Are Neon Tetras Hardy Fish? {8 Things You Need To Know}

Are you looking to add Neon Teras to your aquarium and you are wondering are neon tetras hardy fish?

Are they hard to look after? Are they beginner fish?

In this article I will answer all of the above questions and will also advise what you can do to help these colorful fish thrive.

Are Neon Tetras Hardy Fish?

Yes, neon tetras are hardy fish and can live in a wide range of water conditions, But they can be vulnerable to quick changing water conditions such as temperature and PH level changes.

Neon tetras typically need to be kept in warmer water conditions but they can tolerate wider temperature changes than most fish.

These fish are vulnerable to rapid changes in water conditions, they are likely to suffer with stress and even illness at this time.

Once they are settled they are very hardy fish and you can expect them to live for a long time.

Are Neon Tetras Hardy Fish

Lifespan of Neon Tetras

A typical neon tetra is expected to live between 6 – 8 years in an aquarium with regular ideal water conditions.

Teras thrive best when the water conditions are kept the same and do not change or frustrate to much.

If the water conditions do change over a short time the tera will most likely become stressed and this could lead to illness such as Neon tetra disease

Are Cardinal Tetras More Hardy Than Neon Tetras?

Yes, Cardinal Tetras are more hardy than neon tetras. The main reason is that the Cardinal is slightly larger and are less likely to die from Neon Tetra disease.

Cardinal Tetras are commonly breed in large numbers in the wild and because of this they are typically naturally healthier and hardier.

Cardinal Tetras are also not as likely to catch neon tetra disease which is a common reason for the death of neon tetras.  I myself lost all 20 of my neon tetras within 24 hours 🙁

Are Neon Tetras Difficult to Keep?

Neon Tetras are easy to keep as long as they acclimate to a new tank with no issues.  Neons are hardy fish and can adapt to a wide range of environmental conditions including brackish water.

Due to their small size they will have little impact on your aquarium water conditions, such as producing waste.

For this reason it makes them one of the easier fish to look after as they require less maintenance than other fish.

Water Parameters For Neon Tetras

It is very important to keep your tetras in ideal water conditions as this will help them to thrive and will increase their life span.  The required water conditions are as follows.

Value Min Max
Temperature 73°F 22c 76°F 24.5c
pH 5.5 6.5
Water Type Fresh Water Blackwater
Hardness 2dH 10dH

Water Temperature

Neon tetras are tropical fish so they are required to be kept in warm water. The ideal temperature for neon tetras is between 22c and 24.5c, or  73°F – 76°F.

You can keep neon tetras in colder water but they will not thrive and will be more likely to develop neon tetra disease.

pH Level

If you are keeping your neon tetra in an aquarium the pH level should be between 5.5 and 6.5.  They can survive in pH levels as low as 4.0 but they will not thrive in these conditions.

Water Type

You should keep your tetras in fresh water, you can use tap water as long as it is treated with a aquarium water softener.  They can also live in black water where the acidic level is low.


Tetras prefer to be kept in soft water to medium hardness water.

Are Neon Tetras Low Maintenance Fish?

Yes, Neon tetras are low maintenance fish due to their small size which means they have a minimum impact on the environment they are kept in.

The environment will require less cleaning and is less likely to become dirty and develop fungus or other algae.

You are also able to keep a lot of these fish in a tank, you can keep one tetra per 1.5 gallons of water.

Are Neon Tetras Good Beginner Fish?

Yes, Neon tetra are good beginner fish due to them being compatible with a wide range of water conditions, they are hardy and they have little impact on their environment due to their size.

They are also non aggressive fish so they will make good tank mates for most fish, Just make sure you dont mix then with large fish as they could eat them.

YouTube video

Best Tetra Breeds For Beginners

There are many different breads of tera’s and many of them have very different charactistics.  Listed below are the best tera breads I recommend for beginners.

  1. Black Neon Terta : Dark version of the common Neon Tetra
  2. Flame Tetra : Slightly larger body and is red and orange in colour
  3. Lemon Tetra : Slightly larger than a neon tetra and yellow / silver in colour
  4. Glowlight Tetra : These tetras are perfect in low light aquariums as they seem to glow a nive orange / gold colour.

Recommended Diet

It is recommended to feed neon tetras fish flake food or small gradual food which contains all the vitamins and minerals they need for a healthy balanced diet.

You need to feed them twice a day and give them enough food that they can eat for no longer than two minutes.  If they are eating the food for more than two minutes then they are being over fed.


If you are looking to breed neon tetras it is best to keep them in soft water that is heated to between 22c and 24.5c.

To reduce the stress of the fish and give them the best chance of breeding you should keep them in a quite part of the house where it is slightly darker and also keep them away from windows and other pets.

What is The Hardiest Tetra Fish?

Larger tetra breeds are typically hardy such as Congo Tetra, Emperor Tetra, Cardinal Tetras.

Because they are larger than the Neon breed they can tolerate slightly wider water conditions and are less vulnerable to neon tetra disease.

If you are looking for a hardy Tetra I would recommend checking out the following breeds

  • Congo Tetra
  • Emperor Tetra
  • Cardinal Tetras
  • Columbian Tetras

Columbian Tetra

What is The Easiest Tetra To Keep?

Smaller breeds of tetra fish such as neon, ember, ruby and glowlight are the easiest to keep as they have a minimum impact on the environment they are kept in.

Other breeds you might want to consider are

  • Panda Tetra
  • Flag Tetra
  • Serpae Tetra
  • Green Neon Tetra
  • Black Neon Tetra
  • Flame Tetra
  • GloFish Tetra

Do I Need a Heater for Neon Tetras?

Yes, Neon Tetra’s are tropical fish and will need to be kept in warmer water with a temperature between 22c and 24.5c, or  73°F – 76°F.

An aquarium heater is needed to raise the temperature of the water, it is important to make sure the water temperature stays at the same temperature as tetras can be sensitive to temperature changes.

Can Neon Tetras Live in Cold Water?

No, Neon tetras can not live in cold water.  The coldest water temperature they could survive in will be around 21c or 70°F.

If they are kept in colder water they could eventually go in to shock and dies as their metabolism will slow down, they will most likely have issues to digest the food that you feed them.

They will also become more stressed and will be more likely to become ill and die.


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Hello, I'm Jason. I'm the guy behind I volunteer at my local fish shop and I created this site to offer tips and advice on the fish I care for.