Neon Tetra Lifespan | 10 Ways To Help Your Neon Tetras Live Longer

Lifespan of Neon Tetra

You might have heard about the Neon Tetra, also known as Paracheirodon innesi, haven’t you? These fish are one of the most famous and beautiful types of species due to their vivid colors. Neon Tetras are easy to care for as these fish are peaceful beings with energetic temperaments. But do you know about the Lifespan of the Neon Tetra? Let’s talk about it, shall we?

How Long Do Neon Tetra Fish Live?
Ans: 2 to 5 Years in Captivity and up to 10 years in the wild.

The lifespan of neon tetras varies according to the environment they are in. In the wild, you will find them living happily for up to 10 years with nearly no issues whatsoever. However, this automatically shortens by 2 to 5 years when you bring neon tetras into the aquarium in captivity.

You can still make them live for 10 years if you manage to maintain optimal water parameters and diet neon tetras ask for.

Likewise, a school of 6 neon tetras tends to live longer together in tank size 10 gallons or more whereas alone neon tetra will die slowly due to loneliness and stress.

In this article, I will also share some of the best tips to improve the longevity of the lifespan of your fish. Before we start, let’s review the basic background of the Neon Tetra.

Neon Tetra Overview

Scientific name: Paracheirodon innesi
Common Names: Neon tetra, neon fish
Origin: Southern Colombia, Western Brazil, Eastern Peru
Family: Characidae
Adult Size: 1-1.5 inches
Behavior: Peaceful and Schooling
Tank Size: at least 10-Gallons
Diet: Food Pallets, Food Flakes, Brine Shrimps, Larva (Omnivore)
Breeding: Egg Scatter
Ease of breeding: Easy
Substrate Type: Dark Preferable, Any
Lightings: Low to Medium (Need of complete Darkness for reproduction)
pH: 5.5-7.5
Water Hardness: 2dGH to 10 dGH
Water Movement: Moderate
Temperature: 74-82 °F
Breeding Temperature: 82 °F
Care: Easy


How Long Does A Neon Tetra Live For?

When you get a fish to make your home aquarium beautiful and accompany you, you want them to stay a little longer.

But will they live with you for your whole life? Not really, and we all know it, fish won’t live that long but they will definitely accompany you for a while.

So, let’s talk about the period your neon tetras will stay with you blessing your aquarium with their presence.

Also, let us not forget to talk about the lifespan of neon tetra in the wild. These two might vary, so don’t get shocked.

Lifespan Of Neon Tetra In The Wild

Most living beings live longer and happily in their natural habitat. People often contemplate that they can control their actions and make them live longer in captivity.

But trust me, it is barely right and most of the time, they end up killing them. Fish are no different and neon tetra are overly sensitive in this matter.

Well, the average lifespan of neon tetras is 10 years in the wild. And there are reports that show they have lived even longer when they are left undisturbed and unbothered in their home.

Lifespan Of Neon Tetra In The Tank

You might already know the truth behind the decrement of the lifespan of neon tetra in the tank compared to the wild.

When they are within their own territory, living the best life, these neon tetras will happily live for 10 years or even more in the wild. However, this shortens to 5 to 8 years due to various factors in captivity.

I know you have a pure intention and doing everything you can to make sure your neon tetra has a longer lifespan.

But nothing compares to the home, now does it? Every living being grows and glows differently when they are in their natural habitat and safe space.

Don’t worry and don’t be sad about the shorter lifespan of neon tetra in the tank. There are few things even human beings cannot control.

However, neon tetras will live up to 10 years if you are careful and attentive enough about their diet, water parameters, and few other tank conditions. You can learn more about The Best Water Parameters For Neon Tetras In The Tank here.

Factors That Will Determine The Lifespan Of Neon Tetra

From water parameters to company, there is a list of things that will affect the time you will have neon tetras in your tank.

And if you want to have them for long, you need to look at these things carefully and take the necessary steps for rest.

Let me make it easier for you by listing all the things that impact the lifespan of your neon tetras:

  1. Tank size
  2. Temperature
  3. Loneliness
  4. Stress
  5. Water parameters
  6. Diet
  7. Oxygen supply
  8. Tankmates
  9. School size
  10. Disease

10 Ways To Help Your Neon Tetras Live Longer: Improving The Longevity Of Neon Tetra 101

Now that you know about the average lifespan of the Neon Tetra and factors that might affect it, you must know how to keep them healthy and ultimately increase their average lifespan.

Even though the fish are very easy to care for, you must not be careless at all. I have mentioned some of the useful tips down below. I’m sure it will be helpful for you.

So, with no further ado, let’s begin.

1. Find the Best Neon Tetra Genetics

If you are a true hobbyist in Neon Tetra fish keeping, the first and foremost step is you must opt for the fish with good genetics. I mean, why would you risk your time and money? Isn’t it?

In other words, I would suggest you buy your Neon Tetra from an experienced breeder or a reputed fish store that focuses on breeding good genetic fish.

However, some fish-keeping hobbyists claim that the fish-store Neon Tetras live comparatively less.

So, you can buy your fish directly from an experienced fish breeder. It will prove to be the best start for you to improve the lifespan of your Neon Tetra.

2. Give Your Food Loving Neon Tetra A Proper Balanced Diet

Just like you require a balanced diet in your healthy living, your fish requires the same as well. But, do you know which food can be the best for your Neon Tetras?

You may already know that wild Neon Tetra fish are Omnivores. They consume both vegetations and live beings.

Neon Tetra usually consumes algae, insect larvae, and extremely small invertebrates. I have also written an article on

The tank-kept Neon Tetra would love all types of food like flakes/ pellets, live (Daphnia, Bloodworms, Brine Shrimp, Tubifex, etc.), and frozen food.

However, ready-made packaged food contains artificial ingredients and lots of chemicals. So, you can make homemade food for your fish as well. Learn more about How To Prepare Best Homemade Neon Tetra Food – DIY Fish Food

But remember, overfeeding isn’t right because it will cause severe health problems and hence you need to keep their food intake in check.

It is best to feed twice a day to the younger ones but just enough to engage them for 3 minutes.

As they get older, you can reduce feeding only once a day. I have written an article on How To Feed Tetra Fish Fry Properly this will help you.

3. Check And Maintain The Tank Conditions

Just like all other fishes, Neon Tetras are sensitive and fragile beings as well. The tank must match their natural environment because the fish need to adapt very well.

A newly cycled tank is not suitable for your fish as slight changes in the water can even kill them.

So, you must understand that a pre-established, matured tank is the best option for your fish.

4. Keep the Right Size and Quantity Of Neon Tetras: A Ideal School Of Neon Tetra

Even if Neon Tetras are community fish and can live with a larger group, the fish require adequate space for themselves.

An uncomfortable environment leads them to stress and depression. So, you must be fully aware.

The size of the tank and the quantity of the water simply depends upon the total number of the Neon Tetra that you will keep, though.

The smallest tank size for a school of neon tetras 10 gallons of water. Here are an article about How Many Neon Tetras in a 10-gallon tank.

However, if you intend to keep a minimum of 15 Neon Tetras together, then you must keep them in at least 20 gallons of water.

It means that the community tank should at least be 50 cm (20 inches) long.

I have also written an article on Best Tank Size For Tetra Fish? Take a look!!

5. Maintain Water Parameters According To The Need Of Neon Tetra

Remember that Neon Tetras are sensitive. These fish need extra care in the water parameters as slight changes will be harmful to their health.

The ideal water temperature for the Neon Tetra is between 71 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Furthermore, the PH level should be between 6.0 and 7.0.

The Neon Tetra fish prefer soft water (less than 10 DGH) yet slightly acidic water.

Also. Neon Tetras can’t live in tap water as it may contain excessive salt. However, one or two tablespoons of salt will not cause any harm to the fish.

You can keep a water heater and an API master test kit along with a thermometer to maintain and check the water temperature as well as water parameters every time.

Hitop Submersible Adjustable Aquarium Heater is your go-to heater when it comes to neon tetra tanks.

Also, an automatic proper filtration system to prevent beneficial bacteria and to clean the water is the best idea for your neon tetra tank.

You can go for AquaClear Fish Tank Filter for your neon tetra tank, you won’t regret it.

Read Full Article On:

Water Parameters for Tetra Fish: Stable Water Condition

Are Tetras Hardy Fish? – Different Parameter Levels

6. Decorate and Keep Substrates In Your Aquarium

Like I said earlier, the tank must replicate its natural environment. The Neon Tetra needs enough darkness and adequate areas to hide/rest in, so make sure the tank is full of plants.

The use of driftwoods is the best option for the tank as it will create enough darkness and shades for your fish.

You should also consider putting a dark-colored substrate ADA Aquasoil Amazonia to be precise for the tank because Neon Tetras love a darker environment.

You might like to read a detailed article on Best Aquarium Substrate For Neon Tetra.

7. Provide a Good Lighting System

Even though Neon Tetra prefers a darker environment, they prefer subdued lighting in their tank for 12 to 14 hours a day because it helps the fish maintain circadian rhythm.

Furthermore, the fish look excellently glorious and radiant in the black light as well. NICREW Classic LED Aquarium Light is an ideal light for the tank with neon tetras.

In short, providing the fish with suitable water parameters and a homely environment can be the best way to make the fish happier and stress-free.

8. Know The Best Tank Mates for the Neon Tetra: Best Mates Of Neon Tetra

You already know that Neon Tetras are peaceful beings and can live with a larger group of fish.

These are community fish, and keeping a school of them will add more vividness to your tank.

But, do you know which other types of species are the best suitable tankmates for your fish?

Remember that Neon Tetras are smaller in size (1-3 inches), so avoid larger and aggressive fish like Betta Splendens, Angelfish, and Cichlids.

I have written an article about Neon Tetras And Betta Fish: Can You Keep Them Together? – Here Is How. Read it once.

Some ideal tankmates for your Neon Tetra fish are Cardinal Tetras, Gouramis (except Giant, Pearl, and Opaline), Guppies, Barbs, Mollies, Small Catfish (Cory), American Dwarf Frogs, and Dwarf Cichlids, etc. Learn more about Neon Tetras And African Dwarf Frogs: Can I Keep Them Together?

You might like to read about Can Neon Tetra and Goldfish Live Together? – Are They Good Tank Mates?

9. Follow Systematic Breeding Process

The breeding process of the Neon Tetra is not quite easy as you think. I would not recommend you to experiment with the breeding of the fish if you are a beginner in the fishkeeping world.

It isn’t impossible if you are patient enough, though. If you do not give enough care and attention during the breeding period of neon tetras, it will result in the death of these tetras.

Here is what you need to do, give them a proper breeding environment and take proper care of the fry once they hatch.

Let me help you here, I have also written an article How To Breed Neon Tetras – A Complete Step By Step Guide. Have a look, I promise this will help you even if you are new to fish keeping.

A single wrong step can make you lose your healthy and happy neon tetra during the breeding phase. I am not scaring you, just hinting you to be careful!!

Also Read: How To Feed Tetra Fish Fry Properly | Dos and Don’ts With Alternative Fry Food

10. Figure out the Neon Tetra Disease and Safety Precautions

The Neon Tetra was the first one to get the disease, hence the name. However, this disease can attack other Tetras and other fish species as well. The Neon Tetra disease is fatal, and there is no cure found to date.

Some of the most common symptoms of the disease are body discoloration of the Neon Tetra, swimming bladder problems, Cysts (close sac-like structure within a tissue) development in their stomachs, shrink, and loss of the stomach mass, etc.

The parasite starts to decay the muscles in and out once it reaches the intestines of the fish.  As the disease has no cure, the death of your fish is the only end.

It usually takes a week for the Neon Tetra to die, but it might even extend to a month or so depending upon how fast the parasite is spreading inside them.

If any of the Neon Tetra in your tank has caught the disease, separate it immediately, so that the other fish remain safe.

It is true when people say that Prevention is better than cure. To prevent your Neon Tetra from getting the disease, you must pay extra attention to the water conditions and the dietary balance of the fish.

Give proper guidance and care to your Neon Tetra so the fish won’t have to face stress or depression, and finally, catch the disease.

Maintaining good health is necessary as it automatically increases the chance of living longer.

Read Full Article On Tetra Fish Diseases and Treatments

Can Neon Tetra Die Easily?

Neon tetras are quite sensitive and very fragile when it comes to their will to stay alive. You might think these fish will die off soon if you make any mistake.

But you are wrong here. They might be sensitive to few things in the tank but are quite hardy when it comes to adjusting a huge range of water.

This is what happens when they are actually on the verge of death. Neon tetras will be having a hard time adjusting to the water and the parameters in the aquarium might not be intact.

People often blame something else when they find their dear fish dead or sick. However, most of the time the main culprit is oneself.

They can die pretty quickly when there is even the slightest change in the water parameters. And consistent fluctuation in the water temperature works like poison for these fish.

Why Are Your Neon Tetra Dying?

There are various reasons for your neon tetras to die and some of them are quite natural too. Apart from natural death, the reasons are simply because you weren’t careful enough.

Not that I am blaming you and no one is born an experienced aquarist. However, there are certain things that you might have done wrong without even knowing it.

Let me list out the reasons why your neon tetras are dying:

Reasons Why Your Neon Tetra Are Dying:

  1. You may not have acclimated your neon tetra to the tank water.
  2. Malnutrition
  3. Insecurities
  4. Loneliness
  5. Inadequate water parameters
  6. The constant fluctuation of temperature
  7. Bullying
  8. Ammonia Spike
  9. Neon Tetra Disease

Things You Can Do To Keep Your Neon Tetra Alive

Everyone wants to keep their fish a little longer and if you are a beginner in this game, you are yet to understand the attachment between an aquarist and their fish.

I have adored neon tetra more than any other fish and I can tell you it is never easier to say goodbye. I have tried every little thing and stayed alert to make sure my neon tetra lives its life fullest.

Here are the things you can acquire to keep your neon tetra, safe and healthy while increasing their lifespan.

  1. Get an aquarium heater but remember to check the brand.
  2. An aquarium filtration system needs to be up-to-date and functioning properly all the time.
  3. A healthy and balanced diet.
  4. Always remember to perform the water change once every week but not more than 25 to 30%.
  5. Never let them getting bullied by bigger fish.
  6. Remember to turn off the light so they can get proper sleep.
  7. Check the water parameters every day to learn about ammonia spike.

Will You Neon Tetra Die Immediately After They Get Sick?

Apparently, the diseases and the parasites take their time to kill your fish. And trust me, instant death would be better than this.

The neon tetra is prone to water changes and often gets sick when things don’t go their way. You will have to stay alert so that you can see the symptoms as soon as it appears on your neon tetra.

Every disease will give you a window to treat your neon tetra and nurture them back to health. You have to be careful with the steps you take.

Prevention is better than cure. So, it is better to maintain the water parameters optimum all the time. This will not only keep your neon tetra healthy and disease-free but also increase their lifespan.

And even if they get sick due to some primal factors, ask the expert or call your vet immediately. Some antibiotics can revive your neon tetra.

So, No, your neon tetra will not die immediately after they get sick however they will be very weak and near to death.

Any further delay in the treatment or recognizing the symptoms will invite death and something worse in neon tetras’ doorstep.

Is The Lifespan Of Neon Tetra Gender Neutral? Which One Lives More: Male Or Female Neon Tetra?

I have kept Neon Tetra for years and didn’t find any factors to claim that female Neon Tetras live longer than male Neon Tetras, or vice versa.

From my experience, I can tell that both the male and the female Neon Tetra live longer if they are kept separately.

Females will have a lesser lifespan only if they breed all the time. Likewise, a male neon tetra will have a short lifespan only if they mate like crazy all the time.


In a nutshell, I hope that you have understood a bit about the Neon Tetra. The lifespan of Neon Tetra and the ways to increase their longevity can only be maintained by how well you take proper care of your fish. You won’t regret keeping Neon Tetra as your pet fish because they are peaceful and will add glory to your life. The Neon Tetra fish is comparatively cheaper as well, so you don’t even have to spend much on them.

Lastly, the most important things for you to remember are that Neon Tetra is vulnerable to water changes and the living environment. Besides that, if you provide your fish with a properly balanced diet, suitable water parameters, tank conditions, be sure that your fish will be stress-free.  Hence, Happy and stress-less life always equals a healthy life.

Good Luck!!!

Happy Fishkeeping!!!

Recommended Articles:

  1. 4 Step Process on How To Keep Tetra Fish Happy And Healthy
  2. 47 Types of Tetra Fish [From A to Z] | A Complete Tetra Species Guide
  3. Neon And Cardinal Tetra Tank Mates – Compatible Tank Mates


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