Do Neon Tetras Need Heater For Survival?

neon tetras need heater to survive

Are you planning on getting Neon tetras for your aquarium? And, Are you wondering whether neon tetras need a heater in neon tetra tank or not?

Neon tetras survive only in a densely planted tank with little light and temperature that resembles tropical conditions. Therefore, the heater is the most essential part of the survival of Neon Tetra. 

So, if you have wondered about the necessity of a heater in your neon tetra tank, then this article gives you answer to the most probable questions.

Neon Tetras

Neon Tetras are native to Blackwater and Clearwater streams in the Amazon Basin of South America. That’s why the ideal temperature for Neon Tetras is between 72 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit.

Scientific NameParacheirodon innesi
Common NamesNeon Fish
Origin / HabitatSouth America - is one of the most imported freshwater fish species.
Color FormThese fish have a bright streak of red coloration towards its tail and a bright blue lining in its body.
Adult SizeUp to 1.5 inches (4 cm)
Lifespan5 - 8 years
Fish Behavior/TemperamentPeaceful and active.
Water Temperature69°F - 79°F (21°C - 26°C)
Water Hardness1° to 10° dH
Water pH5 - 7.5
Water MovementIt prefers a steady current but not too strong. If there are areas on the aquarium for them to rest against the current, they love the flow.
LightingsRequires the lights to be on at least 8-11 hours a day. For ease by a mechanical/automatic timer switch to remove the manual on-off of lights.
Tank Region Mostly middle to bottom.
TankmatesMany, given their peaceful nature. Avoid keeping with tropical fish large enough to eat them.
Diet and FoodWill go after flakes, live and freeze-dried foods.
Gender DifferenceThe Male is usually smaller than a female of the same age.
Breeding DifficultiesThey are difficult to breed in the home aquarium. They prefer slightly acidic and soft water around 77 degrees F (source)
Tank SetupFreshwater[Planted]
DiseaseHemorrhagic Septicemia, Pop-Eye, Gill Parasites, Fish Fungus / Fungal Infection, Hole In The Head, Columnaris, Furunculosis, Fish Lice, etc. Learn more about:- Tetra Fish Disease and Treatment.
Aquarium Size10 gallons or larger.

Aquarium Heater

An aquarium heater is a simple device added to a tank to keep water warm and suitable for inhabited fish. The temperature is adjusted based on fish kept in the aquarium; the indoor regulator in this device helps to keep the water warm through encompassing air.

Do Neon Tetras Need a Heater?

Yes, Neon Tetras need a heater in the tank. A heater maintains the optimal temperature consistently in the tank; which in turn helps to increase Neon tetra’s lifespan in captivity.

Neon tetras are tropical fish, they undoubtedly need lukewarm water in the aquarium.

As we know Neon Tetras react negatively to cold water; so it is always a wise decision to keep the water slightly too warm than slightly cold.

The answer to the above question also depends upon the placement of the aquarium and its surrounding temperature; you’ll not need a heater for your Neon Tetra Tank for a certain period if the room temperature can be maintained as a tropical climate.

But, if you want a long-term solution for your aquarium heat management, getting a heater is the best decision you’ll ever make for your Neon Tetra Tank.

Survival of Neon Tetras Without Heater: Possible or not?

If we had talked about Coldwater fish, then the answer would have been different; but Neon Tetras are warm-water fish with a specific temperature for an aquarium, so the answer will be No for the above question in the context of Neon Tetras.

No, Neon Tetras cannot survive in the absence of a heater; they develop diseases like Fin rot, etc.

Read Full Article on tetra fish disease and treatment.

As mentioned above, the ideal temperature for Neon tetras is between 72 to 78 °F, and most of the time the normal room temperature is between 72°F to 74°F making the probability of survival of Neon Tetras nearly zero.

Another stress of the owner about changing the water of the tank continuously subsides with the use of a heater.

How does Temperature Change Affect your Neon Tetras?

As we know Neon Tetras are tropical fish and their ideal temperature; a slight change in the temperature can cause a huge impact on their health.

Neon Tetras can not handle cold water; the low temperature stresses the Neon Tetras and resulting death after a while.

The case with high temperature is not that different from the case with low temperature; In case of high temperature, these tetras first display increased activity and food consumption, as well as extreme color loss which eventually results in the death of your Neon Tetras after few days.

So, the survival of your Neon Tetras depends upon the consistency that’s why the heater needs to keep up the ideal temperature all the time.

What Are The Different Types of Heater Used In A Tank?

Basically, there are five types of the heater based on their place in the tank and the way they function. These are namely:

Hanging/Immersible Heaters:

These heaters hang from the top of an aquarium and sit on the water, basically, work for freshwater. A glass tube that sits on water encloses the heating element. They are not very efficient and reliable.

Submersible Heaters

Submersible heaters submerge into the water of an aquarium. These heaters are the most reliable and efficient. They are a long slender tube; these attach to the inner wall of the aquarium with the help of suction cups.

Substrate Heaters

These heaters are boon for the planted aquarium. These heaters come with a flexible cable situated on the surface of the tank under gravel, or sand.

These are not common these days as these are expensive and not effective for fish.

In-line Heaters

In-line Heater is the most expensive type of heater. The inline heater is placed between the sump and filter, thus, heating the fluid passing through the device. However, they heat the aquarium for immediate use only. In addition to this, it has most of the components outside the tank.

Filter Heaters

These heaters are the combined form of heater and filter. They are merged for efficient use, although, they can’t heat water properly. These heaters might seem appealing but it is not as reliable as it sounds.

The Heater Wattage

Selecting a heater depends upon the heater wattage it provides to the aquarium. So, let’s make it clear through the thumb rule for the heater wattage.

The basic thumb rule for the heater wattage is to use between 2.5 watts -5 watts per gallon water in the tank. For instance, if you are planning to get an aquarium with a capacity of 10 gallons, then go for a heater with 30-50 watts.

When the atmospheric temperature of the room with an aquarium gets colder than normal, your 3-5 watts heater may not give enough heat for the survival of the fish. Hence, the aquarium should be kept in a room with a constant temperature.

Tank Size Required Heater Wattage Recommended Number of Heater Product Link
5 Gallon / 20 Liter 25 W 1 X 25 W buy amazon
10 Gallon / 40 Liter 50 W 1 X 50 W buy amazon
20 Gallon / 80 Liter 100 W 1 X 100 w buy amazon
25 Gallon / 95 Liter 125 W 2 X 50 W buy amazon
40 Gallon / 150 Liter 200 W 2 X 100 W buy amazon
50 Gallon / 190 Liter 250 W 2 X 100 W buy amazon
65 Gallon / 250 Liter 400 W 2 X 200 W buy amazon
75 Gallon / 285 Liter 600 W 2 X 300 W buy amazon

With this chart, you will be able to maintain your tank’s water temperature up to 80 °F (27 °C).

Since I have been using Eheim Jager aquarium heater (on, which has a thermostat for all my tanks, I recommend you to buy this product. Heaters from Eheim are very reliable, they have never failed me.

What Type of Heater is Suitable for Neon Tetras?

From the above context, we can easily see, we have various types of a heater to choose from. And the survival of fish depends upon the heater which in turn increases the pressure to choose the right one for your desired aquarium and its fish.

Submersible type of heaters is suitable for the aquarium with Neon Tetras; they have a built-in low voltage thermostat that automatically maintains the ideal temperature of an aquarium.

These submersible heaters are not only easily concealable behind various ornaments of an aquarium but also shows have indicator lights to show whether the heater is on or off.

Are Two Heaters Essential for Neon Tetras?

The second set of heater always guarantees the well-being of your fish even when the first one fails to work.

Choosing to keep two heaters in an aquarium is undeniably your choice, there is no compulsion but it will be one of the best things you put your money on. However, two heaters in an aquarium assure the stable temperature and safety of your Neon tetras.

All you have to is place two heaters on the opposite end of the aquarium, you will see the difference and consistency in the temperature of the water in the aquarium.

This even helps you during your trip days; the backup one will handle the complications with the other one in your absence.

The Connection between Heater, Filter, and Neon Tetras.

So this is how it works: the heater heats the water slowly around it. And the filter circulates the heated water to every nooks and corner of the aquarium; This process makes favorable temperature for Neon Tetras.

The connection of the filter and the heater does not end there; apparently, the filter clears out the pollution in the water making it easier for the heater to heat the water. And, the beneficial bacteria present in the filter flourish in the proper heat.

The survival rate of Neon Tetras is higher in the aquarium with a pre-installed heater and filter working side by side.

Also Read:

  1. Water Parameters for Tetra Fish: Stable Water Condition
  2. Do Neon Tetras Need Filter To Survive?

Temperature Change and Maintenance

How to Determine if The Heater is Working or not?

Indicator light

The indicator light generally indicates whether the heater is on or not; it properly shows the working status of your heater in the tank.


Sometimes you can use your clean hand to decide whether the heater is warming up the water or not. You can feel the change in temperature immediately; that’s when you can find if the attached temperature is giving a correct reading or not.

Movement of Water

We can pass the light through the water with the help of a flashlight; the light illuminates the area around the heater. The blurry area shows the movement of water near the heater that indicates it is working.

Changing the water

We can also change the water and let it heat for a while; If the heating period differs from the ideal heating period, then you can conclude your device is failing.


We need to be cautious and attentive with the warmth of the water so that you’ll be the first one to know when the heater fails.

Use of Thermometer

We can monitor the temperature of the water in a tank with a help of the attached thermometer.

Use of a Heater

A good quality heater helps to keep the temperature consistent and stable; it maintains the ideal temperature all the time.

Constant Water Level

A slight change in the required water level can cause fluctuation in the temperature. Water tends to evaporate even in the closed system. So, we should keep adding an exact amount of water in the aquarium to keep the water level checked.


The placement of the aquarium affects the functioning of devices in it; an aquarium near sunlight heats up quickly; and it tends to cool off quickly near a fan or a chilly place. This change in temperature can overwhelm the thermostat questioning the survival chance of the fish.


In conclusion, you can clearly understand the importance of heater in the survival of Neon tetras in captivity. If you follow the procedure properly, then you can get a beautiful aquarium with healthy neon tetras floating gracefully.

Also Read: Maintain Tetra Fish Tank Temperature Without Heater | Power Outage

Related Article

  1. How Many Neon Tetras in a 10-gallon tank
  2. Why Is My Neon Tetra Not Eating? – Here Is What You Can Do
  3. The Lifespan of Neon Tetra – How Long Does a Neon Tetra Live For?
  4. Why Is My Neon Tetra Not Eating? – Here Is What You Can Do

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