Home » Fish Guides » Does Neon Tetra Need Light At Night? | 8 interesting Facts

Does Neon Tetra Need Light At Night? | 8 interesting Facts

Neon tetra does not need light at night. But it does not mean that neon tetras do not require light for the entire day. But most of them have doubts about the neons’ nighttime behaviors. Hence, keep reading to learn some interesting information.

Do Neon Tetras Need Lighth

Neon tetra light requirement

This tetra demands light to maintain the circadian rhythm. However, to be healthy, neon tetras need to follow the sleep-wake cycle. Generally, neon tetra needs light for 12-14 hours per day. Hence, you can provide the right lighting condition for a specific period. Consequently, your neon tetra fish settle into that routine.

So, do not try to disturb their routine. You can get help from a timer to go through this routine smoothly. The timer can automatically switch the lighting conditions of your tank. Anyhow, if you provide lighting to your tetra at night time, it directly tends to stress your fish. Because lighting can disturb their relaxation. 

Special Note

If you disturb the sleep-wake cycle of neon tetra by providing light at night, it will directly cause a restless neon tetra fish. Then, stressed fish do not have an appetite. Therefore these fish usually strike the food. 

How Much Light Do Neon Tetra Need?

The neon tetra is a freshwater fish. In the wild, neon tetras are usually hiding around the leaves of live plants and bushes. The reason for this behavior is, that they try to avoid direct light. Generally, it is possible to find them in low-light habitats. So, in captivity, you should provide a lower level of lighting conditions to neons. Further, always try to keep the substrate in the tank. It will provide enough shade for neons tetras. 

Low-watt fluorescent light is the best option for tanks with freshwater fish like neon tetra. It is better to provide 18-40 watts for 12-14 hours to fulfill the lighting requirement of fish. However, while you consider the light intensity in the tetra tank, you can not forget about the live plants. Because live plants need good lighting conditions to survive. Therefore you can set up a bulb of between 2-5 watts for each gallon of water in the planted aquarium. 

Special Note: All Glass Aquarium Fluorescent Strip Light is one of the ideal lights for your neon tetra tank. However, if you like to go with a LED light, NICREW ClassicLED Aquarium Light is a better choice. 

Why does Neon Tetra Need Light?

Lighting plays a vital role to keep the healthy neon tetras in your tank. Because they need good lighting conditions to keep their eye-healthy, colorations, and growth rate. Moreover, neon tetras can maintain their circadian rhythm with correct lighting. So, proper circadian rhythm derives a proper sleep-wake cycle. As a result of this, neon tetras can take enough rest at night. 

However, if you provide improper lighting conditions, it will badly affect the eyes of neon tetra. As well as it stresses the fish. Furthermore, stress can lead to several health issues, even death. In addition to these factors, lighting is important to keep the coloration of neon tetras. Thus, if your lights have high intensity, you can see the discoloration of fish. On the other hand, if you always keep neon tetras in the dark, it will fade their colorations too. Therefore, you should go through low lighting conditions to keep your neon tetra healthy. 

Do Neon Tetra Prefer Natural Light Or Sun Light?

No. Neon tetra does not like either natural light or sunlight light. Also, they do not like high-intensity artificial lights too. They are a type of fish that are fans of low-light conditions. Neon tetras always try to hide from the lighting conditions. As a result of this, they are middle and bottom dwellers. Also, they like to live in planted areas of the aquariums. 

For instance, neon tetras naturally inhabit rivers of South America including Brazil, Peru, and Colombia. Also, you can find them easily in the Amazon River basin too. The rivers where tetras live flow through the heavy forests. This forest covers block the daylight. So, they do not get much natural light in their habitat. As a result of that, neon tetras like to live in dark waters in captivity. Because it mimics their natural habitats. 

neon tetra light

Do Neon Tetras Lose Color At Night?

Yes, there is a possibility of losing the color of neon tetra at night. You can recognize that they fade their color when they stay a long time darker. So, losing the color of neon tetra at nighttime is a normal or common thing. Therefore, do not worry about it. Because after they are in preferable lighting conditions, their colors regain and spread glory soon. Losing or fading color is a kind of defense method followed by neon tetra fish. Through this, they try to protect themselves from predators when they take a rest. 

Consequently, when they lose their color at night time, predators cannot find neon tetras easily. But the important thing is, that color fading at nighttime is not common to all fish species. However, if you recognize that the color of neon tetra is dull even in the daytime with preferable lighting, it is not a normal situation. In this case, you should identify the root cause first. Then you should give proper treatment to your fish as soon as possible. 

Do Neon Tetras Glow In The Dark?

Yes. Their strong and bright colors glow and are fluorescent in the dark. Therefore neon tetras create an excellent look in aquariums. Generally, it looks like the blue, white, silver, and red glow swimming around the tank. Like this, their shiny blue stripe and thin skin give a unique beauty to your aquarium.

Neon tetra light

Do Neon Tetras Need Darkness?

Yes. Neon tetras need darkness. This is because they need to rest. Sleeping is a vital part of any living being like eating and breathing. So, it is common for neon tetras too. Therefore to take a better rest, they need a suitable environment. Here, light scheduling plays an important role. When they sleep at night you should switch off the lights completely and create a dark environment. 

Further, too much lighting is a barrier to your tetras to rest or sleep. Restless neon tetra can become stressed quickly and easily. Eventually, it can cause death. Also, too much lighting automatically generates more heat. More heat is something that you do not want in your tank. Moreover, high temperatures can reduce the dissolved oxygen level of the tank. Further, both fish and live plants can get stressed because of high temperatures.

Therefore, always try to maintain the tank lighting schedule smoothly and accurately. It is not hard, but its output is valuable. Ultimately a proper lightning schedule will generate a healthy and happy fish. 

Do Neon Tetras Sleep At Night

Yes. Like most other tropical fish species, neon tetras also need to sleep. Generally, most of the tetra types including neon tetras are schooling fish. Also, they are active fish and always swim around the tank. But when you turn off the aquarium lights at night, neon tetras reduce their motions. Further, if you observe them closely, you may notice that neons are going to sleep. Generally, if you are a neon tetra fish keeper for a long time, you can definitely notice a color loss after they are exposed to the darkness. These color changes are associated with sleep. 

Most tetra types including neon, cardinal, and others show similar sleeping styles. They sleep for a couple of hours. But do not misunderstand, they do not close their eyes when sleeping. Normally, tetras including neon tetras are middle and bottom dwellers. In the daytime, they swim in the middle of the tank. But neons go to the bottom of the tank when they need to take a rest. In addition to that, neon tetras only go to the top of the tank for food. 

In the wild, neon tetras protect each other at night. It is teamwork. Here,  some tetras keep their eyes on their surroundings to protect the neon school from predators while the rest of the fish are sleeping.  However, if your neon tetras do not get adequate rest or sleep, it will directly affect the neons’ health. 


Briefly, neon tetras love to live in a darker environment that mimics their natural environment. But do not keep them 24 hours a day in the dark. Neither high-intensity nor low-intensity light is good for your neon tetra fish. Therefore keep moderate lightning conditions for 12 to 14 hours a day. Further, you can use the automatic light that will turn off itself once the timer is set. Finally, Neon tetra is a wonderful glowing fish that can add extra value to your freshwater aquarium.

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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.