meet to survive in captivity.


If you are new in fish keeping, then you need to know how important temperature can be. Neon tetras react negatively towards temperature change as well as cannot handle different temperatures from the wild.

As we know, neon tetras, being tropical fish, need ideal temperature that mimics their native environment.

The room temperature is generally 72°F to 74°F, while neon tetras have an ideal temperature of 72 to 81°F. This, the ideal temperature, is achieved with the help of a heater. In this case, installing a water heater in your tank is more suitable.

And if you are planning things for a breeding tank, then you should remember to set the temperature at 75°-76°F.

I would suggest AQQA Mini Submersible Aquarium Heater as one of the best ones in market for tetras.


Fish is the main producer of ammonia in the water, while that same ammonia is toxic to fish present in the tank.

Neon Tetras don’t prefer any percentage of ammonia in the tank. Ammonia burns their gills chemically and can result in death eventually. That’s why the ammonia level should always be very low or zero to keep your tetras safe.

That’s when the role of beneficial bacteria and action of the nitrogen cycle comes in. The beneficial bacteria convert the toxic ammonia into essential compounds for plants.


The case with Nitrite is the same as ammonia in the Tetra Tank. These small tetras do not tolerate any hint of this unstable compound in the tank.

The nitrite level is always kept zero in the Neon Tetra Tank for the well-being of these fish. This compound is immediately converted into nitrate for the betterment of the tank.

The subtle change in the water chemistry with ammonia and nitrite only brings unwanted chaos to the tank. Nitrite, too, is very toxic to these fish leading to the permanent damages to death.


Unlike ammonia and nitrite, the limited amount of Nitrate is suitable for the Tetra tank.

Less 20 ppm (parts per millions) of Nitrate in the tank is suitable for the Neon Tetras. Any more than that can cause serious issues to the fish as well as other inhabitants of the tank.

Nitrate is, thus, produced when the nitrogen cycle is complete, and ammonia is finally converted. The beneficial bacteria play the main role in all this process.

pH Level

Neon Tetras are native to soft, slightly acidic water. These pressurize the owner to mimic the same environment in the tank as well.

The pH 5.5 to 6.2 is best for the Neon Tetras kept in the captivity; however, they can adjust anywhere between 5.5 to 6.8. Here is how you can increase the pH of your freshwater aquarium.

Accordingly, for breeding purposes, they need a pH within 6.5.  More than this can harm and affect the reproductive process.

A well-planted tetra tank also has plants that do not do well with the increased acidity of the water. They, too, prefer a stable environment, and the slight change in the acidity can bring problems for tetras.


Alkalinity is another cause you should keep in mind while setting up a Tetra Tank. It is the presence of Carbonate or bicarbonates in the aquarium water.

The alkali level 1- 2 dKH or 17.8 to 35.5 ppm (parts per million) is best for the Neon Tetras.

General Hardness

The case with general hardness is mostly similar to alkalinity but contradict in many terms as well.

Alkalinity is the measure of carbonates and bicarbonates presence, whereas general hardness is the measure of to check calcium and magnesium level present in the water.

The general hardness required for the Tetra tank is always less than 10 dGH, or in other terms, less than 166.7 ppm (parts per million). 

If your tank has high-grade water, then these tetras will adjust in medium-hard water though they like soft water.

What Happens When The Tank Does Not Have Right Water Parameters?

A slight change in the temperature causes stress to the Neon Tetras and ends up killing them. Neon Tetras cannot handle cold water. they die off soon. However, it is different for high temperatures.

In case of high temperature, neon tetra starts feeding off actively. This eventually leads to its death after a while.

The same is the case with unclear chaotic water as neon tetras prefer clean and peaceful water. The floating pollutants hinder the swimming around, which in turn stresses neon tetras as they prefer to swim.

Ammonia increment creates high toxicity in the water, and the poisonous water kills the tetras present in the tank.

Along with all these, changes in pH or even consistent fluctuation can kill the fish eventually.

Additionally, Neon Tetras can handle themselves in hard water for a while, but long exposure affects their life spans negatively.

How To Maintain Optimal Water Parameters In The Tank?

It is quite easy to keep up with the water quality of a neon tetra tank if you properly pay attention. If you give 30 minutes a day to your Tetra tank, then you will have beautiful and healthy fish.

Aquarium Set-Up

It is established that Neon Tetras are delicate; the components in the aquarium can also harm them unknowingly.

It is never right to keep ornaments from your yard; Random ornaments bring algae and other parasites along with them in the tank. It is necessary to select and buy sterilized ornaments from specific shops.

Water Test

A test kit that checks the pH, alkalinity, nitrate, nitrite and ammonia level helps to keep up the aquarium. It helps to keep up the tetra tank initially and detect the problem in the water quality later.

You can use API Aquarium Test Kit, which is easily available in Amazon store.

Well-Planted Aquarium

The live plants present in the tank helps to clear the little bio-load Neon Tetras to produce. They help to clean the tank, offer oxygen, and hiding space to the fish.

Neon Tetras love Java Fern, Java Moss, and many other plants like Ludwiga Repends.


Using a heater or two always guarantees the ideal temperature maintenance in the tetra tank. It helps you, the owner, to keep up with the basic need of your Neon tetras.


Unclear and toxic water brings health issues upon the fish. That’s why filtration plays the main role in their survival.

Live plants help to clean the water from pollutants, while the filter can keep up with aeration and agitation.

Filtration also offers a flow rate that gives neon tetras a native feeling like the wild.

I would suggest Tetra Decorative ReptoFilter, Terrarium Filtration.

What Type Of Filtration Do Neon Tetras Prefer?

Neon Tetras don’t need a filter, although having one can help them a lot. An internal filter, with all three media, is an extra blessing for Neon Tetras.

A filter with a slow-flow rate, 4 gallons per hour, is a perfect choice for the Tetra tank.

Beneficial Bacteria

These bacteria, residing in the filter media, help you to get rid of ammonia present in the aquarium. They convert the ammonia into nitrite, and then finally into nitrate, which is later consumed during plants’ metabolism.

Water Softener

As we know, Neon Tetras prefer soft water, and it is necessary to keep it that way.

If you want to soften the hard one, then you have to take minerals out. The natural water softener, found in the pet shop, can help you with that.

Sera Super peat is one of the best water softeners for the tank as well as favorable for tetras.

You can apply another method, which includes directly using demineralized water in the tetra tank.


In conclusion, if you want to pet Neon Tetras in the tank, then it is vital to meet every single water parameters. Neon Tetras are sensitive fish that can develop health issues over a slight change in the aquarium. They are attractive, ideal, and simple fish for beginners and their demands are very simple to meet with little attention. 

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