The Neon Tetra (Paracheirodon Innesi)

Neon Tetra - Paracheirodon Innesi
Neon Tetra

Common name: Neon Tetra is the only common name used for this fish, although the Cardinal Tetra is sometimes confused with it due to its similarity in colouring.
Scientific name: Paracheirodon Innesi
Care Difficulty:

Easy / Medium

If water conditions are kept in check then there shouldn’t be any problems in keeping these fish.

The only factor creating some difficulty is that the extensive captive breeding of Neon Tetras has led to the weakening of the species.

This is all done to keep up with the high demand of this popular tropical fish.
Adult Size: Up to 4cm (1.6 inches)
Original Origin: South America
Tank Size/Setup:

Recommended is a tank of at least 10 gallons or 40 litres to keep your fish happy.

The reason for a large tank is that Tetra fish like to be kept in groups of about 10 or more, and so would need the extra space.

To bring out the best in them, the tank should be well planted and have a low light setup.

Conditions like this will bring out their colours better and resemble their natural habitat.


I am yet to see any Tetra fighting with another fish, so they go very well in community tanks or even in a large Tetra Aquarium.

Care should be taken though when placing them with bigger fish. Due to their small size, bigger fish could see them a live food and eat them.
Water Temperature: 20°C to 26°C (68°F to 79°F)  
Water Hardness: 20 to 160ppm (1 to 8°dgH/kH)
Water pH: 6pH to 7.5pH
Fish Food:

The Neon Tetra is omnivorous and so will go for a large variety of foods.

Flake foods are very common, but mixing with other dried or frozen foods will help bring out their colour.

You may wish to try some Brine Shrimp or Tubifex, which these fish will like.

They tend to spend their time in the middle region of the tank, so they normally grab to food as it falls past them.
The Sexes:

Telling the sexes apart can be very difficult. If you have a male and female together there are some points to look out for.

The blue line on the female normally has more of a curve in it than the male does. Some say the female is rounder than the male, but even this can be hard to tell.

Breeding the Neon Tetra is a bit of an art form and ranks up in the difficult category.

They breed by spawning, but only when conditions are right for them. One of these conditions is lighting, ranging from dark to very low light.

You may need to play around with the lighting until spawning occurs. Start from dark and every 2 or 3 days increase the lighting a bit.

Correct feeding is very important during breeding. The female needs good food with protein to produce eggs. Any live food will do the trick, but if you have done any research, you will see that most will recommend mosquito larvae.

If you are lucky enough to have your pair spawn, you will need to remove the male and female straight away. They will eat the fry when they hatch, which should be within 24 hours.
Average Lifespan:

Around 5 years.

This figure can vary greatly, depending on how well you look after your aquarium and how strong the strain of fish is.

Some Tetras bred in captivity are not as strong as others.

These fish are really common and due to their good nature and bright colours; make a great addition to any tropical fish tank.

You will also find them to be quite inexpensive, which is a good thing, as you should be buying them 10 or more at a time.

If it is colour you are looking for, a Tetra aquarium is about as good as they get.

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