Saturday, January 19, 2019

How to Care for Green Neon Tetras

Search for the perfect school of nano fish to light up your planted aquarium? Look no further than the green neon tetra, or Paracheirodon simulans! Keep reading to find out how to care for them and what makes them such a popular choice in the aquascaping world.

What's the Difference Between Cardinal, Neon, and Green Neon Tetras?

You’re right – all of them have a blue horizontal stripe with some red underneath it. Cardinals are the biggest, and in my aquarium, you predominantly saw the red color more than anything. Neon tetras are the cheapest with only half a red stripe. And green neons? Well, they’re the smallest, barely have any red, and aren’t as common as their cousins. So what’s the big deal? I mean, I almost totally passed over them myself if it hadn’t been for my husband (the one with the art degree) convincing me to get them.

cardinal tetra vs. neon tetra vs. green neon tetra
Cardinal tetras vs. neon tetras vs. green neon tetras (from left to right)

The reason why you’ll often see aquascapers play with green neon tetras is because they strike the perfect balance between being brightly colored yet blending with the background, meaning they don’t detract too much attention from the planted scape. There’s something magical about seeing that flash of brilliant turquoise from across the room, even when the aquarium lights are off. And make sure you watch them when the lights come on, at least once, because their stripe becomes like royal blue glitter, almost sparkly violet, that is unbelievable to behold.

Care Sheet for Green Neon Tetras

Black waters of the Rio Negro (source)
Okay, now that I’ve hopefully convinced you to give them a shot, here is the standard care info for green neon tetras.

  • Habitat: South American black water river basins, overgrown trees, leaf litter, sandy substrate
  • Temperature: 75-84°F (and higher)
  • pH: prefers acidic (but I had no problems keeping my wild-caught tetras at 8.0 pH)
  • Water Hardness: very soft
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Size: 1 inch long (where females are slightly larger and rounder looking)
  • Tank Mates: peaceful nano fish that aren't big enough to eat them
  • Stocking: at least 6 to 10 tetras in a 10-gallon tank (more is better though)
  • Swimming Area: middle of the tank
  • Breeding: egg scatterers (can be difficult to raise since the eggs are light sensitive)

What Foods Should I Feed Green Neon Tetras?

When I purchased them in December, my wild-caught green neons were miniscule at only half an inch long, so I actually had some trouble feeding them at first because all my normal foods were too big for their mouths! So if you get them young, I found that they like crushed up flakes, crushed up dried bloodworms, and Hikari micro pellets, but the New Life Spectrum community pellets were too large. The fish store I got them from also recommended feeding them live or frozen baby brine shrimp, cyclops, and daphnia.

green neon tetras, albino cory catfish, and honey gourami in a 20-gallon planted community tank

Eventually they also learned to eat Repashy gel food. My cory catfish would tear into the big chunk I dropped, and the green neon tetras would linger on the outskirts, picking off the messy, little particles that floated off.

What Tank Mates Can You Keep with Green Neon Tetras?

Because they won’t swarm to food as quickly as some other fish, only keep them with mild-mannered fish who will give them a chance to eat and who they feel safe swimming around, like my cory catfish and honey gourami. In fact, the creature they were most afraid of was me! But if I sat down in front of the tank and didn’t move, they’d eventually come out again and start exploring. As shyer creatures, they really do enjoy a heavily planted or densely decorated aquarium with lots of hiding spots they can dart in and out of. That being said, if you ever need to catch them, it’s a huge pain so make sure to read my tutorial on catching aquarium fish.

green neon tetras like heavily planted aquariums

Pet Rating for the Green Neon Tetra

Overall, the green neon tetra is a very striking, colorful nano fish that definitely gets high scores for attractiveness. Not a ton of individual personality, but they do tend to shoal well together. They're pretty hardy and easy to care for, as long as you have food small enough for them to eat and no greedy or aggressive tankmates. Unfortunately, they're a little harder to source. I haven’t seen them in major pet stores like Petco and PetSmart, so you’d need to find a local fish store that can get them in or order them online.
  • Attractiveness: 5/5
  • Hardiness: 5/5
  • Ease of Care: 4/5
  • Availability: 3.5/5

green neon tetras at the local fish store

Hope you enjoyed my take on green neon tetras and my first care guide in a while. If you’d like to see more, I’ve put together a list for you with all my species spotlights. Take time to enjoy your aquariums and I’ll see you in the next post!

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