Ideal Neon Tetra Water Parameters + How To Maintain Them?

Ideal Neon Tetra Water Parameters + How To Maintain Them?

Image of neon tetras swimming in ideal water parameters

The ideal water parameters for neon tetras are, water temperature between 70°F and 80°F (21°C to 27°C), pH level between 6 and 7, ammonia and nitrite levels of 0 ppm, nitrate levels below 20 ppm, water hardness of 2 to 10 dGH, alkalinity of 1 to 2 dKH (17.8 to 35.5 ppm), and minimal water salinity.

Maintaining the correct water parameters can be a challenge. So let’s understand the water parameters for neon tetras in detail. But first…

What Are The Water Conditions Of Neon Tetras In The Wild?

Neon tetras are tropical fish native to the western and northern Amazon basin in eastern Peru, southeastern Colombia, and western Brazil.

Neon tetras live in acidic blackwater streams in nature. The water in their natural environment is often brownish.

The brownish color is due to the presence of vegetation and decaying organic plant matter.

However, the water is not always dark. It sometimes appears clear even with tannins.

Neon tetras cannot survive in muddy water.

They live in clearwater that’s free of any mud and slits in their natural environment.

Although neon tetras have a preference for acidic blackwater streams, they are also found in clearwater streams.

In the wild, the neon tetras’ ideal water temperature is usually in the range of 68°F to 82°F (20°C to 28°C).

At the same time, the pH level is between 4 to 7.5.

Ideal Water Parameters For Neon Tetras In An Aquarium

Neon tetras are sensitive to water conditions. They have some basic needs that you should fulfill for them to thrive in captivity.

If the water conditions are not ideal, neon tetras can develop several health issues.

Given below are the ideal water parameters that you should maintain for neon tetras.

Water Temperature

The ideal water temperature for neon tetras is between 70°F to 80°F (21°C to 27°C).

Being tropical fish, they thrive in warm water. A heater comes in handy to maintain the water temperature.

pH Level

Neon tetras live in soft and acidic waters in their natural environment.

Hence, it’s best to replicate the same environment in the aquarium as well.

The ideal pH level is between 6 to 7 in captivity.

While breeding neon tetras, the pH level should not be higher than 6.5 with very minimal hardness.


Ammonia in the tank water needs to be 0 ppm. A high level of ammonia can make the tank water toxic for neon tetras.

Ammonia burns the neon tetras’ gills. It can prove fatal if neon tetras are unable to breathe correctly.

Hence, it is vital to keep the ammonia levels close to zero in the tank water to keep the neon tetras safe.


Just like ammonia, nitrites also need to be zero for optimal growth of neon tetras.

They cannot tolerate any unstable component in the tank water.

Neon tetras can become frail if the ammonia and nitrite levels increase in the tank water.

Nitrites are very toxic to neon tetras. A high level of nitrites in the tank water causes stress.

Prolonged exposure to high nitrites in the tank water can result in permanent damage to neon tetras.

It can even lead to premature death.


Unlike ammonia and nitrites, which need to be zero, a limited amount of nitrate is acceptable in the tank water.

However, the nitrate level should not cross 20 ppm.

Anything more than the desired level can cause severe health issues to neon tetras.


Neon tetras are freshwater fish. They cannot survive in a saltwater tank. However, they can tolerate moderate salinity.

Adding too much salt in the tank water can lead to sickness in neon tetras.

Besides, neon tetras can undergo immense stress if salinity crosses a certain level.

Prolonged exposure to high salinity levels can even lead to their untimely death.

Water Hardness

Determining the correct water hardness is crucial for providing a healthy life to neon tetras. Neon tetras need soft water to thrive.

Water hardness is measured in 2 parts, general hardness (GH) and carbonate hardness (dKH).

The ideal water hardness for neon tetras is:

  • General water hardness between 2 to 10 dGH, and
  • Carbonate hardness between 1 to 2 dKH.

Though neon tetras prefer soft water, they can even adjust in medium-hard water provided the tank has high-grade water.

Any sudden fluctuation in water hardness can stress the neon tetras and can affect their health.


Alkalinity is another factor to be considered while setting up a neon tetra tank.

Alkalinity refers to the measurement of the water’s ability to buffer the pH to provide stability.

It helps to avoid any drastic fluctuation in pH level that can adversely affect the health of the fish.

The ideal level of alkali for a neon tetra tank is 1to 2 dKH (17.8 to 35.5 ppm).

How Do Unfavorable Water Parameters Affect Neon Tetras’ Health?

Neon tetras are vulnerable to severe chemical imbalances in tank water.

If the water parameters are outside the acceptable levels, it can stress the neon tetras.

Given below are the water parameters that can adversely affect the neon tetras:

  • Neon tetras are tropical fish. Keeping them at low temperatures for a prolonged duration can adversely impact their health. Coldwater weakens their immune system. Neon tetras can have severe heart trouble if exposed to cold water. Besides, their metabolism rate also slows down in cold water. Other risks of exposure to cold water are diseases such as fin rot. All these health issues ultimately lead to stress.
  • Unfavorable pH levels can cause stress to neon tetras.
  • Neon tetras thrive in clean water. If the tank water becomes toxic due to a high level of ammonia and nitrites, it will directly impact their health.
  • Neon tetras prefer soft acidic water. If the water hardness is not suitable, it will lead to stress. Any drastic fluctuation in water hardness can discomfort the neon tetras. Neon tetras will get disturbed. The disturbance will lead to irritation, thus making them aggressive. Besides, neon tetras can become inactive due to an imbalance in water hardness. They can also become prone to diseases.

Therefore, it’s crucial to maintain the ideal water parameters for neon tetras. Otherwise, they may suffer badly.

Since neon tetras are sensitive to drastic deviation in water conditions, it’s vital to ensure that you provide them stable water conditions.

How To Maintain Optimal Water Parameters For Neon Tetras?

Aquatic organisms largely depend on the water quality for their optimal growth. Neon tetras are no different.

They are vulnerable to severe chemical imbalances in the water.

Hence, it’s vital to maintain optimal water parameters for their healthy development.

Maintaining the correct water parameters is not difficult as long as you are aware of the basic things.

Given below are some of the things that can help you to maintain the correct water parameters for neon tetras:

  • A water test kit helps check the alkalinity, pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels of the tank water.
  • Installation of a heater helps ensure the stability of the water temperature.
  • Similarly, the installation of a filter helps in removing the toxins from the water. Besides, it also assists in aeration and creating agitation in the tank water.
  • Placing live plants helps increase the oxygen levels in the tank water. Additionally, live plants help clean any pollutants present in the water and provide ample hiding places to neon tetras.
  • The tank water needs to be soft at all times. If you have hard water in the tank, you need to soften it by removing the minerals. You can also purchase natural water softener that’s readily available in pet stores. Otherwise, you can use demineralized water in the tank.
  • It is advisable to check the tank decorations and ornaments before placing them in the aquarium. Do not place any random items from your backyard. They can contain harmful parasites. Instead, you can buy sterilized decorations from reputed shops.

Related Questions

Can neon tetras live in hard water?

Neon tetras cannot live in hard water for too long. Hard water is hazardous to neon tetras’ health. Prolonged exposure to hard water can have an adverse effect on their lifespan. Besides, hard water causes stress to neon tetras. Due to constant stress, neon tetras become more susceptible to illness.

They thrive in soft acidic water. However, they can survive in medium-hard water.

What are the ideal water parameters for black neon tetras?

The ideal water temperature for black neon tetras is between 68°F to 82°F. The pH level should be in the range of 5.0 to 7.5. Hardness needs to be up to 6 dGH. The water needs to be soft, acidic, and clean at all times to have bright-colored neon tetras. It’s best to replicate their natural environment.

Black neon tetras are native to the Paraguay basin of southern Brazil.

They are found in shallow streams, creeks, and sandbanks with decaying plant matter.

The water is very acidic in their natural habitat and appears tainted brown due to the tannins released by the decaying organic matter.

What are the ideal water parameters for green neon tetras?

Green neon tetras are sensitive to water temperature below 70°F and pH over 6.5. The ideal water parameters for green neon tetras are water temperature between 75°F and 85°F, pH level between 5 and 6.5, and very soft water hardness.

Just like black neon tetras, green neon tetras are primarily found in blackwater environments.

Although green neon tetras are hardy fish, they need a stable and favorable environment to thrive.

Any drastic change in the water conditions will result in health problems for green neon tetras.

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