Picture courtesy of www.aquahobby.com
Name(s): Neon Tetra (Paracheirodon innesi)
Area of Origin: Southeastern Colombia, Eastern Peru, and Western Brazil
Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
Care Level: Easy
Water Conditions: Neons prefer soft, acidic water around 5.0-7.0, but they can still thrive in a range of 5-8, provided they are acclimated properly. They also need a temperature of 68-80 F (20-26 C).
Diet: Flake foods, brine shrimp, daphnia, bloodworms, and tubifex worms.
Tempermant: Neons are very peaceful, shy community fish. They are happy when kept in schools of at least 5, but are most comfortable when kept with at least 10 individuals.
Possible Tank Mates: Any peaceful community fish that will not harass the small neon tetras. Male bettas and corydoras catfish are common tankmates of neon tetras. Gouramis and Angel Fish are incompatible tankmates, as they tend to think the tetras are a live food (Neon tetras are, after all, the prey of Angel Fish in the wild). Female bettas have been known to chase neon tetras and even kill them, so exercise caution if you wish to house a female with the tetras.
Breeding: (Borrowed from www.aquaticcommunity.com) Wild Neon Tetras are highly prolific and have a minimum population doubling time below 15 months. They are egg-scatterers and do not engage in any parental care.
In captivity, Neon tetras are considered quite difficult to spawn, especially among hobby aquarists since it can be hard to achieve perfect water conditions. A majority of the Neon Tetras found in pet shops are therefore wild caught or commercially bred by large Neon Tetra breeding companies. It is possible for Neon Tetras to spawn every two weeks.
Sexing Neon Tetras can be hard, but the female usually have a bigger and rounder belly than the male. The blue line will be straighter in males, while the round female body creates the impression of a bent blue line. When she is ready to breed, her body will become very broad since she is filled with eggs.
If you want to breed Neon Tetras, you should ideally set up a separate breeding aquarium from which the parents can be removed as soon as the eggs have been fertilized. To reduce the risk of illness in eggs or fry, you can sterilize all items that you place in the aquarium. The breeding aquarium should be equipped with a lid, since Neon Tetras can jump really high during the breeding period. The bottom of the aquarium should ideally be covered in 2-3 inches of rock. Include fine textured aquatic plants in the set up. Keep the water temperature below 24° C (75° F). The hardness should always be below 4 degrees, ideally in the dH 1-2 range.
If you want to obtain high-quality fry, it is important to only let high-quality adult fish breed. Old or unhealthy fish should not be bred. Place a pair of Neon Tetras in the breeding aquarium and feed them plenty of live food to induce spawning. Mosquito larvae are used by many professional breeders. Some breeders will let the nitrate level rise quite high in the breeding aquarium before they change at least 50 percent of the water since this sometimes induces spawning. The rapid decrease of soluble waste is a way of mimicking a fresh, replenishing rain. The breeding aquarium should be dark at first, and you can then gradually increase the lighting until the couple spawns. (Neon Tetra eggs are a bit light sensitive so it is important to limit the amount of light after spawning.)
Neon tetras will usually spawn during early morning and the parent fish should be removed from the breeding aquarium as soon as possible after fertilization since they will not hesitate to eat their own offspring. In aquariums, a normal batch will consists of approximately 130 eggs but only a smaller number will turn into fry. Neon Tetras that spawn in aquariums are usually not very prolific, so do not expect more than 40-50 fry even from a good spawning.
Neon tetra eggs are somewhat adhesive and will often stick to the surface of aquatic plants. They are nearly transparent when they have just been released, and will hatch after 22-30 hours. It will take the fry 3-4 days to become free swimming.
Neon Tetra fry are very small and must be provided with miniscule food, such as infusoria, rotifers or egg yolk. After 1-4 weeks, they will be large enough to eat newly hatched brine shrimp. Large fry will appreciate shaved cattle liver. When the fry is roughly one month old, they will start displaying their adult colouration.
Personal Observations/Advice: I've kept neon tetras for years, and I believe they are extraordinary fish. When they are kept in large groups of their own species, their confidence grows with it, and they aren't as skittish or as easily scared as smaller groups are. They prefer heavily planted tanks so they can hide easily, and tannin-stained waters to mimic their natural Amazonian habitat. Darker substrates are also preferred, as it doesn't stress out tetras like brightly-colored gravels do.
Picture courtesy of www.brettb.com
Edited by Kelso, 29 October 2008 - 03:01 PM.