Neon Tetra (Paracheirodon Innesi)

By: Billy | January 25, 2023 | Neon Tetras

Neon Tetras are some of the most beautiful tropical fish to keep.

And for most beginners, they’re one of your first fish.

The biggest thing I want to get across to any newbie reading this is to research the natural environment of the fish you’re thinking about getting. This will help you understand where it comes from and put you in the position to create a comfortable environment for them.

neon tetra

First, let’s cover the basics.


How many years do Neon Tetras live? Well, on average, Neon Tetras live 3-5 years. However, they could live up to 10 years with the right water parameters.


They’re native to the upper Orinoco and Negro Rivers in South America.

They live in large groups in tiny streams connected to rivers with dense vegetation. They mostly live in clear water environments – occasionally in black water.

Neon Tetras are native to tropical climates. The ideal water temperature for Neon Tetras is 74-80 degrees Fahrenheit.

They feel safe with lots of cover because of predators in the wild.

Complex structured bottoms (Leaf litter and organic material)

The leaf litter and organic decomposing material is food for micro crustations and insect larvae that tetra feed on.


The biggest mistake I made was not researching the natural environment of the Neon Tetra before I bought mine.

As a result, the local fish store sold me 5 tetra for my 5-gallon aquarium. If you’re familiar with Neon Tetra behavior, you know this isn’t good for them. They do better in a minimum school of 6.

Unfortunately, one of them died after the first day, so then I had 4.

I didn’t realize it for the longest time, but they’re a schooling fish. Meaning they do better in larger numbers.

I noticed my four tetras were chasing each other and acting aggressively.

They’re tropical fish and used to murkier water clarity.

Neon Tetras Tank Size

You should really put Neon Tetras in a 20-gallon aquarium. This will offer enough room for them to properly school.

Look, I’m not here to be the ‘ethical’ police, but I’ll share my experience. I went to my local chain pet store when I got back into the hobby.

I was recommended 6 neon tetra for my 5-gallon portrait tank. This was a big mistake because Neon Tetra like to swim in fast, long bursts, and that tank didn’t allow them to do that.

As a result, they were acting aggressively toward one another.

Best Tank Mates

First, make sure you get a proper school with enough room. Once you have a minimum of 6 Neon Tetras, then you can mix them with other tank mates.

Common Neon Tetra tank mates include…


I've been building freshwater aquariums with my dad since a young age. A few years ago, I shifted my focus to low-tech planted tanks. My goal is to share my experience to help make yours easier.