What You Should Know Before Purchasing an Neon Tetra

By Stephen J Broy

Neon tetras are officially classified to the family Characidae. To most of the world they are known as Characins. This family includes 776 species in 152 different genera. Neons are indigenous to Northwest and Central Brazil, including the Amazon River and its tributaries.

Neons are an all time favorite among freshwater aquarium owners. In any given mouth approximately 1.8 million neon tetras are exported to the US alone. Their petite size most certainly contributes to their appeal. They rarely exceed an inch and a quarter in length. You can keep an entire school of them in an aquarium no bigger than 5 gallons. They are the perfect choice for desktop nano tanks.

These dazzling little beauties will add brilliance and color to any aquarium. The iridescent blue horizontal stripe that runs just above their spines almost glows under aquarium lights. Just below the blue, a second bright red stripe runs from mid-body to the base of their tail. These radiant colors are transposed against a translucent body. Their fins are transparent. You can see right through them.

There is a slightly more colorful member of the tetra family. Neons and cardinal tetras look very similar in appearance. Put them in the same aquarium together and most people wouldn't be aware they are two different species. Both have metallic neon blue upper bodies and a brilliant red stripe in the center of their bodies. This stripe is found mid-body running to back the tail in neons. The stripe runs the entire length of a cardinal's body. Neons and cardinals are, in fact, so closely related that they will school together in an aquarium.

Neons are timid creatures. They should not be housed with more aggressive species. They are also very small as far as fish go. Don't house them with larger species unless you don't mind waking up with one less fish in your aquarium. You will also want to make sure provide them with plenty of hiding places. Lots of plants and rocks or aquarium decor will help them fell more secure in their new accommodations.

Neons are a shoaling species. Shoaling fish are meant to be raised as a community. They are not well suited to environment devoid of other members of their species. Social habits are an important factor to consider before buying any new species for your aquarium. Many shoaling species simply will not survive the adjustment to their new environment if they fish themselves suddenly deprived of other members of their species.

There is yet another factor to consider when deciding whether these fish are right for your particular aquarium. Tetras are notorious fin nippers. The more neons you have together, the higher the likelihood that this will become a problem. Long, flowing fins like those found on a betta fish or a fancy tailed guppies will most likely prove to be a taste treat to tempting to pass up.

Neons are one of the easiest fish to take care of. They are a robust species. These omnivores will fare well on common fish flakes. Their diet can be further supplemented with a variety of frozen or freeze-dried products formulated for omnivores. The average life expectancy of a neon tetra in the wild is 10 years. They will commonly live in excess of five years in an aquarium.

The aquarium trade is a relatively young industry. Goldfish were virtually unknown in the United States until their public debut at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893. After the conclusion of WWII, massive fleets of transportation and cargo vessels were now free to pursue commercial interests. Neon tetras were one of the very first tropical species to be introduced to the burgeoning fish hobby industry. They are very much responsible for helping to transform this hobby into the global enterprise it is today. Part of this globalization included the development of commercial fish hatcheries. The vast majority of neon tetras sold in the world are raised to support this industry rather that caught in the wild. - 32185

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