green neon tetra

Green neon tetras are brightly colored freshwater fish native to South America, and they make an excellent addition to any community tank. Despite their seemingly whimsical appearance, they possess unique and fascinating characteristics that make them well worth the effort to learn about and care for. Resilient, vibrant, and serene, these little fish are always up to something interesting, making them a top choice for both beginners and seasoned hobbyists.

Their active, playful, and spirited displays will add life to your beautifully styled aquarium, creating a dynamic and enchanting aquatic environment. However, despite their peaceful nature and adaptability to a wide range of water parameters, neon tetras require specialized care to thrive.

To keep your neon tetras in perfect health, it’s crucial to understand their habitat requirements and how to meet them. To assist you in providing the best care possible, we’ve created this comprehensive guide. By equipping yourself with knowledge about their natural habitat, diet, common diseases, and more, you’ll ensure these little beauties remain healthy and vibrant, bringing joy to your aquarium for years to come.

So, read on and discover everything you need to know to give your neon tetras the best care possible.

What are Green Neon Tetras ?

Paracheirodon simulans, also known by various names like the false neon tetra, green neon tetra, and blue neon tetra, is renowned for its shimmering blue-green stripe. This iridescent line runs along the length of its body and shifts in hue based on mood, surroundings, and viewing perspective. Even in the dark, when the lights are off, the stripe remains visible, transforming into a glittery royal blue or indigo, which aids in camouflage within the blackwater river basins of Brazil, Colombia, and Venezuela, their natural habitat.

What sets cardinal tetras, neon tetras, and green neon tetras apart from each other? Though these closely related fish all sport a blue horizontal stripe with a red stripe beneath it, their sizes and stripe patterns distinguish them. The cardinal tetra, the largest of the three, grows up to 2 inches (5 cm) and features a full red stripe running from eye to tail. The neon tetra, at a moderate 1.5 inches (3.8 cm), has a half red stripe starting midway down its body and extending to the tail. The smallest, the green neon tetra, reaches just 1 inch (2.5 cm) and boasts an iridescent turquoise stripe with only a hint of red.

green neon tetra

How to Set Up an Aquarium for Green Neon Tetras

Green neon tetras thrive in their natural South American habitat, surrounded by shady trees, dense vegetation, and abundant leaf litter, fallen branches, and other decomposing organic matter that acidifies the water. These conditions allow them to flourish in highly acidic environments with pH levels ranging from 3.0 to 6.5 and very soft to moderately soft general hardness (GH). Despite their preference for such conditions, they are quite hardy and can adapt to pH levels of 7.0–8.0 in home aquariums. It’s best to consult with your local fish store to determine the specific water parameters the tetras have been kept in.

To keep green neon tetras comfortable, maintain typical tropical temperatures between 74–82°F (23–28°C) using an aquarium heater. Since they prefer slower water flow, opt for a gentle sponge filter or add a pre-filter sponge to your hang-on-back or canister filter to prevent them from being sucked in. Creating an environment with dim lighting and plenty of plants, especially floating ones, will provide shaded areas and hiding spots, helping them feel secure. A darker background and substrate can enhance their vibrant colors. To mimic their blackwater biotope, consider adding catappa leaves and driftwood to the tank, which will release tannins and create brown-tinted waters over time.

When it comes to group size, keeping at least six green neon tetras together is recommended, though they feel even more comfortable in groups of ten or more. A 10-gallon aquarium or larger is ideal for accommodating a school of ten.

For tank mates, green neon tetras can coexist peacefully with other small, non-aggressive community fish. They pair well with bottom dwellers like corydoras catfish or a gentle centerpiece fish like the honey gourami, whose warm, sunny yellow complements the cool colors of the green neons. Additionally, their small size makes them suitable companions for adult dwarf shrimp, although they might snack on shrimp fry.

green neon tetra

What Do Green Neon Tetras Eat ?

Green neon tetras, as opportunistic omnivores, naturally feast on a variety of tiny crustaceans, worms, insects, algae, and plankton in the wild. To ensure they receive a balanced diet rich in nutrients and vitamins in your home aquarium, provide them with a mix of small foods suitable for their tiny mouths. Crumbled flakes, nano pellets, freeze-dried tubifex worms, and specialized options like Easy Fry and Small Fish Food are excellent choices. Additionally, they will thrive on live baby brine shrimp, frozen cyclops, and daphnia, which can make their diet more diverse and enriching. By offering this variety, you’ll keep your green neon tetras healthy and vibrant.

green neon tetra

How to Breed Green Neon Tetras

Breeding egg-scattering fish like cardinal, neon, and green neon tetras can be challenging due to the high rate of egg predation. Additionally, their eggs are sensitive to light and must remain in darkness. If you’re ready for the challenge, start by setting up a seasoned 10-gallon blackwater aquarium with very low pH and GH. Using RO (reverse osmosis) water with blackwater extract, catappa leaves, and other pH-lowering substances will help achieve the ideal conditions.

To protect the eggs from adult predation, create a grid-like barrier using plastic craft mesh or egg crate wrapped with netting, covering the entire tank footprint. Elevate this barrier on four PVC pipes about 3–4 inches (7.5–10 cm) tall so that the eggs can fall through to the bare bottom. Place plenty of java moss on top of the barrier as spawning sites, securing them with small stones if needed.

Condition the adults for breeding in a separate tank by feeding them live foods generously. Isolate males from females if necessary to boost egg production. When the females are swollen with eggs, introduce at least one male and one female (or a group of conditioned adults) into the spawning tank in the evening without feeding them. By the next morning, the adults should have spawned, and you can remove them from the tank.

Keep the lights off for the first five days to protect the eggs. Once the fry are free-swimming, they will need to be fed multiple times a day with tiny foods like green water, infusoria, and live vinegar eels. As they grow larger, switch to live baby brine shrimp to support their development and ensure they grow strong and healthy.

Hopefully, you’ve come to adore the stunning green neon tetra as much as we do. While we don’t ship live fish, you can explore the offerings of our preferred online retailers to find the latest aquatic animals in stock. For more inspiration and to discover other popular tetras, check out our guide on the top 10 tetras that will make a beautiful addition to your next community tank.

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