How To Breed Neon Tetras? (9 Simple Steps)

Image of neon tetras ready for breeding

To breed neon tetras, you need specific water conditions closely resembling their natural habitat. You will need a breeding tank with water temperature around 77°F (25°C) and pH in the range of 5 to 6. Water should be soft and slightly acidic. The breeding tank needs to be kept in a low-light spot.

Breeding neon tetras needs some preparation. However, it’s not that difficult to breed them. In this article, we will guide you through the entire process of breeding neon tetras successfully.

9 Steps To Breed Neon Tetras

Neon tetras can be a challenge to breed as they need specific water conditions.

The more the conditions resemble their natural habitat, the greater the chances of breeding them successfully.

Following are the steps that you can follow to breed a pair of neon tetras.

1. Condition the fish.

Neon tetras need to be conditioned before breeding them by placing the male and female neon tetras in a separate tank.

To produce good eggs, you need to feed the neon tetras a protein-rich diet.

You can feed them dried commercial food.

However, it’s best to feed meaty live food such as bloodworms, daphnia, or any other food that’s high in proteins.

A protein-rich nutritious diet helps to make the neon tetras healthy.

Once your neon tetras are healthy, you can place the male and female neon tetras together in a breeding tank.

2. Set up the breeding tank.

For successful breeding neon tetras, you need to replicate their natural habitat.

Neon tetras come from the Amazon river. They primarily reside in the blackwater environments in the wild.

So a 10-gallon breeding tank is recommended for a pair of neon tetras.

Neon tetras can breed only in soft water and at specific water temperatures.

Hence, while setting up the breeding tank, place peat soil at the bottom of the tank.

Placing peat soil helps to bring down the pH levels.

Also, you should install an aquarium heater in the breeding tank to stabilize the water temperature.

Avoid placing an aquarium filter to minimize the risk of the eggs getting sucked into the filter.

Instead, you can use a sponge filter once the fry are big enough.

3. Set up the ideal tank water parameters.

The next step is to set up the ideal water parameters. This is the key to breeding neon tetras successfully.

Neon tetras prefer water temperature around 77°F (25°C).

Besides, water also needs to be soft and slightly acidic. The pH levels should be in the range of 5 to 6.

You need to ensure that the water parameters are stable and don’t fluctuate much.

You can pour a mix of the main tank’s water and dechlorinated water into the breeding tank.

Besides, it’s advisable to test the water pH before introducing the breeding pair of neon tetras into it.

4. Place the breeding tank in a low-light or dark spot.

Tetras need a dark environment to breed. However, a dim-lit place will also work. You don’t need complete darkness.

So, you should keep the breeding tank at a place that gets only a small amount of light.

Avoid placing the breeder tank near a sunny window or at a place with plenty of sunlight.

You can also block the excess light by covering the sides of the tank with dark paper or a blanket.

5. Monitor the mating behavior.

Once you place the pair of neon tetras in the breeding tank, they will start courting each other.

You will see the male neon tetra swimming around the female in a square pattern.

While courting, the male neon tetra will use short jerky movements followed by periods of no motion.

Once the female neon tetra gets pregnant, her belly will enlarge with eggs.

6. Watch the spawning process.

Female neon tetras usually spawn their eggs in the morning.

Hence, you should closely watch the breeding tank once the lights are on.

Tetras are known to scatter their eggs all over the place.

So, you will notice several small eggs lying at the bottom of the tank once the spawning activity is completed.

7. Remove the adult tetras.

The eggs laid by the female tetras are tiny and difficult to notice due to their translucent color.

You might see the eggs lying in the gravel or under the plant leaves in the breeding tank if you watch closely.

As soon as the female tetra completes her egg-laying process, you should remove the adult tetras from the breeding tank.

If you don’t remove them, the tetras will eat their eggs.

8. Let the eggs hatch.

It takes a couple of days for the eggs to hatch. There may be around 50 to 130 eggs in one spawn.

However, not all eggs will hatch. Only 40 to 50 eggs may hatch.

You will find tiny neon tetra fry wiggling at the bottom of the tank once the eggs hatch.

The fry will be tiny and transparent. It takes them around 4 to 5 days to start swimming freely.

9. Feed the fry a balanced nutritious diet.

Once the neon tetra fry are born, they need special care. Diet is of utmost importance for their healthy growth at this point.

Once the fry are swimming freely, you can start feeding them a nutritious diet.

Initially, you can feed them around half a cup of infusoria twice a day.

After a couple of days, you can start feeding them some live food such as micro worms or vinegar eels.

After a week, you can introduce newly hatched brine shrimp into their diet.

You should always remember that the fry will need more food initially and should be fed frequently.

Hence, make sure that the fry get enough nutritious food.

However, in the process, do not foul the water as contaminated water is hazardous for their well-being.

You can introduce the newly born neon tetras in the main tank after about three months.

At this age, the neon tetra fry will become big enough to stay safe with the adult fish.

If you place them prior, then there are chances that the small neon tetras may get eaten, injured, or bullied by the adult fish.

How To Breed Infusoria?

Image of infusoria under a microscope

Infusoria is a mixture of small creatures like microorganisms that thrive in an infusion.

Starting an infusoria culture is easy.

You need to pour boiling water over the vegetable matter such as green peas, lettuce, or green beans in a small jar.

Once the water cools down, you can add water from the aquarium and place the jar on a window sill for a week.

You can see the water turning cloudy due to the growing bacteria population.

Cloudy water is normal and nothing to be worried about. Once the water starts clearing, the culture is good.

After a week, the infusoria culture will be ready to be fed to the free-swimming fry.

Infusoria is very healthy for the fry as it helps them grow to a size where they can start consuming fish food.

You can feed infusoria 2 to 3 times a day to your fry for optimum growth.

The infusoria culture usually has a foul odor. So, you need to keep it at a place where you won’t be able to smell it.

How To Breed Black Neon Tetras?

Image of a black neon tetra

Black neon tetras are energetic fish that can frequently breed in captivity.

In most cases, spawning occurs naturally in a community tank.

However, to breed black neon tetras on purpose, you need to set up a separate breeder tank and introduce a pair of bonded black neon tetras to it.

You can have a 10-gallon tank and add sand substrate and plenty of plants in it.

Initially, the lighting of the breeder tank needs to be dim. You can gradually increase the light until spawning occurs.

The water hardness should be less than 4 dGH to encourage breeding.

Besides, you can introduce various live foods such as mosquito larvae in their daily diet.

Then slowly raise the water temperature in the breeder tank to about 80°F to trigger spawning.

The female black neon tetra will lay hundreds of eggs at once.

The eggs may scatter all around in the breeder tank and will take around a day to hatch.

It is vital to remove the adult tetras before the eggs hatch as the black neon tetras don’t show any parental instincts to raise their young ones.

The young black neon tetras can survive on their egg sac for about 3 to 4 days until they become a bit strong to eat other food.

You can keep the babies in a separate tank until they are large enough to be safely kept with other adult fish in the main tank.

Meanwhile, you can feed them a nutritious diet such as brine shrimp or infusoria for their healthy development.

How To Breed Green Neon Tetras?

Image of a green neon tetra

Green neon tetras display striking similarities to neon tetras, except that they are slightly smaller in size.

Just like neon tetras, they need specific conditions to breed in captivity.

It is always recommended to set up a separate breeder tank for breeding green neon tetras.

If you breed them in the main tank, the eggs will get eaten by the adult fish.

You need to replicate the natural environment of green neon tetras to breed them successfully.

For that, you should lower the pH levels and increase the water temperature slightly to replicate their natural spawning season in the wild.

Also, you need to reduce the light in the tank to trigger the spawning behavior.

Once you do this, you will notice the male and female green neon tetras swimming close to each other.

They will frequently contact one another until the female green neon tetra lays hundreds of eggs at once.

Tetras are known for their egg spreading behavior.

The female green neon tetra will spread a blanket of eggs in various parts of the tank.

You need to remove the adult tetras as soon as the eggs hatch because neon tetras do not show any parental instincts.

The eggs will hatch in about a week.

They will remain attached to the egg sacs until they extract all the nutrition available in the egg.

Once the fry detach themselves and start swimming freely in the tank, you can start feeding them a balanced nutritious diet.

It is advisable to feed them infusoria in the first week.

Once they become large enough, you can start feeding them commercially available fry food or baby brine shrimp.

Related Questions

Are neon tetras hard to breed? Yes, neon tetras are hard to breed because they need specific water conditions to start breeding. A separate breeding tank needs to be set up with a water hardness of 1 to 2 dGH and pH 5.0 to 6.0. Providing live plants in the breeding tank and using sponge filters helps in the breeding process.

How long do neon tetras take to breed? On average, neon tetras will take 2 to 3 days to breed after adding them to the breeding tank. The tank’s water hardness should be around one, the temperature in the range of 77°F, and pH around 5.5. They also need dim lighting to breed.


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