Neon tetra

Aquarium fish: Neon tetra (Paracheirodon innesi)
Size: 3 – 3.5 cm
Origin: South America
Water temperature: 20-26 ° C
Aquarium volume: 54 l

Neon tetra (Paracheirodon innesi ) – one of the most popular aquarium fish, available in virtually every aquarium shop. It gained its popularity thanks to the effective coloration, durability and low price.


South America. Neon innesi are found in the western and northern Amazon basins of southeastern Colombia, eastern Peru and Brazil. They mostly inhabit forest streams and smaller tributaries, less often main canals.

The water in their natural habitats is usually acidic, with negligible carbonate hardness and conductivity, and colored brown due to the accumulation of humic substances. Sometimes they are also found in “white” waters. The habitat they inhabit is characterized by mostly submerged branches, tree limbs and a substrate covered with decaying leaves. There are also plants in some habitats.

Characteristics and disposition

Adult specimens are 3-3.5 cm long.

The upper body is slightly blue, the belly is white and silvery. Pisces is characterized by an iridescent blue horizontal band that runs from the nostrils to the base of the fat fin, and an iridescent red band that begins in the center of the body and extends to the base of the caudal fin. This belt contains pigment cells called iridophores, which reflect light through crystalline guanine plates called schemochromes. In the light, the light diffracts on the piles of these plates, creating iridescent colors. A dark olive green sheen sometimes appears on the back.

Apart from the above markings, the body and fins are transparent. At night, when resting, the red and blue colors darken, turn gray or black, and become visible again with morning activity. There are also commercially available breeding forms with long fins, short body, albino, gold or diamond (with shimmering scales on the back). Unfortunately, the years of commercial breeding of artificial forms negatively influenced their genetic line, which has an impact on the number of morphological defects and low resistance, so be careful when buying. The species can sometimes be confused with the red neon ( P.

axelrodi) and the green neon ( P. simulans) . Compared to P. axelrodi , it is relatively less red, and the blue side band is narrower and shorter as it ends at the base of the fat fin. The side band in P.

simulans is more greenish than blue and extends further to the base of the caudal fin, there is also less red pigment on its body. One hypothesis is that the intense blue sideband function of Paracheirdon species may have evolved as a predator avoidance strategy. Researchers found that the bright color of these fish is less noticeable in black waters, except when viewed at an angle of about 30 ° above the horizon, so mirror images projected from below to the surface of the water may confuse the predator. These species are also able to vary the intensity of their coloration to some extent. In bright conditions, with a light substrate or background and clear water, their coloration fades, while at night it darkens.

This can also be a reaction to reduce their visibility. Sexual dimorphism is hardly visible. Adult males are slightly smaller than females, with iridescent stripes running straight along the body, which in spawning females often break below the dorsal fin. Neons are calm, shoal fish and should be kept in a group of min. 10 pieces , preferably more.

Interestingly, studies have shown that only above this number, their hostility and nervousness within the herd decreases. They feel safer in a large group, are more active, look prettier and present more interesting behaviors.

Nutrition and feeding

Omnivorous fish in nature feed on small invertebrates, crustaceans, thread algae and fruit falling into the water. In aquariums, they can be regularly fed with dry foods, but the best condition and coloration will be ensured only by a varied diet containing live and frozen foods, e.g. waterfowl, daphnia, daphnia, artemia, etc.


For a small group of P. innesi it is recommended to min. A 60 cm aquarium, preferably arranged like a natural habitat, with a sandy base and decorations made of dry branches and roots. The nature of such a reservoir will be completed by a handful of dry leaves, between which the fish will find additional shelter. The decomposing litter will be a good breeding ground for microorganisms, which can be a valuable source of food for the fry, and will also release beneficial humic substances into the water.

An alternative is a not too strongly lit aquarium, locally densely planted with undemanding plants, also floating, with the addition of wood. In nature, they avoid intense light and prefer to stay under shade, so they will not be a good choice for typically plant tanks with strong, bright lighting. They are very sensitive to sudden changes in water parameters and temperature . The water to be changed should have similar parameters and temperature to that of the aquarium. They often get sick in neglected or poorly maintained reservoirs.

They feel best in very soft and acidic water with a temperature of 22 ° C. In a social aquarium they can be kept with other calm, small fish with similar environmental requirements. A good choice will be, for example, Kiryski motley, preferring cooler water, a pair of gentle cichlids, such as Apistogramma steindachneri , small microorganisms, otoski or trout. They should not be kept in the company of much larger and more active species. For scalars, they will become food over time, and among fast-moving rainbow or barbs, they can be intimidated and hide in the corners of the reservoir.


Innesa neon propagation requires a separate, shaded spawning tank with a lot of small-leaved plants (e.g. mosses). Instead of plants, you can use e.g. artificial aquarium mops. Water for reproduction should be very soft, 1-5 dGH, acidic 5.5-6.5 pH and temperature approx.

24 ° C. For filtration, a small sponge filter with flow regulation is enough, adjusted so that the water circulation is not too strong. Innes’ neon signs can be reproduced in groups consisting of a similar number of males and females, but we will obtain better results by breeding them in pairs . Before planned spawning, females should be separated from males (e.g. with a partition) and fed more frequently with live food.

When the females are thicker and the males are more intensely colored, choose the thickest female and the prettiest male and transfer them to a separate tank in the evening. Spawning usually begins the next morning. If it fails after a few days, you can try it with another couple. Fish scatter about 100 eggs, most often among plants. Adult specimens eat their eggs, so after noticing them, it is necessary to catch the parents.

The larvae hatch within 24-36 hours, and after another 3-4 days the larvae begin their migration around the aquarium. In the first period, they require the smallest micro-foods, until they are large enough to consume small live foods, such as artemia larvae or micro nematodes. The fry will become stained as adults after about a month. Adult fish may wipe off even every two weeks. Attention.

Both the roe and the fry, in the early stages of life, are very sensitive to light.


The species is susceptible to ailments related to the so-called Neonatal disease (Plistophorosis), which, as the name suggests, was first diagnosed in neon, but other species can also suffer from it. It is advisable to check the fish carefully in stores before making a purchase. The classic symptom of the disease is white spots on the body. The disease is caused by parasitic microorganisms P Similar symptoms can be caused by the so-called ‘ Fake neon disease ‘ caused by the bacterium


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