Can Neon Tetras and Angelfish Live Together?

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Angelfish are a popular freshwater species that can be as deadly to smaller fish as they are beautiful to look at for us. So surely they couldn’t live in the same tank as the vulnerable Neon Tetra, right?

Actually, in the right circumstances, Neon Tetras and Angelfish can be great tankmates, but it’s important to know what those conditions are before taking the plunge.

Simply throwing them together without proper preparation is a recipe for a disaster and a death warrant for the poor Neons.

Read on to find out everything you need to know to keep both Neon Tetras and Angelfish in the same tank.

Are Neon Tetras OK with Angelfish?

Neon Tetras are fine to live with Angelfish, but only if you take proper care to make sure your Angelfish are well fed so they don’t try to eat your Neon Tetras and that the Neons are in a big enough group and have plenty of hiding places.

Neons are peaceful so they won’t nip fins or otherwise disturb your Angelfish.

However, always add Angelfish to an established Neon Tetra tank rather than the other way around. If you add Neons to an Angelfish’s tank it’s more likely for Angelfish to become territorial and attack the newcomers.

The younger and smaller the Angelfish, the more likely they are to get on with the Tetras as they’ll grow up used to having them around.

Younger Neon Tetras are more likely to be seen as an easy meal, so only add small Angelfish when the Neons are fully grown.

If your Neon Tetras become sick or old, this will make them an easy target and also increases the chances that the Angelfish will attack and eat them. Weaker fish will always get picked off in a community tank with aggressive species like Angelfish

If this is the case, be proactive about moving your Neons to a separate tank (properly cycled first, obviously).

Do Angelfish attack Neon Tetras?

Angelfish will attack and eat Neon Tetras if they’re hungry enough and if they feel they can catch them, so it’s vital to make sure that your Neon feel safe in the tank and that your Angelfish are well fed so they don’t go looking for snacks.

Angelfish by Yu-Chan Chen is licensed under CC0 1.0 Universal.

One important note is that Angelfish become more territorial when paired, and are more likely to try to eat your Neons during spawning. Instead, try a single Angelfish in your Neon Tetra tank. On their own, Angelfish are much more peaceful and less likely to attack your Tetras.

Note: while I don’t recommend it to beginners, it’s certainly possible to keep more than one Angelfish with your Neons if you know what you’re doing. Here’s a great video of Spencer Cremers‘ 110-gallon show tank, with multiple Angelfish living with his Neon Tetras:

How do you keep Angelfish from eating Neon Tetras?

To stop your Angelfish from eating your Neon Tetras, keep the Angelfish well fed by feeding twice a day, and make sure you have a big enough school of Neons to make sure they feel safe. Finally, make sure your Tetras have places to hide if they feel threatened.

Feeding twice a day (morning and night) with enough food for the fish to eat in two minutes will make sure your Angelfish aren’t going hungry and eyeing up your Neon Tetras as a shiny snack.

Both fish are omnivorous, so a varied diet of plant and animal-based foods including high-quality flakes, insect-based micro-granules, daphnia, bloodworms, etc. will keep both species happy and healthy. 

Read more: What Do Neon Tetras Eat? Neon Tetra Feeding Guide

To make sure your Neons don’t feel threatened by their larger tank mates, you should provide safety in numbers by keeping a school of at least 10.

At the very lowest, you should have six Neons in the same group but in a community tank they’ll be far less stressed with 10-15. Of course, you’ll need a tank that’s big enough to accommodate all your fish.

Neon Tetra care

Finally, decorating your tank with live plants (as mentioned above), rocks, and other ornaments will not only help the aesthetic but provide your Neons with hiding places whenever the Angelfish get too close. 

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

As a last resort, you can get a fish tank divider to make sure any particularly aggressive Angelfish can’t get at your Neons. However, I don’t recommend this. Neon Tetras naturally school horizontally which is amazing to watch, and the ideal tank has plenty of sideways space to allow them to keep active.

By installing a divider, not only are you affecting the health and happiness of your Neons, but unless you have a gigantic tank you’re depriving yourself of seeing the beautiful natural behavior of these stunning fish.

How do you keep Neon Tetras with Angelfish?

To keep Neon Tetras and Angelfish together, make sure the water temperature and parameters are at suitable levels to keep both species healthy and that you have the right environment for both to be happy

Make sure your tank has enough light during the day, either from a nearby window or by using an aquarium light. Bear in mind Neon Tetras originate from the rivers of the Amazon basin, where vegetation casts plenty of shadows in the water, so try to replicate this by providing areas of shade where your Neons can hide.

The best way to do this is with live plants that not only provide shelter and break the line of sight between the Angelfish and Neon Tetras, but also provide natural filtration to help your tank filter keep the water clean by absorbing toxins and oxygenating the water.

Angelfish and Neons thrive in the same water conditions, so make sure you have a heater to keep the water between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 27 degrees Celsius). Make sure you regularly test the water parameters and keep general water hardness below 10 dGH. Both Angelfish and Neon Tetras prefer water as close to neutral as possible so keep between 6.5-7.5 pH.

Naturally, look for spikes in ammonia and take appropriate action if your test detects anything above zero.

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

Summary

It is definitely possible to introduce a young Angelfish to an established tank of adult Neon Tetras as long as you have a school of around 10 or more Tetras, plenty of hiding places and a big enough tank.

If you’re nervous about the tiny Neons living with potentially aggressive Angelfish, you could try a slightly bigger Tetra like Black Neons or Cardinals, which will have even less chance of being seen as an easy meal.

If you have your heart set on trying to keep Angelfish with Neon Tetras I’d always advise setting up a separate tank which can be cycling in case it just doesn’t work out. Once ready, this tank can be a new home for your Angelfish, or if you don’t have any problems then you’ll have a spare tank to do whatever you like with!

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