How Many Neon Tetras in A 5-Gallon Tank: Number and Tips

So, you’ve decided to get a 5-gallon tank and planning to purchase neon tetras for it. Now is the time to decide on the number of neon tetras you want in your aquarium. This article will tell you how many neon tetras can be kept in a 5-gallon tank as well as other significant tips you need to know to keep a healthy environment for them with the size of your tank.

How Many Tetras Can Live in a 5-Gallon Tank?

A 5-gallon tank is sufficient for a most average sized adult group of 4-6 neon tetras. The number becomes more flexible if the aquarium has fewer hiding places than sand or other similar substrate like gravel.

A retail pet store should be able to answer this question for you as it’s uncommon but possible for them to house numerous neon tetra at once. However, if you’re already shopping on the internet for a pure-bred neon tetra fish to buy in bulk, then it will be much harder for them to get this information since there’s no one physically available that can add up the total of many neon tetras from smaller sub tanks and sizes of aquariums maintained over time.

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.

Can Neon Tetras Survive in a 5-Gallon Tank?

Yes, tetras can survive in a 5-gallon tank with regular quality water changes and if they’re well fed and happy. A downside is that your neon tetra will likely miss out on bubbles during its favorite pastime of burying itself in the substrate as there won’t be enough surface area for it to bury itself into while keeping all five other fish buddies entertained. Tetras are also known to artificially induce bubble nests by rubbing their bodies against a plant species or material when their tank buddies aren’t around and see this as an extension of the behavior.

Tips For Keeping Tetras in a 5-Gallon Tank

Close up, swimming in a fish tank

Have a Suitable Aquarium

If you’re looking for a starter aquarium tank and just want to try keeping a few neon tetras, I recommend 10 gallons even though the max recommended size is 5 gallons because these fish are pretty high maintenance as far as types of care they require such as heating and water stability. If your home has central heat, that’s definitely not an issue but if it’s heated via hot water coils or other means, then keep in mind those extra heating costs. You might also want to check in with your water utility provider if it’s about to expire before you buy the tank or come up for new supplies as both these conditions can lead to a few inconveniences. Save yourself from potential unforeseen house damage, don’t let fish waste drip into an electrical outlet and invest in some neon tetra thermometer which is extremely easy way of ensuring fast results!

Use a Good Filter

A surefire way of making these tiny fishes happier and less stressed is to use a good filter, an air pump, and a small bubble nest. This is not an exhaustive list of what you need for neon tetras so make sure that before buying anything else.

These fish take up less space in the tank than other types of fish so filtering them appropriately could get tricky as there isn’t much excess room to set up appropriate filtration that could work well in this situation. Some other things to consider are the filter and tubing being long enough, so you don’t have fish running all over while they try to avoid it.

Also if your pump isn’t old enough or strong enough, an air stone(s) can be added especially with smaller tanks as a reasonable insurance policy against algae getting out of hand which can happen surprisingly fast once its no longer crystal clear water without. So, make sure you check it out before you buy these fish.

Add Live Plants and Decorations

Neon tetras are tropical fish that prefer a high overall water quality and plant-specific decoration so add lots of live plants to the tank for their purpose. They also enjoy caves, rocks or driftwood pieces as decorations which help give them some places to hide from predators or feel cozy in on those gloomy days when you’re away from home.

A lot of fish actually seem to prefer having their tank overcrowded with live plants since in comparison, the clear aquarium water makes for a difficult existence. So this is helping them out indirectly, but mostly just by giving them shelter from aggressive or larger tankmates who might otherwise take up and successfully eat less wary smaller neon tetras while they try futilely to escape. They do need room because as fish on land they are somewhat more fragile in nature, so if you plan to keep more than one in a tank, make sure that you’ve included enough land space for them.

Live plants also help with maintaining their water quality and hence their overall health as well if they aren’t kept clean and groomed properly. Not only does it look pretty but such multi-colored areas are great for exciting your neon tetras.

Establish Great Lighting

Neon tetras are tropical fish which like bright sunlight on a summer day and need the same in captivity. Neon tetras are not an aquatic plant-sitting fish and they need a good light to keep their pinecone scales shiny and healthy as well as to help them engage in visible behavior such as hunting small algae. Your tank’s lighting system should ideally include at least two fixtures that mimic the sunlight but you should also be prepared for lower or higher natural levels of light depending on your location, time of the day, etc.

If possible, add one or two of the cool vintage-style florescent fixtures to your tank because they can be more efficient in lighting an area than a less modern incandescent reflector.

Observe Their Behavior

Check swimming behavior too because small varieties can actually cause splayed uncoordinated fins at times meaning it might be helpful for some to hang out with a sinking floating or air filled bubble for an hour at least once in a while. In the wild, their fins are fully separated which is apparently very important trait because it provides full mobility when they’re not swimming and can’t simply prop themselves up on anything, hence why they typically jump more than swim!

Photo showing a freshwater tropical fish tank, landscaped with rocks, plastic plants and artificial seaweed / tree coral, resin barnacles and coral sand to appear like a marine aquarium. Pictured swimming in the foreground of the aquarium are various small tropical fish and shrimp, including:

What’s the Ideal Tank Size for Neon Tetras?

You need at least a gallon of water for every pair. So, if you want one fish in your setup, go with two gallons; three or four means 8 gallons and so on and if you don’t yet have a tank keep 15+ gallons on hand to start off with.

As juveniles, they can be kept in any small size aquarium but as adults their body shapes will take up extra room, especially if they get cork-snouted. For example, a fairly active maturing Green Neon can grow to be well over 7″ (18 cm) when fully grown and will require at least 15 gallons of water in captivity despite its small size as an adult that’s almost 10 times the size of similarly sized Oscars which are popular tank inhabitants.

Similar Posts