What Do Neon Tetras Need In Their Tank?

What Do Neon Tetras Need

If you are new to the world of fishkeeping, Neon Tetras are an ideal fish species to keep as your first pets. Furthermore, you would want to set up an aquarium that is suitable for your Tetras in every way possible. Being a new fish parent, you will need certain knowledge about the requirements the Tetras need in an aquarium. Fulfilling these requirements is important, as they are significant for your Tetra’s quality of life.

Neon Tetras (Paracheirodon innesi) are small freshwater fish that are easy to take care of. But, the facts like proper tank size, filtration, temperature, lights, and plantations are the unignorable specifications required for the Neon tetras in their tank.

Stay tuned, as I will be going into detail about those requirements that Neon Tetras need in their tank.

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Choosing Tank Size

Neon Tetras are small and delicate little fish. The average size of a Neon Tetra is about 1.5 inches but some grow to the size of 2.5 inches.

Neon Tetras are small in size but they like to stay in a school. Due to this, a school of Tetras needs a spacious aquarium tank.

I recommend 10 gallons to be the minimum size for a tank to keep Neon Tetras. On the contrary, any size smaller than 10 gallons is highly unsuitable.

Similarly, if you are planning to keep let’s say a school of 15 Neon Tetras, then an aquarium of 20 gallons is the recommended size.

A spacious tank consisting of a sizeable school of Neon tetras is quite a treat for your eyes. Besides, the tank also provides the fishes a good quality of life and comfort to swim freely.

Water Filtration For Neon Tetra Tank

Any experienced fish keeper having heavy live plantations in their tank consisting of Neon Tetras can ignore using a filter. Because fishkeepers with sufficient experience know about the relationship between a tank consisting of heavy plantation and substrate.

Substrate refers to the layer of loose materials used on the tank bottom, which helps for filtration, water chemistry, facilitate plantation and colonize of good bacteria. For example gravel and soil.

As for the beginners and intermediate, I highly recommend the use of filters in your Tank. A simple sponge filter will work just fine as Tetras produce less bioload. The HOB or internal filters are good in a tank for Tetras as they provide a pleasant current.

The main function of a filter is to aid the growth of beneficial bacteria as well as to aerate the water.

Including some plants along with the filter in the tank is also highly advisable. Because of the plantation’s capability to aids in managing the bioload, removing toxins, and providing a certain amount of oxygen.

I will be discussing in more detail about the live plants in the below segments.

Water Heater

If you live in an area with a dynamic temperature then installing a water heater in your tank is compulsory.

Specifically, Neon Tetras are tropical fish, that are found in freshwater streams of the Amazon River in South America. The water temperature in those areas ranges between 70 to 82°F along with a pH between 6.0 to 7.0. However, in the tank, the ideal water temperature for Neon Tetra is between 72 to 78 degree Fahrenheit.

So, due to which maintaining the exact water temperature and the pH level in your aquarium, the use of a water heater extremely compulsory.

Setting up an aquarium heater in the right manner is crucial. You can use the standard 5 watts per gallon rule for the tanks of 55 gallons or smaller. Similarly, 3 watts per gallon for tanks over 60 gallons and above.

Nevertheless, if the temperature in your location is always above 70°F, using a water heater is not required.

Aquarium Lights

Like a lot of other tropical fishes, Neon Tetra also requires the installation of artificial lighting on their tanks.

Specifically, Neon Tetras favor subdued light. The subdued light in a way is an imitation of their natural environment where it lacks bright sunshine.

The eggs and fry of Neon tetra are even more sensitive to bright lighting as it can in effect kill them. Due to which, while breeding Neons tetras you should rather not keep any lightings in the tank.

The artificial lighting’s main function is to provide energy to the fish and photosynthesis for the live plants underwater.

Moreover, you can use a fluorescent light of 18 to 40 watts in your tank if you are planning to use less number of a live plant. But, if you plan to keep lots of live plants in the aquarium then I recommend you use the light of  2 to 5 watts per gallon in your tank.

By now you may also be thinking of the option of placing your aquarium outside and using natural lighting. Although sunshine does provide light and warm water temperature, in reality, it is not the best option.

Natural lightings tend to increase the growth of algae making it hard to view the fishes. Besides, large growth of algae competes for resources with the live plants hindering their development.

Live Plantation And Decoration For Neon Tetra

Neon Tetras are fond of having plantations in their surrounding environment. You should create a mixed environment in your tank which has lots of plants and generous swimming space.

Tetras tend to stay in a school when they feel safe and rush into the plants when they feel intimidated.

Furthermore, the presence of plantations and decoration are helpful for:

  • Increment of the nitrogen cycle
  • Increment of oxygen levels
  • Maintaining water clean
  • Reducing algae growth.
  • Providing safe shelter

More precisely, Neon Tetras like tall plants like Java Fern, Java Moss, Brazilian pennywort, Vallisneria, and Ludwigia repens. They also rever floating plants like Red river floaters and Frogbit.

You also have to be aware that some plants need special requirements like fertilizers, additional lights, and trimming. Hence, I recommend you to first acquaint yourself well with the desired plant.

You can also opt for fake plants for decorations as they will also provide shelter and need less maintenance. But, the fakes will not provide you with the plant’s perks. There are a variety of fake plants available in the market of different colors and shapes as per your convenience.

Other Things You Need For Neon Tetra Tank

The above are some of the standard specifications Neon tetras need in their tank. Likewise, here are some more things you will need to set up an ideal aquarium for Neon Tetras.

Gravel Vacuum

Gravel Vacuums are maintenance equipment used to clean the aquarium’s substrates. Simply, they remove the old fish food or any kind of debris and particles from the gravel of your aquarium.


While changing the water from the aquarium, if you are compelled to use the water having a high concentration of chlorine, then use a de-chlorinator. As chlorine is life-threatening to any type of fish, you can use the de-chlorinator to remove the chlorine and chemical disinfectants from the water.

Breeding Tank

A separate breeding tank is a vital requirement for breeding Neon Tetras. The male and female are kept in this tank for mating, and after the eggs are laid, the tank acts as an incubator for the eggs before the fry hatches.

Good Quality Fish Food

Good quality of fish food for the fish results in better physical quality, better immune system, and more vibrant colors. Due to which it is vital for any fish parent to provide their fish babies a good recommended amount of quality fish food.

You can use automatic fish feeders as well.


You will also need a few buckets as they are used while changing the water from the tank to remove debris, toxins, and old food. You will need them to store the collected waste so you can dispose of them later.

Water Testing-Kit

A water testing kit is used to measure water parameters like pH, nitrate, residual chlorine, etc both during and after the nitrogen cycle. It gives a report on the current levels of the mentioned parameters your aquarium is in.

Air Pump

The air pump helps to quicken the oxygen exchange by creating air bubbles. The air bubbles in return break the water surface and direct more oxygen into the water.

Fish Net

Fishnets are indispensable for any fishkeepers. The nets facilitate the handling of the fish, inspecting the fish, removing objects and debris from the water, etc.

You may also need some more additional types of equipment apart from the above mentions on the basis of how you have set up your aquarium. The above-mentioned equipment will help you to get a general idea of the requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can All Tetra Fish Live Together?

Normally, Tetras are the type of fish that favors schooling with their own species. The reason behind this behavior is because they tend to adjust better with their own species more regarding teamwork.

A predator finds it harder to attack a school of identical fish rather than a school. Nonetheless, there are cases of fish of different species but the same sizes schooling together.

For instance, Cardinal Tetra and Neon Tetra tend to school together. But again, both are from different species having similar in size and similar colors.

What Are The Best Fish To Keep With Neon Tetras?

Neon Tetras do well in a community tank with all most of the fish as long as the fish are not large in size and aggressive in nature. The Tetras are vulnerable in front of large fish as they tend to eat them.

Even larger Tetras tend to eat smaller Tetras. The following are the list of fish that have good compatibility with Tetras for living together in the same tank :

  • Dwarf gouramis
  • Rasboras
  • Corys
  • Small catfish
  • Any type of smaller tetras

How Often Do You Need To Feed Neon Tetras?

Neon Tetras can normally be fed once or twice a day. Nonetheless, if your aquarium consists of plantations, your Tetras can even self-feed on them and survive. It is also one of the reasons all Tetras breeders should have plantations in their aquarium tanks.


As I have already mentioned, Neon Tetras are small, peaceful, and easy to keep tropical fish that are suitable for beginner fish keepers.

Tetras do not require a high level of care and maintenance like many other species. But, they certainly require some level of proper tank size, filtration, temperature, and lights for them to thrive in your aquarium.

Finally, in my opinion with a basic fulfillment of their mentioned fundamental needs will result in having healthier tetras. Besides, your tank will have a dazzling attraction as a school of healthy Neon Tetras with vibrant colors creating an appealing scene.

Related articles:

  1. How to Prevent Neon Tetra Curved/Crooked Spine or Neon Tetra Disease
  2. Can The Neon Tetra Survive In a Fishbowl?
  3. Can The Neon Tetra Eat Goldfish Flakes?
  4. Minimum Water Temperature For Neon Tetras

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