The humble and much loved Neon Tetra, or Paracheirodon innesi, is one of the most common fish in the hobby. For decades, this nano fish has been a starter fish for young and old alike, usually one of the first fish to go into a brand new tank, and often that new tank is a brand new hobbyist’s first tank. These fish are a beautiful red and brilliant glowing blue, and instantly recognizable. It can be distinguished from its relative the “cardinal tetra” by its silvery white belly, as opposed to the cardinal tetra whose red color goes completely from tip to tail, on the underside of the body. When this fish was originally brought into the hobby, it was labelled as “near Iquitos” which is a city in Peru, but nowadays we know that its native range is much, much greater than their original label implied.
The neon tetra is a tough little nano fish, able to withstand and even thrive in many different water parameters, which contributes greatly to it being such a great beginner fish. They typically are collected from small tributaries of the Amazon, where the water moves very slowly, and the amount of decaying branches and leaves stain the water brown like tea, adding the benefit of tannic acid which leaches from them and acidifies the water. Although those are their collection conditions in the wild, these fish are capable of adapting their ph from 4, all the way up to 8! Even from the wild, these fish do not tend to mind what the water parameters are at, as long as you are capable of keeping them stable as well as clean. If you have clean water, the neon tetra will bring you a lot of enjoyment. Ours are European tank bred fish, and not only are they even more capable of adapting to water parameters than their wild congeners, they are also quite a bit larger than you would typically see them, currently sitting at about 1½ inches in length.
These tetras are both peaceful and not very big, so if putting them into a community aquarium, you should definitely pay attention to what other fish are in there, taking care not to let these unfussy fish get bullied. If you’ve kept neon tetras before and are thinking about keeping them again, you might consider keeping them in a species only tank, because seeing a large shoal of these guys swimming around is really a completely different experience than having a few of them in with your other fish. Maybe you’d even want to consider a fancier variant, like the blue diamond head or the veil tailed neon tetra! These shoaling fish do not ship individually.
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