How To Breed Neon Tetras? The Simple & Easy Ways

how to breed neon tetras

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Breeding fish can be extremely fun and rewarding, although certain species are harder to breed than others. Neon tetras are one of the most popular freshwater fish species that are relatively easy to breed. However, there are still some things you have to prepare before breeding neon tetras.

If you’re looking to increase your fish population, you’ve come to the right place! We have compiled some of the best tips and tricks to create this ultimate neon tetra breeding guide.

Choose A Pair of Fish to Breed

male vs female neon tetras
Male vs Female Neon Tetras – Wikihow

The first step is to select your neon tetra pair, which can be challenging because the male and female fish tend to look the same.

However, the females are bigger and have a rounded tummy, as well as a more bent stripe. Their male counterparts are smaller and have straight stripes.

When choosing the pair, make sure your male and female neon tetra are in peak health condition. This will ensure the breeding goes smoothly and they can produce healthy babies!

Condition Your Neon Tetras

When some people think about how to breed neon tetras, they may feel intimidated by the process. But it’s actually quite simple if you know what you’re doing.

To condition your fish before actually breeding them, keep them in separate tanks and feed them with high-protein foods. It is especially important for the female fish, as the protein will help them produce eggs.

We recommend foods such as daphnia and bloodworms, as they are known to contain high amounts of protein. Dry pellets can work, but try to use live food when you can.

Prepare Breeding Tank

It’s time to set up a suitable tank for your neon tetras! Your best bet is simply to recreate their natural habitat, as this will help the fish feel more comfortable and at home. In turn, this will encourage spawning.

Start with a tank of at least 10 gallons in size. Also, it’s crucial that you do not breed them in a community tank. The other fishes will almost certainly eat the newborn fry. Surely not how you want things to turn out, right?

Lay some peat soil on the bottom of the aquarium. It will lower the pH level, which is essential because neon tetras can only breed when the water is soft. Use only store-bought peat soil and not those from your own garden. The latter is full of harmful bacteria and chemicals!

There’s no need for a filter because it may suck up the small eggs, but you can always add a sponge filter once the babies are quite big. On the other hand, you may need a heater to keep the water temperature stable.

Finally, make sure there is plenty of java moss or spawning mop. This will be where the eggs reside.

One tip is to place Indian almond leaves to help inhibit fungi and mold growth in the tank.

Tank Water Conditions for Breeding Neon Tetras

Just like with any other fish species, you have to pay attention to the water condition when breeding your neon tetras. This includes the temperature, hardness, and pH level of the water.

Keep the temperature at a stable range of around 77 °F (25 °C), which can be done with a water heater, especially if you live in a colder area.

Meanwhile, the hardness has to be 1 or 2 dGH, whereas the pH must be between 5.5 and 6.0. Make sure to test these before you place the neon tetras inside the tank.

Instead of using purely new freshwater, mix in some aquarium water from the fish’s previous home too.

Lighting in the Breeding Tank

Next up, let’s talk about the lighting. Believe it or not, it matters how bright or dark the breeding tank is.

Did you know that eggs and fry are extremely sensitive to light? In fact, eggs will not usually hatch when a tank is too bright. Avoid this problem before it happens so that all those fertile eggs do not go to waste.

So it’s best to cover your tank with dark paper to minimize the amount of light that streams in. Just maintain a small hole or gap that’s big enough for you to observe through.

How to Spawn Neon Tetras

pregnant neon tetra

Now comes the most exciting and important part of breeding fish: spawning. Once you have conditioned the pair of neon tetras, let them mingle in the breeding tank.

Don’t forget to check that the pH, hardness, and temperature are all at the right levels before you move the fish.

In a single spawn, a female neon tetra can lay anywhere from 50 up to 150 eggs. That’s quite an impressive amount! With that said, the hatch and fertilization rate may vary depending on your fish and other conditions. But you can easily expect around 45 fries per spawn.

This fish species is known to spawn earlier in the day, so you can watch them around morning time.

Once your fish has spawned, immediately take the adult neon tetras out of the tank. Otherwise, they will eat their own children!

FAQs on How to Breed Neon Tetras

Before we wrap up today’s article, here are some quick answers to the most commonly asked questions on neon tetra breeding.

How Long Will Neon Tetra Eggs Hatch?

There really is no exact time frame, but their eggs will usually hatch in 24 hours. Baby neon tetras are tiny and transparent, so you may need to squint when keeping an eye on them.

What Should You Feed the Fry?

As soon as the eggs hatch, the fry will nibble on the egg sac before they learn to swim. But you must start feeding them live food once they are roaming the tank more freely.

Infusoria culture is the best choice in this case because neon tetra fry is very small. So small, in fact, that they cannot even eat regular fry food like microworm and baby brine shrimp.

Note that infusoria culture itself requires a week to cultivate, so ensure that it’s ready for when your eggs hatch. This is crucial for your neon tetras to grow from babies into full-sized adults.

Do Neon Tetra Babies Grow at Different Rates?

One strange phenomenon you may notice is that even weeks after the first egg hatches, there may still be tiny babies swimming around the breeding tank.

Don’t worry, because some babies do grow faster than others. Meanwhile, there may be some delayed hatching too. Just make sure to remove the older fishes so that they don’t prey on their younger siblings.


All in all, breeding your neon tetra is not exactly rocket science. It can be easy and lots of fun, especially when you want to jazz up your aquarium and increase the neon tetra population.

Simply select your healthy pair, condition them for a week, set up the breeding tank, let them spawn, and keep an eye on the little fry. That’s really all you need to do. Good luck!

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