Neon Tetra Tank Mates: 45 Ideal Choices (And 3 To Avoid!)

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When choosing Neon Tetra tank mates, you’re looking for fish that are small enough that they won’t view your Neons as a snack first and foremost, then whether they thrive in the same water conditions.

Luckily there are lots of species that fit this description. Neons enjoy a water temperature between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 27 degrees Celsius), with water hardness under 10 dGH and pH between 6.0-7.0.

Diet can be managed by feeding different types of food, but a community tank is best when everything works in harmony. Neon Tetras will swim horizontally around the middle levels of the tank, and feed as the food floats down to their level. Surface feeders are therefore good tankmates as long as you feed enough for some to be left for the Neons waiting underneath, and bottom dwellers will also make great companions.

Read more: What do Neon Tetras Eat? (Feeding guide)

Like any fish, Neon Tetras benefit from live plants in the tank. One benefit is that the Neons will feel safe if they have a place to hide from some species who can be aggressive in certain environments, but with shelter from plants these species can be introduced with no issues. Of course, there are other fish whose temperament will just be too dangerous to be kept with the more placid Neons.

Read more: What Plants Do Neon Tetras Like? Tetra Planted Tank Ideas

Here are 45 species of fish, shrimps, snails, and other aquatic amigos that make great tankmates for Neon Tetras.

Table Of Contents
  1. 45 ideal tank mates for Neon Tetras
  2. 3 tank mates to avoid for Neon Tetras
  3. Neon Tetra tank mates – 55 gallon tank
  4. Summary

45 ideal tank mates for Neon Tetras

1. Neon Tetras and Guppies

Guppies are fantastic tankmates for Neon Tetras. Both fish are easy to look after even for beginners, if kept in good quality water, so a good filter is essential. Plus, because both originate from the Amazon, they’re naturally suited in a tank with the same water conditions (see above).

Guppy hembra by Jorge Correa is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Both Neon Tetras and Guppies are peaceful, but as both are schooling fish they’re happiest in large groups. This means the correct tank size is crucial to avoid aggressive behavior.

Read more: Guppies and Neon Tetras – Can They Live Together?

2. Neon Tetras and Killifish

Killifish are predatory and will eat shrimp and very small fish, including juvenile Neon Tetras, so only introduce them once your Neons are fully grown. After that, these two species will get on swimmingly.

3. Neon Tetras and Angelfish

Just like the Killifish, Angelfish are predatory and will eat younger, smaller Neon Tetras. Even adult Neons can become prey if the Angelfish get particularly hungry, so they need to be regularly fed to avoid losing any Neons.

Angelfish by Yannick Ongena is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Otherwise, they’re very compatible. Both species are omnivores, so you can add Angelfish to your Neon tank without changing their diet.

Read more:

4. Neon Tetras and Mollies

While it’s technically possible for Mollies to eat Neon Tetras, it’s easy to prevent this by giving both species enough swimming space, and giving your Neons plenty of places to hide if they ever feel threatened.

Orange Molly by h080 is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

On the plus side, both are omnivorous and have the same requirements for pH, water hardness and temperature, which makes Mollies great tank mates for Neon Tetras.

5. Neon Tetras and Hatchetfish

One of the easiest tank mates to choose for Neon Tetras are Hatchetfish. They’re peaceful as long as they’re not bothered by more aggressive or lively fish, and a similar size to Neons so they won’t end up attacking or eating them.

Marbled Hatchet by Emilia Murray is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Because they feed at the surface, Hatchetfish will be first to any food you put into the tank so make sure you’re feeding enough for plenty to float down to your hungry Neons. In terms of temperature and water conditions, the two are perfectly matched.

6. Neon Tetras and Platies

I’ve kept Platys for as long as I’ve had fish and they live peacefully with my Neon Tetras in my main community tank. 

Platy / Platy by Carlos Eduardo Joos is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Platies are notorious for breeding, so make sure you have another tank set up for any fry that are produced. If the platy population increases, overstocking your tank will lead to problems for both species.

7. Neon Tetras and Halfbeaks

Halfbeaks make great tank mates for Neon Tetras as they’re a very peaceful fish who grow to around 3 inches, far too small to view a Neon as a potential meal even if they were predatory.

They flourish in the same temperature range, pH and water hardness as Neons and enjoy the same omnivorous diet, although Halfbeaks are surface dwellers so as mentioned above, you’ll need to keep an eye on your tank at feeding time to make sure some food is making its way down to your Tetras.

8. Neon Tetras and Dwarf Neon Rainbow Fish

Dwarf Neon Rainbow Fish and Neon Tetras in the same tank is an amazing explosion of color, but as well as looking good they’re very complimentary tankmates.

They grow a little bigger than Neon Tetras (up to 2.5 inches) and display the same schooling behavior. If your Neon Tetra tank has the ideal temperature, pH and water hardness (as described above), Dwarf Neon Rainbows will feel right at home as Neon Tetra tank mates.

9. Neon Tetras and Swordtails

Like Neon Tetras, Swordtails are far from fussy eaters and will gladly share the same food, although they do feed at the surface so make sure they don’t eat everything before your Neons get a turn.

Marigold Swordtails by Eric Savage is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Swordtails are a little bigger at up to 4.5 inches, so make sure your Tetras are fully grown before adding Swordtails, and that there are plenty of live plants and other decorations to provide a hiding place in case the Swordtails get a little too close.

10. Neon Tetras and Zebra Loaches

There are stories online of Zebra Loaches eating smaller Neon Tetras but if your Neons are fully grown, there should be no danger of them “disappearing”. Zebras are usually very peaceful, but they do grow to around 4 inches so make sure your Tetras have plenty of hiding places in the tank to make them feel safe.

Zebra Loach by C R is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Your tank’s temperature should be on the lower end of the ideal range for Neon Tetras if you’re going to add Zebra Loaches, which prefer temperatures up to around 79 degrees Fahrenheit (26 Celsuis).

11. Neon Tetras and Kuhli Loaches

Kuhli Loaches are one of my favorite members of my community tank, where they have no problems at all with my Neon Tetras because to be honest, they very rarely bump into each other. 

One of my elusive but gorgeous Kuhli Loaches

These bottom feeders chill out in the roots of my plants and munch on any food that makes its way down there. They’re a personal favorite just because of how fast and attractive they are (my kids call them noodle fish!).

12. Neon Tetras and Nerite Snails

Another member of my community tank are my Nerite Snails, who are currently eating their way through the blackbeard algae that is trying to take over. They’re excellent cleaners, which makes them very handy tank mates for your Neon Tetras.

Watching these guys scrape their tiny mouths over the glass can be mesmerizing!

Neon Tetras and Nerite Snails are ideal tank mates as they have similar requirements for temperature, pH and water hardness. Nerites are bottom feeders so they’ll clean up whatever Tetra food is left over, but it doesn’t hurt to throw them the odd snail pellet as a treat.

13. Neon Tetras and Apple Snails

Apple Snails make good tank mates for Neon Tetras as they’re great cleaners, snacking all day on any algae that dares to grow in your tank and polishing off any food or other debris (but it’s a myth that they eat fish poop).

Golden Apple Snail by Ivette De La Garza is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

They do grow bigger than Nerites so only consider them for larger tanks. They can live in a wide range of water conditions, meaning they’ll be healthy and happy in a tank set up for Neon Tetras.

14. Neon Tetras and Mystery Snails

Mystery Snails and Neon Tetras is another great combination. Mystery Snails eat the debris on the tank floor, including any dead and decaying leaves that fall off the live plants in your tank, which is handy to avoid ammonia being released.

You won’t have any issues with water temperature but Mystery Snails will be happier if the pH is at the higher end of the 6.0-7.0 range that’s ideal for Neon Tetras.

15. Neon Tetras and Amano Shrimp

Amano Shrimp are a brilliant addition to a tank as they’re natural cleaners, spending their days rummaging through substrate and munching down algae from the tank glass, decorations, and plants.

One of my Amanos cleaning a leaf on one of my Amazon Sword plants

They need lots of places to hide from the fish to feel safe, but otherwise, they’re an amazing tankmate for Neon Tetras. Anything the fish don’t eat that floats down to the bottom will be eaten by your Amanos, but don’t buy into the myth that shrimps and other members of your cleanup crew eat fish poop!

16. Neon Tetras and Red Cherry Shrimp

If you’re keeping Neon Tetras and Cherry Shrimp, they’ll be more than happy at the same temperature of between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, but Cherry Shrimp ideally need a minimum pH of 7.0 which is on the high side for Neon Tetras, so make sure you keep an eye on your parameters.

Read more: Neon Tetras and Red Cherry Shrimp – Compatibility Guide

Getting redder by the day 😀 by Emilia Murray is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

17. Neon Tetras and Yellow Fire Shrimp

Yellow Fire Shrimp are a fantastic, colorful addition to any tank but they’re only tiny, which means fish often investigate to see if they’ll make a good snack.

One of my Yellow Fire Shrimps cleaning the outside of Rainbow’s floating Betta Log

I’ve seen my Betta try his luck but they’re just too quick, and the same is true for any being kept as tank mates for your Neons, although it’s good to give them live plants as hiding places if they’re being harassed!

Read more: Can Bettas live with Shrimp?

18. Neon Tetras and Blue Diamond Shrimp

I have a few Blue Diamond Shrimp in my community tank with my Neons, and although they only grow to around an inch they stand out as they’re striking to look at. Not only that but they’re a welcome addition to the cleanup crew, constantly working on any algae they find.

They prefer a neutral pH, so a tank with Neon Tetras and Blue Diamond Shrimp should be between 6.8 and 7.0 to keep both happy and healthy.

19. Neon Tetras and Ghost Shrimp

If you’re looking to keep Ghost Shrimp and Neon Tetras in the same tank, make sure first that the pH is around 7.0. This is at the higher end of the ideal range for Neons, but it’s the minimum to keep Ghost Shrimp healthy.

Other than that, there isn’t much to consider. Ghost Shrimp will be more than happy with a temperature between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (ideal for Neon Tetras) and will feed on leftover food, algae and decaying plant matter from around your tank.

20. Neon Tetras and Honey Gouramis

Two of the most peaceful fish you’ll find, Honey Gouramis and Neon Tetras make amazing tank mates. Also known as Sunset Gouramis, these timid fish are entertaining as they like to build bubble nests, much like Bettas.

Moonlight & Honey Gourami by carolineCCB is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

They’ll thrive in the same temperature, pH, and water hardness as your Neon Tetras, and they share the same omnivorous diet.

21. Neon Tetras and Dwarf Gouramis

Neon Tetras and Dwarf Gouramis are both colorful, peaceful fish that make great tank mates. Dwarf Gouramis can reach 3.5 inches but wouldn’t see Neons as a snack as long as they’re fully grown.

Dwarf Gourami 2 by Jackie is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

The Dwarf Gouramis is very adaptable but to make life easy, they should be kept in water with a more neutral pH. Neon Tetras can live in a range between 6.0 and 7.0 so don’t consider Dwarf Gouramis as potential Neon Tetra tank mates if your tank water is at the more alkaline end of this range.

22. Neon Tetras and Black Skirt Tetras

Many fishkeepers keep Neon Tetras and Black Skirt Tetras together because of their similar requirements. A diet of high quality flake food, insects and other high-protein foods suits both, and they’re very compatible in terms of pH, water hardness and temperature.

Black Skirt Tetras (Gymnocorymbus ternetzi) by Andrew is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Black Skirt Tetras are twice as big as Neons at up to 3 inches, but don’t pose a threat due to their peaceful temperament.

23. Neon Tetras and White Skirt Tetras

Fully grown Neon Tetras and White Skirt Tetras are both the same size. They’re also both extremely peaceful fish, so you’ll have no issues with aggression. Like Neons, White Skirt Tetras are schooling fish that should be kept in groups of 6 or more, so make sure your tank is big enough for both groups.

24. Neon Tetras and Penguin Tetras

Neon Tetras and Penguin Tetras are similar sized fish, with very similar care requirements.

Penguin Tetra by Moto “Club4AG” Miwa is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Live or frozen bloodworms and insects are ideal foods for Penguin Tetras and Neons alike. Also, both will be happy and healthy in water at a temperature between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit and pH between 6.0-7.0.

25. Neon Tetras and Lemon Tetras

Like Neon Tetras, Lemon Tetras are peaceful, schooling fish that grow to around 1.5 inches. The two species have the same requirements in terms of diet and water conditions, making them the ideal tank mates.

26. Neon Tetras and Cardinal Tetras

Neon Tetras and Cardinal Tetras look so similar that they’re often confused. I even ended up with both because my local fish store had them in the same tank and were selling them as the same fish, which tells you how compatible they are as tank mates!

There are subtle differences, though. The red stripe extends all the way down the side of a Cardinal Tetra’s body, while on a Neon Tetra it stops half way through. This, and the fact Cardinals are slightly larger, is the only real way to tell the two apart.

Read more: Neon Tetras vs Cardinal Tetras – What’s The Difference?

27. Neon Tetras and Rummy Nose Tetras

Another member of the tetra family, Rummy Nose Tetras and Neon Tetras won’t school together, but instead form two distinct groups. Because they’re are so peaceful, Rummies make ideal tank mates for Neon Tetras as the two simply leave each other alone.

Hemmigramus bleheri by Annie Roi is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Also known as the Fire Tip Tetra due to its unmistakable red head, Rummy Nose Tetras are slightly larger than Neons at up to 2.5 inches fully grown. Therefore, be sure to check that your tank has the capacity for both schools at once.

28. Neon Tetras and Bleeding Heart Tetras

Another excellently named species, Bleeding Heart Tetras chill around the lower middle areas of the tank, just like Neon Tetras. They share the same diet, and like Neons they thrive in groups, so plan to keep six or more and make sure your tank won’t be overcrowded.

Bleeding heart tetra by Beckie is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Bleeding Heart Tetras prefer the lower end of the Neon Tetra’s ideal pH scale of 6.0-7.0. However they’re absolutely fine at the same temperature of between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 27 degrees Celsius).

On to the catfish…

29. Neon Tetras and Otocinclus Catfish

Otocinclus Catfish are one of the most fun fish I’ve ever kept. They spend most of their days sucking on the tank glass, rocks and decorations, but due to their small size can move almost faster than the eye can see when they feel like it.

Otocinclus by AJC1 is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

As you’d imagine, Otos are great algae eaters. However, you’ll still need to ensure that enough regular food reaches these bottom feeders as they wait patiently for those above to let a few flakes or pellets reach them.

30. Neon Tetras and Corydoras Catfish

Neon Tetras and Corydoras Catfish are ideal tank mates as long as the tank is big enough to accommodate schools of each species. Both should be kept in groups of no fewer than six, but ideally ten or more. Don’t overload a tank that’s too small or your fish will suffer from stress and poor health.

Corydora Catfish by Bob Jenkins is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Corys are non-aggressive so they won’t bother your equally peaceful Neons. They do prefer temperatures at the higher end of the ideal range for Neon Tetras (80 degrees Fahrenheit or 27 degrees Celsius). pH will need to be around 7.0 to suit both your Neons and Corys.

Read more: Corydoras and Betta – can they live together?

31. Neon Tetras and Glass Catfish

Neon Tetras and Glass Catfish are two of the most visually striking species. If they’re kept as Neon Tetra tank mates they’ll certainly compliment the equally attractive Neons in a group of very tranquil fish.

Glass Catfish (Kryptopterus bicirrhis) by prelude2000 is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Glass Catfish are bigger than Neons at around 5” (15cm) but do need a group of six or more. Therefore so you’ll need to make sure your tank can accommodate a group this size without being overstocked.

They’re very compatible with Neon Tetras in terms of water conditions, with both preferring a temperature between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 27 degrees Celsius), pH between 6.0-7.0 and water hardness around 8-10 dGH.

32. Neon Tetras and Harlequin Rasboras

Harlequin Rasboras make good tankmates for Neon Tetras as both are very peaceful fish. They’re similar in size and with compatible requirements in terms of water conditions. 

DSC01083 by Stefan Maurer is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

The two can be kept at temperatures between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 27 degrees Celsius), pH between 6.0 and 7.0 and water hardness no higher than 10 dGH. They’re similar in their omnivorous diet too. Both will enjoy a mixture of high-quality flake foods, freeze-dried worms and insects, and live foods like daphnia.

Both Harlequins and Neons are best kept in groups, so if your tank doesn’t have the stocking capacity for at least 6 (ideally 10) of each, you’ll need to choose between the two. 

33. Neon Tetras and Chili Rasboras

Neon Tetras and Chili Rasboras are a great choice to keep together as they’re both very tranquil and will stick to their own area of the tank. Neons school across the lower middle areas while Chilis tend to occupy the upper reaches near the surface.

Also known as the Mosquito Rasbora due to the many mosquitos that live around their natural habitat in the peat forest swamps of Borneo, Chili Rasboras grow to less than an inch so don’t put too much strain on your tank’s capacity. Try to keep at least 6 in a group so they’ll feel safe and secure.

34. Neon Tetras and African Dwarf Frogs

If your Neon Tetras are fully grown, African Dwarf Frogs make great tank mates. Be warned though, they might just see smaller, juvenile Neons as a tasty snack! ADFs only grow to 2.5 inches themselves, so as long as your Neons are adults you shouldn’t have a problem.

Ungainly by Renee Grayson is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

African Dwarf Frogs are social animals so it’s best to keep a minimum of 3-4 together in a tank. The main thing to note is that they carry bacteria which can give salmonella to humans, so always use a net to handle them, use gloves and always wash your hands afterwards.

35. Neon Tetras and Celestial Pearl Danios

Celestial Pearl Danios are suitable tank mates for your Neons as long as you have plenty of room in your tank. The reason for this is that they’re notorious for breeding quickly, so your tank can become overstocked very quickly! 

Celestial Pearl Danios by CheepShot is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

The good news is that CPDs are tiny at around ¾ of an inch fully grown. Having more females than males is advisable if you can control it, as males will fight over breeding rights. They can inflict nasty injuries that can easily lead to death. To avoid this, learn how to identify their sex and have another tank set up to keep the balance right.

36. Neon Tetras and Zebra Danios

Neon Tetras and Zebra Danios are two very colorful, harmonious tank mates who both prefer to be kept in groups. Choose no fewer than 6 of each species to keep them healthy and happy.

Zebras grow up to 2.5 inches, too small to be a threat to Neons, and just like Neon Tetras they should be fed a varied diet. Look for high-quality flake food, daphnia and bloodworms and other plant and animal-based foods. 

Zebra Danio by Ruaraidh Gillies is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

To keep both your Zebra Danios and Neon Tetras healthy, keep your water between 75 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 25.5 degrees Celsius), with water hardness under 10 dGH and pH nice and neutral, between 6.5-7.0.

37. Neon Tetras and Rubber Lip Plecos

Neon Tetras and Rubber Lip (or Rubberlip) Plecos make great tank mates, not least because Rubberlips are fantastic algae eaters. They’ll keep your Neon tank glass, rocks, plants and decorations nice and clean.

IMG_4537 by iwasteela is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

They also need other food though, and fortunately the Rubber Lip Pleco’s dietary needs compliment Neon Tetras very well. Rubber Lip Plecos grow to around 6 inches which is one of the bigger species on this list. However, they’re more than happy to be kept alone so they’re easy to fit into most community tank setups.

The only thing you’ll need to be careful with is the water hardness. The ideal for Rubberlips is 10 dGH which is the upper limit for Neon Tetras.

38. Neon Tetras and Bristlenose Plecos

Bristlenose Plecos are commonly used as Neon Tetra tank mates. Despite their larger size (around 4 inches), Bristlenoses won’t attack or eat your Neons as they’re very calm and peaceful fish. Males will fight if more than one are kept together, however.

Bristlenose Pleco by Nevin Shrom is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Bristlenose Plecos and Neon Tetras should be kept in water between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 27 degrees Celsius), with water hardness under 10 dGH and pH between 6.0-7.0.

39. Neon Tetras and Clown Plecos

Clown Plecos make great tank mates for Neon Tetras as they’re very peaceful. They spend most of their time at the bottom of the tank eating any algae that builds up on the glass, gravel, rocks etc.

You can keep more than one Clown Pleco in the same tank if you have plenty of room. One is fine though, as they’re not social fish. They like a water temperature around 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius) with water hardness of 10 dGH which is the upper limit for Neons. pH should be fairly neutral for both; around 7.0 will be perfect.

40. Neon Tetras and Apistogramma Cichlids

Apistogramma Cichlids, also known as Dwarf Cichlids, are found in the same area of the world as Neon Tetras. both originate in South America in the rivers of the Amazon rainforest. As such they have very similar requirements for water conditions and diet. 

Despite the name, fully-grown Dwarf Cichlids are around 3.5 inches but still no threat to the Neon Tetra at just 1.5”. This is because they live at the bottom of the tank while Neons school across the middle areas, so rarely stray into the Apistogrammas’ territory.

Apistogramma Cichlids are carnivores. They won’t eat flake or plant-based foods, so be sure to cater to both fish at feeding time.

41. Neon Tetras and Endler’s Livebearers

Neon Tetras and Endler’s Livebearers are both popular community fish and will thrive together under the right conditions.

Both will be happy and healthy in similar water conditions. What’s more, dinnertime will be easy as both are omnivorous, with a varied diet of plant and animal-based foods providing adequate nutrition.

Endler’s by Sato KGY is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

As the name suggests, Endler’s Livebearers give birth to live offspring. Although they have been known to eat their fry, it’s the hungry Neons you’ll need to watch out for if you plan to keep the babies. Setting up a breeding tank is really the only way to guarantee that the new-borns won’t end up as a meal when these two are kept together.

42. Neon Tetras and Discus Fish

If you’re considering keeping Neon Tetras and Discus Fish together you’ll need to make sure your Neons are fully grown. Discus Fish can eat smaller Neon Tetras given the chance.

However, you can keep Neons in larger groups so they feel safe and give them plenty of plants and decorations to use as hiding places. This should keep them happy and healthy in a community with Discus Fish, who will leave them alone as long as they’re well fed and not stressed.

While the diminutive Neon Tetras can be kept in a relatively small tank, you’ll need to make sure you have room for the larger Discus Fish. These guys grow up to 8 inches in diameter and need to be kept in groups of 6 or more.

43. Neon Tetras and Betta Fish

Although Betta fish have a reputation for being aggressive, they can be kept with Neon Tetras with no trouble as long as the tank is big enough for both to have their own territory.

Bettas like to hang around the upper areas of the tank, chilling out on larger plant leaves or in a floating Betta log, which mine absolutely loves (see below!). Neons on the other hand school across the lower-middle areas of the tank, so they should rarely bump into one another as long as the tank is large enough to provide enough space.

Top tip: it’s much better to introduce a Betta to an established Neon Tetra tank than the other way around. Bettas are territorial, so adding Neons to their tank might upset them. On the other hand, adding a Betta into a tank where it hasn’t established its territory yet is a much better recipe for success.

Read more: Can I Put Neon Tetras With My Betta? 3 Key Considerations

44. Neon Tetras and Cherry Barbs

Neon Tetras and Cherry Barbs are a great choice for tank mates, as they’re both similar sized, peaceful schooling fish. They both flourish in the same water conditions and share the same dietary requirements.

Cherry Barb by Chris Stevens is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Both Cherry Barbs and Neons need to be kept in groups of 6 or more (ideally more than 10). This is so they feel safe and don’t become stressed and suffer from illness. This means they need to have enough room so the tank doesn’t become overcrowded, which will encourage aggressive behavior in the Barbs.

45. Neon Tetras and White Cloud Minnows

Neon Tetras and White Cloud Minnows can, in theory, be kept together as tank mates.

Temperature is the key with these two species. White Cloud Minnows prefer water slightly cooler and can become stressed if the temperature is in the high 70s, which is ideal for Neons.

White Cloud Mountain Minnow by Vijaya Anand is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Instead, keep your tank at a maximum of 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius). It’s a little on the cool side for Neons but as long as there’s no sudden temperature change they’ll be fine. 

3 tank mates to avoid for Neon Tetras

Unfortunately not all species make good tank mates for Neon Tetras. Here are some species to avoid at all costs!

1. Neon Tetras and Pea Puffers

Pea Puffers (or Dwarf Puffers) are the smallest Puffer Fish at just 1.5 inches fully grown, the same size as Neon Tetras. If your tank has an infestation of pest snails, Pea Puffers are your ideal solution as they’ll gobble those guys up in no time at all!

IMG_0830-2 by naturalaquascapedesigns is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

However, Pea Puffers are likely to become territorial or aggressive with your more peaceful Neons. If they have a LOT of space this becomes less likely, but the risk isn’t worth taking. (If you’re looking for snail eaters, consider Assassin Snails instead)

2. Neon Tetra and Goldfish

Sadly Goldfish are just too big when fully grown to keep with Neon Tetras. The old cliche is true – if it can fit in a fish’s mouth, it’s a snack. Your Goldfish will attack and eat your much smaller Neons, so they shouldn’t be kept together.

Goldfish have a super high bioload and need more frequent water changes. Neon Tetras are low bioload and water changes can be less frequent. This is a good thing for the Neons, who are sensitive to changes in water conditions but will soon suffer from ammonia poisoning if all that waste is left to break down in their water.

Read more: How long does water conditioner take to work?

Goldfish like cooler water than Neon Tetras and are best kept at a temperature of 73 degrees fahrenheit (23 degrees Celsius). Keeping Goldfish at a higher temperature will result in illness and a much shorter lifespan as they are likely to suffer from a range of diseases in warmer water that don’t affect Neon Tetras.

Read more: Why is My Goldfish Turning Black? 5 Steps to Rescue Your Fish Friend

3. Neon Tetra and Emerald Cichlids

Neon Tetras and Emerald Cichlids won’t be tank mates for long if you decide to keep them together.

Emerald Cichlid, Biodôme, Sony A55, Minolta 135mm 2.8 Lens, Montreal, 4 April 2012 by proacguy1 is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Growing up to 12 inches in length, Emeralds, like many other Cichlids, are peaceful with other fish their size but will simply chase, attack and eat Neon Tetras.

Neon Tetra tank mates – 55 gallon tank

As an example, I’ve put together a hypothetical setup using the excellent AqAdvisor tool (seriously, bookmark it!). In a 55-gallon tank you can have:

  • 15 Neon Tetras
  • 1 Bristlenose Pleco
  • 8 Harlequin Rasboras
  • 4 Honey Gouramis
  • 6 Kuhli Loaches
  • 15 Red Cherry Shrimps
  • 2 Apple Snails
  • 5 Nerite Snails

According to AqAdvisor, this would put your 55-gallon tank at 88% capacity and given that the Pleco would need driftwood to nibble on, this would be the maximum stocking level I’d recommend. Once plants and decorations are added, this tank would be close to 100% capacity.

Summary

Because of their peaceful nature, Neon Tetras are an amazing community fish that get along with a wide variety of tankmates, as long as they’re non-aggressive and everyone has their own space.

Always make sure your fish are compatible in terms of water conditions and that you’re feeding the right amount and type of food so that nobody goes hungry.