Green Neon Tetra – Species Profile & Facts

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As a novice aquarist, you have a lot on your mind when jumping into the aquascape world.

Getting and decorating your tank, investing in the right equipment, figuring out the best plants and fish, etc. All these can wear you out fast.

Sometimes, you want a hardy, peaceful, and easy-going fish just to even things out for a headache-free aquascaping experience. This is where the green neon tetra comes in.

These little swimmers will make for perfect additions to your community tank thanks to their adaptability and easy-going attitude.

But let’s dive into the world of green neon tetras a bit deeper to find out what we can do about them!

What is a Green Neon Tetra?

If the name of green neon tetra doesn’t sound familiar, maybe the Fake neon tetra one does. In essence, this is a tetra species very similar to their more famous counterparts, the neon tetras.

These are Amazonian fish that have adapted to life in captivity better than a lot of other species.

They are smaller than your typical neon tetras and showcase similar coloring, although a bit different at a closer look.

To the naked and untrained eye, the green neon tetra is just another neon tetra, only a bit smaller.

This can fool a lot of novice aquarists into buying them for genuine neon tetras, only to find late that they’re actually ‘fake’ tetras.

This doesn’t change things too much since green neon tetras are thrilling and gorgeous fish, but you should get what you’re paying for.

So, fundamental differences are there between the 2 species?

There are 3 separate features to look for:

  • Size – While both species are small, neon tetras remain the larger species. These fish grow up to 1.5 inches, while green tetras only reach 1 inch at most.
  • The blue – Both species showcase a blue line crossing the entire body, head to tail. We’re talking about a neon blue that serves as an identification marker for tetras. This line is a lot thicker and more well-defined in green tetras than in neon tetras.
  • The red – The situation is the opposite when discussing the red. Both fish display a red area in the lower abdomen, stretching towards the tail. Genuine neon tetras have a well-defined, bright-red line, while green tetras only have a washed-up red, sometimes replaced by orange.

These are rather subtle differences, but they’re important to remember. With time, you will become increasingly proficient at differentiating between the 2 species.

Green Neon Tetra Requirements

Fortunately, this adaptable and resilient fish species will thrive in tropical water conditions. Green neon tetras don’t need much to thrive, but they do have their own water requirements to consider.

Here are some general markers to keep in mind:

Tank Size & Setup

Go for a 20-gallon minimum setup. This may sound like a lot, given the fish’s size, but it will make sense in a bit.

  • First point – Green neon tetras rank as schooling fish, which means you need at least 6-8 of them in a group.
  • Second point – Green neon tetras are energetic and active fish that require a decent amount of space to feel comfortable in their aquatic home.
  • Third point – These fish require a specific tank layout that can be best achieved in a larger setup.

It goes without saying that many aquarists use green neon tetras for nano setups as small as 5 gallons. You can do that, in theory, but I wouldn’t recommend it. After all, you want to provide your tetras with their best life.

This means you should keep them in a larger group and house them in a larger, lusher ecosystem.

A larger tank is also easier to clean and maintain, especially since your fish won’t be overcrowded the way they would be in a 5-gallon or even a 10-gallon setup.

Regarding the tank layout, go for live plants, a sandy substrate, and a moderate amount of rocks and decorations. These fish require some hiding areas just to feel safe, whether they have any other tankmates or not.

This setup is that much more important in a community tank with different fish species sharing the same space.

Green neon tetras can take care of themselves should the situation require it. But you need to make sure that they have some escape routes available if the situation persists.

Water Requirements

This is a tropical fish, which already tells you everything you need to know about its profile.

Aim for temperatures around 75-85 F and pH levels of 5.0-6.5. These are standard water requirements for freshwater fish, so they shouldn’t be too difficult to reach.

An important aspect here is water quality. While green neon tetras are hardy and adaptable fish, they still demand clean waters and a healthy environment to thrive.

You need to adhere to regular tank maintenance and weekly water changes to preserve their system’s stability and prevent health issues along the way.

Feeding and Diet

Green neon tetras are not picky eaters. They rank as omnivorous fish, which means that they will eat everything they can find in their environment. This is both a blessing and an unexpected curse.

On the one hand, you don’t need to worry about finding the perfect food for your fish. On the other, you can overfeed green tetras easier than more pretentious species, simply because they will eat anything.

So, given this information, consider the following:

  • Adjust the feeding schedule and meal size – Your green tetras won’t need more than 2 meals per day in most cases. They will also scrap for food in their environment too, looking for any organic matter they can find like zooplankton, small crustaceans, detritus, etc. Also, don’t feed the fish too much in one sitting. Give them enough food for them to consume in 1-3 minutes at most. The amount of food to feed them depends on their appetite and how many fish you have.
  • Break down the food – If the food particles (flakes, pellets, live food) are too large, the tetras won’t be able to eat them. So, the larger particles will accumulate on the substrate, decaying and altering the water chemistry over time. Break down the fish food into smaller pieces to prevent that and allow your tetras to consume their sustenance easier.
  • Occasional protein treats – Green neon tetras don’t need as much protein as carnivorous and some omnivorous species, but they do need some. Offer them 2-3 protein snacks per week to keep their diet diverse and nutritious. Any protein source will go, including daphnia, bloodworms, etc.

These fish aren’t big eaters, so they’re easy to satisfy in this sense.

Do Green Neon Tetra Need a Heater?

Yes, these fish absolutely need a heater. Their favorite temperature range is slightly higher than even your typical tropical fish like the guppy.

If there’s anything that threatens the fish’s wellbeing more than poor water quality, that has to be cold water.

If the water temperature drops too much or fluctuates too frequently, your green neon tetra will experience significant health issues over time. It may even display signs of temperature shock which can turn fatal fast.

Keep the tank’s temperature close to 80 F, and your tetras will be fine.

Do Green Neon Tetra Need a Filter?

Yes, they do. These fish aren’t exactly pretentious about their water quality, generally speaking. But the situation is entirely different in an aquarium compared to the wild. A river is an open system with a self-balancing and self-sustainable chemical profile.

The open water column dilutes dangerous components like ammonia and nitrites, allowing the fish to thrive without any human intervention.

This process doesn’t exist in an aquarium because this is a closed system that produces ammonia at faster rates than the tank’s natural microbiological sector can neutralize. This is where the filtration system comes into play.

The filter replicates the natural conditions present in the wild by:

Diluting ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates, and eliminating other chemical components that could foul the water

Oxygenating the environment

Removing larger particles that cause the tank water to showcase that murky, dirty look that no one likes

Naturally, the filter isn’t everything, but it does make for a necessary addition to any aquarium. Just make sure to tweak the filter’s power accordingly and secure the intake to prevent fish from getting sucked in.

Green tetras are small and can fit very tight spaces, unfortunately.

How Much do Green Neon Tetra cost?

On average, you can get your green neon tetra at $5, but they’re rarely sold solo. Most people sell them in bulk at discounted prices, depending on the seller and the fish themselves.

I recommend getting several green neon tetras and always purchasing them from reputed sellers. Common fish shops are notorious for abusing these fish by keeping them in tight and unclean environments.

Search for competent and reputed sellers to increase your chances of getting healthy, young fish with no visible genetic faults.

What is the Lifespan of Green Neon Tetra?

Green neon tetras can live up to 3 years in good conditions. They live slightly more in the wild, but this is a typical statistic for the fish world.

You can increase your fish’s lifespan by providing it with optimal water conditions and a healthy and nutritious diet over the years.

How Big do Green Neon Tetra Get?

The green neon tetra only grows up to 1 inch in size. Some specimens may go beyond that, but only slightly; and don’t get your hopes up about your fish getting there.

This small species will remain so no matter how much you feed it.

This being said, you can support your fish’s growth rate considerably by providing it with a good diet and stable and clean water parameters.

Are Green Neon Tetra Aggressive?

No, green neon tetras are not aggressive. These peaceful and docile fish like to keep to themselves and avoid conflicts with other fish.

Green neon tetras are schooling fish, so they will rely on group strength to intimidate attackers or bullies.

However, they also need your help because tetras’ defensive capabilities boil down to intimidation. They have no other way of defending themselves against larger, more aggressive, or simply more determined fish.

Choosing their tankmates carefully is key in creating a stable and nurturing environment for your green tetras.

Green Neon Tetra Tankmates

Similar in size, peaceful, and with similar environmental preferences. These 3 qualities are a must in any viable tetra tankmate.

Some compatible tankmates include chili rasboras, dwarf gourami, zebra danios, guppies, etc.

Make sure that all fish appreciate the same water conditions and that they don’t get into a territorial or food-related scuffle.

Green neon tetras will adapt to any community environment if their tankmates are chill and don’t invade their personal space too often.

On the flip side, always check your green tetras for signs of misbehavior. Normal neon tetras are notorious fin nippers, which is why they don’t make the best tankmates for guppies. Green neon tetras showcase similar tendencies, albeit not as obvious.

But monitor your fish interactions and dynamics regularly just to make sure.

Are Green Neon Tetra Good for Beginners?

Yes, neon tetras are perfect for beginners. They are low-maintenance, don’t eat much, and don’t create too much mess in their habitat.

You only need to set up their aquatic layout accordingly, provide them with nutritious and well-optimized meals, and pair them with compatible tankmates, and your tetras will thrive.

How to Tell if Green Neon Tetra is Male or Female?

Male tetras have more slender bodies, while females are slightly shorter and bulkier.

The differences will become even clearer during the breeding season when females get even plumper due to the eggs that they’re carrying.

How do Green Neon Tetra Breed?

Green neon tetras are egg layers which makes the breeding process pretty straightforward. The male and female will mate, following a brief courtship on the male’s part, after which the female will start laying the eggs.

Female tetras lay their eggs in multiple areas on the substrate to increase the fry’s survival rate.

This is pretty much the only parenting that the tetras will perform since the adults don’t offer any parental care post-hatching.

The male tetra will follow the female closely and fertilize each egg batch as soon as the female produces it.

Once the breeding process is complete, you should remove the adult tetras from the environment. This is to prevent them from eating the eggs or the tiny fry upon hatching.

Green neon tetras aren’t known for cannibalistic tendencies, but they aren’t caring parents. Some tetras will eat their own eggs, so this is something worth keeping an eye on.

Finally, keep in mind that green neon tetras are a bit tricky to breed. This is due to the fish’s strict environmental requirements when it comes to breeding.

Some pointers to consider include:

  • Dimmer lights to stimulate the fish’s mating behavior
  • Warmer waters for the same reason
  • Slightly lower pH (the exact value varies depending on the fish)
  • Preferably a dark substrate and live plants to provide tetras with a sense of security and comfort, etc.

In short, green tetras aren’t exactly easy to breed and you’ll most likely fail at first.

Fortunately, these fish aren’t expensive, so you can always buy more in case you want to grow your tetra population while avoiding the headache of failed breeding attempts.


Green neon tetras are similar to neon tetras in many aspects, but they’re also different in others.

Learning the differences and similarities between the 2 makes for an interesting endeavor in and of itself.

These friendly, docile, and beautiful fish are bound to vitalize your tank with their neon-glowing presence.

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.
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