First Warning Signs that your Neon Tetra is Dying

The Neon Tetra is one of the most popular fish species among hobbyists. This particular species has been collected by aquarists for more than eight decades now. The neon tetra’s striking iridescent hues and peaceful quality make it an excellent addition to a non-aggressive aquarium environment.

The neon tetra is a tropical fish that originated from countries in the northern part of South America namely Brazil, Colombia, and Peru. The largest concentration of Neon Tetras may be found in the world-famous Amazon River Basin.

Neon Tetra Characteristics

Neon Tetras are small freshwater fishes that belong to the Characidae family. Its scientific name is Paracheirodon innesi and shares some qualities as that of other fishes under the tetra family.

In terms of color, the Neon Tetra boasts a vivid red, silver, olive green, and blue body color. It also features a transparent fin and tail presentation.

The Neon Tetra’s blue and red colors actually do not extend along the entire length of the body. The blue coloration starts behind the eye and terminates in the adipose on the top half of its body.

While the red coloration starts where the blue coloration ends. The red portion meanwhile covers the lower portion of the body and covers up until the caudal fin.

A fully-grown adult Neon Tetra can only achieve a maximum length of 1 ½ inches.

Two of the most distinctive characteristics of Neon Tetras are:

  • Spindle-shaped body
  • Blunt nose

Care and Habitat

Neon Tetras do very well in soft and slightly acidic water. Putting them in water with higher pH will make them more prone to catching diseases. Higher pH levels will make them lose their vibrancy as well. Neon Tetras have little has little to no negative effect on the quality of water in an aquarium.

The water chemistry, temperature, ammonia, and nitrite levels for Neon Tetras are as follows:

  • pH preference: 4.0 to 7.0
  • Temperature preference: 73 to 79 degrees Farenheit
  • Salinity preference: 1 tablespoon per two to ten gallons
  • Hardness preference: soft

When it comes to their surroundings, Neon Tetras prefer to have driftwood and plants all around them. These elements will not only serve as decoration but as a habitat for Neon Tetras too.

In terms of food, experts recommend alternating between standard fish pellets and live foods once or twice per week.

Common Symptoms that your Neon Tetra is Dying

In general, Neon Tetras are hard creatures in that they can live up to 10 years in a favorable aquarium environment, which makes them great freshwater fish for beginners.

However certain changes in water chemistry, temperature, stress, and disease can overwhelm Neon Tetras and lead them to irreversible death.

There are a couple of signs and symptoms that Neon Tetras manifest when they are ill.

Here are some of them and the interventions that you can perform to treat them accordingly:

Stress and Acclimatization

A few of the Neon Tetras you just purchased died after a couple of hours of swimming in your home aquarium.

In this scenario, water quality may not have matured enough. Water with insufficient friendly bacteria can lead to the development of toxins in water as waste products are not synthesized properly.

One option is to add Stress-Zyme into the water to aid in the water maturation process.

API STRESS ZYME Freshwater and Saltwater Aquarium Cleaning Solution 16-Ounce Bottle
Stress-zyme helps the water maturation process

Salting the water may also be a viable solution. By doing so, you are reducing the chances of the disease spreading across all your fish species in the aquarium.

If you still have a couple of Neon Tetras left, it may be best to quarantine them in a separate tank. This is especially necessary if you have other fish species swimming around the main tank. The reason for the quarantine is to make sure that the disease does not spread to other fishes.

Restless And Sits At The Bottom

In this case, your newly purchased Neon Tetras may be suffering from tank shock. Your fishes may have initially failed to get used to the water in the new aquarium.

To remedy this situation, you will need to acclimatize your fish first. This can be done simply by letting the bag of Neon Tetras float on the aquarium water. Slowly introduce aquarium water into the bag every five minutes for at least an hour. You may then transfer the Neon Tetras after an hour of this acclimatization process.

Abnormal Swimming Patterns

Checking the pattern by which your Neon Tetras swim is an easy way of detecting if they are sick or otherwise. Examples of unusual swimming are as follows:

  • Fishes swimming like they are “drunk”
  • Fishes swim in circles

Fishes drift with the current inside the aquarium

There are also instances where your Tetras simply sink to the bottom of the aquarium without having the ability to raise themselves. There are also cases when Neon Tetras float at the surface and are unable to swim further down the tank. There are also cases when fishes swim upside down due to severe health problems.

In this scenario, it is best to separate the sick fish by transferring them to a smaller bowl. Observe their movements for the next 24 hours.

If their swimming pattern does not go back to normal, it is best to seek the help of professionals from the pet store. They will most likely provide information about the probable cause of such abnormal behavior.

Neon Tetra Disease

Neon Tetra Disease involves the occurrence of protozoan invasion. As the name implies, this condition was first observed among neon tetras.

However this is the case, other fish species can contract the disease too. Signs and symptoms of this disease are as follows:

  • Fish loses coloration or experience color dullness
  • Restlessness
  • Development of cysts as evidenced by a lumpy body
  • Unusual spine curvature
  • Fin rot and bloating

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for Neon Tetra Disease. The only thing that you can do is quarantine those who are infected. In this way, other fish species will have minimal to no chance of contracting the disease too.

Last update on 2023-06-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


2 Responses

  1. I lost 4 tetras right after I set up my tank, which is to be expected, according to Petco (and other sources). 1 lived and seemed fine. He had several other non- tetras in the tank with him. I really had no idea anything was amiss although I never saw him eat like the crazy guppies do. I did notice an accumulation of brown slime suddenly growing on tank items that a guppy was eating. Anyway, poor tetra #5 was dead today too. I am sorry to hear they can live up to 10 years. Mine didnt even make it one month. According to the water dipstick, all levels are safe, maybe slightly alkaline, but that’s how tetras like it I read. No more tetras for me. Guppies seem hardy. Guess ill stick with them. Thanks.

    1. The test strips are known to be horribly inaccurate. Best bet is API test kit with the drops and water vials. Well worth the money. Like most people I learned the hard way.

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