Home » Fish Guides » Pregnant Neon Tetra | Expert Advice On Caring And Rearing

Pregnant Neon Tetra | Expert Advice On Caring And Rearing

When keeping neon tetras in your home aquarium, sometimes you may notice a belly bump in some fish. Interestingly, it could be a pregnant neon tetra. But, how can we be so sure? Well. that is why we wrote this article. To identify pregnant neon tetra and to take necessary steps if you find one.

pregnant neon tetra

What does a pregnant neon tetra fish look like?  

Biologically speaking, neon tetra can not be pregnant. They are egg spawners that lay eggs while spawning. But, when the female tetra carries eggs before spawning, we call it pregnant. Identifying pregnant tetra is pretty straightforward. To determine pregnancy in neon tetras, you will have to inspect your fish closely for any physical and behavioral differences.

How to identify pregnant Neon Tetra?

Identifying a pregnant neon tetra is easy. A pregnant neon tetra got a slightly larger abdomen than other neon tetras. If you observe carefully, you can see a small bump in female fish. You may also find black dots around her belly, indicating eggs inside her abdomen. But, usually, this is rare because they are fussy breeders. When they don’t get ideal water conditions and when the breeding pair is not separated, these fish do not breed at all. But, this is not impossible either. Sometimes, when the water conditions are met, female tetras in the home aquarium may bear eggs for spawning. In this case, your tetras will have a distinct behavior change.

pregnant neon tetra

Pregnant neon tetra behaviour

When a neon tetra pair is ready to breed, the male neon tetra shows distinct courting behavior. The male tetra tries to impress the female tetra by displaying a courtship dance. The male tetra will swim in a square-like pattern while moving back and forth. While performing this dance, the male tetra becomes motionless sometimes, but this motionless break does not last for long. You will also find a pair that swims together, apart from their school. This is a clear indication that the couple is ready to breed. If you find your neon tetras doing these, it means that they are ready for breeding. But, if not, keeping them in an ideal condition can encourage spawning behavior so watch out for these behaviors.

How can you tell male and female neon tetras apart?

To identify pregnant female tetra and dancing male tetra, you first need to know the differences between the two genders. Figuring out male and female fish is difficult if you don’t know the characteristics of both sexes. Male neon tetras generally have, A slimmer body shape Long dorsal and anal fins Vivid color morph and A straight neon color line Female neon tetra characteristics include, Larger and longer body More curvy shape Shorter dorsal and Anal fins Dull colors Curved neon colored line If you are a beginner aquarist, it may take some time to differentiate males from females. But, if you observe your fish over time, you can easily identify males from females.

If you have guppies in your tank, Here is how to identify guppy males and females.

pregnant neon tetra

Neon tetra pregnant or dropsy

Regardless of gender, Neon tetras do not usually get swollen bodies unless they are sick or pregnant. But when the female is pregnant, her belly doesn’t look bloated or bulbous. It’s sleek and looks like a tightly packed bump. If the female tetra has a big bulbous stomach, big eyes, or behavior changes (such as hiding all day and not eating as usual), do not mistake it for pregnancy. These are signs of illness in fish that need immediate medication to prevent further damage. If you find an isolated swollen male or female neon tetra swimming alone, it may be sick. Immediately quarantine and keep your eye on them to see if there are any changes in their behavior or physical appearance.

How long is a tetra fish pregnant?

Once you confirm that your female tetra is pregnant and the male tetra is showing courting behavior, the next thing you get into your mind is how long it takes for them to lay eggs. Females usually lay eggs in the morning, and the amount of time it takes depends on the amount of light it gets at that time. If your neon tetra couple spawns in the morning, it will lay eggs within 15 minutes to one hour. It doesn’t take much time after the female gets pregnant because these fish are egg spawners. To fertilize the eggs, they have to lay the eggs while spawning. Once they lay eggs, it takes about 24 hours for the fertilized eggs to hatch.

What do neon tetras eggs look like?

Neon tetra eggs are tiny, whitish, or yellowish and look like tiny balls of jelly. These eggs are non-adhesive and will not stick to any surface. They generally settle on moss, plant leaves, or sometimes on the substrate, depending on where adult fish spawn. When you find these fish laying eggs, ensure that the water is well-oxygenated because it’s crucial for fertilized egg survival.

Where do neon tetras lay their eggs?

Neon tetras usually lay their eggs around plants or in the leaves of plants. If your tank doesn’t have any plants, they may lay eggs on the substrate, but that’s a dangerous place because other fish may eat the eggs. Therefore, it is better to provide your neon tetra couple with moss or other plants where they can lay eggs.

pregnant neon tetra

How long does it take for neon tetra eggs to hatch?

Once the eggs are fertilized, it takes about 24 hours for the eggs to hatch. Once they do, you should move them into a separate tank because it’s unlikely that all of them will survive in your main aquarium with other fish. Better yet, move the adult fish to a breeding tank before they spawn so you can easily move the adult fish to the main tank once they hatch.

How many neon tetras eggs do females lay?

Female Tetra usually lay around 60 to 120 eggs at a time. However, only about 30% of those eggs get fertilized, giving you only about 20 to 40 fry in one breeding.

How to tell when neon tetra eggs hatching?

It takes only 24 hours for the fertilized eggs to hatch. You can tell if the eggs are fertilized by looking at them. The fertilized eggs will show a black dot inside the white shell when it’s near the hatch. Since it takes only one day, you may not notice this at all.

Factors affecting neon tetra eggs hatching 

The fertilized eggs need to have well-oxygenated water to survive until they hatch. For this, you can either turn on the air stone or use an aerator. Further, the eggs need to be placed in a dark area. If they get exposed to light, the eggs die. So, it is vital to cover the breeding tank until the eggs hatch. Another critical factor is not having any adult fish near the eggs. Neon tetras usually eat their fry if they can catch them. They may even eat unhatched eggs even though it’s they who laid the eggs. Therefore, removing the eggs from the main tank and keeping them in a breeding tank is essential.

Read More about neon tetras: Do Neon Tetras Need A Heater? Complete Answer Is Here For You, Does Neon Tetra Need Light At Night? | 8 interesting Facts, Do Neon Tetras Eat Plants? | 8 essential facts on Neon Tetra Feeding |

Why are neon tetra eggs not hatching?

When spawning, some eggs don’t get fertilized if the eggs do not meet with the sperms. The percentage of fertilizing eggs is about 30%. About 70% of the laid eggs usually do not get fertilized. This is why most eggs do not hatch. Sometimes, when the eggs do not receive enough oxygen, they will die and therefore not hatch. For this, make sure that the water has enough oxygenation for fertilized eggs to survive until the hatching time comes. Further, if the eggs get exposed to light, the eggs die. Hence the eggs will not hatch. So, it is essential to cover the tank from sunlight as well.

pregnant neon tetra

How to know if neon tetra eggs fertilized

Usually, you can see a black dot on one end of the egg if it’s fertilized. However, this black dot may not become visible immediately. It takes about 12 hours for the eggs to show a dark spot on their surface, where they got fertilized.

Neon tetra eggs size

Neon tetra eggs are very small and whitish and look like a tiny balls of jelly once laid . Although it is hard to see them with the naked eye, it may not be hard to find this tiny jelly ball in your tank if you can confirm that your fish spawned.

Why are neon tetra eggs turning white?

Neon tetra eggs are usually white in color, but if you don’t see them turning into tiny back dots, then something wrong might be going on. It will be either the egg is dead, or it is not fertilized at all. Unfortunately, both can happen most of the time if you are not an experienced fish breeder.

What color are neon tetra eggs?

Neon tetra eggs a usually white in color. However, they may be a bit yellowish if the fish has been stressed recently or during spawning.

What to do with neon tetra eggs?

If your fish spawned in the main tank, you would have to move the eggs to a breeder tank. Once they hatch and fry and grow to the point that they no longer prey on adult fish, you can move them back to your main aquarium with other fish . Better yet, move the adult fish to a breeding tank before they spawn so you can easily move the adult fish to the main tank after they lay their eggs. This way, you can ensure that the eggs are safe and unharmed in the breeding tank.

How unfertilized neon tetra eggs look

Unfertilized neon tetra eggs look like a tiny sphere of jelly. They are semitransparent in nature but have no black dot on them to show that the male fish fertilized them. But it will take around 12 hours for you to see the black dots in fertilized eggs. So, until then, you can not tell if the eggs are fertilized or not.

pregnant neon tetra

Do neon tetras eat their eggs?

Yes. Neon tetras are egg eaters. They may even consume unhatched eggs. The percentage of neon tetra eggs survival is about 30%. That means 70% of the laid eggs usually do not hatch at all because they get eaten by adult fish, including their parents who laid them in the first place!

What neon tetra food should I feed my fry?

Neon Tetra Fry is small, delicate, and eats tiny foods. They need nutritious but small-sized feeds such as infusoria (nauplii of brine shrimp), micro worms, etc. Once they double in size, you can feed them the same foods as adult Neon Tetra.

Is breeding neon tetras easy?

Neon tetras can breed easily, but not many beginners can successfully breed them. It takes some experience and practice in breeding fish before you can be successful with this species because they are egg eaters that will consume their own eggs too!


When you notice a pregnant neon tetra and a courting male neon tetra, it is wise to move them to a breeding tank ASAP to make things easy. Be sure to add some moss or other plants to provide shelter to the eggs and fry. After your fish finish spawning, immediately move them to the main tank and cover the breeding tank from light. By doing this, you can safeguard fish eggs from adult fish and have a maximum number of fish babies in your tank.

Credit to : GA PET SITTERS

Read Next : Will Neon Tetras Eat Guppy Fry? The Correct Answer Is Here

Sharing is caring!

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.