Neon Tetra

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Paracheirodon innesi - (Myers, 1936)
Neon Tetra

A freshwater aquarium icon, spectacular when kept in large schools.


Probably the best-known tetra and perennially one of the most popular aquarium fishes, the Neon Tetra is a hardy little fish that will usually thrive, even for beginning hobbyists. When kept in large schools in well-planted aquariums, they put on a memorable show. Unlike the Cardinal Tetra, the broad red band below the neon stripe doesn’t extend the entire length of the body, but begins just above the ventral fins and runs into the tail. The blue stripe changes in color as the fish move in and out of the light.

Family: Characidae

Other common name(s):

Native range:

Habitat: The Neon Tetra does not tolerate poor water quality; place only in a well-established aquarium.

Maximum length: 2.5 cm (1 in)

Minimum aquarium size: 38 L (10 gal)

Water: Freshwater 22 °C (72 °F) - 26 °C (79 °F)

General swimming level: Midwater to top.


Omnivore. Although the Neon Tetra will accept most aquarium fare, including good-quality flake foods and micro-pellets, it will also need small frozen or live meaty foods, such as brine shrimp or Daphnia, to thrive.

Aquarium Compatibility

The Neon Tetra is a small, schooling species that does best in groups of at least six (more is better). Because they tend to be timid and are small, avoid keeping them with large or aggressive species that may bully or eat them. Angelfish and Neons, for example, should never be mixed.


Neons are egg scatterers and challenging to breed.


They are best kept in a tank well planted on the sides and back with a dark substrate and background.

Reference: 101 Best Tropical Fishes
Image credit: JJ
Text credit: KW