How Long Do Neon Tetras Live & 8 Easy Things You Can Do To Increase Their Lifespan

Estimated read time 12 min read

How Long Do Neon Tetras Live?

They can have a lifespan as long as ten years in the wild. However, if kept in optimal living conditions in the aquarium the Neon Tetra can live for about 5 – 7 years and you can do a lot to extend or maximize its life span which we cover below. The Lifespan of a Neon Tetra can even be increased up to ten years especially if kept in schools of 6 or more and be kept in a tank that is at least 15 gallons.


About The Neon Tetra

The neon tetra is a peaceful and docile fish and it almost never causes problems in an aquarium as they get along with most other species.

The Neon likes to stick to the buddy system and does well when it is kept in schools rather than alone. Try to add at least 6 or more to your aquarium to make your neon tetra feel more at home.

Want to learn more about the Neon Tetra? Check out our Neon Tetra Care Guide.

Here are some quick facts about taking care of the neon tetra.

Care Level: Beginner
Max Size of Fish: 1.5 to 2.5 inches
Temperature Range: 69 to 79 degree Fahrenheit
pH Range: 5 to 7.5

These are the typical conditions but you can find some additional tips below that will be useful when it comes to making sure your Neon Tetra are happy, healthy and thriving!

  • Neon Tetras are not aggressive, which means they can get along well with most other fish. You don’t need a huge tank for them, but you should try to keep it to at least a 5-gallon tank.
  • They are omnivorous fish that are not fussy about what they eat. You can expect them to be happy, whether you are feeding them high-quality pellets, flakes, frozen food or live food. Make sure that high-quality flakes or pellets are an important part of their diet.
  • In the wild, the neon tetras love to live in relatively darker waters. Try not to make the aquarium light too bright for them. Low wattage bulbs can help you get that dim light effect that they like.
  • Neon tetras need groups of 6 or more to be healthy, otherwise, they get stressed. Avoid adding larger carnivore fish that have tetras in their diets.

Not sure which tank size is best for your Neon Tetra read these;

What Impacts The Neon Tetra Lifespan?

When it comes to Neon Tetras, one of the main things that can impact lifespan are your water parameters. Above all, how healthy and clean your water will determine just how long your Fish will live.

For example, unkept water can become toxic with high levels of Ammonia, Nitrites, and Nitrates, all of which can be extremely harmful to your Fish.

Dirty water can also lead to many other problems like stress, infections, and disease, which ultimately will impact the overall health of your Fish and shorten the lifespan of neon tetra considerably.

Below we will go into detail on how you can help your Fish live a long and happy life, but first, here are a few other things that can also impact how long your Neon Tetras will live.

  • Tank Size
  • Water Parameters
  • Temperature
  • Oxygenation
  • Maint schedule
  • Diet
  • Tankmates
  • Stress
  • Disease

Alright, let’s get into the details.

How To Help Your Fish Live Longer

As we mentioned above there are some things you can do to help maximize your fish’s life and ensure it’s a long one.

Here they are in no particular order.

1. Get The Right Size Tank To Maximize The Lifespan Of Your Fish

When Fish are kept in a tank that is too small for them to grow or swim they can fall victim to a whole bunch of health problems such as;

  • Deformities,
  • Underdeveloped muscles,
  • Spinal
  • Stress

As well as other problems that can cut their lives short.

Additionally, if you keep multiple Fish in a small tank, Fish that might not usually be aggressive will start to fight for space and become territorial. Ultimately leading to one of the Fish getting hurt, being stressed, not getting enough food or not resting, which could eventually lead to death.

2. The Right Water Parameters To Ensure A Long Healthy Life

As I mentioned above, the quality of your water is the number one thing that can have an impact on your Fish’s lifespan.

Fish make waste which collects at the bottom of the tank and slowly converts to Ammonia, then to nitrites, and lastly nitrates. This is called the nitrogen cycle, and it is continuously happening in every tank.

If you don’t regularly change your water, these toxins can build up in the water column and cause your Fish to experience a slow, painful death.

Stress, disease, and infections are another side effect of poor water quality that will no doubt determine how long your fish live.

However, there is so much more to water quality than just how clean it is. Things like the Temperature how well it’s oxygenated (which we will discuss next) but also The PH, Hardness/Softness of the water will have an impact on your Fish.

Every Fish is unique; the key here is to understand the species of Fish and ensure that the water parameters are as close as possible to their natural habitat to promote maximum living conditions.

3. The Ideal Temperature For Your Fish

The Temperature of your tank is another critical piece that you’ll need to manage. The good news is that it’s relatively easy to do. All Fish have a specific temperature range that is best suited to them.

To manage the Temperature of your tank, you’ll need a heater and a thermometer. Now there are many options out there, and we’ve showcased a few of them here and here.

What you want to know is the temperature range that suits most of the Fish in your tank, set our heater to this Temperature and monitor it daily with your thermometer.

That said, there are some fish out there that don’t need a heater; they are considered cold water fish.

Here are a few articles about coldwater fish;

4. Your Fish Need Oxygen To Live

Just like all living things Fish need to breathe. So keeping your water well oxygenated is essential. This doesn’t mean you need to run out and purchase an air pump. However, it’s crucial to understand how oxygen enters the water in your aquarium.

As water on the surface is disturbed, oxygen will enter the water naturally, so if the surface water is being agitated by a filter output, bubbler, or even an air pump, you are likely providing enough oxygen into your aquarium.

You can tell if your Fish lack oxygen if they look like they are gasping or coming up to the surface for air.

As you can imagine, an aquarium without oxygen can cause some severe health issues for your Fish and will likely cause your Fish to live a very short life.

5. Keeping Your Tank Clean

Keeping your tank clean is another important step in prolonging the life of your Fish.

A regular maintenance schedule will not only ensure that your water parameters are in check, but it will ensure that algae and other harmful things won’t build up in your aquarium. Perform Partial Water Changes to Keep Fish Healthy

6. The Right Diet: Feeding The Right Foods At The Right Time.

Just like humans, it’s best to keep your Fish on a healthy diet of food that they are accustomed to. Some fish need proteins while others need more vegetation. Make sure you feed your Fish what they need to be healthy.

The quantity and frequency of feeding is also an important thing to ensure a long healthy life. If you overfeed, not only will you pollute your water, but your Fish will grow overweight and lazy and potentially suffer other ill effects.

If you feed to little, your Fish won’t have enough energy to swim and fight off any sickness or infections and slowly die from malnutrition.

Optimize Fish Health by feeding at regular intervals, mix up the food, so they get the right mix of all the nutrients they need to live a healthy life.

7. The Right Tankmates, Companionship & Prevent Boredom

If you want to keep some friends in the tank, you’ll need to ensure that you mix similar temperaments of Fish. It would be a horrible idea to mix cichlids with guppies – you’re guppies life would be over before you finish reading this article.

Read: Neon Tetra Tank Mates – How to form a Happy Little Community With Neon Tetras

The wrong tank mates can bully, fin nip, injure or worse eat each other if you’re not careful.

It only takes a few minutes, and you can find some great tank mates for almost any Fish out there. In fact, we can help you find some good buddies for your fish. Click here to see a bunch of tank mate suggestions for many of the most popular Fish.

8. Reduce Stress

Stress is one of those things that is typically a result of not doing something you should be.

If you keep your water clean and healthy, the right Temperature, feed them a healthy diet, and keep your tank stocked with friendly tank mates, stress shouldn’t impact your Fish’s health.

Decor like natural plants, cover, toys and hiding places can also help reduce stress and prevent fish boredom (yes, the struggle is real).

9. Disease Prevention

Again most diseases are a result of something in your aquarium that’s not quite right.

Usually, it’s the water quality and Temperature that will lead to sickness. However, when adding new Fish you should always try to quarantine your Fish to ensure they aren’t sick and bringing over some unknown issue from another tank.

How To Tell If Your Fish Is Sick

The good news is that most fish diseases can be prevented, treated and easily identified.

Some typical things to look for would be;

  1. Watch out for faded coloring.
  2. Keep an eye on your Fish’s fins.
  3. Look for lethargy.
  4. Watch your Fish’s eating habits.
  5. Check for spots.
  6. Look for breathing problems.
  7. Watch for your Fish to rub or scratch.
  8. look for other physical symptoms.

Do Neon Tetras Die Easily?

Unfortunately, Neon Tetras can die easily, things like Neon Tetra disease as well as changes in the water parameters can greatly reduce their life span.

Even though they are very common for beginners and smaller tanks the Neon Tetra isn’t a very hardy fish and can experience a great deal of stress with even the slightest changes in water chemistry ultimately leading to disease and possibly death.

How Long Do Neon Tetras Live In An Aquarium?

Up To Ten Years.
While it’s more common to see Neon Tetras live 5-7 years in an aquarium, they can live up to ten years in a well-optimized aquarium with good tank mates and a healthy diet.

How Many Times A Day Do You Feed Neon Tetra Fish?

While it is recommended to feed your Neon Tetras two to four times a day I typically only feed my fish once per day. This ensures I’m never overfeeding and the fish will be nice and hungry for their next feeding.

I’ve even seen some fish keepers recommend to only feed your fish 2-3 times per week if kept in a heavily planted, well-stocked tank.

How Do You Keep Neon Tetras Alive?

The lifespan of a Neon Tetra can be greatly be increased by doing a few simple things, they are as follows;

8 Easy Things You Can Do To Increase The Lifespan Of Your Neon Tetra

  1. Tank Size: The Bigger the Better
  2. Maintain the Ideal Tank Temperature
  3. Pay Attention to Water Quality
  4. Include a Lid and Space at the Top
  5. Use An Aquarium Filter & Heater
  6. Include Plenty of Places to Hide
  7. Reduce Stress & Disease
  8. Select the Right Tank Companions

Final Thoughts

Neon Tetras are hardy and easy to care for provided you know what you’re doing. With the information in this guide, there is no reason your Tetras can’t live for at least 4 years.

If you do only two things on this list, the things that make the biggest difference to their lifespan would be water quality and diet.

Learn More About Neon Tetras:

How Long Do Neon Tetras Live & Easy Things You Can Do To Increase Their Lifespan

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