How Long Can Neon Tetras Live Without Food

Neon Tetra

I have always wondered how the Neon Tetras in our aquarium survive when we go away on our weeklong getaway trips. I never cared to ask until recently, when I heard my brother talking about these new automatic feeders, and I was all ears.

The main thing you need to keep in mind is that if there are no live plants or if the filters you are using are not of top quality, then Neon Tetras can live up to an average of a week. However, if the conditions of your fish tank are ideal for Neon Tetras, then they can survive for up to three weeks (read below for more information on ideal living conditions for Neon Tetras).

If you are in the same boat as me, and wondering how to keep your Neon Tetras alive while you are away for days or even weeks, I have just the information you need. Just keep reading!

Table of Contents

Fish Tank Conditions that are Most Favorable to Help Neon Tetras Survive While You Are Away

You may have heard at some point in your life that fish are the easiest pets to keep. However, this is not entirely true as fishkeeping entails a decent amount of maintenance from the fish keeper. 

This is also true when it comes to Neon Tetras, which generally requires a medium level of caregiving.  

Moreover, it is important to take note of the age of the fish since older fish are more tolerant of bad water quality, fluctuations in temperature, etc., and other factors regarding your fish tank before you plan that next getaway trip!

Water Quality Parameters
The most important thing to remember is, as long as the water quality of your fish tank is good, there is a better chance that your Neon Tetras will survive the time that you are away. Hence, if possible, make sure to perform a water change of 50%-70% the day before you leave. Otherwise, clean the filters a few days before you leave, which will allow the water to restore the beneficial bacteria in the fish tank in the meantime. 

Since Neon Tetras are freshwater fish, the ideal pH level for them is 6-6.5. It is also helpful to remember that for every Neon Tetra in your tank, 1 gallon of water is required for them to live a healthy life!

An Abundance of Live Plants

Neon Tetras are fish that thrive on living in densely planted fish tanks since they use it as hiding spots to get away from the rest of the fish. Hence, ensuring that there is no dearth of live plants in the fish tank is of utmost importance.

Moreover, when you are away from home, your Neon Tetras will rely on live plants as the main source of food. Therefore, making sure that your fish tank has an abundance of live plants should be of top priority!

Furthermore, to ensure that your live plants do not die in the time that you are away, you need to know what type of plants you have. If they are low-tech plants like Java Fern, Anubias, etc., that do not require excessive nurturing, then they need sunlight or LED lights for a minimum of 5 hours or a maximum of 8-10 hours to grow and stay healthy. Note: A lack of light means that the plants will not grow, if there is excessive light then algae growth will be accelerated, which will increase tank pollution. 

However, if they are high-tech plants, like carpeting plants (Monte Carlo, Hemianthus, etc.), then inputting CO2 into the tank is necessary, on top of providing them with sufficient light. Therefore, you may want to look into buying a CO2 canister or NPK fertilizers!

Filter Maintenance

As mentioned earlier, you need to make note of changing the filter a few days before you leave your fish tank. 

It is necessary for the water in the aquarium to keep circulating. As long as the water is moving, there will be surface tension, hence, causing there to be an exchange of gases. If there is no exchange of gases, it might starve your Neon Tetras of oxygen. 

You can also pair an air pump with an air stone to release oxygen bubbles in the water, in case the quality of the filter is compromised after a few weeks of leaving the Neon Tetras on their own!

Hence, make sure that your filters are working, and cleaned a few days before you leave!

Setting the Right Temperature 

Since Neon Tetras originate from the western and northern Amazon basin and are tropical fish, the ideal temperature for them is around 27 degrees Celsius.

Moreover, temperature fluctuations (especially lower temperatures), may cause them to get diseases like Ich or White Spot Disease. Although, Ich is curable naturally by increasing the temperature of your fish tank to 30 degrees for up to 3 days. Furthermore, for an even speedier recovery, you can add 1 tbsp of aquarium salt for every 3 gallons of water.

However, not getting your Neon Tetras sick in the first place would be ideal, wouldn’t it?

Alternative Solutions

Fish Sitters
When it comes to leaving your fish in the hands of someone else like a neighbor, a friend, or a relative, you may want to make them aware of exactly what they need to do. Make sure that you leave them clear instructions as to how many times they need to feed the fish.

Moreover, since it is better if you take care of the maintenance of the fish tank before you leave, simply letting the fish sitter know when to feed the fish should suffice. I would recommend that feeding the fish once every 2 or 3 days is more than enough!

Automatic Feeders
As for automatic feeders, you will need to be a bit careful. If you have Neon Tetra fry then it is more likely that they will require feeding in about 3 days to survive. However, if you have adult Neon Tetras, then leaving them to survive on plants is the best option!

Hence, if you have Neon Tetra fry, use a battery or electrical automatic feeder, which will expel food into the fish tank at desired times. Of course, if you are away and think there might be a power outage, you can always opt for a battery-operated automatic feeder!

Weekend Feeders
Weekend feeders are condensed fish food, which will last in the water for about 3 days. Hence, if you are taking a short trip away from home, then weekend feeders should do the trick! 

What You Need to Know About Neon Tetras

How Often Do They Require Feeding?

As a good rule of thumb, you can feed your Neon Tetras once a day but not more than twice a day. However, if your tank has enough live plants, then your adult Neon Tetras can simply feed off them. Hence, you can feed them once every 2-3 days and they should be just as healthy!

Their Ideal Living Conditions

Neon Tetras are fish that require specific living conditions for them to live as healthy fish. Although, they are not as fragile as they may seem!

It is important to note that since they are tropical fish, they require a temperature of about 27 degrees Celsius. They also need planted tanks in order to control their stress levels because they like hiding out in their little nooks from time to time.

You also need to remember to provide them with 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness, so that they can get their rest since too much light exposure increases their stress levels. Moreover, since Neon Tetras are schooling fish, they enjoy being in groups of at least 15-20. However, make sure that each individual Neon Tetra gets 1 gallon of water so that they still get their space.

The above information is extremely significant in maintaining Neon Tetras’ mental health as they can easily die from high levels of stress! 

Neon Tetras also feed on dead organic materials, like bloodworms, Tubifex worms, Daphnia worms, etc. in the form of flakes or micro pellets.  

Symptoms of an Unhealthy Neon Tetra

In the end, after you have returned home to your Neon Tetras, there are some quick ways of identifying whether they are healthy or not. 

For instance, if they are not feeling well they will lay low at the bottom of the tank. On the other hand, if they do not have enough oxygen then they tend to come up to the water’s surface for air.

Final Words

In conclusion, if you have Neon Tetra fry then you should remember that they would not make it past day 3 without food. However, if you have adult Neon Tetra then as long as live plants are abundant in your fish tank, they will be healthy and happy for a good few weeks!

Moreover, if you follow through with the necessary water quality parameters, perform the regular filter maintenance, place a good amount of live plants in the tank, set the tank at the desired temperature, and arrange for sitters or automatic feeders, then you are good to go! 

Enjoy your trip and your Neon Tetras will see you soon!

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