How Big Do Neon Tetras Grow: Size and Factors

Neon tetras, also known as Neon, are one of the most popular freshwater aquarium fish available today. They are sold in pet stores and online, and they are usually bought by people who are just starting out with their own aquariums. However, they can be a bit tricky to keep. They require proper care and maintenance that is different from many other fish to achieve their maximum growth and size.

In this article, we are going to discuss the how big neon tetras grow as well as tackle the factors that can make them grow faster or slower.

How Big Do Neon Tetras Grow?

Neon Tetras

Neon Tetras reach about 2 inches in length when adult. Their body shape is torpedo-shaped and has a swim bladder with forked dorsal fin, making them look unique compared to other freshwater species. Neon tetras are usually found in waters with a pH of 7-8 and temperature between 75 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. These factors help determine the length that neon tetras can achieve based on each individual water requirements; however, there has been no research as to what these fish’s exact and optimal length is.

Size can also be affected by their environment, which means the number of provided resources and food present in their tank – as well as possible habitat pollution there. In most cases though, these factors are not taken into account and neon tetras may still grow to a size that they should at an appropriate rate.

When Do Neon Tetras Reach Their Maximum Size?

The optimal time for neon tetras to reach their peak size is 2-4 years. However, when properly fed and maintained in a healthy habitat, they can keep growing until 8 or 10 years old. Because of the large fluctuations that these fish experience with feeding practices as well as environmental changes like temperature fluctuation or water quality change, it’s hard to predict exactly how big an individual fish will really be. As long as the recommended population size for a tank is met and there are adequate diets to provide each neon tetra species with enough food, it’s very common for individuals to outgrow their home environment inside an aquarium.

How Fast Do Neon Tetras Grow?

Close up, swimming in a fish tank

Neon tetras typically grow about 0.2 inches for every day in captivity, but this can vary depending on what stage of life the neon tetra is currently at. Neon tetras’ growth rate slows down from a to be some degree with age and that late-age growth may stop altogether when the fish are 6 or 7 years old. However, by 8 yrs of age, there will still be a noticeable growth year-to-year of the fish. The average neon tetra will reach a maximum size between 1 to 2 inches and then slow down, with an ideal lifelong development rate at 3 to 5 inches.

What Can Hinder a Neon Tetras Growth?

Many things can affect the growth rate of neon tetras, including: insufficient fry food; cold conditions with low temperature, and fish stress from it; poor water quality that depletes dissolved oxygen levels or creates high ammonia levels; lack of sufficient attention to tank cleanliness (which is especially disastrous for young fish); and inadequacy in size for the container they live in. As these factors contribute to stressful environments which reduces feeding and waste removal behaviors as well as reduces oxygen levels, the compromised growth of neon tetras can occur.

It’s bad enough when a single fish is outgrowing its tank but if multiple neon tetra species are in your tank fighting over food or space in cramped tanks, their waste products from one another will become more concentrated due to less filtration and other issues they face while attempting to survive within an aquarium with just 1/8th the volume than they need.

Genetics also has something to do with neon tetras’ growth. Depending on the age, sex and feed intake of your neon tetra, they may be stunted or they can mature faster than others when it comes to growth. For example, male neon tetras are typically smaller in size because they reach sexual maturity quicker while females grow longer at a slower rate. Additionally, neon tetras fed with tiny amounts of food can result in stunted growth and body cavities that expand abnormally.

How to Speed Up Growth Rate of Neon Tetras

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.

Quality of Diet

Pay close attention to the quality of food of your neon tetras in order to increase their diet and therefore grow quicker. The food they eat affects their water quality and health as well so be sure that you’re feeding only high-quality fish foods.

Amount of Food

The amount of food you give your neon tetra as well as the size should differ depending on its age and how large it is at a certain point in time because this will affect their rate of development accordingly. Neon tetras never stop growing when they reach around 70gcm feed eaten per day once every other week/month– therefore don’t consider yourself overfeeding your neon until you reach this figure. When feeding young neon tetras, feed about 15-30g of fish flakes or granules at one time. When dealing with adult species, give them 1 to 3 small pearls a month.

Healthy Aquarium

The more algae present in the tank/aquarium, that is where all the nutrients come from. Therefore always make sure that there are plenty of floating aquatic plants (algae) in your aquarium so they can feed on those live microorganisms– no matter how big or small they may be. Neon Tetras require a healthy and lively aquarium. They simply could not survive in an environment devoid for them. Underwater plants and healthy substrate are what these lovely looking fish need to reach their full potential.

Water Quality

The other element that will affect neon tetra growth is the quality of water you keep it on, because when there aren’t many living microorganisms present, the amount which can be fed by your neon tetra may drop significantly– this then would cause a spell of stunted growth in your fish. Your neon tetra tank water quality should be tested for nitrate levels, phosphate levels, ammonia and other substances. Water must also have a neutral pH level of 7 to avoid toxic buildup in the fish’s body. Tank parameters like temperature, salinity can affect the health of your neon tetra fish.

Tank Size

The minimum size of a neon tetra aquarium depends on the fish too- a smaller tank containing many other fish will easily confuse your neon tetra about their territory and limit mobility which can eventually lead to stress and slower development.

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