Neon Tetra Care, Size, Life Span & More

Neon tetras are one of the most popular freshwater fish in the aquarium hobby. They’re typically peaceful and quite easy to care for, but require a specific environment with its own unique set of equipment and conditions. This article will help you best prepare your tank before adding these gorgeous fish.

Neon Tetra Fish Characteristics

– Scientific Name: Paracheirodon innesi

– Lifespan: 3-5 years

– Typical Size (adult size): 1.5 inches (4 cm)

The adult fish is a deep copper/pink color with blue fins and a black spot at the base of the tail fin that extends to the top edge of the dorsal fin. They usually have four to five vertical white bars running along their sides, though these are sometimes faint or even absent. The overall appearance will depend on what ratio of male to female you keep. If they’re kept in pairs for example, then they’ll be predominantly pink with very little dashing and barring present. With larger numbers of males as opposed to females, the fish will be more striped and have bright deep pink instead of the copper/pink.

Neon Tetra Fish Origin

Neon tetras are a species of fish which hail from South America, specifically the Parana River basin in Brazil. They were first noted by scientists in 1895 but didn’t reach the public aquarium trade until 1925 after which they became very popular among hobbyists as one of their first “exotic” pets. The neon tetra is often found at pet stores and fish retailers such as Petco, Aquabid or online including Amazon.

Neon Tetra Fish Size

Neon tetras are exceptionally small with males growing up to only 1 inch (2.5 cm) long while females are slightly larger growing up to 1 ½ inches (3.8 cm). Females also tend to have a plumper body shape than male counterparts.

Neon Tetra Fish Colors and Markings

The neon tetra has a unique color pattern with bright primary colors including reds, blues, and yellows; this is one of the reasons they’re so popular among hobbyists. They may also have black markings on their fins and tail which add some contrast to their appearance. These fish are known for having “neon” colored underbellies as well during breeding season but will be white otherwise. Their bodies also appear transparent when illuminated by light due to high levels of iridescent coloration in their scales which is why they’re called neon tetras. You can view more images on fishbase .

Neon Tetra Fish Tankmates

Neon tetras are a schooling fish and require a group of at least 6 individuals to feel secure. If you only have one or two, it is recommended that they be kept with other small colorful species such as rasbora, hatchetfish, dwarf cichlids, pygmy angelfish. As long as the tankmates are peaceful and not too large (over 4 inches or 10 cm), then they can be added to a community aquarium environment without risk of any harm coming to your neon tetras.

Neon Tetra Fish Care

Neon tetras prefer warm tropical water around 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius) with a pH level between 6.5 and 7 which should be relatively easy for most aquarists to provide. To mimic their natural environment, it’s recommended to set up a planted tank with some floating plants and preferrably a darker substrate. This species is relatively easy to care for thus making them ideal for beginning hobbyists.

Neon Tetra Fish Lifespan

The lifespan of neon tetras in the wild is not known but in aquariums they can live from 3 to 5 years given proper care.

Neon Tetra Fish Diet and Feeding

Neon tetras will eat most foods including flakes, frozen foods, freeze-dried bloodworms or tubifex worms, insect larvae, cyclopeeze tablets or pellets among others; all fish should be fed a varied diet once every day or as often as you can to prevent overfeeding.

Neon Tetra Fish Gender Differences

There are no specific visual characteristics that distinguish between males and females in this species; however, there is one very important factor you should look at if you’re trying to sex them: the anal fin on the male will be longer than its body while the female’s anal fin will not extend past her anus. Males are also a bit more colorful than females during breeding season with some patches present on their bodies whereas females have an overall pink tint when compared to males who may be copper or red/pink. Additionally, they’ll both develop eggs but unlike other fish which lay their eggs externally, neon tetras will give birth to live young via internal fertilization (via the uterus).

Neon Tetra Fish Breeding

Neon tetras are a schooling fish and thus should be kept in schools of 6 or more fish; this also makes them an excellent candidate for breeding. To induce spawning, the aquarium’s temperature can be raised to about 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius) which will trigger the female to release their eggs into the water column where they’ll drift until fertilized by the male who has special egg-white proteins covering his anal fin. The resulting offspring will grow very quickly and mature within 2 months, so there is typically little waiting time between generations.


Given how popular neon tetras are among beginning hobbyists as well as experienced aquarists alike, these fish are a great addition to any aquarium. They are colorful, relatively easy to care for and can be bred in tanks that contain other species without risk of harming their neon tetras as long as they’re well fed; if you have one or two then it’s recommended you keep them with others but otherwise add at least three individuals into your setup (preferably 6) and get ready to watch the show!