Neon tetras, which are mostly found in the streams of western Brazil, eastern Peru, and southeastern Colombia, are excellent community fish, which prefer living in large groups of six or more. They are a peaceful lot and in very rare cases, behave in an aggressive manner. Neon tetras have a lifespan of 5 to 6 years in the wild, but they can live for about 10 years, if subjected to proper care.
Neon Tetras as Pets
Neon tetras can grow up to 1.2 inches (3 cm) in length, which makes them ideal for small aquariums. These fish are typically characterized by their half red-half blue appearance. They appear as if they are glowing in the aquarium and thus, are named 'neon' tetra. Due to their peaceful nature, these fish can be excellent addition to your aquarium alongside other varieties of fish.
Though they favor soft acidic water, they can also adapt and tolerate hard neutral water. Ideally, their captive habitat should include open swimming space, live plants, subdued lighting, and water current in the upper surface of the water, where the fish would prefer swimming. Since, they love to live in groups, make sure that you keep at least six fish together.
As far as the diet goes, these fish are undemanding and eat any fish food offered to them. However, a varied diet of brine shrimp, small live worms, freeze-dried foods, and flake is necessary for their good health.
If you observe their body type, it's easy to differentiate between neon tetra males and females. Males are slim compared to females, who are stocky and full-bodied. While breeding, it is recommended that you provide them a separate fish tank with water plants, dim light, and soft acidic water. In case the room is too bright, you can dim the light by placing a cardboard on the sides.
While selecting breeding pairs, ensure that they are healthy and are at least a year old. Usually, the female fish lays eggs early in the morning. The sticky eggs are then spread out on the substrate or on the surface of the plants.
Neon Tetra Disease
As the name suggests, neon tetra disease is an incurable infection that affects neon tetra species. It is caused by a sporozoan, Pleistophora hyphessobryconis. Its major symptoms are restlessness and dull coloration. Your pet tetras can get infected if you feed them live food, which is infected, or introduce infected fish in their fish tank. As the infection starts spreading, it leads to formation of cysts, thereby forming bumps on the body of the fish. Whenever bumps are formed, neon tetras find it difficult to swim.
As there is no available cure for this disease, it becomes necessary to prevent your fish from getting infected. Preventive measures, like cultivating live food and refraining from feeding live food, should be implemented, so as to keep your pets healthy.
In the wild, neon tetras can proliferate in large numbers, but when kept in captivity, it can be difficult for them to spawn, as it becomes difficult to achieve natural water conditions. If the conditions are ideal, neon tetras can breed after every two weeks. When a female tetra is ready to spawn, her body appears bulging, as it is filled with eggs.
If you intend to breed neon tetras, ideally they should be kept in a separate aquarium. Sterilize the items of the aquarium, lest they increase the chances of illness in fry or eggs. Some aquatic plants and rocks of about two to three inches should be provided at the bottom, so that it looks similar to their natural habitat.
The temperature of their surrounding should not be more than 24 °C. Unhealthy or old fish should not be bred; only adult healthy fish should be kept for breeding to obtain fry of the highest order. A good quantity of live food, like mosquito larvae, should be fed to them, so as to induce spawning.
While there is no questioning the fact that neon tetras are easy to care for, the onus is on you to provide ideal surroundings and help them live as long as possible.