What Does Neon Tetra Eat: Quantity and Frequency

In the world of freshwater fish, neon tetras are one of the more popular options for new fish keepers. However, the specific diet requirements for neon tetras can be a bit tricky to understand. They require foods that are high in protein and low in fat, so they can digest them quickly and efficiently. Neon tetras are also carnivores, so it’s important to have a variety of foods available to them as often as possible.

In this article, we are going to dive deep in the types of food that neon tetras eat, the amount you should give them, how often should they eat, and steps to properly feed your pet fish.

Neon Tetra Paracheirodon innesi freshwater tropical fish

What Do Neon Tetras Eat?

Neon tetras’ diet requires specific types of food – high in protein with low levels of fat that can be digested fast. They also require carnivorous options from day 1 to thrive.

Bloodworms (ideally large or full worms), brine shrimp eggs (cluster of eggs on the end of a soldering bar), black worms (tiny, transparent larvae that grow into adult worms about 1/4 inch long), white shrimp food pellets (about the size of a pencil lead), and canned baby mosquitoes (very small larvae, which develop into breeding adults in 4-6 weeks). They can also be given freeze dried bloodworms or one pound of goldfish feeder fish as supplemental food.

For high protein low fat foods that can be digested quickly, you have to watch out for odd ingredients such as textured vegetable proteins (TVP)- they are very common and often eaten by dead organisms or bacteria, so you don’t have to worry about killing your fish with this one. Found in meat analogues like dog food (original formula feeds) & many other foods, but typically not vegan neutrals either. You can recognize it as a beige powder- it has very little fat content though most of the calories come from protein. Millipedes/ants are also high in carbs! You will find these all throughout the grocery store as long as you are looking for a “mealworm”, with or without mealworms.  The ants get digested very quickly, and they provide insect protein low in fat.

Neon tetras also like eating plants. Some specific plants that are considered neon tetras’ favorites include Syngonium podophyllum and water lettuce. Interestingly enough, they won’t eat the leaves of these plant species but rather the roots. This may be because it’s difficult for their stomach to digest large leaf fragments.

Algae is another favorite food for neon tetras; however, as mentioned before, they want to eat the roots of plants. They also love dark green floating algae that you can find in most aquarium stores, but they will not touch flake foods containing this type of material.

If your neon tetras are getting their greens from live plants or produce, it’s important to ensure that these foods don’t have any chemicals added to them as well. Most store-bought vegetables won’t pose a concern due to being washed and packaged, but it’s always wise to check.

What Do Baby Neon Tetras Eat?

Babies eat the same things that adult neon tetras do: small insects, gelatinous flakes (TVP), and plant leaves for protein. As they grow up, baby neon tetras are ready to start eating other fish if you have them in with your breeding pair. Your neon tetra babies can be fed the same amount of food as adult fish: one small black mosquito larva, three gelatinous flakes (dried bloodworms), and four to five baby brine shrimp daily.

Babies grow at a fantastic rate in their early weeks; however, feeding them too much can lead to slow growth rates that may interfere with your success producing fry for future generations. It is safe to feed your baby neon tetras small portions of quality baby brine shrimp and waxworms. In the early teen weeks, you can also start adding blood worms to their food for an added protein source; once they have grown a bit more older (8-10 months), it’s good idea to supplement with black mosquito larvae too.

How Much and How Often Should You Feed a Neon Tetra?

Neon tetras need to be fed every day. Many new owners of neon tetra fish will recommend six feedings a day. Neon tetras should also be kept in groups rather than being isolated due to the water quality and natural cleaners they provide. You should also aim for an eight-hour feeding schedule when compared with other species such as guppies. You can use blunt forceps since it’s less likely they’ll catch their edge while eating; this is a quick way to get neon tetras in the habit of feeding.

In addition, you should feed your neon tetras with a fine, slow-moving current to provide for the growth of all their internal organs.

When to Feed Neon Tetras?

The easiest way to notice if they are in need of food is checking their color; if it becomes weak they will probably be hungry. It can also help when you know what time your aquarium lights come on at night (or throughout all 24 hours), since like other fish, nocturnal animals would have very little energy during this ” inactive” period. After lights-out one of these little guys would be worth the hassle! In addition, you can also check the color of their fins to determine if they are in need of food.

When you have fed them, you should be able to tell by the color change that they are full and your neon tetra is ready for sleep.

How Long Can Neon Tetras Go Without Food?

Neon Tetras can last without food for a long time; however, when feeding them, you should aim to provide at least 3-6 feedings per day. If your aquarium got very low in oxygen levels, it’s useful that you begin by increasing the amount of neon tetra bred daily– these fish are thankful when they’re given plenty of quality food (and water too!)

The alternative way is to simply keep actively feeding the neon tetras with a sinking pellet and frozen bloodworm.