Are Neon Tetras Freshwater Fish: Your Ultimate Guide

Neon tetras (Paracheirodon innesi) are small tropical fish that can be found in most ponds and aquariums around the world. They have become very popular in aquaria because of their beautiful colors, peaceful nature, and incredible ability to breed. But are neon tetras freshwater fish?

In this article, we are going to find out the answer to that as we all dive deeper into the facts and significant tips that you need to know if you are planning to buy this species.

Are Neon Tetras Freshwater Fish?

Yes, neon tetras are freshwater fish. The neon tetra is a colorful fish that can be found in many large and small aquariums. They are shoaling fish, so they make great additions to any tank. Neon Tetras are active swimmers who will enjoy exploring their tank surroundings. They are also an excellent choice for beginner aquarists. In addition, they are hardy fish that can be kept in almost any type of aquarium.

The Ultimate Guide about Neon Tetras


The neon tetra is native to South America. The range of this species extends from central Brazil north through Paraguay, Argentina, and Chile to the subtropical Andes of Colombia and Ecuador. Neon Tetras can also be found in other warm parts of Central and South America but are not as common there. They have been introduced into Europe, North America, Japan, Taiwan, China, and many other countries where they have established themselves as common small fish.

Fish Lore

The neon tetra is also known as the Black Neon Tetra, Electric Blue Tetra, or Electric Blue Tetras. They are very similar to the Red Neon Tetra and are often confused with them. The only way to tell them apart is by their body coloration and lack of a dark spot on their dorsal fin. The male and female Neon Tetras look different as well, with the female having a brighter coloring.

Size and Lifespan

The neon tetra is a schooling fish that can be found in sizes from 3 to 4 cm (1 to 1.5 inches) long. The average lifespan of the neon tetra in captivity is about 2 to 3 years. However, they are hardy fish and can survive up to 5 years in an aquarium as long as the tank conditions are met. After all, the neon tetra can live up to 10 years in the wild.


The neon tetra is a small, brightly colored fish that typically have bright green, yellow or red coloration. Neon tetras are also noted for their curly dorsal fin and lateral line scales (these are the scales along the back of the fish). They have a diamond-shaped body with an elongated dorsal and caudal fin. Their scales are smooth and they have a bright yellow or red belly when healthy. In some cases, these tropical, freshwater fish may develop brownish tones in older fish.


The neon tetra is a peaceful fish that gets along well with other tankmates. They are active and playful, making them good choices for beginner aquarists. Neon tetras are also hardy fish that can withstand some degree of stress in the aquarium environment. When kept in groups of six or more, they become very active and will explore their surroundings. However, when single specimens are housed in an aquarium, they may be more passive. They can be nervous around new individuals but usually adjust quickly. Neon tetras are also vivacious and playful fish that enjoy swimming and playing in their aquarium.

Habitat and Tank Requirements

The neon tetra is native to Southeast Asia and parts of South America. They are often found in slow-moving or stagnant freshwater rivers and streams. The neon tetra prefers a well-lit aquarium with plenty of hiding places o make sure you provide plenty of rocks, caves, and other hiding spots.

They will do well in a tank that is not smaller than 30 gallons as larger tanks are better for them because they will have more space to swim and explore. but should be kept with other small, active fish to avoid bullying tendencies. Like most fishes, they require adequate water circulation and clean water to stay healthy.


The neon tetra is a tropical fish and should be housed in a water temperature of 72 to 76 degrees Fahrenheit (22 to 24 degrees Celsius).

Water Conditions

The neon tetra is a hardy fish that will adapt to most water conditions. However, it is important to provide them with the best possible water quality for optimal health. They are very sensitive to acidic water and should only be kept in tanks with a pH of 6.0 to 8.0. Additionally, they should have clean, clear water with a moderate level of hardness from 2 to 10 dH.

Lighting Requirements

The neon tetra requires subdued lighting conditions. They are very sensitive to bright light and should only be kept in tanks with low light levels. However, they are also compatible with fish lights if kept in dimmed lighting.


The neon tetra should be well-filtered and have a good water quality. They require at least 16 inches of depth for optimal health, so make sure their tank has plenty of room. Additionally, they will do best with a filter that removes floaters and debris as these can cause problems in the fish’s intestinal tracts.

Photo showing a freshwater tropical aquarium fish tank with red cherry shrimp foraging for food amongst the grains of coral sand and sea shells. Of note, the Latin name for this variety of freshwater shrimp is: Neocaridina davidi var. red.


The neon tetra is best kept with other small, active fish. They will tolerate most tank mates as long as they are not bullied or over-fed. However, they should never be mixed with larger aquarium fish that could dominate them. Here are some of the best tankmates for neon tetras:

  • Dwarf Gouramis (Trichogaster lalius)
  • Goldfish (Carassius auratus)
  • Corydoras catfish (Corydoras paleatus)
  • Angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare)
  • Pupfish (Cyprinodontidae)
  • Betta fish (Betta splendens)
  • Guppy (Poecilia reticulata)
  • Zebra Danio (Danio rerio)

Aquatic Plants

The neon tetra does not require any specific plants, but they do enjoy having some type of aquatic plant in their tank. This can be provided by placing a bogwood or macrophyte filter sponge in the bottom of the aquarium. Additionally, certain types of ferns and water lilies can also provide hours of enjoyment for your fish buddy. They should also have some java ferns or water lettuce as they enjoy being able to grasp onto these objects for support.

Nutrition, Food, and Diet

The neon tetra is an omnivorous fish that enjoys a varied diet of animal-based and plant-based foods including flakes, live, and frozen foods. They are most often fed with sinking dried foods, such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, tubifex worms, and daphnia. However, they can also be fed flake food or frozen/thawed live foods.

Feeding Schedule

The neon tetra’s feeding schedule should be based on their activity level. If they are inactive, then a reduced feeding schedule may be necessary. Males will feed more often than females and juveniles will eat more frequently than adults. A tankful of neon tetras should receive around 2-3 pellets per day, broken into smaller pieces if possible to make it easier for the fish to swallow.

Breeding Information

The breeding habits of the Neon Tetra have been well documented, but they can still be difficult to breed in captivity. The most common way to breed these fish is by using an aquarium with several males and female neon tetras. The males will fight for the opportunity to mate with the females and can be very territorial. Breeding success rates may vary significantly depending on how aggressive the male neon tetra is when raising fry.