Neon Tetras

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Aquarium Advice Activist
May 8, 2020
Missouri, USA
Am ready to add a school of 80 neon tetras to an established 180-gallon.

Have been using rainwater to gradually bring down the ph and hardness compared to our hard, alkaline highly treated tap water.

Have found a seeming "hold" spot through many water changes that stays at ph 7.1; kh 3, gh 5 through weekly large 25% (40 gallon) water changes using 25-30 gallons of rain water and the rest tap which can include a small amount of very hot softened water as I can only bypass the cold water. Very stable water with utterly zero ammonia and nitrate with very steady nitrate that via the API test is as orange as possible without being red. It has stayed that color since cycling over six months ago. I've verified a range of colors by testing tap water and a mix of such with aquarium water.

Moderately planted with a fair amount of shade from "open" piles of large "holey" rocks. Highly highly aerated with varied currents. Lighting varies but is generally moderate. Tankmates are 5 adult red parrots, 1 adult firemouth, 1 large pleco, 30 or so guppies and 6+ cory cats that are repeatedly and successfully spawning. I don't believe the cichlids will bother the neons as the guppies successfully breed. Originally I'd put in a few small (perhaps as big as a small neon) guppies in with them as a treat to find them not only ignored but breeding very successfully. More living plants will be added on the right side in the next couple months and the current ones are growing strongly.


Current staple diet is floating cichlid pellets and Omega One flakes with fresh hatched brine shrimp, freeze dried tubifex and [soon] mosquito larvae as treats a few times a week.

Would they appreciate more frequent brine shrimp?

Am aware of their natural habitat and that acid and softer water with low lighting is ideal but believe they easily tolerate the conditions described as long as breeding isn't expected and the water chemistry stays very stable. Correct?

They're coming direct from a wholesale supplier and I intend to put into a very aerated 10-gallon and gradually add water from the aquarium they will inhabit over a few days.

What else can I do to ease their transition and keep them reasonably happy?


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I'm curious why you think these neons won't become snacks for your existing fishes ?
There is a good chance the parrots and firemouth will snack on the neon but it is not 100%. Certainly you should not be shocked if over time they develop a taste for the neon. The guppies might have some slight advantage sitting at the top of the tank....

Anyway kh 5 gh 3 ph 7.1 should be fine - it would be good to know the source water parameter (did you ask) ? Also if they have been in the bag a while - you want to soak the closed bag until temp is reach but then likely upon opening the bag immediately dump them into a net (water into a pail) and then release them into the tank unless the bag has been treated to absorb ammonia upon opening.
I didn't ask about the source water but was already planning on testing it as well as acclimating/quarantining them in a separate tank in a lowly lighted area. Is the shipping water other than certain to contain some of their waste considered bad and therefore must be disposed of?

Had planned to put fish and their water into the tank, aerate, add some fresh tempered water from the destination tank to slowly warm up to match the other, continue to add/change water 4-5 times over the next couple days for the inevitable initial deaths, then net and add to their home.

If the shipping water tests similar to their new home do you suggest I float, net and immediately introduce to their new home instead of the acclimation/quarantine procedure? They're certain to be very small so surely a heavily aerated 10-gallon will be fine for a few days and know from every fish store I've ever been to that 10%-20% of them die shortly after receipt to possibly die in similar quantity after they sell them. Know they're finicky and many don't like them despite/on account of their perpetual popularity but I've been determined to keep a school of them in a community aquarium once in my life.

Definitely know to monitor temperature and keep changes to a minimum, particularly when they are already stressed from shipment. I'm one of those who matches to the s
plit degree in such cases.
Depending on how long shipping took the water will contain fish waste. When you open the bag it will mix with air and ammonia will form fairly rapidly so you do not want to keep the fish in their water when opened but remove them rather quickly.

In addition as a general rule you never want to pour the shipped bag water into your tank as it might contain parasite or disease in addition to waste.
About the only shipper i know who recommends acclimation after opening the bag is aquahuna. Whether this is wise is debatable but they do have a tendency to ship considerably more water than most shippers - having said that you still would not want put the shipped water into your tank (as a general rule).
Good info Jake, thanks.

As to the neons being eaten I believe the red parrots are incapable of such while the firemouth for some reason doesn't bother.

Have spent a lot of time watching the fishes' behavior as they adjusted to their big new home. Am fairly convinced that the two notably smaller parrots are the males. When the lights go out one of those males attempts to hunt in the birthing corner. He'll actually get a small guppy pinned against the glass for a moment but is utterly incapable of harming, much less swallowing it. Once a baby guppy is the size of even the smallest neons I've seen seemingly none have been eaten or killed. I actively manage the guppy population and every birth finds a few surviving fry.

Perhaps the neons will be different. If so I'll first remove the firemouth.

The parrots gang up on the firemouth who has a permanently split tailfin. The parrots and pleco spend much of their time in and around the big hollow tree centerpiece. The smallest parrot camps in the top of the tree as the three larger ones spar for domination of the bottom. The huge pleco goes wherever it wants and will be traded if it starts destroying plants.
Have the neons now. The parrot fish (especially the two smaller ones that I believe are males) really, really want to snack on them. The three larger ones are displaying their natural high curiosity and just make an occasion half-hearted run at them. I suspect it is mainly because they're new as there are numerous guppy fry smaller than the neons and they ignore them. As before it's pretty much comical to watch the parrots attempt to eat a fish as their deformed mouths almost seem to blow (water) when they should be sucking to get the fish. The firemouth completely ignored them just as it does the guppies.

I watched carefully for a long time and believe one of the neons was eaten and if they got one they likely got a few more. Still lots and lots of them (I bought 80 but four were dead on receipt) and they seem to be smarter this morning and are schooling nicely in various areas of the tank. The smallest firemouth that has always been the most aggressive is still in hunt mode yet it seems less enthusiastic.

I'll be satisfied if more than half of them make it through the next few months after which the rest of their tankmates will be accustomed to their presence and I can add some more. I have plenty of space, rainwater and dry oak leaves so I might try breeding them.
Just saw your post and wanted to say I like yhe set up! Looks great! You should post pic with the new additions!
Just saw your post and wanted to say I like yhe set up! Looks great! You should post pic with the new additions!

No way to get a good pic of the neons at present. They're spooked by their first encounter with potential and real predators and mainly schooling in and among the plants and rocks on the at the left rear of the tank.

If you search for my posts you'll find a number a pictures of the setup.
Around half made it. With a daily feeding of fresh hatched brine shrimp they've more than doubled in size. The smallest parrot fish who is also the most aggressive made itself sick on them. Now all the parrots ignore them.

Will get another sixty or so soon. This time though I will DEFINITELY pre-condition them in another tank for a week or so. They still won't have any experience with predation but they will be well fed and energetic.
oh wow! Thats not bad..maybe more next time!?��*♀️ lets hope..
Found that there's a BIG difference in suppliers of neon tetras!

I was ordering from the only local fish store and wound up with 60%+ death rate on two different orders.

Ordered 50 from supplier in Florida via ebay and every one survived the 48-hour quarantine and I believe all survived the move to the main tank more than three weeks ago. These were received much larger than those I got from the local store.

Can't really get a good photo of them yet but they're schooling and shoaling nicely and make a great addition to the tank. To my delight they often school in the lighted bubble wall in the rear making it particularly pretty.

The blood red parrots and firemouth now ignore them completely even if they stay out of their way.
Do you know if they were wild or tank bred? What i generally read is that wild neon are more hearty. Also there are a couple of well known breeders in florida that have a reputation for quality but of course there are others that are lemon.
Do you know if they were wild or tank bred? What i generally read is that wild neon are more hearty. Also there are a couple of well known breeders in florida that have a reputation for quality but of course there are others that are lemon.

The description mentioned outdoor ponds so I suppose that means "wild".
I suspect they are tank (pond) bread as oppose to wild fishes from sa. Still better than some others as they all lived ;)
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