COMPLETE GUIDE TO KEEPING NEON TETRA IN THE HOME AQUARIUM
A little history of Neon Tetra and home to keep them happy in the home aquarium.
COMPLETE GUIDE TO KEEPING NEON TETRA IN THE HOME AQUARIUM
Where do Neons come from?
Neon Tetras are native to the streams and small tributaries of the Amazon including areas of southeastern Colombia, northeast Peru and northern and western parts of Brazil. They thrive in blackwater and murky water areas of dense vegetation, including flood plains during the rainy season. Neon Tetras in the wild are found in large schools staying close to the lower areas of the streams and creeks in which they live, close to vegetation and root structures that afford them protection from larger predatory fish species. While it is not necessary to completely recreate their natural environment in the home aquarium, it is important to provide some key aspects of it. If you plan to keep Neon Tetras in your community freshwater aquarium, you should plan to provide areas of lower lighting with either vegetation or root structure to provide them a reasonable comfort level with their environment and a place to escape larger more aggressive species.
Choosing healthy specimens and proper quantities for your aquarium
When selecting Neon Tetras for your aquarium it is important to choose healthy specimens that will be able to cope well with the transition into their new aquarium environment. Specimens should be active swimmers that swim purposely in the aquarium and do not float or drift in the water as this is a sign of poor health. Healthy specimens will also exhibit bright well defined colors that are not washed out or faded in appearance. General fish selection rules apply as well, in that the store aquarium should be clean, free of any odors and dead fish. Since the Neon Tetra is a very small fish it is a little more suseptible to fluctuations in water chemistry, so it is important to acclimate them slowely to their new environment.
In addition, Neon Tetra are a schooling fish and should absolutely be kept in reasonable sized schools in order for them to thrive in the home aquarium. The size of the school will vary depending on aquarium size, but at least a group of 8 or more specimens should be doable in most all but the smallest aquariums. Larger schools tend to do even better as the numbers provide the Neon Tetra with a good comfort zone and feeling of safety. It is not uncommon to see schools of Neon Tetra as large as 20 to 30 fish in even moderately sized aquariums because of their relatively small size. Last but certainly not least is the sheer beauty of a large school of Neon Tetra with their vibrant color and closely grouped schools, they provide a truly impressive site within the community freshwater aquarium.
Neon Tetras are suitable for the beginning aquarium hobbyist, but they do require that the aquarium environment support their basic needs. In the wild, Neon Tetra generally live in water that is cooler as it is well shaded from the sun and somewhat on the acidic side, ranging from a pH of 5.0 to 7.0 and KH or 1.0 to 2.0. However, within the aquarium environment they can be acclimated to tolerate brighter lighting conditions and pH as high as 7.5 if they are brought into these conditions gradually as not to shock the fish. This is best accomplished by emptying the newly bought Neon Tetra into a container with the store bag water and the fish. Then, every 5 minutes a cup full of water can be added to the container for 20 to 30 minutes. This will give the fish time to adjust to both the water chemistry and temperature of the aquarium system. After this acclimation process is complete the fish should be netted and added to the aquarium and the water in the acclimating container should be discarded.
Once in the aquarium, Neon Tetra should be provided plenty of places to hide if threatened; such as, live or fake plants, drift wood or root structures or large rocks. Due to their size and overall very passive nature, Neon Tetra should only be kept with other peaceful community species that will not grow large enough to eat them. While they reach just over an inch in size when fully grown, they do form tight schools that help give them protection from other larger fish species, so it is strongly recommended that this species be kept in good sized groups which will benefit their overall health and security.
Sexing and Breeding
Female and Male Neon Tetras have very subtle physical differences with the female having a more round body and curvature of the blue line, while the male is more slender and has a straight blue line. The curvature of the blue line in the female is most likely due to the location of the egg sack that even when empty creates a slightly more rounded appearance to the body.
Typically Neon Tetras are bred in conditions that closely mimic their natural surroundings including dim lighting and cooler water temperatures of around 72 to 75 degrees fahrenheit or 24 degrees celsius. The breeding aquarium should also have live plants that provide areas of the aquarium with high levels of shade and provide the fish a location to deposit their eggs. Breeders will often try to induce mating by lowering the KH to 1.0 or by letting nitrate levels rise and then replace 50% of the water with fresh RO/DI water along with brighter lighting to simulate the rainy season.
Once the eggs have been laid it is important to remove the adults as they will often eat young fry. The young are sensitive to higher lighting levels, so the lights should be maintained a low level and other water parameters should remain stable and constant. Eggs typically hatch within 24 hours and fry will reach their adult coloration within 30 days. During this time they can be fed a diet of rotifers, egg yolk, baby brine shrimp or other prepared foods formulated for newly hatched fish.
Overall the Neon Tetra is a hardy small fish species that brings a lot of color and activity to peaceful freshwater community aquariums. With a reasonable amount of care, a beginner aquarium hobbyist can not only maintain this species, but create an environment in which they can thrive.