The Neon Tetra originates from South American blackwater and clearwater streams in South Eastern Columbia, Eastern Peru & Western Brazil.
Neon Tetra grows to approximately 3 – 4 centimetres in length. Their main characteristics are a blue iridescent strip on the upper area of the body starting from nose running down to the adipose fin, with a red iridescent strip on the lower area starting from the ventral fins all the way to the caudal fin. This striking colour makes these fish visible in their blackwater habitats. Neon Tetra’s can live up to 10 years if their favoured conditions are met.
When keeping Neon Tetra’s, an environment full of live plants – planted and floating, along with any other hiding places that have shady areas, will help make them feel more comfortable. The more comfortable they are, the brighter their colours will be. Dark substrate helps to mimic their natural environment. They love very soft, slightly acidic water with temperatures ranging between 20 – 26 degrees. Although, most Neon Tetras bred in captivity can live in a wider range of water conditions – a pH ranging from 5.5 – 7.5 and between 1 – 10 dH. When changing environments, acclimatize Neon Tetra’s slowly to minimize any large swings in water parameters. This will keep them alive and healthy. As a guide, a tank size of a minimum of 40 litres should be taken into consideration when purchasing this fish.
Neon tetras are a non aggressive fish and are a favourite choice in a community tank. For the health and well being of Neon Tetras, keep them in groups of 5 or more. They feel more secure in a group. A school of Neon Tetras is an amazing sight and is widely used in planted tanks to add a nice contrast and wash of colour to the chosen aquascape. At night their colours will fade and even after turning on a light will still be dull. This will return over a short period of time but if it does not then they may possibly be ill. Monitor them or better still, quarantine them from the other fish so the infection does not spread.
Neon Tetras are omnivores and eat algae, small invertebrates and insect larvae. They will happily eat flake food, zucchini and frozen foods like blood worms, daphnia, brine shrimp. High quality food will help to bring out their natural colour.
Neon’s are susceptible to Neon Tetra disease – Parasite spores that enter the body after eating other dead fish or eating non-sterile food. Signs of this disease are lumps on body, fading colours, trouble swimming, bloating and fin rot. This disease is fatal to the fish and there is no known cure. Quarantine any sick fish. Also quarantine newly purchased neon’s before adding them to the tank.
Neon Tetra’s are difficult to breed in the home but it can be achieved. Place a male and female in a breeding tank. The female has a larger and rounder belly than the male. Make sure the water is very soft around 1 – 2dh. To trigger spawning use a very short light cycle. Make it dark at first and then slowly increase it until spawning occurs. Adding mosquito larvae as a food source during spawning will help. Also a very large water change of up to 50% or more simulates seasonal rainfall that they are genetically used to.
Once spawned remove the adults so they do not eat the eggs. Keep the tank dark or dimly lit as the new eggs are light sensitive. Eggs will hatch between 24 – 30 hours. Feed the new fry infusoria, rotifers or egg yolk for the first few days, then move onto brine shrimp or powdered fry foods. It will take up to a month before they start to gain colour.