Are Neon Tetras Hardy? (Why And Factors That Affect Them)

Image of neon tetras swimming together in a tank

Neon tetras are hardy once they get accustomed to the tank conditions. However, they may seem a bit off-color and frail for the first few days. Even though neon tetras are hardy, specific parameters like water temperature, pH levels, and hardness need to be maintained for their optimum growth.

Having said that, neon tetras can fall sick just like any other resilient species. So, let’s now understand why they are considered hardy and the factors that affect their health.

What Makes Neon Tetras Hardy?

Neon tetras adapt well to a wide range of environmental conditions.

They are versatile fish that thrive as long as their basic needs are fulfilled.

Hence, they are preferred by many aquarists worldwide for their hardiness and easy adaptability.

Neon tetras prefer water hardness below 20 dGH. Anything above that range can cause serious health issues for them.

Besides, they thrive in soft water. However, they can adjust well in medium hard water too. This quality makes them hardy.

Moreover, neon tetras are peaceful fish. They get along well with numerous peaceful fish in a community tank.

Since they are not aggressive, their stress levels are usually low. This quality again makes them hardy.

Although neon tetras are hardy and adjust to a variety of water parameters, various factors can adversely affect their health.

Let’s discuss these factors now.

Factors That Affect The Health Of Neon Tetras

Wild neon tetras are hardy. However, commercial breeding has softened the neon tetras slightly.

They have become more delicate than their wild counterparts.

Any significant deviation to the water chemistry or temperature can make them fall ill.

Hence, it’s crucial to maintain specific water parameters while setting up their tank.

Given below are some of the common factors that affect neon tetras’ health.


Stress is one of the primary factors that affect neon tetras’ health. Managing stress is vital to keep them healthy.

Stress can prove fatal to neon tetras if it’s overlooked.

Poor water conditions, unsuitable water parameters, bullying, space constraint, loneliness, and sickness can result in stress.

Given below are the behavioral changes you can notice in neon tetras if they are stressed:

  • Excessive hiding in the tank,
  • Loss of appetite leading to weight loss,
  • Color loss,
  • Gasping for breath often resulting in an anxiety attack.

Poor Genetics

Poor genetics is another factor that can adversely affect a neon tetra’s health.

You cannot do much if you have a fish with inferior genetics.

The only thing you can do is to avoid purchasing neon tetras with poor genes.

For this, you need to purchase neon tetras from renowned pet stores or breeders that take good care of their fish.

Poor Water Conditions

Water quality is a critical factor for the health of any fish. If the tank water is contaminated, neon tetras cannot survive for too long.

Poor water conditions result in a spike in ammonia, nitrates, and nitrite levels that can prove disastrous.

Water can get polluted due to lack of water changes, leftover fish food, fish waste, or insufficient filtration.

Unsuitable Water Parameters

Although neon tetras are hardy, unstable water parameters can make them sick.

A constant fluctuation in the water parameters can also stress the neon tetras. Stress may lead to frequent sickness.

The ideal water parameters for neon tetras are:

  • Water temperature: 70°F to 80°F (21°C to 27°C),
  • pH levels: Between 6 to 7,
  • Nitrate: <20 ppm,
  • Ammonia and nitrite: 0 ppm.

Sudden Water Changes And Temperature Fluctuations

Neon tetras feel secure after they get accustomed to the tank water.

Suddenly changing massive quantities of water from the tank can disrupt the water chemistry.

It can result in shock for the neon tetras, thus affecting their health.

Partial water change is essential. However, you should avoid changing the water rapidly as it can harm the neon tetras.

Also, drastic fluctuations in water temperatures can cause trauma to neon tetras.

They make become more susceptible to illness due to this.


Overfeeding is another primary factor impacting the health of neon tetras.

Neon tetras are tiny fish. Hence, feeding them once or twice a day is sufficient.

Overfeeding often results in excess fish waste.

Besides, tank water can get contaminated if the uneaten food is not removed immediately.

The water can become toxic, resulting in the deterioration of neon tetras’ health.


Neon tetras are active fish. They love to swim freely in the tank. If the tank is overcrowded, it will result in space constraints.

Neon tetras can feel suffocated and stressed if they don’t get ample space. They may resort to hiding which is not good at all.

Besides, overcrowding also reduces the oxygen levels in the tank water.

The more the number of fish, the more oxygen is needed.


Neon tetras live in large groups in their natural habitat. They thrive in each other’s company.

So, if you have very few neon tetras in a tank, they will feel alone and may sulk.

It may even lead to stress. Stress can prove fatal as they may become prone to diseases.

Besides, stress also results in the weakening of the immune system.

All these factors will harm the neon tetras’ health. They may easily succumb to any illness.

Incompatible Tankmates

Neon tetras are non-aggressive fish. They prefer the company of fish or other living organisms that are peaceful.

Aggressive or incompatible tankmates can also be a significant reason behind neon tetras’ health deterioration.

Aggressive tankmates will constantly bully the neon tetras.

Since neon tetras are not used to bullying, they will resort to hiding to safeguard themselves.

Besides, aggressive fish may also try to make a meal of the tiny neon tetras.

Constant bullying and fear of an attack by a predatory fish will lead to stress. This will hamper their health adversely.

Fish such as Bettas, Angelfish, and Cichlids are incompatible tankmates to neon tetras and should be avoided.

High Water Current

The natural habitat of neon tetras is slow-moving water streams.

They do not prefer high water current. High water current may result in pushing the neon tetras all over the place in the tank.

To avoid this, neon tetras will resort to hiding and feel stressed most of the time.

Besides, they will not eat properly in high water current. This will lead to weakness.

Neon Tetra Disease

The Pleistophora hyphessobryconis parasite causes the Neon Tetra Disease.

Some of the symptoms of Neon Tetra Disease are:

  1. Difficulty in swimming,
  2. Restlessness,
  3. Sudden loss of color,
  4. White patches on the body,
  5. Cyst on the stomach,
  6. Spinal deformities, and
  7. Lumps under the skin.

The Neon Tetra Disease is highly contagious.

So, if any neon tetra gets infected, it’s advisable to remove it immediately from the tank.

As there is no cure for the Neon Tetra Disease, prevention is the best medicine.

You can prevent this disease by maintaining high water quality.

Also, while purchasing new fish, ensure that you purchase them from a reputed supplier.

Related Questions

Are black neon tetras hardy? Black neon tetras are hardy as they can survive a wide range of water parameters than most other delicate fish. They adapt well to many aquarium conditions quickly. Some of the black neon tetras prefer clear water. However, they can thrive in slightly tan-stained water. Though these fish are hardy, they can suffer the same ailments as any tropical fish. The plus point is that most of these ailments are easy to treat. Also, due to their hardiness, black neon tetras respond well to over-the-counter medications.

Are green neon tetras hardy? Unlike neon tetras, green neon tetras are exclusively caught in the wild. Hence, they are not used to living in the home aquariums. Therefore, green neon tetras are sensitive to changes in the tank environment when it’s first set up. It is imperative that the tank environment be ideal and stable before introducing green neon tetras. They prefer black water conditions. However, they thrive in a wide range of water parameters.


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