What Do Neon Tetras Eat? A Guide To Their Diet

Written by Volia Schubiger
Published: February 7, 2022
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Neon tetras are small, colorful fish found in streams in Colombia, Peru, and Brazil. These bright-colored fish are just about an inch and a half long and have a gorgeous blue stripe that runs from their head to the tail of their little bodies. This stripe is supposed to help them be seen in the dark water streams where they swim. Neon tetras are also considered “shoaling” fish, which means they must be kept in groups with other neon tetras.

Want to learn more about this amazing fish and what exactly the neon tetra diet consists of? Throughout this article, we will explore everything about the neon tetra‚Äôs diet and what they love to eat. 

What Do Neon Tetras Eat?

What Do Neon Tetras Eat
As omnivores, neon tetras eat both plant and animal matter.

In the wild, neon tetras eat a diet that consists of both animal and plant material, such as algae, larvae, and other foods. They are predominately omnivores. Wild neon tetras are also scavengers, which means they will consume as much as their stomachs can contain and nearly everything they come upon.

Neon tetras are one of the most popular aquarium fish, so the vast majority of them are captive-bred. What they consume in captivity is not the same as what they eat in the wild. 

Here is a comprehensive list of some of the foods your neon tetras may consume in your aquarium:

Because neon tetras are omnivores, they require a balanced diet that includes both vegetable and animal food.  

Here is a list of some more foods you may include in your neon tetras’ diet to ensure they get all of the nutrients they require:

  • Cucumbers
  • Grapes
  • Strawberries
  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Egg Yolk
  • Beef

Interestingly enough, a study on neon tetras found that the amount and type of protein in the diet had a substantial impact on the growth performance of neon tetras. The average weight gain of neon tetras fed diets with marine protein sources was considerably higher than that of fish fed plant-protein-based diets. The study found that neon tetras functioned best when their meals comprised at least 45 percent crude protein. 

How Much Do Neon Tetras Eat?


Neon tetras eat about 2%of their body weight daily.


On average, neon tetras eat approximately 2% of their body weight each day. This is due to the fact that they are so small. If you have one in your aquarium, feed your neon tetras only 2 to 4 times per day, like with other fish.

Because neon tetras are shoaling fish, if you have a school of neon tetras in your aquarium, you must ensure that you are feeding them enough. Certain foods that you may offer them, such as fruits and meat, must be sliced into extremely small pieces.

Neon tetras have very tiny mouths and will be unable to consume a huge piece of food that has been placed into the tank. Most people overfeed their neon tetras on a regular basis. Overfeeding your fish can have a negative influence on their health. Only feed them a portion of food that they can finish in 2 minutes. If there is any leftover food in the tank, feed it to the fish in smaller portions until you figure out what the right amount is for your fish.

How Long Can Neon Tetras Go Without Eating? 

In the correct tank setting, neon tetras may go at least three weeks without eating. It is not suggested that you only feed your neon tetras on specific days of the week. These fish require a good diet and must be fed numerous times each day in order to grow. Neon tetras can live between 5 to 7 years if properly fed and cared for.

What Fish Can Coexist With Neon Tetras?


The neon tetra was first discovered in the Amazon rainforests in 1934.


As previously stated, neon tetras are among the most popular aquarium fish, and for good reason. Neon tetras have a calm personality and can coexist with a wide range of fish of similar size and temperament. It is critical to remember not to keep them in the same tank as any larger aggressive fish species, since they may be bullied and perhaps eaten.

Here is a list of perfect tankmates for your neon tetras:

Anything more than 3-4 inches in length should be researched carefully before including them in the aquarium. You don’t want your neon tetras feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and threatened.

Neon Tetras Tank Requirements

The tank needs of neon tetras are critical to their health and well-being. Neon tetras should be kept in a tank that is at least 10 gallons in size. Larger is usually better in this scenario, especially when it comes to fish, but if you can’t buy anything too huge or don’t have the area, a 10 gallon will suffice in the meantime.

Neon Tetras like low light hiding spots, so adding plants to the tank might offer them a shaded location to feel concealed and minimize stress. The water temperature for these fish should be between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, with a pH level of 6.5.

If your tank settings aren’t exactly suitable for these specific fish, it might result in an extremely stressful tank environment for them. This may result in sickness, some of which are incurable.

Neon tetra disease is prevalent, and there is currently no treatment. This condition can impair a fish’s ability to swim and cause painful cysts. If one of your fish exhibits such behavior, it is critical that you remove him or her from the tank to prevent the sickness from spreading throughout the aquarium.

Another ailment that can harm neon tetras is fin and tail rot. When water conditions aren’t up to par, your fish’s fins and tails may begin to tear. Fortunately, fin and tail rot may be treated. Your veterinarian can suggest medications to use while isolating your fish and placing them in a tiny container with antibiotics added into the water.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © chonlasub woravichan/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Volia Schubiger is a freelance copywriter and content editor with a passion and expertise in content creation, branding, and marketing. She has a background in Broadcast Journalism & Political Science from CUNY Brooklyn College. When she's not writing she loves traveling, perusing used book stores, and hanging out with her other half.

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