How many neon tetras should be kept together? Probably more than you think!


Neon Tetras are one of the most popular freshwater aquarium fish species and for a good reason. Their vibrant coloration, active behavior, and peaceful nature make them an ideal choice for both beginner and experienced aquarists.

These small, charming fish originated from the clear water streams of South America and have a unique characteristic of being schooling fish.

However, the health and happiness of Neon Tetras in a home aquarium can significantly depend on factors such as the number kept together, tank size, water quality, and appropriate tank mates.

This article will delve into these crucial aspects to answer the question of how many neon tetras should be kept together and guide you on how to provide the best possible environment for your Neon Tetras.

Why Is It Important to Know How Many to Keep Together?

Understanding the right number of Neon Tetras to keep together in a tank is pivotal to their health and social behavior.

Neon Tetras are peaceful schooling fish, meaning they prefer to live and swim together in groups. If too few are kept together, they may become stressed, disrupting their social behavior.

On the other hand, overcrowding a tank with too many neon tetras can lead to poor water quality, stress, and disease outbreak due to the increased waste and competition for resources.

Additionally, knowing how many Neon Tetras can comfortably share a tank with other species of fish is equally crucial.

This is because not all fish species are compatible with Neon Tetras in community tanks, and the presence of aggressive fish can lead to the Neon Tetras becoming stressed or injured.

Appropriate Tank Size for Neon Tetras

The natural habitat of Neon Tetras plays a significant role in determining the appropriate tank size for these fish.

In the wild, they inhabit expansive water bodies and hence require sufficient space in captivity to exhibit natural behaviors. The tank size significantly impacts their health, lifespan, and overall well-being.

What Is the Recommended Tank Size for Neon Tetras?

Neon Tetras, despite their small size, are schooling fish and therefore require a tank that can comfortably accommodate a group of at least 6-8 individuals.

Given their active nature, they need ample swimming space. A tank measuring at least 24 inches in length is ideal for these fish.

Moreover, the tank should mimic their natural habitat as much as possible, promoting natural behaviors and reducing stress.

What Happens if the Tank Is Too Small?

A small tank can be detrimental to the overall health and lifespan of Neon Tetras. When cramped in a small space, they can exhibit stunted growth, stress, and increased aggression towards tank mates.

Moreover, they may not be able to form a proper school, which is essential for their social behavior.

Furthermore, a small tank increases the likelihood of poor water quality due to excessive waste and overfeeding, leading to disease outbreaks.

What Happens If the Tank Is Too Big?

While providing Neon Tetras with a larger tank may seem like a beneficial idea, it can also lead to problems.

An excessively large tank can cause stress due to an overwhelming amount of space and a lack of hiding places.

Additionally, maintaining the correct water conditions in a large tank can be challenging due to the need for more substantial filtration, additional lighting, and more oxygenation.

Plus, a larger tank may provide room for aggressive fish, which can pose a threat to the peaceful Neon Tetras.

Water Quality Requirements for Neon Tetras

Maintaining appropriate water conditions is critical for the well-being of Neon Tetras. These conditions include pH level, hardness, temperature, oxygen levels, and lighting.

By ensuring that these conditions closely replicate their natural habitat, you can promote the health and longevity of your Neon Tetras.

pH Level and Hardness Requirements

Neon Tetras thrive in slightly acidic water, reflective of their natural habitat in South America.

Their native waters have a pH level between 4 and 7 and a general hardness (GH) up to 10 degrees (dGH) and a carbonate hardness (KH) up to 4 degrees (dKH). To emulate this environment, the pH level in the tank should be maintained between 6.5 and 7.5, with a GH between 2 and 6 dGH and KH between 1 and 2 dKH. Fluctuations in pH and hardness should be avoided as they can cause stress and illness in the fish.

Temperature Requirements

Given that Neon Tetras originate from the warm waters of South America, they require a specific temperature range to thrive.

The recommended temperature range for these fish is between 70-81°F (21-27°C). However, sudden temperature changes should be avoided as they can stress the fish and potentially cause harm.

Oxygen Levels and Filtration

Proper filtration and oxygen levels are key to maintaining a healthy environment for Neon Tetras.

Filtration helps remove debris and other unwanted materials from the water, ensuring oxygen levels remain high enough for the fish to breathe.

The oxygen levels should always be maintained at optimal levels to promote the health of the fish.

Lighting Requirements

Appropriate lighting plays a vital role in Neon Tetras’ health and happiness. The right lighting not only helps these fish display their vibrant colors but also stimulates their natural day-night cycle.

Suitable lighting options for Neon Tetras include fluorescent and LED lights that provide a natural spectrum.

Providing the right intensity and duration of light is equally important to maintain a balanced environment in the tank and promote the growth of artificial or live plants.

Rule of Thumb for Calculating Number of Fish Per Gallon of Water

Calculating the right number of fish per gallon of water is a crucial aspect of maintaining a balanced aquarium.

This calculation needs to consider factors such as the fish’s size, species, and behavior, as well as the tank size and water quality.

Calculating the Number of Fish Per Gallon of Water in a 10-Gallon Tank

When calculating the number of Neon Tetras to keep in a 10-gallon tank, it’s important to note that they are schooling fish and at least six should be kept together.

Other compatible small and peaceful fish like betta fish or dwarf gourami could also share the tank.

The tank should also be equipped with sufficient plants or decorations to provide a natural environment, and regular water changes and testing water parameters are necessary to maintain optimal water quality.

Calculating the Number of Fish Per Gallon of Water in a 20-Gallon Tank

When stocking a 20-gallon tank with Neon Tetras, it’s essential to consider the water parameters and the size of the fish at the time of purchase.

Neon Tetras are schooling fish, meaning a minimum of six should be kept together. After determining the ideal tank size and checking the water parameters suitable for Neon Tetras, the number of gallons of water in the tank can be calculated.

Other compatible fish species or tank mates should also be taken into account.

Calculating the Number of Fish Per Gallon of Water in a 30-Gallon Tank

For a 30-gallon tank, the rule of thumb for calculating the number of fish per gallon of water, along with other factors such as the inclusion of other fish species and the presence of plants, needs to be considered.

A 30-gallon tank provides more room for Neon Tetras and potential tank mates, but it’s still crucial to avoid overcrowding.

As a practical example, using the recommended stocking range of 6-10 Neon Tetras per 10 gallons of water, you could comfortably house 18-30 Neon Tetras in a 30-gallon tank.

Frequently Asked Questions

People who ask ‘how many neon tetras should be kept together?’ also asked;

How many neon tetras should I keep in my fish tank?

The number of neon tetras you should keep depends on the size of your fish tank. As a general rule, keep 1 inch of fish per gallon of water. Since neon tetras are around 1.5 inches in size when fully grown, this translates to about 6-10 neon tetras per 10-gallon tank. Remember that neon tetras are a schooling fish, so they should always be kept in groups of six or more.

Can I keep only two neon tetras together?

Neon tetras are schooling fish, which means they thrive when they are in a group. A school typically consists of at least six individuals. Keeping only two might lead to stress and erratic behavior as they might feel unsafe.

How many neon tetras should I get initially?

If you’re just starting, a group of six neon tetras would be a good number. This ensures that they form a school, which is essential for their social behavior and overall health.

How many neon tetras can I keep with other fish in my tank?

This depends on the size of your tank and the species of the other fish. If you have larger fish that are peaceful, you can keep them with a school of neon tetras. However, avoid aggressive species as they may harm the neon tetras.

Can I keep neon tetras in a fish tank with lots of plants?

Yes, neon tetras actually thrive in tanks with lots of plants. The plants provide hiding spots and mimic their natural habitat, which helps reduce stress.

How many neon tetras can live with larger fish?

Neon tetras can live with larger fish, but make sure the larger fish are peaceful and won’t prey on the neon tetras. Also, ensure there is enough space in the tank for all the fish to swim freely without overcrowding.

Does the inch of fish per gallon rule apply to active fish like neon tetras?

Yes, the rule of 1 inch of fish per gallon of water does apply to neon tetras. However, as active fish, they also need ample space to swim around. Therefore, a long tank is preferred over a tall one.

How can I maintain a school of neon tetras?

To maintain a school of neon tetras, you need to keep at least six individuals together. Ensure that your tank has the right conditions – correct temperature, pH, hardness, and oxygen levels. Regular monitoring and cleaning of the tank are also necessary.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Content Disclaimer

Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the information on this site is correct, all facts should be independently verified.

Amazon Associates Disclaimer

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Useful Links



Facebook | Twitter | E-mail

%d bloggers like this: