Animal-World’s Featured Pet for this week is: The Neon Tetra!
Most likely, you have heard of or seen the Neon Tetra Paracheirodon innesi, even if you are not a fish person! They are extremely popular aquarium fish and many beginner aquarists start by adding a few of these little guys to their new tank. These small fish are clear with both a brilliant red stripe and a brilliant blue stripe, hence their “neon” coloring. The red stripe only goes part way along their body, though. They have been kept as aquarium fishes since the 1930’s! They are schooling fish and make quite a beautiful display when you have 6-8 of them dancing around your aquarium.
There are many advantages to keeping neon tetras. Besides just their beautiful colors, they are very small and easy to keep. They are great for beginners and can live to be over 10 years old. They are inexpensive and can be kept in a small aquarium. They are relatively hardy and need only basic, regular care. They are good community fish and can be kept with many other small community fish.
The Neon Tetra is originally from South America and is a member of the Characin fish family. They can be found in Brazil, the Paraguay River basin, the Pantanal of Mato Grosso do Sul, and the Rio Taquari. Generally they live in the middle layer of these water bodies and eat worms and tiny crustaceans. Pet neon tetras are virtually all captive bred, however. Most are bred in Europe and shipped out. Different variations of neon tetra have also been developed, including the Long Finned Neon Tetra. Make sure not to confuse the Neon Tetra with its similar colored cousin the Cardinal Tetra! The Cardinal Tetra has a red stripe which extends the length of its body. This is the most obvious distinction between it and the Neon Tetra.
Here is the nitty gritty on the care and feeding of the Neon Tetra. They are fairly hardy fish, however they will be more delicate the first week after moving them to a new aquarium. Once they adjust to the environment, though, they usually do quite well, especially with continuous maintenance. They are small and so do not need a large aquarium. The more fish you are keeping, the larger the aquarium should be. A ten gallon tank should do nicely for one school of neon tetras. They like to have plants, dark gravel, and some sort of decorations they can congregate around. Normal lighting with a temperature between 68 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit is best. Change their water bi-weekly and feed them two or three times daily. A good freshwater flake food should be sufficient. Feel free to offer them live foods (worms, shrimp) as a treat on occasion.
Neon Tetras are generally hardy and have few health problems. One condition that you should be aware of, however, is called the Neon Tetra Disease. This disease is actually a condition that affects several fish species, but it earned its name due to being first diagnosed in neon tetras. It is incurable and very contagious. It has been traced to a sporozoan in the Plistophora genus. The main symptom is a spot or blotch that begins to spread right under their dorsal fin. Most attempts to cure this disease have been unsuccessful and there is no guaranteed way to get rid of it. Other than the Neon Tetra Disease, other fish illnesses can affect these guys if they are not kept in a stable and clean aquarium. They can be susceptible to parasites, bacterial infections, and other common fish diseases.
To read more on the popular Neon Tetra, check out Animal-World’s Neon Tetra page!
Jasmine is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.