Fascinating to watch, with their vibrant colours and non aggressive nature, Neon tetras are a top choice for freshwater aquarium owners around the world.
Neon Tetras are part of the biological family Characidae, notable for the small, fleshy fin which positioned between the fishes dorsal fin and caudal fin. Growing to around 4cm in length, Neon Tetras are easily identified due to their distinctive colouring. The upper half of the body is a transparent silver in colour, with an electric blue stripe which extends from the head to the tail and a bright red flash which runs from the middle of the body to the base of the tail. Female Neon Tetras have a slightly rounded body shape with a curve in their blue stripe, while males have a more slender form. During the night, when the fish are resting, you may observe that their colourful stripes turn silver, brightening up when exposed to higher levels of light again in day time. Poor diet, stress and illness can also cause the colouring to fade.
Neon Tetras are native to South America, where they are found in slow moving waterways in West Brazil and North Peru, and tributaries of the Amazon River. The natural habitat of Neon Tetras is marshy, warm water, with abundant plant life and tree roots providing shade and hiding places from predators. If you would like to keep Neon Tetras it is important to try to recreate in your aquarium an environment which imitates their natural home. Neon tetras do best in water temperatures of between 20-25 °C and a P.H level of around 7. The aquarium should be well-planted with a selection of plants to provide shelter to the fish – Water Wisteria, Sword Plant and Java Moss are all recommended.
Since Neon Tetras are a social species, they are happiest in communities of six or more, and in large groups they will exhibit spectacular natural behaviour, forming shoals and darting around the tank. The number of fish that can be kept in your aquarium is determined by the capacity of your tank, and a good rule of thumb to bear in mind with small species like the Neon Tetra is one inch of fish per gallon of water. Neon Tetras can be mixed with other small species, including Cardinal Tetras, but larger species such as Angelfish may attack them.
Neon Tetras are omnivores, and will eat both plant and animal material. Although it is rare for fish to overfeed, avoid adding excess food to the tank, as anything that is not eaten will drift to the bottom of the tank, and cause the water to become dirtier more quickly. You should feed your Neon Tetras daily, with quality flake food, and add no more than they will consume in three minutes. For a treat, give them blood-worms or brine shrimp, which will help to keep their diet nutritionally balanced.
Generally Neon Tetras are an easy species to keep and can live for up to 10 years in ideal conditions. Unfortunately Neons are particularly susceptible to Neon Tetra Disease, an infection which sets in rapidly, causing restlessness, loss of colour and growth of cysts, and is incurable. Since the disease spreads quickly between fish sharing the same tank, it is vital to remove sick fish immediately to halt the spread of infection.