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FAQs on the Neon Tetras Systems

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 Compatibility, Neon Tetras Stocking/Selection, Neon Tetras Feeding, Neon Tetras Disease, Neon Tetras Reproduction/Breeding,

Related FAQs:  Cardinal Tetras, Characid/Tetra Fishes,

Cooler water... low 70's F... Softer/less hard, slightly acidic...

NO ammonia, nitrite, little nitrate...

Space, minimum 10 gal.

Questions setting up a Neon Tetra tank    11/7/12
Hello. My name is Niki. I stumbled across your site and am very impressed; also very grateful as it appears to answer most of my questions, even more so that you're there for me to ask more.
<Welcome aboard!>
I love Neon Tetras (yes, I know how you feel about them),
<Don't dislike them… but do recognise that they're less easy to keep than many suppose, and farmed ones are a bit plagued by disease.>
but as with many others I'm reading, have had difficulty keeping them.
<As have I…>
I've gotten enormous amounts of really good information from reading here, and want to use it to make a Neon Tetra tank, with your help. It would appear that the problems with Neons are most often temperature, water hardness and Neon Tetra Disease.
<Yes, yes and yes.>
I want to do this right, so I've researched a bunch and this is what I've come up with. I'd most appreciate your advice. As to the tank, I did a lot of reading and got this from you guys. For Neons:
STABLE pH between 6 and 7.5;
<Somewhere in there, but obviously the stability is the key bit.>
72-75 F temperature;
<Yes, but be sure to adjust the newly bought specimens to cooler conditions carefully. I'd set the tank up to the temperature of the water in the retailer's tank, then set the heater down a degree, so the water cools down slowly across a day. Repeat every day as required until the water is at the right temperature.>
Consistently zero levels of ammonia and nitrite; 5, 10, 15 ppm nitrate at least. I have good (liquid--not test strip) test kits for all of that.
"For dealing with hard water, you advised 1 part tap water to 9 parts distilled, RO or rainwater. Yes, our water is somewhat hard, but we live in Marin County, California, so unless Climate Change affects us really quickly, we usually get up to 22 in. a year in rainfall--I'll start collecting! My friend at the fish store swore they've never had any problems with our water and Neons. She's not bullshitting me, she takes good care of me; I had tank problems one time and lost almost EVERYTHING; she had me keep bringing my water in before she'd let me buy any more fish, and even then maintain it for two weeks to be sure! So they're not just in it for the money. I'm not sure how much our water has to do with my inability to keep Neons, but I'm taking no chances. Is there a way to test water softness...I'm not crazy about the idea of buying water to change my fish tank frequently!
<To begin with, set the tank up with your local water, just like your retailer. What I'd suggest you do is let them settle in like that. But each weekend, as you do the water change, simply do water changes 50/50 tap water and RO water (or rainwater). For Neons, it's actually not crucial for the water to be super-soft; the aim is to avoid liquid rock. 10, 12 degrees dH, with a pH around 7.5, is absolutely fine.>
As to gathering rainwater, we have a friend who's lived with my husband and I for several years after moving here from Michigan area. She has a 50-gallon tank down in her room downstairs, has always had fish, and she's to blame for getting me into them. Big dog person (Huskies rule!); I've had cats, dwarf rabbits, many reptiles when younger, and others, but I just got a tank and got started with her advice when it came to fish. Learned MUCH since then, but this is the first time I'm deliberately setting up a tank rather than "oooo, that's pretty, I'll take two of those, and..." (don't say it; I know). She's leery of me collecting rainwater, and I'm not sure if it's just 'cuz she's a neat freak, so I'll ask you. I planned on putting clear plastic sheeting over a couple of coolers and a big metal bucket we have out back to catch the water; she says plastic would affect the water. What is your opinion?
<I'd be more worried about the metal bucket, to be honest. Rainwater is acidic and tends to react with metal. Stainless steel should be okay, but food-grade plastic containers are the ideal. With all this said, if rainwater is collected quickly then stored indoors, the sheeting and the bucket may not matter much. In any case, rainwater is variably safe; I collect and use rainwater, but many aquarists think the risk isn't worth it. If you're keeping Neons, you don't need a huge tank, 10, 15 gallons is fine, and if you lightly stock the tank and don't overfeed, water changes would be modest. Buying the 3, 4 gallons of RO water every weekend or two might be worthwhile.>
As to the filtration: "Air-powered filters are ideal, and sponge, box, and undergravel " is what you suggest--Currently I have what you call "electric canister filter", but picked up an "Air-driven, Inside-the-tank Cartridge Filter" which my current air pump will drive. My "advisor" at the fish store set me up with cut-to-fit ammonia-remover filter pads for it. I'm putting it in today, she said let it be there for two weeks to soak up the bacterial stuff before changing the tank. Also, I read somewhere on your site (but can't find it again) about leaving the top of the tank open for aeration since bubbles aren't really that helpful; would you recommend that?
<Not necessary. So long as the tank isn't hermetically sealed, air will get through narrow gaps and holes just fine.>
Substrate and "furnishings":
"Smooth sand and Indian almond leaves to recreate leaf litter." I've had problems with live plants in the past (dying, and snails) so I'd prefer to stay with artificial, if possible. From what I see on the internet, Indian almond leaves shouldn't be a problem just littered along the bottom of the tank. Not wanting live plants would leave out the Java moss, Java fern and Anubias spp which are suggested, along with bogwood roots.
<Shame, because they're really bullet-proof, especially the Anubias.>
I'm debating whether to go natural or artificial bogwood roots, given they're already dead (positive) but can acidify over time (your opinion?); what other artificial "furniture" would you suggest? From what I'm reading, they like lots of foliage to hide behind, which I could provide with fake plants from bottom to top for them.
<Neons do like, need shade.>
Could I keep my shells and rocks, or do Neons need other types of things to hide under/around?
<Not shells (they harden the water) and the rocks need to be lime-free as well. So granite good, limestone bad.>
You say Neons like "low light levels (i.e., no lights, lots of shade); little to no water movement--4 times the volume per hour". NO artificial light would leave the aquarium pretty dark where it sits, and there's no other place in the room I can put it. I checked about low-level aquarium lights and she said they don't have any, but remembered that they used to have these light "covers" for fluorescents to bring down the brightness...I'll look around for those, unless you know of specific low-light aquarium lights.
<Without plants, then use one or two fluorescent tubes. Gro-lux tubes (which are a bit purplish) flatter Neons especially.>
You mention "Smooth silica sand, also known as silver sand and pool filter sand" as a good substrate; the light color I saw on the internet wouldn't have enhanced low light levels for the Neons, but bang-on!, she had it in BLACK--which you guys also mentioned being a good color decoratively. And yes, she said it IS "smooth silica"--the bags are unmarked but I trust her.
Then we get to the fish. I have a number of fish that are currently in the 20-gallon tank which will become the Neon tank. There is a lovely woman at our best fish store in town who's taken care of me for a long time. She will take any of the fish I want to give up. Of those I have, I only want to retain the African Frog, Kuhli Loach and Chinese Algae Eater. Will the Kuhli do the job of keeping the bottom clean, or should I keep one of the Corys I have to clean the substrate?
<Corydoras are ideal, because they like the same coolish conditions.>
Can I keep my Kuhli Loach, who has a temperature range of 79-84?
<Not ideal.>
I need to decide how many Neons and what I'll put with them. Checking the tankmates you suggest, I'd like to go with Diamond Neons, Black Neons, Red Phantoms and/or Golden Pencilfish.
<All good, provided the water temperature is okay.>
Neons are of course the priority. I see them referred to as "pelagic", and "mid to bottom-dwellers .85 in.
Stable pH between 6 and 7.5;
72-77 F temperature;
2-10 dH; potentially to a max of 15
"5, 10, 15 ppm nitrate at least"
The "Diamond" or "Diamond Head", is a mid-level swimmer who gets to a maximum size of 2-1/2 inches.
<Do you mean Diamond Tetras?>
pH range 5-7
Temperature range is 72-80 F
5-12 dH
Red Phantoms are mid-level swimmers of 1.6 inches
pH range 5.5-7.0
They have a temperature range of 72-82 F,
4-20 dH
Black Neons are mid- to top-dwellers that get 1.5 inches.
pH range 5.5-7.5
Temperature of 71-78
2-15 dH
Golden Pencilfish, surface/close-to-surface dwellers 2 inches.
pH range 6-7
Temperature 75-79
5-19 dH
(Caveat: I reeeely like the Diamonds) ;o)
I can't find "nitrate" levels for any of those but the Neons. The problem is, I get slightly different figures from virtually every website I research, so it's tough! That's why I'm asking for your help. How often would I have to check pH and are there any tests for dH??
<I'd check weekly for the first couple months, but thereafter, once all fish installed and they're all happy, once a month, if that.>
I'm listing the above because I've gone through all your suggested tankmates and my own "wish list", and these are the closest I find that are among those I'd like to have. Obviously I don't want to overcrowd, so depending on what you advise, I'll have to choose. If I can keep the frog, Kuhli and Algae Eater, what would you recommend...I assume it would be a minimum of six to a school of any of them, so I'm not sure how to calculate size/number of species/number per species to go with the Neons in a 20-gallon tank. Given Neons are mid- to bottom-dwellers, how would that mix with Diamonds/Reds as mid-levels and/or Black Neons as mid- to top-dwellers and/or Pencilfish as top-dwellers?
<In 20 gallons, you could keep 6-8 Neons, 5-6 Corydoras, and one other school of 6-8 tetras of some sort without problems.>
Bear in mind with all of this that, although I've learned some by now and have done a lot of research THIS time, this is the first time since I lost almost all the fish in one tank that I've gone beyond asking "will they be okay with _____?" to the guy in the fish shop! Does the word "neophyte" come to mind?
<In a good way.>
Also, nobody around here carries Diamonds or Reds, so I would have to either order them through the store or get them on line...the latter of which I've never done before. I've not inquired about ordering, just been told it can be done. Input?
<If you're after Diamond Tetras, Moenkhausia pittieri, they're widely traded. No need to buy all your fish at once. Indeed, getting the Neons settled first is a very good idea.>
Okay, that about covers everything (I can think of); your advice and any further information would be most appreciated. I'm getting excited thinking about this! I have to wait two weeks for the filter to pick up bacteria before changing the substrate and preparing for the new guys, and would be grateful for any advice on changing the tank over and introducing the new "tenants" which you might be willing to give as well.
Much thanks, Niki
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: Questions setting up a Neon Tetra tank 11/10/12

Hi again Neale:
Thank you for all your wonderful advice. Hopefully I'll be successful following all your suggestions. And yes, it was Diamond Tetras I was mentioning. I forgot to mention that I feed one tank flakes and brine shrimp, and the other flakes and bloodworms (for the frog). Over-feeding has always been a problem for me, my friend keep slapping my hand away to help me "wean off" over-feeding. I'm learning!
You weren't in favor of me keeping the Kuhli Loach. After reading around, it appears they can take 75°F - 85°F--given the other options and the Neons, if I kept the temp stable somewhere between 75 and 77, they should be okay...and they like "medium to medium soft" water, so that fits (as well as their pH). The sand would be perfect for them. It say they like to be kept in schools of 3 or more--I only have one--I'd rather not get any more if I can keep him? I don't want to give him away, and my other tank has a full-grown Rafael, a Krib and three full-grown Barbs...obviously he can't go in there! He would probably love the soft, black sand to root around in.
<For sure.>
You didn't address the African Frog--from what I read, it looks like he might work out okay; temp matches and it says they do well with "other like-minded and docile fish, like the loaches and community tetras", which pretty much exactly describes my tank!
Again, I can't put him in the other tank, for obvious reasons! The other numbers work well, except it says a pH of 7 to 7.2. If that's really necessary, it might be a bit tough to keep it at say a stable 7-7.2 (which would be okay for the other fish), but if it means I can keep him, I'd be willing to try.
<You'll likely be fine, so long as they get food and aren't nippy by anything aggressive.>
The Algae Eater's numbers match, too, and I'd like to keep him (again, he's pretty small so can't go to the other tank) 'cuz he keeps the algae down. Can I keep those three guys, and maybe get two (rather than just one) other small "school" of a different tetra, instead of getting more Cories, or should I stick with these three guys and just the Neons and one other small school of some kind of Tetra? You suggested more Cories; I have two now and don't really want anymore, in fact I'd like to get rid of one of them. I'm not a big fan of Cories, but they keep the bottom "vacuumed" a bit, so that's why I got them. If I could replace your suggestion of more Cories with one of the Cories I've got, I don't THINK that would overstock a 20-gallon, with the Neons and one (or two?) other "mini-school" of another Tetra. If you really think the Loach is a bad idea, I'll give him away with the others I'm removing, but I really love the little guy (seldom as I see him!).
<Well, see what happens. At 24-25 C they should all do okay.>
After what you said, I think I'll go mostly with RO water and maybe some rainwater too. By "food-grade plastic containers are the ideal", I'm guessing you mean plastic containers sold to store food.
<Yes. Also stuff sold for agriculture, like storage of animal feed and whatnot.>
I have a "plastic food container addiction" (they don't seem to have a twelve-step program for that)...so anything I've had to work not to buy too MANY! You're right that buying a few gallons of RO every weekend is no biggie and worth it; we used to buy it for ourselves and gave up as it was too much trouble, so I still have the bigger 5-gallon plastic containers laying around somewhere.
<So there you go. An easy option.>
After reading what you said, I've made a decision. My other tank (mentioned above) is darker, has fake logs in it, one big fake log where the Rafael "lives".
<Ah now, this might eat the Neons. Not sure I thought about this first time around! While they prefer shelled invertebrates, especially snails in the wild, they're not about eating small fish given the chance.>
I think I'm going to switch that to the "seashore tank", 'cuz I've got some really lovely shells and the stones are light w/gold, some kind of decorative rock (it's not limestone). With the existing white sand from the existing "seaside" tank (which I was going to replace with the black sand), it'll be light, so the Neon tank can be dark with the logs, etc. I'm also thinking, given what you said, that if I make the Neon tank the darker one, I might try live plants again.
<Sure. Just remember seashells raise pH and hardness, so they're options for hard water systems and brackish water systems, or obviously marine systems.>
You wrote that Java moss, Java fern, Anubias and bogwood roots in some combination or other would work...as long as they don't bring along snails (been there/done that/no thank you!).
<Easy to prevent. Dip/immerse in snail removing potions as sold in aquarium shops.>
I'll look around for them; that way it will give the Neons (and whatever tetras) lots of things to hide around, and be darker. Does that sound good to you?
Going with live plants, you wrote "Gro-lux tubes (which are a bit purplish) flatter Neons especially"--I'm guessing Gro-lux would be good for the live plants?
<Oddly enough, outstanding for land plants, which is what they were invented for. But they're not that good for aquarium (underwater) plants. Anubias will certainly do fine, and Java fern and Java moss should do okay.>
In which case, I'll go with them; want those little guys to show off to their best advantage, after going to all this trouble! You mentioned not getting all the fish at once; trust me, I won't make that mistake (again)! I'm not going to add any new fish until I'm sure everything (especially the Neons( is happily established, just keep the ones you think I can keep and only add the Neons once the tank has been set up. Thanks for all your advice about how to introduce them, I'll follow it to the letter! Cooling the water slowly is going to be a real chore, as the heater in there doesn't "read" what my thermometer does,
<Hmm… not trouble really, surely? Turn the heater-stat down a degree or two, and let the tank cool down itself.>
so I have to go by the latter and check and check to be sure it's okay until I get it stabilized. Worth it, though'.
<Could well be.>
Swapping the two tanks: Until now, they've both been pretty much the same, water, temp, pH, etc. I'm guessing I shouldn't change too much to start with,
so if I just swap the fish I have now and give away the ones I'm not going to keep, then change all the numbers (slowly!) in the one tank to be good for the Neons, wait a while to be sure everyone's stable, then introduce them, let them settle before I introduce any others. I WILL have to completely empty and clean the tank I'm going to use for the Neons, as the Algae Eater I had in there I think got eaten, so there's quite a bit of algae on the "furniture" (fake logs, etc.). Also, the substrate in there is dark pebbles, so I'll have to clean the whole tank and replace it with the black sand. I'm guessing I should change it over to live plants and let them settle in as well before I add the Neons. Get it all set up, wait (how long?)
<Week or two.>
and check levels of everything, and once it's stable, look for some Neons--introduce them, wait again (how long?)
<A few days, a week.>
before introducing anything else. Does that sound about right?
This is quite an undertaking; I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have been successful without you looking "over my shoulder" as it were, but it'll be more than worth it for me if I can get and keep some of those lovely Neons. Thanks once more for all your help! Niki
<Most welcome, Neale.> 
Re: Questions setting up a Neon Tetra tank, stkg.     11/11/12

Okay Neale, one more time, then I promise to stop bugging you!
Couple of things:  By "You'll likely be fine, so long as they get food and aren't nippy by anything aggressive" I'm guessing you were referring to the African Frog (dwarf, if I didn't mention)?
He's never had any problems with the other fish, shown no sign of damage, etc., and as I said, those were Corys, the Loach and various Tetras, so I'm not sure what would get nippy...?
<Quite so. But giving you a general approach to take when choosing subsequent tankmates and/or deciding which tank to keep these frogs in.>
Also, you expressed concern about the Rafael...I think you misunderstood. 
He lives with the Barbs and the male Kribensis (he lost his mate a while back). I wouldn't dream of putting ANY of those in the same tank with Neons, or the Frog.  My idea was to swap both tanks...I wasn't thinking of dumping a near-adult Rafael in with the poor Neons, etc.  He'd have a field day!
<Or field night, at least.>
I kinda rambled (a problem of mine!), so let's see if I can be clear:
Right now:
--Dark tank (small pebble substrate, fake logs, plastic plants): Krib, Rafael, 3 Barbs
<All good.>
--Light tank (white sand, rocks, seashells): Frog, Loach, 2 Coreys, 2 small Algae Eaters 1 Glo-Lite Tetra and 3 Harlequin Rasboras (I'm not keeping the Rasboras, Tetra, and 1 of the Corys). My reason for giving away those is that I like Neons, you suggested several I like, and I want to keep little "schools" of Tetras, rather than single individuals of other things.
<Would not use natural seashells in a freshwater tank like this. The shells will dissolve, making your purchase, use of softened water pointless.
Artificial (plastic, ceramic) shells are fine though.>
--Dark tank (w/black sand, assorted plants and fake logs): Whatever Neons I get, Loach, Frog one Corey and Algae Eaters.
--Light Tank (w/light sand, rocks and seashells): Krib, Barbs and Rafael.
So you see, I THINK I'd have it where nobody would hurt anyone else--at least, the Barbs and their buddies have gotten along this far.  I hadn't forgotten about the seashells; I'll keep an eye on the pH; will research to see how Barbs, Kribs and Raphaels feel about water hardness...especially the Krib, he's my baby and it about killed me when his lady of long standing died (sniff!).
<None of these are overly fussy about hardness or pH, except to say none like rock-hard water, and if you want to Kribs to breed, you do need a pH of exactly 6.5-7.0 otherwise you end up with all one sex.>
Tried to get him another; she died quickly; I think that was the fault of the store, as I got one for Choey, our downstairs friend/roommate, and it died almost immediately too.  Haven't tried again since.  Anyway, the shells would be in THAT tank, not with the Neons, etc.  I'm paying close attention to what you're telling me, and taking notes, believe me!
Oh, hey, I didn't know there WAS a snail-removing potion!  Choey told me snails often come with plants, and I had a SLEW of the tiny, tan-colored bastards I couldn't seem to get rid of (even removing EVERYTHING, boiling everything and going to plastic plants, believe it or not!).  I wish I'd known, would have saved a lot of time and effort.  Many thanks, I'll look for it right away!
<Potassium permanganate was the old method, but this chemical is fairly toxic and not recommended; snail-killing products are available in pet stores. Typically, dip plants for 20 minutes or so.>
That's really wild about Gro-Lux not being good for aquarium plants! I used it extensively for my regular plants, but I'm reeeely grateful you told me that. I'll go with the Anubias, Java fern and Java, and avoid anything else.
<The Gro-Lux tubes are really good, as you say, but their wavelength (colour) gets cut out by the water really quickly, so with anything more than, say, 20 cm/8 inches of water isn't worth using Gro-Lux tubes alone.
When I started keeping fish, mixing one Gro-Lux with one bright blue-white tube (most of the popular ones used today) was recommended. But really, the bright blue-white tubes are better for fish tanks.>
You are an absolute guardian angel, Neale...there are so many things I now know I'd have done wrong, I'd have ended up terribly disappointed if I didn't have all the advice you've give me.  I've made note of everything and will now start down the long road to setting up my two tanks EXACTLY the way that is best for them and that I want them.  Exciting!
<Indeed it is.>
Completely separate from my work to create a Neon tank, one last question. 
I had a "selection" of Barbs in the tank with the Krib and Rafael; over time several of them died.  Now I'm told I can't get anything else to fill the gap, as my Barbs are all full grown and would eat anything smaller.
<Not really sure this is true. While barbs are opportunists, they have small mouths, and like all Cyprinidae, lack teeth, so their predatory abilities are minimal. Ad adult Tiger Barb for example doesn't pose much of a threat to anything other than teeny-tiny fish (newborn Guppies for example).>
So how does one go about replacing something in a tank with other "aggressives"?  I've asked two shop owners (one the woman I mentioned that I trust a lot), and they both said "can't be done".
<Provided you choose compatible species that are too deep-bodied to be swallowed whole, there's no real risk I can think of; at worst, barbs are nippy, so adding things like male Guppies, juvenile Angels or fancy Bettas would be daft. But Danios would be fine, being too fast to catch, while the deeper bodied tetras like X-Ray Tetras would be safe as well. Bleeding Heart Tetras are particularly useful fish, offering nice colours (in the right tank, they fade a bit in bright tanks) while having quite a pushy, robust personality themselves. I've kept them with South American Puffers and they did very well. Another stalwart species that'd thrive would be the Black Widow Tetra, but you might also consider the South American Red-Eye Tetra (Moenkhausia sanctaefilomenae). It's a pretty species, extremely hardy, but overlooked by some because it can be nippy at times towards slow-moving fish. Since you're keeping it with barbs, that won't be an issue.>
Looks awful empty in there--once I swap it over, will look even MORE empty without the logs and stuff.  All I have now, in a 20-gallon tank, are four Barbs (two Tiger--a regular and an Albino--and a Cherry) the Krib and the Rafael.  I reeeely miss my two Green Tigers, as they were the reason I set the entire tank up with "aggressives".
<Barbs aren't really aggressive, so I'm not sure you view them this way.
Many barbs, like the Five-Banded Barb and the African Dwarf Golden Barb, are in fact rather shy.>
Should I just leave it at that (since I hope someday to get the Krib another mate), or is there some other option?
<Many; see above.>
Okay, I quit, hopefully you're rid of me now. Thanks again for all your wonderful advice. Now I get to go to work...wish me luck! ;o)
<Real good. Cheers, Neale.>

neon tetra, too few in too small a world - 8/17/12
I have 2 neon Tetras
<Won't be happy in groups of less than 6; these two will pine away, ignore their food, eventually die.>
in a 5-gallon tank.
<Too small for Neons. How long has this tank been set up? How did you cycle the filter before adding the fish? If the tank is new, and the filter wasn't cycled (with a source of ammonia) for 4-6 weeks before buying, adding the fish, then it's almost certain you have non-zero ammonia, nitrite levels, and these are stressing, killing the Neons.>
The pet store recommended a tropical granule with color enhancers as the only food.  When I drop a few granules into the tank, the fish swim all around them, but do not go after them or eat them.
<Not at all surprising.>
They then lay on the bottom of the tank.
<Remove these.>
The granules seem too big for their small mouths. Will they munch on those granules on the bottom or do they need a floating food?
<Neons need foods that sink slowly, e.g., a good quality flake like Tetra Min.>
Would three neons in a 5-gallon tank be to many?
<6-8 Neons in 10-gallons is the MINIMUM for this species.>
Thank you for any help you can provide.  B.J. Lane
<Glad to help. All you need to do is buy a new aquarium, cycle it for 6 weeks (if you don't have any mature filter media to hand to put inside the aquarium filter), then add the Neons. Do read:
Cheers, Neale.>

neon tetras at room temp ?  6/26/12
Hi Neale,
? <He's marked out till Sat. Will send this to him>
I've seen many online sources that give conflicting answers as to whether Neon Tetras can be kept at room temperature.
?<Depends on what room temp. you're/one's referring to. To the mid, upper 60s to mid 70's F. is fine>
I am giving the two small sunfish in my 12 gallon tank to my boyfriend (with a large tank) & will be left with only a few snails, Glofish, 2 Amano shrimp, & 2 Otos.
?<The sunfish are even less tropical, and too aggressive to keep w/ Neons>
I was thinking of getting neon tetras.? I live in Pennsylvania, so the winters get cold, but the rest of the year it's warm.? I have a small house and I keep it heated during the Winter (68 degrees),
<Water temp. runs a few degrees cooler than room air temp.>
 but turn down the thermostat in the middle of the night, so when I wake up in the morning, it's 65 degrees on the thermostat.
<Too cool for Neons>

?I would guess that the water holds onto some of its heat, so it's not as cold as the room temp thermostat reading.
?<Drops below overnight>
If I acclimated neon tetras now (it gets 80 degrees in my house during the summer....and due to walls of windows, stays warm in Autumn), will the tetras get used to the Winter temperature?
Or is that cruel and will they suffer ??
?<Will perish>

Pittsburgh, PA
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
re: neon tetras at room temp ?  6/27/12

Thanks Bob for your reply.
?<? Welcome?>
Yes, I agree that the sunfish are too aggressive for neons, which is why I'm giving them away....
?...and after I give them away, then I was thinking of getting neons.
?However, I wasn't sure about your answer below:
?you had said the following:
?&Depends on what room temp. you're/one's referring to. To the mid, upper? 60s to mid 70's F. is fine;
??Yes, that's what my room temp *is* during the winter: ?mid and upper sixties (pre-dawn)?... to mid seventies (during winter days)?.... ?Is that fine??
?<No... the morning temp. will find the water in the tank too cool>
?...but at the end of your reply, you said that the sixty five degree Fahrenheit at night is too cold and will kill the tetras... however, that *is* mid-sixties...?(??)
??<... read what I sent previously... water temp. is lower than ambient air temp. B>??????

Tetra Neons... keeping/killing  1/24/11
Hi, I just got 5 Neons about 4 days ago, and unfortunately one of them has already died. They are in a 10 gallon tank with a pH of about 6.5 and nitrate and nitrite readings are low as well.
<Meaning what? Is this aquarium brand new? A new tank *will* kill Neons. It needs to be cycled for 3-4 weeks at least before adding the Neons. By cycling, we mean presenting a source of ammonia, such as pinches of fish food every couple of days, and then doing the usual 25% water changes every week. If the tank is new, ammonia will be high for the first couple of weeks, nitrite high for about weeks 2 to 4, and only after the fourth week will ammonia and nitrite both be close to (or at) zero, and that's when nitrate starts going up. That's also the point when you can start adding fish. There's no "low" level of nitrite (with an "I"). Any nitrite level above 0 is potentially dangerous, and above 0.5 mg/l there's a good chance of the fish dying quickly.>
The tank is heated to about 79-80 degrees F.
<Too warm for Neons.>
I am concerned that the water may be too hard for them. When I tested the GH it was 180ppm. Is the hardness hurting the fish?
<Can do, long term. But Neons won't die within days because your water is moderately hard. In fact they may well do just fine, provided everything else in your tank is good.>
If so, what can I do to lower it?
<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.> 

Dying fish, FW.... Neons...  4/18/09
Hello again! It's me, L.L. (please call me Kiara) again.
<Hello Kiara,>
My Neon Tetras are hanging out near the surface nearly vertical, and one refuses to eat.
<Please, check two things. Firstly water quality. You should have a nitrite test kit at minimum, and you should detect zero nitrite. Secondly, check water chemistry. You should have a pH test kit at minimum. For Neons the precise value doesn't matter -- anything between 6 and 7.5 will do -- but the pH should be stable, i.e., the same thing, week-in, week-out. Neons need a tank not less than 10 gallons in size, and that tank needs a heater and a filter. Usually when Neons get sick it's either because of Neon Tetra Disease (which has very specific symptoms different to what you're describing) or poor water conditions (the symptoms of which match precisely what you're describing).>
The other keeps picking on it.
<When one Neon gets sick, it's common for the others to turn on it. The reasons for this are complicated and don't really concern us here, but suffice it to say that this allows infections such as Neon Tetra Disease to get from sick fish to health fish.>
It's showed interest in freeze-dried bloodworms, but the other gets to it first :(.
We recently found our years-old Mini Bow 2.5-gallon aquarium. It has a stand, hood with lighting (after I turned it off the filament kept flashing and the bulb exuded an "old plastic" smell- :)!), colored gravel, 2.5 Whisper Power Filter, 1 cartridge, carbon...you get the idea. (No air pump or heater, but my old thermometer says the water stays at 76 degrees.)
<Neons do prefer around 24 C/75 F, and one way people shorten their lives is to keep them too warm. That said, unless you house is kept centrally heated to 24 C all day long, an unheated tank isn't suitable. Thermometers are not terribly reliable, and more to the point, just because it's warm in the daytime doesn't mean it'll be warm at night, or when there's a draught from an open window. Tropical fish are tropical fish, and unless you live in the tropics, your house temperature will be too low.>
It also has a plastic plant and a little cave. I am currently using my male Betta to cycle the filter, but my swordtail (or whatever it is; it's black but its scales have a green shimmer and the fins are transparent. Its chest not its stomach is white. The anal fin was once rounded but over the 4 or so months I've had him/her it's become a pointy triangle, NOT a gonopodium!) has outgrown its ½ gal tank (it's 2" long now!).
<You're keeping a Swordtail in a 1/2 gallon tank? I'm surprised it's still alive, to be honest.>
It once spent at least 5 minutes drying out in the sink but miraculously survived and only lost one scale and a little of its tail. Could I use him instead to cycle my tank?
<Not unless you wanted it to get sick.>
And could I also add my male guppy? When would it be safe to remove them and add my guppy fry?
<You can move fry from the rearing tank to the display tank when they're too big for the fish in the display tank to eat. There's no simple answer to that because some community fish have bigger mouths than others. You have to be sensible. Around 3 months usually works out all right, but things like Angelfish can eat a 3-month Guppy without any hassle at all.>
Thanks a lot,
Kiara a.k.a. Livebearer Lover.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Dead (and dying?) fish 4/27/09

Hi, thanks for such a cool site! (Yes, it's me again, Kiara. I'm such a pain, I know...)
<Hello again,>
Whoo, one of my Neons died horribly today (the fat one). He was in a 2.78 L Betta bowl with Oop, my thin tetra who is now eating again (Sorry, but I CANNOT get something bigger!) and my ever-pregnant guppy.
<Look, fish have a certain amount of space they need. 2.78 litres isn't going to work for anything much. Not even a Betta, let alone a Neon, or for that matter, a school of Neons. This isn't negotiable; if you don't have space for at least 10 gallons/37 litres, you shouldn't be keeping Neons.
Any further discussion on treatment, diseases, etc is a waste of everyone's time, because these fish can't live in the tank you've put them in. It would be as if you'd brought an Elephant home and wanted to keep it as an indoor pet. No matter how much you might love than Elephant and promise to look after it, there's no way on Earth it could be kept inside your house.
It's the same thing here: there's a difference between loving animals and looking after animals, and frankly animals don't want to be loved, they want to be looked after properly!>
He had still been eating but yesterday was swimming head down at a slant. I did a 100% water change today (which I never do but felt I had to.)
<100% water changes are rarely a good idea; normally one does 25% weekly, or 50% in emergencies.>
He was floating upside down in a corner, horribly bloated, with black spots on his stomach, and his eyes had actually popped out of his head!
<Blah, blah, blah... seriously, the aquarium is too small, and discussion of symptoms irrelevant. Neons need a bigger aquarium, with a heater and a filter. A 10-gallon tank would be acceptable.>
The other fish seem fine now. (My Guppy, Fatty, gave birth 3 weeks ago but now she is fat again and I can (just barely) see eyes in her stomach.
:):):)!!!) What do I do?
<Buy a bigger aquarium.>
Please help! I've researched Neon Tetras and had never heard of anything like this... :(...
<Perhaps because no-one has been misguided enough to keep Neons in such a small aquarium?>
Thanks again,
P.S. Maybe a WWM Forum could help you guys (and other people) out?
<We have one, here:
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Dead (and dying?) fish, Neon Tetra Dis.  5/4/2009

Hi I am Kiara's Mom.
<Hello Kiara's Mom!>
We've got a bigger aquarium. 28 gallons.
But the filter came broken, so we only have the thermometer and heather, some plants. we saw her neon tetra discolored and with a bump in his tummy.
<Oh; what kind of "bump"? Fish don't tend to bruise easily, or rather, anything that would bruise something like a Neon would probably kill it first. So I'd be a bit open minded here. The two most likely problems are
these: Firstly, Neon Tetra Disease. This may in fact be more than one specific disease, but we'll pass that by for the moment. Neon Tetra Disease makes the Neon look like it's lost its colour, and it also tends to become lethargic and often hides away from the other Neons, as if scared. Its body becomes swollen, and eventually, this can look as if the fish is severely bruised. There's no cure, and these fish usually die within a few days.
Since the disease is contagious, it's important to remove them from other Neons; what happens is if the healthy Neons peck at the sick/dead Neon, they can catch the responsible parasite. Next up is what we might call "secondary bacterial infections". These are caused by a variety of things, but most commonly poor water quality or physical trauma. You can cure these using antibiotics, for example Maracyn, but this does assume the background reason is fixed; e.g., if water quality was poor, the fish is provided with better conditions as well as the medicine. I actually don't recommend Neons for beginners at all, and think a wide variety of other fish make much better (easier!) choices; see here:
So we decided to put him on a Tupperware floating on the aquarium for 30 min.s.. and then leave him there.
<Ah, this might not help much. A floating container of water will keep warm, yes, but it won't be filtered, so the ammonia the fish releases (equivalent to urine in humans) collects and gradually poisons the fish.
There's no reason to isolate a fish like this; either leave it in the tank, or move to another, heated and filtered, aquarium.>
Because of your email. We hope we made a good decision.
<Possibly not. I know this all seems frightfully complicated, but this is why we stress the importance of preventing health problems rather than curing them, and part of that is using a nice, big aquarium. Contrary to what the guy at the pet store might suggest, keeping fish isn't "child's play" and actually takes a little work. Maybe not so much as a dog or cat, but some work nonetheless.>
My daughter just turned 12 and she really take loves and take care of her animals.
<Quite right too!>
Is there an advice you can give us?
<Read! There is a nice primer, here:
<I hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Keeping Rams and Neon/cardinal tetras. Sel., sys. mostly  1/24/09 I have a basement tank, 36/ 18 by 14, 52 gallons. I plan on using a river sand bottom, <Soft sand will be appreciated; the name Mikrogeophagus means "little eartheater", and like the true Geophagines cichlids, these fish (in the wild) sift the sand for algae, invertebrates and decaying organic material.> my tap pH is around 6.8 to 7. but I plan on using RO water (With a ph of 6.0), they make for you at World of fish, (its voted best LFS in twin cities). At the store they sell blue angel rams, $30 a pair, from a local breeder. These fish look much better, more vigorous and brightly colored then the regular rams they also sell (blue/German) they keep the angel rams in RO water but the others they do not. <Locally bred fish infinitely better and worth the expense. Farmed Mikrogeophagus ramirezi are of variable quality and often "juiced" with hormones and antibiotics; consequently their survival rate after shipping is dismal, even though they look nice in the shops.> The tank they are in is labeled NFS, as they are treating for Ich, but all fish on the mend, no signs of Ich on the rams at all (Corys had it), rams are showing territorial/natural behavior and they use the same RO, water I'll be using if I get them, at the shop. <If you have locally bred fish available, buying farmed specimens would be dumb.> I'm planning on buying a high intense light, and planting with live plants and driftwood. What kinds of plant do Rams like or that grow well in their water? <In the wild they live in sun-baked shallow pools with mostly amphibious vegetation that mostly grows above the waterline. So there's not really much "authentic" you can go for. Instead, concentrate on species that will tolerate the conditions in the aquarium. The very high temperature (minimum 28 C/82 F) will stress some plant species, while the necessary soft water will stress others. To be honest, I'd probably go with floating plants initially, such as the Limnobium, and leave rocks and hollow ornaments across the bottom for the fish. If you wanted rooted plants, buy species in pots that you can easily fertilise with tablets since the sand itself will contain no nutrients (unless you put a layer of pond soil or whatever underneath the sand). Cryptocoryne species would be ideal.> What are good foods for these guys? <These are quite fussy fish that tend to have favourite foods. I've never seen Mikrogeophagus show much interest in flake or pellets, though I dare say some will eat the stuff. Mostly they seem to require a varied diet of live or (wet) frozen foods: bloodworms, glassworms, mosquito larvae, daphnia, etc. Remember to vary the diet; if they get just bloodworms, you're setting them up for a vitamin deficiency in the long term.> I talked to the staff at the LFS and they said add tetras first after cycling then wait a month or more before aiding rams/ change like 5 to 10% of the water a week. <Likely far too little in terms of water changes. Mikrogeophagus ramirezi are acutely sensitive to nitrate, and tend to develop things like Hexamita at the first sniff of high levels of nitrate. In part this is surely why they die so quickly in most community tanks. So rather than estimating a water change, grab a nitrate kit and keep track of the nitrate level each week for the first few months. You'll get a picture of how quickly nitrate levels rise, and can act accordingly. You're aiming for under 20 mg/l nitrate, and ideally 0-10 mg/l. Part of this is avoiding overfeeding: these fish need only small amounts of food to do well.> I was think 1 or 2 pairs of rams and 12 to 15 tetras in a school. <Ok.> I was wondering if a school of neon, rummy nose or cardinal tetras would be good dithers ? Are there any other good tetra-like fish to keep with them or is it best to keep the Angel rams separate? <Neons need cool water, so they're not an option for use alongside the warmth-loving Mikrogeophagus ramirezi. Cardinals can work well, and probably make the best bet. Rummynose tetras would be good in some ways, but they're hyperactive fish, and need to be kept in a decent sized group to school properly; if they just mill about looking nervous, that'll have the reverse effect on your Mikrogeophagus. If you don't mind switching continents, Harlequin Rasboras work well too.> I do understand the fancy type of rams are less hardy but I will be moving in five years + anyway.( though I am planning on taking the tank with) <You'd be lucky if most of the farmed specimens last 5 months, to be honest. They really are abysmally poor fish. I wouldn't touch them with a barge pole. Like pouring money down a drain.> thanks <Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Keeping Rams and Neon/cardinal tetras. 1/24/09
Thanks I will research more, I'll also make a video of it- the tank I mean. <Sounds good. Look forward to hearing/seeing more in due course. Do try and pick up one of the books on Dwarf Cichlids, there are many. Even the old TFH one by Jörg Vierke (used, less than two dollars on Amazon) will be a useful read in terms of understanding the ecology of these fish in the wild and their specific requirements in captivity. Mikrogeophagus ramirezi are nice fish, but the reality is most people fail to keep them alive for more than a few months, at best. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Keeping Rams and Neon/cardinal tetras. 1/24/09
When/if I get them should I use jungle parasite clear on them when they go into the main tank, or should I use a separate, tank.? <"Scattergun" approaches to healthcare rarely work. Quarantine all new livestock, and if signs of illness appear, diagnose and treat as required. The main killer with Mikrogeophagus ramirezi is Hexamita, and it is likely latent in all specimens, certainly those produced on fish farms. Hexamita becomes a problem when the fish are kept too cold, exposed to high nitrates, given a poor diet.> Also is it better to use fake plants then live? <No difference so far as the fish are concerned. Use whichever you want.> I know if I did so it would save on lighting and help reduce care in an already "Demanding" setup. <Cichlids would prefer tanks without lights at all, so do whatever you want so long as there are shady places for the fish to swim. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Keeping Rams and Neon/cardinal tetras, Ram sel.    1/28/09
Do you know of any local Ram breeders that sell decent/or excellent quality rams? I'm going to wait a few years before getting them, but I wanted to look for breeders. I live in St Paul MN. <Well, since I live in Hertfordshire, England, I'm afraid I can't comment on the local fish breeders in Minnesota. Obviously the first step is to find your city or state fish or aquarium club, and get in touch with them. There is certainly a Minnesota Aquarium Society for example: http://www.mn-aquarium.org/ Join up and attend their meetings. They'll surely be able to get you in touch with people in your area who breed fish. One of the great things about this approach is that the people in aquarium clubs are typically advanced hobbyists, and so are likely to be breeding fish you've never heard of, or don't see in aquarium shops. There are lots and lots of lovely dwarf cichlids that rarely get traded, so you might find some real treasures this way. Cheers, Neale.>

General Tank and Tetra questions... no reading, use of WWM   3/6/08 Hi All, <Jennifer> I'm very new to being a fish tank "mommy" and I have some questions. I got a small 2.5 gallon tank about 2 weeks ago. I rinsed out the tank, the accessories, the gravel, and the plants very well. Then I treated the water with 4 drops of AquaSafe. I think I added the fish <... what species?> a little too fast <... how... was this system cycled?> and 3 of the original 5 died. I still have 2 neon tetras <Don't "like" new systems...> and they seem to be doing fairly well. After reading through some of the other tetra questions I'll be going out to get a little thing for them to hide in since we currently don't have that, just 3 silk aquarium plants. - How do I test the water and what am I looking for? I know the basics about pH, but I don't know what the pH should be for an aquarium. - How often should I change the water and how much of it should I change out? - Do I need to have a container of tap water sitting out for a couple of days before I add it to the tank? - Can I add any more neon tetras in at any point? And if so, how many should I add? - What can I put in there to help keep the tank clean? The Plecos are all so big and I don't think they would be very happy in a little tank. Also, one of the fish has a weird protrusion on his/her belly. It's not really rounded, more angled. Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated, and if you can recommend a good, basic, book about the care of tetras I would greatly appreciate it! We had neon tetras when I was little, but I don't ever remember my mom doing much to take care of them. We had a Pleco that kept things clean and the tetras just swam around and were pretty. LOL. Thanks again! Jennifer <The answers to all this are posted... Please become familiar with our search tool, indices per: http://wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/question_page.htm And do read here immediately: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Odd Behaving Betta   1/3/08 Hello, My name is Katelynn and I have some concerns about a new Betta I bought on December 29th, because he does not eat and he will spend hours curled up on a plant, hiding at the top of the tank in between the heater and the filter, or laying (almost on his side) at the bottom of the tank. <Hello Katelynn... Betta malaise can be caused by a variety of things. Lack of warmth, cold air above the aquarium, and poor water quality are particularly important.> And when I mentioned that he curls up, he actually will be in an upside down, motionless, summersault position. <Not normal.> Sometimes I have to watch him for a couple of minutes to see if he is breathing. Then I get scared, so I take a net and give him a little nudge and then he will move to a different spot and continue his odd behavior. <Touching fish certainly doesn't help. They are easily damaged and your dry skin can cause removal of the mucous on their bodies, allowing secondary infections. Basically, look but don't touch!> I have only seen him swim around twice since I have brought him home and one of those times was because I gave him a nudge. I have never seen anything like this before with Bettas I have had in the past. <Ah, so you have experience with this fish? That's good. Do review the basic requirements of the fish and check you have them all covered. Use test kits to check pH, hardness as well as water quality.> His color has not changed and there is no other physical signs of sickness. Now I will fill you in on my set-up. I have an Eclipse System, 3 gallon tank. <Too small. Three gallons -- especially 3 US gallons -- is a bucket, not an aquarium. I KNOW people keep Bettas in tiny jars and the like, but this hardly makes them easier to maintain. Small tanks are unstable and quickly go bad.> It has a BIO-Wheel 3-stage filtration and a heater that keeps the water between 72-78 degrees. <This is too much temperature change. You want at steady 77F/25C. Humidity above the tank is CRITICAL; use a pane of glass or similar to the top of the tank if is open to the air. You want just a crack to let in fresh air, but enough humidity that water droplets collect on the pane of glass.> I got the tank as an early Christmas gift and I set it up the night I got it and put in three fake plants, (soft so they wont hurt the Bettas' fins) a house and a cave and covered the bottom with gravel and some decorative, polished stones. <Hmm... filter likely immature. Have you checked nitrite or ammonia?> After setting up the tank, I let it run without any fish for a week to establish the nitrogen cycle and after testing the water, I went out fish shopping. <Doesn't work this way. Tanks cycle when they contain fish OR some other source of ammonia, e.g., a piece of decaying seafood. Just sitting there empty achieves precisely nothing.> On that first outing I did not find the perfect Betta, but I did find an active Cory and so I brought him home. He adapted well and then I added two small neon tetras that were in need of a home after my sister decided she did not want her tank anymore and could not find a home for them. <All these in 3 gallons...? NO NO NO. Corydoras and Neons are schooling fish, and Neons especially need to be kept in groups of 6 or more in a 10+ gallon tank. Corydoras also need to be kept in groups of at least 3-4 specimens, and most common species need a 20 gallon tank.> They also adapted great and I waited a week to make sure none of the fish showed any signs of disease. When the fish proved to be healthy and the water quality did not deteriorate, I went out and found that perfect Betta. <Oh...?> I found a small, teal, crown tail Betta and brought him home. At first he swam a bit and then started hiding. He wont even come out to eat. <Neons have been reported to nip Betta fins. The two species cannot be kept together.> I have tried flake food, pellets, and freeze dried bloodworms, but none of these seem to interest him. <Don't worry about food just now.> I test the water daily and the nitrate level is 0, the nitrite level is 0, the water is soft (75GH), the alkalinity is between 120-180KH, and the pH is neutral (between 6.8-7.2). The other fish are fine and seem to be doing great. <Hmm... seriously, I'm not convinced this tank will work in the long term.> If you could please give me any idea of what may be wrong with my new fishy friend, I would be very grateful. Thank you <Difficult to say precisely what's wrong. Check the ammonia and nitrite levels. I'd assuming a tank this young will still be cycling, so don't feed more than 1 times per 2 days, and do 50% water changes at least every other day, and ideally every day. After 3-6 weeks, things should settle down some and you'll find ammonia and nitrite are both zero. Please think seriously about a bigger tank: 3 gallons isn't an aquarium, it's a bucket, and no better suited to keeping fish in the long term. Cheers, Neale.>

Molly and Neon Tetra Health Questions, env.  3/16/2007
Dear WWM crew, <Ching> I love your website and learn a lot from here. Thank you. <Welcome> I have a 15 gallon tank with 2 Cory catfish, 3 black mollies and 7 neon tetras. <Mmm... the Cats and Neons like very different water conditions than the mollies... soft, acidic, much warmer... no salt...> Environment: Water PH: 8.0 (Our tap water is pretty hard.) <I'll say! About the same here in San Diego> Temperature: 25~26 C Nitrate: 20~40 ppm <Way too high... a source of stress...> Nitrite: 0 ppm Ammonia: 0 ppm One male molly has "obvious" mouth fungus and noticeable grey spots on his body. As I heard Cory catfish and neon tetra do not like salt, I did not add aquarium salt to the tank. <Good> I used Melafix and Pimafix together to treat the black molly. The second day and third day I could see the improvements and thought the medicine worked great. <Mmmm> As the medicine indicated we can use it when intruding new fish to the tank, so while during the course of Molly's medication (on the fourth day, I think) I added 4 neon tetras to the tank. The 7 neon tetra were doing fine and schooling around together. The black molly seemed to be getting better too. However, yesterday (the 8th day of the medication) black molly's mouth started to show the fungus again and I saw a couple of grey spots on his body. Should I use other medicine, stronger one? Or I should continue the ones I am using? <I would separate the molly/mollies, treat it/them with salt... Keep it in another setting> Today (the 9th day) I saw a red spot on one neon tetra's body, which is near the tail. I am not sure what it is an have no idea what I should do. It looks like human's bruise just the color is red not purple. Anything you could suggest? <Yes... to modify their water chemistry (w/o the Mollies present)... to be softer/more acidic (pH below 7.0)...> I have had this tank just for two months and enjoyed it a lot. But, there's still so much to learn to keep my fish healthy. <Lots of valuable lessons about life...> Thank you again for all the information you provide on the site. It is really helpful! Yours truly, Ching <A pleasure to help you, Bob Fenner>

Help with my brackish water tank
Bob <Amanda> I read your recommendations on plants for brackish water and I just wanted to see if what you thought about my situation... I recently introduced bumble bee gobies to my formerly VERY happy fresh water tank ... now after some research I am learning they need brackish water... <Yes> ok I don't want them to die... but the tank is doing so well ... I have some Japanese shrimp, vale, Sagittarius, and neon tetras... plus the new bumble bee's will everyone be ok with a little more salt? <Actually... most all, but not the Neons. I would put them in a system with softer, more acidic water... with no added salt. Bob Fenner> Thank you Amanda
Re: brackish water question...
Here is my problem... I recently bought five bumble bee goby's even more recently I learned they need brackish water... (no one at the pet store said a thing) <Mmm, must be the same tank, Amanda> The tank they are in is my favorite - it is well planted with fast growing Val and Sagittarius... there are two Japanese shrimp and about ten neon tetras... will adding a small amount of salt for the bumble bee's harm the others? <Just the Neons> I am hesitant because the tank is so well balanced I never have to clean any algae ... just remove the Val when it starts to take over... Thank you so much for any ideas.... Amanda <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

pH question for neon tetra Hi Crew, You have a really great site: I have been finding answers for most of my questions since I started my aquarium. But this one is still bugging me. What would be better for my tank to keep pH stable but fairly high or try to reduce in with chemicals risking its stability? It is 40Gals planted tank that have been running for about two moths, while fish is living there for a month. No detectable ammonia and nitrates. My tap water is about 7.0pH and very soft, but as soon as it is in the tank the pH goes up to 7.4pH and the hardness sets at 80 mg/l. I have been filtering water through peat from the beginning and doing weekly 20% water changes. I keep 8 neon tetra for now and plan to add a small shoal of Corys, gouramis and, possible, a couple of small loaches (if snails got out of control). Now I understand that pH 7.4 is too high for Neons, yet from what I learned the playing with pH is least desirable thing. Please, give me some advice on how to deal with this dilemma. It will be very much appreciated. <Something in the tank is buffering the water to the higher pH. Calcium in the water may be one source or even the sand/gravel may be reacting to the water. If you get your water from a well then check the water from the tap and then let it sit overnight and then check it again. If the pH rises then the real pH of your water is the 24 hour reading. Well water sometimes contains co2 and this temporarily lowers the pH until the co2 is off gassed. Assuming the true pH of your water is 7.4 I would recommend the following. Start getting some RO/distilled water and do a 5 gallon per week water change with it. Treat the 5 gallons of water with a buffer that will bring the water down to where you want it. After a few water changes your water will gradually be lowered to where you want it to be. Be careful . New fish from the store need to acclimated to the lower pH over time. If the local stores have water that is hard and alkaline then they may not appreciate the abrupt change.-Chuck> Thank you, Konstantin.
Re: pH question for neon tetra Thank you Chuck. From your reply I got that I do need to reduce the pH and the question is just how to do it properly. Following your advice I did left my tap water standing for a day, but pH and kH have not changed. After some head scratching, I began to do some tests. First I soaked stones there - no change, then put some gravels - no change. The next thing to test was a large piece of driftwood that is quite hard to get out without wrecking the whole set up. Fortunately, before doing that I decided to check water conditioner, and here it comes - the treated water immediately changed its pH from 7.0 to 7.4 and kH from 10mg/l to 50mg/l. A bit surprised I rushed for water conditioner from another brand and, no, this one has not changed water properties. As it might be of interest for some other beginner aquarists the "bad" brand is "TetraAqua" and the "good" one is "Hagen". I suspect it has something to do with my tap water being very soft, but, anyway, they might have put sort of a warning or something on the package. Konstantin. < Thanks for the feedback. I am sure others reading this on the website will appreciate your experiment.-Chuck.>

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