Home » Fish Guides » What Does Neon Tetra Eat? | 13 Things to know

What Does Neon Tetra Eat? | 13 Things to know

The neon tetra is one of my favorite Tropical Fish because the neon tetra diet is simple. So let’s see What does neon tetra eat? They are omnivores fish. Neon tetra eats most types of animals and plant feeds such as live foods, pellet foods, fish flakes, frozen foods, and even algae and vegetables. In this guide, we will answer all of your questions related to Feeding Neon Tetras

Neon tetra (Paracheirodon innesi) is a small schooling fish discovered back in 1934 in freshwater and brackish water rivers and streams in South America. Their vibrant colors and peaceful swimming patterns have massive demand in the ornamental fish industry.

What does neon tetra eat

What does neon tetra Eat in the Wild?

The neon tetra is native to the amazon river basin, South America and abundant in the fresh and brackish waters of Columbia, Peru, and Brazil. Their body shape is like a spindle, and they inhibit in the middle of the water column. N tetra is an omnivorous fish species.

In the wild environment, they eat natural foods such as algae, larvae of insects, and tiny invertebrates. With this natural diet, they live around eight, or ten years in the wild.

In the neon tetra habitat Color patterns (red stripe) of N tetra are faded away when they sleep or did not get proper diet or nutrient requirements.

What type of food do neon tetras eat in Aquarium?

Because of the omnivorous diet pattern, you can use both plant and animal components to feed neon tetra. In the aquarium, high-quality flake or pellet fish food, frozen food, and freeze-dried and live foods can be provided as feed.

Tetra prefers to eat daphnia, brine shrimp, blood worms, and tubifex as frozen food or freeze-dried and many things.

Make sure to get good fish food. Also when breeding neon food quality is extremely important to get a good result.

feed neon tetra

How long neon tetra can go without food?

All tetra species have strong survival mechanisms as food is very rare in their natural environment. Thus, Neon tetra eats foods whenever it is available in natural habitats. Most of the fish can live at least five, or six days without food and tetra also have the same ability. Some fish can survive more than seven days in an aquarium if aquatic plants are available in the tank as they can fulfill their nutrient requirement by eating aquatic plants.

Best foods for neon tetra (What does neon tetra eat)


You can purchase frozen or freeze-dried Bloodworms from the market and it is a good protein supplement for tetra fish.

Bloodworm for neon tetra

Brine Shrimp

Brine shrimp is the larvae stage of a specific shrimp species. It is the most important feed in the ornamental fish industry as it contains a high amount of energy. The brine shrimp is ideal to feed for the fry and larvae stage of tetra.  As it is very small in size, it is easy to digest.

Brine Shrimp

Flake Food

Flake foods are suitable for fish that are inhabited in the upper water column of the tank. Neon tetra inhibits in the middle water column and they come to the upper water column to grab the flack food.

These flakes are ideal for tetra and betta fish as it provides a well-balanced diet that comprises lots of vitamins and protein.

It can be a good choice for a community fish tank and compatible with tank mates.

tetra Fish flake food

Sinking Pellets

When you put fish pellets into a fish tank, it rapidly sinks to the bottom of the tank. This feed is prepared using fish, squid, and shrimp meals.

The amount of sinking pellets feed requirement is less than other feed types because it is rich in nutrients.

It reduces the accumulation of excess feed in the tank and facilitates maintaining high water quality (but water change may need). There are many types of sinking pellet feed in the market. You can select sinking pellets that sink slowly for neon tetra fish.

Algae Tablets

Algae tablets contain algae such as Chlorella, Ascophyllum nodosum, and, Laminaria digitata. This can be used as a food supplement for herbivores and omnivorous fish such as neon tetra.

Algae Tablets

Live Daphnia

This is the most popular live feed in the ornamental fish industry. It is a tiny live crustacean. This live feed is ideal for tetra fish.

daphnia to feed neon tetra

Mysis Shrimp

It is a macroscopic crustacean that generally available on the market in frozen form. It is rich in nutrients such as essential fatty and amino acids.

Mysis Shrimp for tetra

This feed can be used to feed fry, larvae, and adult stages of the neon tetra.

 Vegetable Matter

Neon tetra eats a variety of grains, fruits, and vegetables that are rich in minerals and antioxidants. It helps to maintain a strong immune system.

You can use grapes, strawberries, cucumbers, and oranges as fish feed. But it is not suitable to feed fruits more than two, or three times per week.

Feed comprised of vegetable matter is perfectly matched for the herbivores and omnivorous fish such as tetra.

Frozen Foods

Blood Worms, Daphnia, Brine Shrimp, and Tubifex are the most common frozen food or freeze-dried types which you can use to feed neon tetra. Use only the small blood worms when feeding this tetra. this can be the best food for the neon breeding tanks.

Frozen fish Foods for tetra

 Finely Chopped Meaty Foods 

You can use beef, chicken, or egg yolk to prepare fish feeds. In order to do so, blend or chop the boiled meat and feed it to your Neon Tetra fish. Chicken meat is rich in protein and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and iron.

Since egg yolks are rich in protein and contain Vitamin B6, B12, A, D, E, and K, it is an ideal source for tetra feed. Egg yolks also have minerals like calcium, phosphorus, zinc, thiamine, iron, etc.

How many times a day should I feed my neon tetras? (Feeding frequency)

It is recommended to feed two or three times per day. The amount of pellets that should be added to a tank depends on several factors. Those are the number of fish that live in the tank and the size of the fish. First, you may add a small amount of feed to the tank and carefully watch the behaviors of the fish.

If they completely eat feed within one or two minutes, add an extra amount of feed. If they did not eat feed within one or two minutes, stop adding an extra feed. You overfeed them which will affect the water quality of the home aquarium. Fish feeds contain a high amount of protein.

An excess amount of feed will deteriorate in the tank and it will generate ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite ions. Those ions are not favorable for fish. Thus, if there are any excess pellets, remove them from the tank to maintain the water quality. Make sure to feed the proper amount or it will affect water conditions. so water changes are a must.

How to Feed Neon Tetras?

If you introduce neon fish to an existing community, it is better to divide food into two portions and put those two portions in the opposite corners of the aquarium. If not you can add fish flakes in such a way that it gets distributes through the whole tank. It will facilitate sharing a portion of feed for every fish.

How much do they eat?

The neon tetra is tiny fish and they only eat a small amount of feed each time. Based on neons body size and weight, you can determine the amount of feed that requires per day.

Neon tetra fish consumes feed that weighs about 1% to 2.5% of their body weight daily. As an example, we can assume the weight of a tetra is around 200mg. Thus, you should add feed

weight between 2 mg – 5 mg per day. If an aquarium has 10 fish, you should add 20mg to 50 mg weight of feed per day. It is important to ensure that fish eat feed within two, three minutes. Otherwise, reduce the amount of feed added to the aquarium.

Does neon tetra overeat?

Neon tetra enjoys eating different types of food. They are tiny fish that have small stomachs. Because of their scavenger behavior, they eat feed as much as possible that can be found in the tank. It may lead to serious health issues. Thus, adding sufficient feed is an important fact to maintain the health of fish.

What are the human foods that can be used to feed neon tetra?

Neon tetra eats a variety of vegetables and meat products. But feed size should be smaller than the size of their mouth. Tetra can eat human foods such as Cucumbers, Peas, Lettuce, Spinach, boiled beef, chicken, and egg yolk.

Flake Fish Food Suitable For neon tetras

Fish flakes are ideal food for neon tetra as it has high nutrients and well-balanced ingredients. Fish flacks enhance the color and immunity of fish while filling its’ belly.

What kind of mouth do neon tetras have?

Neon tetras have terminal mouths. Terminal mouths are positioned in the middle of the head and it points forward. Both jaws have the same length. Fish having a terminal mouth are usually mid-water feeders. But they can feed at any location. These types of fish are omnivores, eating whatever is obtainable. They may also have specialized teeth.

Frequently asked questions

Can neon tetras eat betta food?

Yes, because neon tetras are omnivorous, they can eat any food. Therefore, if you feed neon using betta fish feed, they will eat.

Are vegetables suitable to feed neon tetras?

Yes, Neon Tetra can eat broccoli, peas, cucumber, carrots, potato, cabbage, corn, lettuce, etc. But vegetable intake alone is not favorable to your Neon Tetra. Thus, once in a while, you have to add meat into the vegetable diet. Vegetables contain vitamins (Vitamin A, B, C, D, and E), and minerals.

Feeding Frozen Foods to tetras

Blood worms, daphnia, and brine shrimps are the most popular freeze-dried foods at neon tetra aquariums. Those foods are rich in nutrients like protein and minerals.

Do neon tetras eat algae?

Algae are one of the main feeds that neons rely on the wild environment. They eat algae such as Chlamydomonas, Volvocacea in aquariums too.

Do neon tetras eat algae wafers?

Algae wafers are small disk-like formulated feed that mainly contains algae and vegetables. These wafers are easy to use as feed. Adding an excessive amount of algae wafer will not reduce the quality of water. Therefore, you can add some excess amount of algae wafers to the tank. Neon tetra can survive a few days after adding an algae wafer.

Do Neon tetras eat mosquito larvae?

This belongs to the live feed category, and neon tetras prefer mosquito larvae as a diet. You can culture mosquito larvae, filter them using a net, and add those filtered larvae to the aquarium.

Do Neon tetras eat plants?

Yes, they can eat aquatic plants and vegetables matters such as lettuce.

Do neon tetras eat shrimp?

They can live with each other community tank. But can add them to the diet after dried (the kind that we eat). Shrimp belongs to the crustacean category, and it is rich in proteins. Yes, you can feed neon tetra with shrimp. But you have to prepare the meat before adding it to the aquarium. Removing heads, legs and tail are important because these sharp parts can cause injuries to the fish’s dietary track.

What to Feed Fry and Juvenile neon tetras?

You can use brine shrimp or daphnia to feed fry and juvenile neon tetras. The brine shrimp is the larvae stage of crustaceans.


Neon tetra (paracheirodon innesi) is one of the most famous fish in the ornamental fish industry. Their shiny and colorful body attracts the attention of people.

They can rear with many other fish species in tanks. Because of their omnivorous diet pattern, neons eat foods that are extremely small in size. They also eat algae, which are small and non-toxic. In conclusion, neons are considered one of the most suitable fish species that can be rare in small aquariums but it is recommended 20-gallon tank because tetras need space. we hope now you have a good idea of What Neon Tetra Eat.

Also, see our guide about koi betta

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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.