Do Neon Tetras Need A Heater? Neon Tetra Temperature

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Neon Tetras are tropical fish, so they need a heater to make sure the water is the correct temperature to keep them alive. In this post I’ll explain why tropical fish like Neons need warmer water to live in, and the ideal water temperature for Neon Tetras to stay healthy and happy.

Do Neon Tetras Need A Heater?

Do Neons need a heater? Quite simply, yes. All aquarium fish thrive when their tank conditions closely match those of the natural habitat they’ve evolved in over millions of years. For tropical fish, it’s literally in their genes that they need warmer water temperatures – they’re just not built to survive in cold water.

Tropical water conditions refer to the oceans and rivers in parts of the world where the temperature is above 68 degrees Fahrenheit (around 20 degrees Celsius). Depending on the species and where they are originally found, some prefer temperatures of around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius) all the way up to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26-27 degrees Celsius) for those at the upper end of the scale.

Neon Tetras are native to South America, where they breed in the Amazon river basins of Brazil, Columbia and Peru. As such, the species originates from an area where the water temperature remains in the mid-80s all year round, although the surface temperature is always warmer than the depths of the river where Neon Tetras would be found, which is why it’s recommended to keep the temperature in your tank a little lower than this.

Neon Tetra Temperature Guide

Ideally, the temperature for Neon Tetras in an aquarium should be between 72 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (22 to 26.5 degrees Celsius) . Tank temperature is never constant even with a heater because lights are switched on and off and the temperature of the room changes during the day. 

The reason that the ideal Neon Tetra temperature range is relatively wide is that in the wild they experience temperature changes according to the seasons and time of day, so small fluctuations in your tank water temperature are actually a good thing as it mimics their natural habitat, as long as it doesn’t fall outside of this range.

Note: always pay attention to water temperature when performing water changes, and don’t risk shocking your fish by pouring in cold water too quickly.

The water you add to your tank should be added slowly and should match the temperature in the tank as closely as possible. However, bear in mind that your hot water tap could contaminate your clean water with common chemicals from your heating system – I usually boil some water from the cold tap to to mix with the cold water to avoid this.

Of course, always use a dechlorinator to make tap water safe from chlorine and chloramine, which are commonly found in tap water and are poisonous to fish.

Read more: Neon Tetra Care: The Ultimate Guide

FAQs

Do Neon Tetras need a water heater?

A: Neon Tetras need a water heater in an aquarium as they are tropical fish and can’t survive in cold water. A heater will allow the water to be kept in the ideal temperature range at all times and should not be switched off at night or at any other time.

What temperature do Neon Tetras need?

A: Neon Tetras should be kept in water between 72 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (22 to 26.5 degrees Celsius). This matches the temperature in their natural habitat in the depths of the Amazon river Basins in Brazil, Columbia and Peru.

Are Neon Tetras cold water fish?

A: Neon Tetras are not cold water fish. They are tropical fish, which refers to any species whose natural habitat features water temperatures above 68 degrees Fahrenheit (or 20 degrees Celsius). Neon Tetras prefer water temperatures at the upper end of the range, from 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Can Neon Tetras live in cold water?

Unfortunately Neon Tetras can’t survive long in cold water as their bodies evolved in tropical waters. Cold water will cause them to slow their metabolism to conserve energy to convert into heat, leaving them less able to digest food and struggling to breathe.

The risk of death from temperature shock is extremely high if Neon Tetras are introduced into cold water suddenly. Even gradual movement to cold water will drastically reduce a Neon’s life expectancy for the reasons mentioned above, and leave them susceptible to fin rot and a weakened immune system.