How Many Neon Tetras Should Be Kept Together? - "Neon Tetras - The little blue beauties" by Vee-vee is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.
How Many Neon Tetras Should Be Kept Together? - "Neon Tetras - The little blue beauties" by Vee-vee is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.


Neon tetras are undoubtedly among the most cherished and visually striking freshwater aquarium fish. Their vibrant blue and red stripes, small size, and peaceful demeanor make them a popular choice for aquarists. One of the common questions that arises when considering neon tetras as aquarium residents is, “How many neon tetras should be kept together?” This query points to the importance of understanding their needs and how to create a suitable aquatic habitat for these captivating creatures.

Appearance and Behavior

Neon tetras are small, vibrant, and popular freshwater aquarium fish known for their striking appearance and peaceful behavior. They are native to the slow-moving, clear waters of the Amazon Basin in South America. Here’s a closer look at their appearance and behavior:


  • Size: Neon tetras are quite small, typically reaching a maximum size of around 1.5 inches (3.8 cm). Their diminutive size makes them a favorite choice for community aquariums.
  • Coloration: Their most distinctive feature is their stunning and vibrant coloration. Neon tetras have a brilliant blue stripe that runs horizontally along their body, starting just behind their gills and ending at the base of their caudal fin. Below this blue stripe, their bodies are characterized by a striking, iridescent silver color.
  • Red Stripe: Just beneath the blue stripe, neon tetras also possess a thin, bright red stripe that runs the length of their body, adding to their vivid appearance.
  • Transparent Fins: The dorsal and anal fins of neon tetras are transparent, which enhances the contrast with the vibrant colors of their bodies. Their caudal fin may also display some transparent or pale blue accents.
  • Forked Caudal Fin: The caudal fin is forked, which allows them to move with agility and grace in the water.


  • Schooling Fish: Neon tetras are known for their schooling behavior, which means they feel most comfortable and secure when they are kept in groups of at least six or more. When kept in a school, they display more vibrant colors and are less stressed.
  • Peaceful and Non-Aggressive: Neon tetras are renowned for their peaceful nature. They are a good choice for community aquariums because they generally get along well with other non-aggressive fish. However, it’s important to avoid keeping them with larger, aggressive species that might see them as potential prey.
  • Active Swimmers: Neon tetras are active swimmers, constantly exploring the middle and upper levels of the aquarium. Their small size and swift movements make them a lively and engaging addition to a tank.
  • Nocturnal Behavior: While they are mostly active during the day, neon tetras might exhibit more subdued behavior in the dark, and it’s common to see them rest near the bottom or among plants during the night.
  • Timid Nature: Despite their active swimming habits, neon tetras are somewhat timid. Sudden movements or disturbances can startle them, so it’s essential to provide them with a well-planted aquarium with plenty of hiding spots and calm, slow-moving tank mates.

Overall, neon tetras are prized by aquarists for their striking appearance and peaceful demeanor. When kept in appropriate conditions, they can provide a visually appealing and tranquil addition to a community aquarium, captivating onlookers with their shimmering blue and red stripes as they gracefully navigate the water.

How Many Neon Tetras Should Be Kept Together?

So, how many neon tetras should be kept together? Neon tetras are schooling fish, and they feel most comfortable and thrive when kept in groups. In general, it’s recommended to keep at least six or more neon tetras together. Here are a few reasons for maintaining a school of neon tetras:

  • Behavioral Benefits: Neon tetras are naturally social and schooling fish. When kept in groups, they tend to exhibit their natural behaviors, which include schooling and swimming together in a coordinated manner. This not only adds to the visual appeal of the aquarium but also reduces stress for the individual fish.
  • Color Enhancement: Neon tetras often display more vibrant colors and become more active when kept in larger schools. The presence of fellow school members seems to boost their confidence, causing them to showcase their distinctive blue and red stripes more prominently.
  • Reduced Stress: In smaller groups or when kept alone, neon tetras can become stressed and skittish, which can impact their overall health. Being part of a school provides them with a sense of security and reduces stress.
  • Safety: Larger groups of neon tetras can confuse potential predators, making it more challenging for them to single out an individual fish. This can be a survival advantage in the wild, and it can also be beneficial in an aquarium setting.

So, while a minimum of six neon tetras is a good starting point, you can certainly keep more if your tank size allows. A larger group, such as 10 or more, would provide an even more impressive display of their schooling behavior and vivid colors. And if you have a large aquarium you can keep even more together. Keep in mind that when keeping a larger group, you should ensure that your aquarium has the appropriate space, filtration, and water quality to accommodate them. Always aim to create an environment that mimics their natural habitat as closely as possible to ensure their well-being and happiness.

Examples – 10 Gallon vs 50 Gallon Neon Tetra Tank (40 vs 200 liters)

Let’s take a couple of examples and see how many neon tetras can be kept together in for example a 10 gallon (40 liter) vs a 50 gallon (200 liter) tank. The number of neon tetras you can keep in a 10-gallon (40 liter) tank and a 50-gallon (200 liter) tank will vary based on the tank’s size, filtration capacity, and the overall setup of the aquarium. It’s important to consider factors like water quality, space, and the well-being of the fish. Here are some general guidelines:

10-Gallon Tank (40 liters)

A 10-gallon (40. Liter) tank is relatively small, and space is limited. Neon tetras are small fish, so you can keep a small group, but it’s essential not to overcrowd the tank. A common recommendation is to keep a small school of neon tetras, typically around 6 to 8 individuals. This allows them to display their natural schooling behavior and vibrant colors without causing overcrowding.

It’s crucial to remember that a 10-gallon (40 liter) tank can quickly become overloaded with fish waste, so regular water changes and good filtration are necessary to maintain water quality.

50-Gallon Tank

A 50-gallon (200 liter) tank provides considerably more space, and you have more flexibility in the number of neon tetras you can keep. In a 50-gallon (200 liter) tank, you can keep a more substantial school of neon tetras, creating a visually stunning display. A school of 20 or more neon tetras would be a reasonable number, but you could keep even more if you desire.

The larger tank size allows for better water quality and stability, which is beneficial for both the neon tetras and other tank mates. It also provides room for additional fish species and decorations, making it a more versatile and enjoyable aquarium.

Remember that while you can keep more neon tetras in a 50-gallon tank (200 liters), it’s essential to ensure good water quality, proper filtration, and appropriate tank mates. Always monitor water parameters and the well-being of your fish to maintain a healthy and balanced aquarium environment.

How Many Neon Tetras Should Be Kept Together? - "Neon Tetras - The little blue beauties" by Vee-vee is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.
How Many Neon Tetras Should Be Kept Together? – “Neon Tetras – The little blue beauties” by Vee-vee is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Aquarium Setup

Setting up an appropriate tank for neon tetras is crucial to ensure their well-being and to showcase their natural beauty. Here are some steps and considerations for setting up a tank for neon tetras:

  • Filtration: Use a reliable filtration system to maintain water quality. Neon tetras are sensitive to poor water conditions, so a good filter is essential.
  • Substrate: A fine-grained substrate like sand or small gravel is ideal. Neon tetras like to sift through the substrate, and fine-grained substrates won’t harm their delicate mouths.
  • Plants: Neon tetras appreciate a well-planted aquarium. Live plants, such as Java moss, Java fern, and Amazon swords, provide hiding places, oxygenate the water, and create a more natural environment. Ensure that the plants are not too dense, leaving open swimming spaces.
  • Lighting: Neon tetras don’t require intense lighting. Moderate or low lighting is usually sufficient, and it can help enhance the colors of the fish.
  • Water Parameters: Neon tetras thrive in soft, slightly acidic water. Aim for the following water parameters: Temperature, 72-78°F (22-26°C), and pH, 6.0-7.0.
  • Water Quality: Regular water changes (10-20% every 1-2 weeks) are essential to maintain water quality and remove accumulated waste.
  • Decorations: Provide driftwood, rocks, and other decorations that mimic the natural habitat of neon tetras. These items can offer shelter and create interesting aquascapes.
  • Schooling Behavior: As previously mentioned, neon tetras are schooling fish. Keep them in a group of at least 6-8 individuals or more to ensure their well-being and promote their natural behaviors.
  • Tank Mates: Choose tank mates carefully. Neon tetras are peaceful and do best with non-aggressive, similarly-sized fish. Compatible tank mates include other small tetra species, rasboras, dwarf cichlids, and some species of catfish.
  • Water Flow: Neon tetras come from slow-moving waters, so avoid strong water currents. Position the filter outlet to create gentle water movement.

By setting up the tank with these considerations in mind, you can create an environment that mimics the natural habitat of neon tetras, promotes their health, and allows you to enjoy their vibrant colors and social behavior.


In conclusion, how many neon tetras that should be kept together depends on various factors, such as the size of the tank, water quality, and the comfort and security of the fish. How many neon tetras can be kept together? Well, for a 10-gallon (40 liter) tank, a small group of 6-8 individuals is suitable. However, in a more spacious 50-gallon tank (200 liters), you can accommodate a larger school, providing an opportunity to create a spectacular display of these stunning fish.

Setting up a neon tetra tank involves careful consideration of tank size, filtration, substrate, and water parameters. Live plants, appropriate lighting, and decorations that mimic their natural habitat all play a role in creating a harmonious environment for neon tetras to thrive. Furthermore, keeping them in a school, ideally six or more, is crucial to allow them to exhibit their natural behaviors and striking colors while reducing stress. Ensuring excellent water quality through regular maintenance and selecting compatible tank mates are equally important in providing a safe and enjoyable home for these captivating neon tetras.