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Do Neon Tetras Eat Plants? | 8 essential facts on Neon Tetra Feeding |

Yes, they are omnivorous, which literally means neon tetras eat plants as well as meat. Apart from that, they feed on minuscule invertebrates too.

They are not fussy in terms of their feeding styles, and they could depend on pellets, flakes and on frozen food as well.

To briefly touch on the neon tetras, they are tropical fish that inhabit freshwater. You could mostly find them in South America and in Brazil. 

Generally, neon tetras could last for a longer time if you provide them with good care along with proper growing conditions and essential food.

If you provide these conditions, they could survive for about 5-8 years.

neon tetras eat

Does their digestive system adapt to eating plants?

Their digestive system is adapted to eat the plants and that assist with bloating and constipation. They tend to stay starved so that they can clear its digestive system and digest them.  

What type of plants do neon tetras eat?

Neon tetra fish prefer to eat plants. But, they tend to eat plants only when they are starved and if they fail to find any other food available for their consumption in the fish tank.

Normally, neon tetras do not cause damage to the aquarium plants. The only exception for this would be Buenos Aires tetras and they are considered as voracious plant consumers.

When they are in the wild neon tetras eat algae, small insects, larvae, and even dead plants too.

On the other hand, if we consider a home aquarium, you could see tetras often fed with algae, wafer vegetables and blood worms.

That food usually comes in as canned food and the tetras are very fond of them. That would be their  main protein supplier.

On the other hand, they also want plants such as algae to fulfill their fiber needs. fiber is also beneficial for the tetra’s digesting system.

Since the neon tetras eat algae, that helps to keep the tank clean.

neon tetras eat

Do neon tetras eat vegetables?

Neon tetra fish consume vegetables. For example they like; cucumbers, peas, lettuce and spinach etc.

However, when you feed them, make sure that you feed those vegetables only in tiny pieces. 
Since the neon tetras are so tiny in size, they would find it difficult to consume them and chances are that they could nibble at the tiny pieces of the vegetables.

When it comes to the frequency of feeding them, you need to feed the young fish twice a day for about 3 minutes per feed.

If you are feeding the matured tetras, you need to feed them just once a day and you could still feed them for about 3 minutes.

What type of tetras eat plants?

All types of tetras eat plants.

If your aquarium has plants they can depend on them. Fortunately, they usually are not voracious plant-eaters. However, they usually nibble on live aquarium plants.

On the other hand, Buenos Aires is a tetra fish type that could depend on plants on a significant level. if you have a tank that is well equipped with so many aquatic plants,  you need to avoid adding Buenos Aires in those tanks.

If you wish to add Buenos Aires along with aquatic plants, you need to add sturdy plants such as Java Fern or Anubias.

Buenos Aires Tetra
Buenos Aires Tetra

What neon tetra like to eat other than plants?

To reiterate neon tetra would like to consume both meat and vegetation as they are omnivores.

In addition to that they are fond of eating carnivorous food such as;.

  • Live foods like insects and larvae
  • Pellet food
  • Flake’s food
  • Frozen food like bloodworms
  • Even algae and vegetables

They are not fuzzy in terms of their food requirements.

If you take the tetras who live in their natural habitat, they will feed on whatever is available for them. It could be either small insects or even larvae that are floating in the water.

In addition to that, neon tetras would like to have bloodworms brine shrimp as they could gain a high level of protein from them. 

Apart from that, they tend to eat the eggs of the smaller fish as well. That would also help them to gain protein.

Does neon tetra like to have plants in their aquarium?

They would love to have live aquarium plants as those places provide them hiding space.

Apart from that, usually, neon tetra’s natural habitat comprises plenty of aquatic plants and providing more aquatic plants, will give them a homely feeling.

It is not mandatory to have the live plants in a fish tank but having the live plants will provide the aforesaid benefits. 

Some of the best aquatic plants to have long with neon tetras are as follows.

Which plants are good for neon tetra tanks?

Ludwigia repens

This is one of the frequently spotted aquatic plants in fish tanks. They are usually red in color.

One of the special characteristics of these plants is, they are well known for the oxygenating process.

You could easily care for them. Further, they could thrive in an extensive array of water parameters as well. That special feature makes them a perfect fit for freshers.

Ludwigia repens neon tetras eats

Java Fern

They would be beneficial to have for neon tetras. They need lighting on a moderate level which makes them ideal for a tetra fish tank.

In addition to that, their water parameter also suits the tetras. They do not tend to grow taller, and those plants’ leaves would be a great place in case the tetras look for a hiding place.

Moreover, tetras are not fond of consuming these plants too. Hence, this would be a great fit to have in a tetra fish tank.

java fern

Java moss

This is a common plant that you could find in neon tetra fish tanks. They could grow in low-light conditions.

They are resilient plants and could use as a carpeting plant and would be useful as a floating plant as well. Tetras could hide among these plants.

java moss


They are hardy set of plants, and they tend to grow well in water conditions. They have wider leaves, and they would be great hiding places for tetras.


Brazilian Pennywort

This plant would also be useful as they could also supply hiding places. You could grow them either in the background or un mid-ground.

Moreover, it could give shade also to the tetras. You could provide a moderate level of lighting for them.

Brazilian Pennywort


This could be useful if you wish to add a floating plant for your tetra tank. They are a sturdy set of plants and could thrive in moderate lighting conditions.

It would be useful for timid and sick tetras as they could get shelter from these plants. On the other hand, they tend to grow rapidly, and you need to trim them as appropriate.


Water Lettuce

This is yet another floating aquatic plant. However, it is kind of a challenging task to grow them in a home aquarium as they depend on humidity to thrive.

Having said that if you are someone who could provide those conditions, they have a great potential to grow rapidly and to overtake your fish tank.

Water Lettuce

Amazon Sword

This is a famous aquatic plant which you could find in the aquarium hobby. The most significant factor of these plants is that they could produce blooms. These are also easy to care for plants.

Amazon Sword

How to stop neon tetra from damaging aquarium plants?

You do not have to worry about this since they do not harm to aquarium plants. But as mentioned above if you are raering Buenos Aires tetra fish it is wise to have sturdy plants such as Java Fern or Anubias. 

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About Dr.Chamika

Hello, I'm Dr. Chamika. I am a Researcher in Water quality, Aquatic organisms, and Environmental chemistry. I am a passionate fish keeper, with10 years of experience. My mission is to help other aquarists experience the joy of fish keeping.