Neon Tetras Mating Behavior – Breeding Ritual

Neon Tetras Mating

Are you ready to witness the miracle of life in your aquarium? Look no further than the neon tetra – a species with a mating behavior that’s both fascinating and easy to spot. These fish will show clear signs when they’re ready to breed so that you can prepare for the arrival of their tiny fry. But what exactly is the neon tetra fish breeding ritual?

The neon tetras breeding ritual combines male neon tetra swimming around female neon tetras showing her the dance. Male neon tetra will swim around female neon tetra, showing some short yet jerky movements in square motion with a period of pauses or motionlessness. If you see these movements in the tank, get ready to see neon tetras eggs.

While breeding during the breeding season, neon tetras will act strangely, and that’s okay. But it can slightly be worrying as it often looks like one neon tetra is attacking another.

In this article, I will help you with the whole breeding process of neon tetras, their breeding ritual, their mating behavior, and caring of the eggs and fry.

With no further ado, let’s begin the learning process and dive into the details.

Neon Tetras Mating Behavior – Neon Tetra Fish Breeding Ritual

Well, if you are clever enough to distinguish male and female neon tetra fish beforehand, it will be easier for you actually to observe the breeding ritual of neon tetras.

Or if you don’t know how to differentiate male from female neon tetra, let me help you with that first.

How Can You Tell If A Neon Tetra Is Male Or Female?

Differentiating male neon tetra from female ones is one of the easiest tasks that come with fish keeping. But you have to wait till they reach sexual maturity after 4 to 6 months of birth.

I am not contemplating; I am just stating a fact. Just follow my lead here, and you will see what I am talking about.

Firstly, let me teach you the easiest way to distinguish between male and female neon tetras. Look at the size, body size, and structure of neon tetras. Now, sit back, and compare.

The larger one with a rounded belly is the female neon tetra, whereas the slimmer one with a flat belly (not always) is your male neon tetra.

Furthermore, if you are familiar with neon tetra, then you know about their blue strip. This is the second clue to unsolved the mystery of the gender of neon tetra.

You see, the blue strip, their signature strip, is slightly curved in females, while the male has a straight blue line throughout their body.

How Do I Know If My Neon Tetras Are Mating?

Now, you know which one of your tetras is male or female. And if you are still confused, I will tell you in secret.

During the breeding stage, these tetras show something weirdly different, making it way easier to differentiate.

But knowing beforehand helps to decide and maintain the tetra tank’s male-to-female ratio. Anyway, let bygones be bygones. Let’s focus on the main topic here.

Let’s talk about the mating behavior of neon tetras in detail so it will be easier for you to know when your neon tetras are about to breed or lay eggs.

Neon tetras’ courting or mating behavior starts when the male neon tetra starts swimming around the females.

While swimming around female tetras, male neon tetra will show the famous mating dance of neon tetras.

This dance includes jerky movements in square motions while swimming around female neon tetras. Male neon tetra will occasionally pause during these dance movements for feeding purposes.

This dance by male neon tetra is how to impress female neon tetra and woo her. These tetras will usually spawn in the morning so if you want to see the breeding and mating behavior of neon tetras, observe carefully in the morning after you turn the aquarium lights on.

How To Condition Your Neon Tetras To Breed In The Tank?

Neon tetras might be easy fish to breed, but it can get tricky when it comes to breeding them in the tank.

I am not saying you’ll have a hard time, but yes, you might have to give extra attention in this case.

Here is what you need to know, most of the time, store-bought neon tetras are bound to be infertile. So, you must have a good pair that are fertile and healthy. See how you can breed neon tetras with ease from our guide!

Now, coming to conditioning them to breed as they will barely breed on their own. Not that they won’t breed, but they will need certain conditions to breed in the tank.

Place Both Male And Female Neon Tetras Together

Firstly, place both female and neon tetras together in a separate tank where no other type of fish is present.

Feed Protein Rich Food

Now, start to feed them food that is high in protein. You can go for bloodworms, daphnia, or any other options but make sure they are high in protein and are according to the diet neon tetra ask for.

Some of the best ones I feed my neon tetras are:

Bloodworms: SAN FRANCISCO BAY Brand Freeze Dried Bloodworms 1.75oz

Black fly: Josh’s Frogs Melanogaster Fruit Fly Culture Kit (Makes 10 Cultures)

Frozen Daphnia: 1000+ Live Daphnia Magna

Mosquito larvae: Exotic Nutrition Bulk Dried Black Soldier Fly Larvae (10 lbs.) – High-Calcium Insect Treat

You can actually rely on live food, although there are many dry commercial food options to choose from.

You might like to learn more about How Much To Feed Your Neon Tetras And How Often?

Within a couple of weeks, you will start to see your female neon tetra getting fat or gaining weight. At this point, your female neon tetra is gravid with eggs and can start showing mating behavior anytime.

Breeding Requirements Of Neon Tetra In The Breeding Tank

As you have learned about the mating behavior of the neon tetras, you already know how neon tetras breed.

But there are a few things you need to do for neon tetra while setting up the breeding environment for them.

Neon Tetras are quite sensitive during the breeding stage, so you must be careful with every step.

I have also written an article on Why Do Neon Tetras Die After Laying Eggs?

Let me take you to step by step guide to the breeding process of neon tetras. Follow my lead, and you will have neon tetras breeding in no time.

Step 1: Setting Up The Breeding Tank

This is the most crucial step in preparing the neon tetra to breed. You can’t let these neon tetras lay eggs in the community tank or the tank full of neon tetras.

You need to keep them in a separate tank, and preparing the tank before transferring them into it is quite necessary. If you want to see the successful breeding of neon tetras, mimic its natural habitat. Take a 10-gallon tank and place peat soil on the bottom of the tank.

Although neon tetras are hardy and can adjust to a huge pH range, they prefer soft water during a breeding stage, and peat soil helps you achieve that.

Now place  Java moss, spawning mop, etc., in the tank, giving neon tetras space to hide their eggs.

Java Moss Portion in 4 Oz Cup – Easy Live Fresh Water Aquarium Plants is easily available on amazon.

Step 2: Water Transfer From The Old Tank

It is usually best to transfer the same water in the previous tank where these neon tetras were residing.

You should probably skip placing the filter in this tank before the eggs hatch, as it can suck up the eggs.

It is wise to pour the dechlorinated water and aquarium water from the already-established tank.

Step 3: Maintain The Temperature And pH Of Neon Tetras

You need to get a heater to maintain the temperature of the breeding tank. Although neon tetras can adapt to a huge range of water, they prefer 77 °F in the breeding tank. And this specific temperature should be stable throughout the spawning to fry development period.

Thus, getting an aquarium heater like AQUANEAT 4 or Hitop Submersible Adjustable Aquarium Heater is necessary.

Learn More About Do Neon Tetras Need Heater For Survival?

And, as you have already used peat soil, the pH will stay stable at 5.5 to 6. Test the water time and often and take necessary steps if the water parameters are not ideal.

You might like to learn more about Does Water pH Level Affect Neon Tetras?

Step 4: Lighting Of The Neon Tetra Breeding Tank

If you want your neon tetras to spawn in the tank, then it is wise to use appropriate lighting so that they won’t get irritated or bother.

Neon Tetras prefer dim light and will not do well if the tank has strong lighting. So, keeping NICREW Single Channel LED Light Timer or All Glass Aquarium Fluorescent Strip Light is better.

Step 5: Filter In The Tank Only After Eggs Hatch

After the eggs hatch, you can filter the water in the tank using a sponge filter. There are many options to choose from but I highly recommend AQUANEAT Aquarium Bio Sponge Filter and Powkoo Double Sponge Filter.

You might like to read more about Do Neon Tetras Need Filter To Survive?

How To Tell If A Neon Tetra Is Going To Lay Eggs?

There will be various instances when you will see the eggs or fry in the tank before you notice anything strange.

Unprepared and unplanned breeding or egg-laying can bring stress and new things to take care of. So, is it necessary to know if your neon tetra is pregnant?

Here is how you will know your neon tetras are going to lay eggs:

Step 1: Swollen Belly Of The Female Neon Tetra

As you already know, female neon tetras are plumper and slightly large on the belly area. But when they get pregnant or are gravid with eggs (neon tetras can’t get pregnant as they are not livebearers), you will feel and see clearly these females have gotten fatter.

Although it is bad to call anyone fat, it is what it is in this case. Your female neon tetra will have a swollen belly and look like they have put on some weight.

Step 2: The Courting Behavior

Once the mating or courting part is over, you will see eggs in no time in the tetra tank. As I have mentioned above about the courting behavior, look carefully while they are courting.

The female neon tetra and the male neon tetra will leave a trail of eggs behind while swimming around.

How Many Eggs Does A Neon Tetra Lay?

The number of eggs these neon tetras lay at a single time can vary according to the ovulation occurring in the female.

Let’s talk average numbers here, okay? On average, neon tetra can lay about 60 to 120 eggs in a clutch each time.

And these tetras can lay eggs within the period of every 2 to 3 days. Hence, you’ll have a tank full of neon tetra fry in very little time.

But don’t worry, and don’t keep your hopes up, as only 30% of the eggs will be fertilized and give you fry in the tank.

Each spawn, you might see nearly 120 eggs in the tank, but only 40 to 50 of these eggs will hatch.

How Long Do Neon Tetra Eggs Take To Hatch?

You shouldn’t wait for a long time to see the fry coming out of the egg after neon tetras lay the eggs.

You might like to read about How Long Are Neon Tetras Pregnant For?

Within the next 24 hours, the eggs will hatch, and you will see a very small and transparent neon tetra fry in the tank.

I have also written an article on What Do Baby Neon Tetras Look Like?

How To Care For Neon Tetras Fry?

Your work doesn’t end here after you see the fry in the tank. Your job actually gets a little tougher caring for these sensitive babies of neon tetras.

First of all, it is quite necessary to remove parent neon tetras immediately after the females lay eggs. These tetras will eat both eggs and fry as these will easily fit in neon tetras’ mouths.

Now, when caring for neon tetras’ fry, you need to give them an appropriate diet, such as Infusoria, for the first few days. And afterward, you can switch to brine shrimp too.

You might like to read about How To Make Tetra Fry Grow Quickly?

You need to take care of the water parameters as these newly born babies are quite sensitive to fluctuation.

I have also written an article on  Tetra Fry Care – How to Care for Baby Tetras?

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to a few FAQs you might also be wondering about. I hope this will solve your queries about these questions.

Do Neon Tetras Breed Easily?

Yes, actually, neon tetras do breed easily, but this can vary according to the place they are inhabiting.

Neon tetras breed with ease when they are in captivity, but most of the captive-bred neon tetras are infertile.

Furthermore, the tetra tank conditions and water parameters also decide whether your neon tetra will breed.

You must set up a specific breeding tank and maintain the ideal water parameters while avoiding fluctuation to help condition the neon tetra to breed.

Will Neon Tetras Breed In A Community Tank?

Yes, neon tetras will breed in a community tank. What can you expect when you keep both male and female neon tetras in the tank?

The female neon tetras start ovulating as soon as she hits sexual maturity, which is 4 to 6 months after birth.

She can store these eggs for quite a long time. So, be it a community tank or tetra tank only, these tetras will lay an egg if male neon tetra is impressive enough to woo her.

But the survival rate of eggs is quite minimal as they will be eaten by other fish present in the community tank.

Neon tetra will feed on anything that will fit in their mouth, and they merely have the presence of any parental instincts.

And even if the eggs are fertilized males and further hatch into fry after surviving the predators, there is a high chance these fish fry will not survive further.

Any larger fish present in the tank will swallow the small neon tetra fry without a second thought. So, be careful if you plan to breed neon tetras in the community tank.

Do Neon Tetras Make Bubble Nests?

No, neon tetras don’t make bubble nests as they don’t have parental instincts like betta fish. Bettas are known to make bubble nests during the breeding phase, but neon tetras are mostly away from making bubble nests.


Sure, breeding requirements may seem like a bit of work, but trust us when we say that it’s worth it. There’s nothing quite like seeing those small, healthy, and active neon tetra babies swimming around in your tank, making your heart swell with joy.

Pay attention to the small details and follow the requirements closely to ensure successful breeding. With some care and attention, you can have a thriving neon tetra fry population in no time.

And don’t forget, if you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to leave a comment in the section below. We’re always here to help you out.

So, prepare for some happy fish keeping, and witness the magic of life unfold in your aquarium with the neon tetra. Good luck, and may your aquarium be filled with joy and wonder!

Recommended Articles:

  1. Neon Tetra Fish Growth Stages Explained
  2. The Lifespan of Neon Tetra – How Long Does a Neon Tetra Live For?
  3. How Long Can Neon Tetras Live Without Food

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