Why Do My Neon Tetras Keep Chasing Each Other? {Is This Normal?}

Do you want to stop your neon tetras from chasing each other? Are you worried about the chasing turning into something worse? In this article, we will find out if it’s normal for neon tetras to chase each other and if we need to stop it

Why Do My Neon Tetras Keep Chasing Each Other? Neon tetras chase each other playfully, but sometimes it can get aggressive. Lack of space, exhibiting dominance or mating may influence the chasing, but we can limit it if necessary.

It’s normal for neon tetras to chase each other, but there’s so much to discuss. We hope to squash your worries because it’s a common concern and one that can be dealt with appropriately.




Beginners and experienced fish keepers alike may get stressed from seeing their neon tetras chasing each other too often. Sometimes it’s best to step back and brush it off as playful behavior. Sometimes it’s best to step in and do something about it.

What Are Some Reasons Why Neon Tetras Chase Each Other?

There are plenty of factors involved in chasing. Our best quality as fish keepers is our ability to acutely observe what is going on in our aquarium. Let’s look closer.

1. Neon Tetras Are Playful Fish

The most popular reason why people like neon tetras is usually their bright and vibrant colors. Many others comment about how they enjoy watching their curious and playful tendencies.

If your neon tetras are stressed or uncomfortable, they may school together tightly. If they relax in a space large enough for their group to shoal and disperse, they will begin to playfully swim and enjoy their surroundings.

Chasing may become a part of this playtime fun. In this case, it’s harmless and fun for us to watch as well.

2. Neon Tetras Are Establishing Dominance and Submission

Did you ever race your childhood friends at a young age? New students would arrive to class and the rest of the classmates would want to have another race to figure out who is the fastest. The winner would be full of pride and command childish respect for being faster than everyone else.

Neon tetras are also establishing their pecking order. Dominant tetras may end up being the fastest or the biggest. They end up feasting on the available food more than others. They may also be first in line for mating and fertilizing the eggs.

3. Neon Tetras Need More Space

Sure, neon tetras are small in size, but they want enough room to be playful and peaceful too. Up to 6 neon tetras in a 10 gallon tank is a fine limit to ensure enough room for them to swim freely.

Overcrowding in a small tank or being to close to other tankmates may ignite the chasing tendency resulting from stress. This type of chasing may turn into aggression as well. Expect to see some fin nipping accompanied with erratic swimming.

4. Mating Neon Tetras Look Like They’re Chasing

Male neon tetras will rub against the belly of the females to allow for the eggs to drop. The mating process is delicate, but it can also resemble chasing. The dominant males are first in line so the chasing starts from there.

Once the order is established, the male looks like he’s chasing the females around and bumping into them slightly. This is normal and shouldn’t be interfered with. Most of the time the eggs are not successfully fertilized so don’t worry about spawning for now.

YouTube video

5. Neon Tetras Have A Temper

If neon tetras are getting stressed, they can lose their cool. This can happen for many reasons.
Inadequate Water parameters
• Aggressive tankmates
• Fin nipping
• Overcrowding
• Territorial disputes
• Scarcity of food

These reasons will lead to aggression. Chasing is one of those responses by the instigator, the bully or a response to being bullied. A neon tetra could lose its temper and chase back instead of backing down.

When Should I Stop Neon Tetras From Chasing?

When you notice the chasing is getting out of hand, it’s best to get them to stop or slow down. You may notice some signs that indicate the time to step in

• Fins getting nipped at too much
• Missing or torn fins
• Neon tetras losing color
• Acting sluggish or weak
• One neon tetra swimming alone
• Erratic or frantic swimming

How Do I Stop Neon Tetras From Chasing Each Other?

Now that we know when it’s time to put a stop to the chasing, we need some tips to deal with it. Here are some helpful suggestions.

• Add hiding spots.
• Change the location of decorations.
• Add more live plants.
• Place tank dividers.
• Remove the most aggressive neon tetras.
• Remove the females to eliminate mating season.
• Slightly increase feedings or add a little more food.
• Get a larger tank.

Will Neon Tetras Stop Chasing Each Other On Their Own?

Yes, this may happen naturally over a few days or couple of weeks. Observe them carefully and see if they are establishing a pecking order. If your water parameters are correct, the tank size is adequate and there is enough food, then they can settle down chasing each other soon.

Once the order is established and they settle on who the most dominant neon tetras are, the chasing could stop or become more playful. If you introduce new neon tetras into the tank, they may begin the process all over again.


Neon tetras may stress us out sometimes. We want them to be playful, but then we get worried that they are getting aggressive instead. Chasing each other is not a problem if it ends there. If it becomes worse, we should notice some neon tetras getting harmed.

Make sure you have enough space for them and the water parameters are ideal. Feed them enough, keep the temperature warm enough and you’re doing the best you can. The tips to reduce the chasing in this article may also help you out.

The team at HelpUsFish is here to support anyone who needs answers to questions involving fish keeping. Thank you and see you soon!

Brian Arial

Brian Arial has kept fish for leisure and worked with fish stores for most of his life. He enjoys writing and caring for aquariums and ponds.