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FAQs on the Neon Tetras Compatibility

Related Articles: Cardinal Tetras; A School of Beauty, Part II, by Alesia Benedict, Neons, Cardinals & Their Kin; Selection, Maintenance & Healthcare by Neale Monks, Characid Fishes

FAQs on: Neon Tetras 1, Neon Tetras 2,
FAQs on: Neon Tetras Identification, Neon Tetras Behavior, Neon Tetras Stocking/Selection, Neon Tetras Systems, Neon Tetras Feeding, Neon Tetras Disease, Neon Tetras Reproduction/Breeding,

Related FAQs:  Cardinal Tetras, Characid/Tetra Fishes,

Neons like cooler and softer,
acidic water than many common, "community species" of freshwater livestock

With: Bettas?
Guppies, Platies, Swordtails...?
Other Tetras?
No, eaten
Eaten more quickly
No... diff. water quality
No... as above
Not all
Only very small species

Neon Tetra Compatibility   6/21/12
Hi Crew,
I have the following fished in my 50 gallon aquarium. I like neon tetras and am planning to buy around 30 neon tetras to add to this lot.
<Nice. Now, do remember two things about Neons. Firstly, they need soft water and don't live long in hard water. They also need quite cool water, 22-25 C. You've probably read about them being disease-prone? That's because LOTS of people keep them in hard water and at high temperatures.
They are also very small, and big fish either eat them or take so much food the Neons can't eat.>
Qty Type
3 Molly
<Nope; needs hard water.>
2 Silver Shark
<Too big; will eat them.>
2 Comets
<Too big.>
4 Rosy barb
<Too big.>
4 White skirt tetra
3 Pearl gourami
<Yes, but does prefer warmer water, so you'd need to keep the tank at 24-25 C to keep both species happy.>
1 Dwarf gourami
<Yes, but again does prefer warmer water, so you'd need to keep the tank at 24-25 C.>
10 Rainbow fish
<Depends on the species; most are too big, but they're not actually aggressive, so in a big aquarium might work.>
1 Neon Tetra
2 Cory Cat
<Most species work EXTREMELY well with Neons; the exceptions are those with unusual water preferences, like Corydoras sterbai (which needs warmer water) and "Corydoras" (really Scleromystax) barbatus (which needs much colder water).>
a. Can you please tell me which of these fishes listed above are not compatible with neon tetras.
b. Can you suggest me some other fishes that are compatible with neon tetras
<Good companions for Neons are: almost all Corydoras catfish, Kuhli Loaches, Bristlenose Plecs, X-Ray Tetras, Red Phantom Tetras and Cherry Barbs. Really, anything peaceful, small (2-5 cm), enjoys soft water (2-12 degrees dH), and is happy in cool sort of water (22-25 C).>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Jumbo Neon Tetras
Neons Eaten By Which Fish?   10/14/10

Question: We have an 80 gallon tank, with an old upside down catfish 5 inches long, an old striped Rafael 4 inches long, 2 new severum 2 1/2 inches long, 2 new angel fish about 2 inches long, and we had 15 jumbo neon tetras about 1 inch in size that did well for three weeks and have now been slowly eaten. Who would be the culprits in our tank? Could we be successful with the jumbo Neons if they were 2 inches long?
< Real upside down catfish are only a couple inches long. There are many Synodontis species that swim upside down and could be called upside down cats. The cichlids could be killing them and the catfish picking off the scraps. Larger fish would no be eaten right away but still could be killed..Neons really do better in a tank with fish their own size.-Chuck>

Question about Bettas and neon tetras, incomp.    7/1/10
I was wondering if it is ok in the long run to keep a Betta in a twenty gallon long with 16 neon tetras?
<No. Neons need cooler water (22-24 C for Neons, versus 26-30 C for Bettas) and in any case Neons view Betta fins as food.>
The Betta has been in there for two weeks now and the Neons are not nipping him,
<So far...>
also the Betta is ignoring the Neons. He is a timid Betta and never flares nor blows bubble nests. I am thinking that the Neons would probably need cooler temps than the Betta
<Indeed. Neons have a notoriously short lifespan when kept either too warm or in water that is too hard, and problems with Neon Tetra Disease seem to be an epidemic among farmed Neons. I've basically given up with them, and I consider myself an expert fishkeeper!>
Also I am wondering if the Betta may freak out one day weeks or months from now and go after them even if he is timid??
<Possibly. You can keep Bettas in community tanks, but it's hard, and requires very careful planning. I'd be concentrating on species that feed from the substrate, such as Kuhli Loaches or Dwarf Corydoras, perhaps Cherry Shrimps or Dwarf African frogs if you want oddballs. Neons and other schooling fish tend to work poorly with Bettas.>
Thank you!!!
<You're welcome. Cheers, Neale.>

Guppies and Neons, env. incomp.   6/18/10
Sorry for bothering you again.
<No problems.>
I have a tank with two guppies and eleven Neons and I was just wondering if I should give the guppies away since the tank temp is usually about 73-74 F?
<Indeed, and Guppies also need hard water which Neons can't abide. I'd tend to look at your water chemistry first and see what you have. If you have soft water, the Neons are the obvious fish to keep. If you have hard water, the Guppies will do better. Once you have the right fish, it's easy to set the heater up or down as required.>
I remember you mentioning that guppies would rather around 82 F and I am worried that they are stressed.
<"Stressed" isn't perhaps the right word here, but fancy Guppies at least are more prone to diseases when kept towards the cooler end of the temperature range. If yours are fine, then you needn't worry, but if you find you're constantly battling Finrot and Fungus, then temperature may be an issue.>
Thank you!!!
<Cheers, Neale.> 

Aggressive Neon Tetra  6/6/10
Good morning from the UK
I have a 25 gallon tank (fully planted and cycled). It currently homes 5 neon guppies (1 male, 4 female), 5 panda Platies (1 male, 4 females), 3 cherry shrimps and 9 neon tetra (new).
<Not a bad combination, provided the water isn't too hard. But Guppies tend to want warmer water (around 25-30 C) than either Neons, Platies or Cherry Shrimps (22-25 C). In theory Guppies should be fine in water that cool, but many of the fancy Guppies are delicate and become prone to diseases when kept that cool.>
I've had a few fry appear (some have been moved to a nursery tank).
However, I wanted to check the behaviour of a couple of the Neon Tetras.
They are the largest of the nine and appear to hover around the planted areas where the fry are and aggressively chase away any of the other Neon Tetras. Is this normal?
<Can be.>
Is there anything I can do
<Not really, beyond adding a few more.>
or should I just let them carry on (I don't see any fin nipping yet)?
<About all you can do.>
Many thanks
<All schooling fish are hierarchical, and within that group a certain amount of aggression is "par for the course". Isolating the dominant fish in a bucket, moving the rocks and plants about, and then reintroducing them into what they perceive as a new environment can help. Adding more Neons can also help by altering the social structure and spreading out any aggression. But usually schooling fish settle down eventually. Cheers, Neale.>

gouramis (advice)   4/25/10
Hi I just have a quick question.
I have recently bought a 70L tank, about a week later (as per store person instructions) I decided to buy some fish, namely: 2x dwarf gouramis (both males 90% sure one flame coloured and the other blue and red stripes) and 5 neon tetras.
<Neons and Dwarf Gouramis make poor companions. Neons need fairly cool water, 22-24 C/72-75 F. Dwarf Gouramis must be kept warm, around 28-30 C/82-86 F. Any conditions good for one will be stressful for the other. This is clearly stated in any aquarium book, so as always, read up on the needs of your fish prior to purchase.>
All the water was tested beforehand and was fine, my PH however was a little bit on the high side- 7.2 /7.4
<This pH is fine. More aquarists cause problems by adding those often-lethal pH up and pH down potions they convince themselves they need. Both these species will be fine at 5-15 degrees dH, pH 6-7.5.>
I have noticed that males can get a bit territorial , and do nip and chase each other a little bit. As well as- they do funny swimming up and down ( looking over previous articles, I see this almost a normal behaviour....)
<Yes, your aquarium is too small for two male Colisa lalia.>
My question is , can I add a 3rd fish - another Gourami ?
And if I can, should I the fish be a male? or should I get female?
<A male and a female might be okay in this tank, possibly a male and two females. Two males is risky, and two males and one female would end up with some poor female pestered to death by the aggressive males.>
Or should I get a 3rd different kind of Gourami, I'm not sure if this make any difference?
<Your aquarium is too small for any more Gouramis. Males of all species are territorial.>
Or perhaps another different species altogether?
Your aquarium is already badly stocked and badly overstocked. Instead of randomly adding fish and hoping for the best, choose livestock that will be compatible in the long term.>
Alex N
<Cheers, Neale.>

Female Betta and neon tetras, incomp.   2/16/10
I have a 10 gallon tank with one female Betta in it at the moment. The Betta is almost totally white, which I guess is rare. She is also very passive and barely even moves around. I was thinking of putting a few neon tetras in there, but I am wondering if she would go after them. Would this set up be safe?? Thank you!!
<Neons and Bettas aren't a good combination. For one thing, Neons prefer cooler water, around 24 C, whereas Bettas need things comparatively warm, around 28-30 C. So anything "just right" for one species would be stressful for the other. Bettas are also nipped by Neons. Yes, this is normally observed with male Bettas, but why risk it? There are many better choices for female Betta tankmates out there. Cherry shrimps, Kuhli loaches, perhaps even Boraras spp. Dwarf Rasboras. Cheers, Neale.>

Worried for my fish. Molly-Neon mis-mix, no reading, full moon stuff...   11/18/09
I have one Dalmatian Molly, one gold molly and 4 neon tetras together in a large tank, it has plenty of plants.
<Do understand Neons and Mollies are not compatible. Neons need cool (around 22-25 C) water that is soft to moderately hard, and not too basic (5-15 degrees dH, pH 6.5-7.5). Mollies by contrast need much warmer water (around 28 C) and the water must be very hard (15+ degrees dH) and very basic (pH 7.5-8). They almost always do better when some marine salt mix is added, at a dose of between 3-9 grammes per litre depending on the tankmates and plants. All of this will be quoted in aquarium books, which is why we recommend you read a book before buying any fish.>
I have recently found out that both my mollies are male (thank goodness) My concern is, for a few weeks now my gold molly has been getting fatter very ball like and can no longer swim, he sits in one spot all the time on the bottom of the tank, my Dalmatian molly appears to be fretting for the gold as he is always going over to him and trying to lift him off the bottom of the tank, he is continuously trying to push him up, and when he gets the gold up so far the gold just sinks straight to the bottom of the tank again,
<He is not "fretting" but being aggressive.>
His breathing has become more erratic and I've noticed his fins are getting faster in movement but he's still not getting anywhere. He has also stopped eating now and I'm worried he is going to starve as it has been a few days.
<What are the water conditions? As stated above, Mollies need very specific conditions to do well.>
I have medicated the tank with a multi purpose treatment but it has had no affect on him.
<Useless approach. Diagnose the problem, then treat. Imagine if your doctor couldn't be bothered to check your symptoms, and just gave you the first pot of pills he pulled from a drawer!>
I separated him from the others but he looked panicky and was constantly pushing up against the side, while he was in the other tank I noticed his anus was very white and looked like it was protruding out of his body like a hemorrhoid.
<Is not this.>
I'm concerned for my other fish as my Dalmatian molly is more active then usual in what looks like a concerned manner. and one of the Neons seams to be becoming rounder in the tummy and becoming slackish in its movements.
<Check water quality and water chemistry. For both species, 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite are critical. But since Neons and Mollies need completely different water chemistry, it's unlikely (i.e., impossible) to keep both species 100% successfully in the same aquarium.>
Id appreciate any advice you could give me as I don't want to loose any of my fish.
<I'm afraid they're doomed. You've thrown two non-compatible species together, and without giving me any actual data in terms of water quality, water chemistry, or temperature, I have no idea what precisely is going on here.>
I have looked all over websites trying to find an answer but nothing that I can find displays any of his symptoms together.
<These sound like generic "get me out of here" symptoms exhibited by fish being maintained in a poor (or the wrong) environment.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Male molly, sore eye, oh my. Ongoing, child, mis-mix with Neons  -- 02/19/09 Hi, I am just writing to say my Neons are now in my big tank (2ft tank) with my other fish and seem to be doing fine my small tank has my to tiny baby guppies in it for the minute. My male molly has been nipped on the eye by a neon <Mmm, not compatible... behaviorally or environmentally. Please read re the water quality needs of these two species> because he got in its way when it wanted food it has swollen and looks so sore but I was given some Myxazin to treat it none of my other fish seem to have any other problems and seem to get on fine with my Neons I'll just remind you what fish I have, I have 3 guppies (1 adult very pregnant female and 2 unknown babies), a breeding pair of Dalmatian mollies, a breeding pair of platies, 6 Neons and 1 Sailfin Plec. Thanks alot <No such word> ,Alishia. <Neons should be moved elsewhere>

Neon Tetras And Serpae Tetra, incomp.  5/5/08 Hello there, nice to be back! I have my problem with my 9 neon tetras and 5 Serpae Tetras. First week after I buy the Neons the Serpaes are not doing anything to the Neons, they don't disturb them. <Yet...> Yesterday I saw one of my Neons has no tail then one Serpae attack the neon and bite the neon's tail. <Ah, there it is.> I'm shock when I saw it, and until now I can't imagine the worst thing my Serpae did. I think of possible solutions, and it came to my mind that if I remove the Serpae tetra (3 of them) will the aggressiveness will be minimize, I will just remain one male and female. Is it ok? <Nope. Serpae tetras, as I point out repeatedly here at WWM, are not community safe. They eat fins and scales in the wild, and also have a "feeding frenzy" behaviour that means they lunge at anything and everything when feeding. Mixing Serpae tetras with anything other than more Serpae tetras is not a good idea. Period. End of discussion. They're great fish on their own, but were the very first fish I ever kept way back in the early 80s, and I learned my lesson the hard way.> please give me the right solution. My tank is 10 gallons, planted, and an Amazon blackwater layout. <Neons need cooler water (around 22 C) than Serpae tetras (around 25 C), so aren't really compatible anyway. I'd get rid of the Serpae tetras, since a 10 gallon tank is too small for them. Keep the Neons, let the temperature drop, and if you want obtain some suitable tankmates for this sort of tank, e.g., Corydoras habrosus.> Hope you will reply soon. Thanks and more power! <Hope this helps! Neale.>

Schooling Advice... Neon Tetras   2/10/08 I recently e-mailed you guys about my school of diminishing neon tetras. After hearing from you guys that Neons are poor quality most of the time in large stock and from my own experience, I think Neons are just too much of a hassle and a waste of money because of there very short longevity. Currently there is 1 dwarf Gourami, 2 blue gouramis, 1 gold Gourami, and 4 rainbow sharks in my 55 gallon aquarium along with about 5 remaining neon tetras. Here's my question though. What do you think would be a good schooling fish. I was thinking about tiger barbs, but if you can think of something better that'd be great. I plan to just put my remaining Neons up for adoption at the petstore as I did with my crayfish. Thanks for you help and advise. <Jonathan, given you were keeping crayfish with the Neons, I'd not be too quick to blame the Neon's demise on poor health. In addition, it is absolutely essential you eliminate environmental factors before apportioning blame. So do a pH test and a nitrite test, and check your filter is still working properly and not clogged up. Obviously if the water isn't that great, *any* new fish you add are likely to suffer. Fish that have been established in a tank for many months will often seem happy enough in such tanks because they've slowly adapted to those conditions. But any new fish will be used to the water quality/chemistry at the retailer's tank, and will get stressed or killed by being dumped in entirely different conditions in your tank. In any case, Tiger Barbs would be a poor choice for a tank with Gouramis because Tiger Barbs are fin-nippers. So to are Serpae tetras, Black Widow (Petticoat) tetras, and several other small characins. Read up on any species carefully before you make a purchase. I happen to consider Bleeding Heart Tetras among the best all-around characins: they are pretty, quite big, constantly chasing each other but completely peaceful towards tankmates. They are also hardy and too fast for aggressive or nippy fish to bother (mine live in a tank with puffers and have NEVER been nipped). Australian Rainbowfish are also very reliable choices, especially if you have hard water. Cheers, Neale.>

Betta Compatibility with Neon Tetras 1/7/07 Hi, <Hi> Great web site. <Thanks> I am in the process of starting up the first cycle in my 30 litre heated BiOrb with 2 neon tetras and 1 algae eating shrimp. <Neon tetras are pretty sensitive to water quality, keep a close eye on it.> So far so good and I am now planning ahead to see which fish I would like to add and when. Could I add a male Betta/fighter in a month's time? (when chemical levels are good etc..) <Not a good mix, have seen Bettas try to eat little Neons, plus their water quality needs are pretty different.> If so and if he is settled could I then add more neon tetras at a later date? Thank you very much in advance, Rob <Chris>

Platy & Guppy Questions... and Neons in the mix   2/22/06 I'm new to the hobby, but your site has been quite helpful.  I have a couple of questions about the health of my fish and I hope you can help.  I have a 10 gallon tank this is well filtered, heated to about 79 F, and planted as my main tank and a 2.5 gallon hospital tank.  I have 7 guppies, 2 male and 5 females; 3 platies and 13 platy fry that are 2 days old and doing very well; 3 neon tetras, a Chinese algae eater and 2 bamboo shrimp.  I know I have a bit too many, but water quality seems to be pretty good and I test it at least every other day and I have another 10 gallon being shipped.  When I first brought the platies home, one had a white rectangular wound on her back so she went straight to the hospital tank where she is now, and gave birth 2 days ago, and the white stuff has spread around her a little, but its not spotted like Ick is and appears to have some trouble swimming in the main tank.  Also in the hospital tank is one of the Neons who has some gill trouble - loss of gills or the cover, <Happens> but it appears to be slowly returning to a more pink color and one female guppy who has gotten progressively worse, she has some raised scales, large white growths.  One of the guppies in the main tank also has a few scales that appear almost like a shed skin coming off, but they don't appear to be getting any worse.  None of the other fish seem to have any trouble, but I'm not sure what to do about the fish in the hospital tank or the one guppy with the "shedding" in the main tank.  Any help or advice you can offer me would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks. Arlie Hubbard <I would separate (when you get the new ten gallon) the Neons, read re their water quality (softer, acidic, warmer) and the livebearers... and keep their environments to their liking... This is all that is needed here. Oh... and keep an eye on this Algae Eater... often trouble with other fishes. Bob Fenner>

Angel Finds Neons a Tasty Treat (4/22/04) Hello - I cannot thank you guys enough for the awesome website! <It's an honor to play a small part. Steve Allen here tonight.> I've had a planted 29 gallon freshwater tank running with only an Angel (about 4 inches) and a balloon bellied molly for quite a while. All of the other fish died of velvet and these two were the survivors. Today I decided that the tank could use some new inhabitants and I really wanted small schooling fish. I purchased a 3 pack of neon tetras and finished acclimating them about 2 hours ago. Unfortunately my 3 pack is now a 1 pack and my Angel fish now has a pot belly, so he got a very colorful snack. <Tasty too.> I really want to keep some sort of schooling fish in this fairly small tank. My question is if I buy more of the neon tetras will they have a better chance of survival in a bigger school (maybe 6-9 of them to create confusion) or am I just buying an expensive snack? <Number two. The Angel will pick them off one-by-one in that small tank.> Are there other small schooling freshwater fish that are better at escaping or a bit bigger so they wont fit in the angels mouth? <Not small ones. You could put maybe 4 or 5 somewhat larger tetras such as Lemon or Serpae. These ought to be OK, but since your Angel is already rather large, start out with near-adult size ones. Another possibility would be Golden or Cherry Barbs, but these could get a little too big. The angel will continue to grow somewhat bigger, so you need to be careful not to put too many other fish in there.> Thanks in advance for the advice :) <Hope this helps.>

A Betta to the Mix? Hey crew. Do you think a male Betta could peacefully live with my 9 neon tetras and my 3 platys in my 10 gallon freshwater planted tank? Thanks! <Nope, sorry but two problems here. The dozen fish you have now are about the limit of a 10 gallon. And the Betta will turn a small Neon into lunch. A big (?)

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