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Glowlight Tetra: Pictures, Size, Care, Tank Setup & More

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Glowlight Tetra (Hemigrammus Erythrozonus) with algae background

The Glowlight Tetra or Fire Neon is a striking fish that has many things going for it as an excellent beginner species. Its temperament makes it a welcome addition to a community tank. These fish will school, creating an attractive display with their gorgeous colors. They are affordably priced and hardy. They are also active tank mates that make them enjoyable to watch.

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Quick Facts about Glowlight Tetra

Species Name: Hemigrammus erythrozonus
Family: Characidae
Care Level: Easy
Temperature: 75℉–82℉
Temperament: Peaceful schooling fish
Color Form: Translucent body with a lateral red-orange stripe
Lifespan: 3 years
Size: 1.2–2 inches
Diet: Omnivore
Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
Tank Setup: Sand or gravel substrate with dim lighting and ample cover
Compatibility: Compatible with a community tank with docile tank mates

Glowlight Tetra Overview

This species lives in the Amazon Basin and Essequibo River in South America. They typically live in the dark waters of small waterways. That makes their flashy colors an adaptive feature. They swim in schools in the wild and in aquariums. We recommend getting them in groups of at least six to replicate the conditions of their native land.

Image Credit By: Ictiologia Universidad Católica de Oriente, commons wikimedia

How Much Do Glowlight Tetras Cost?

The Glowlight Tetra is both affordable and ubiquitous. You won’t have any problems finding them. You can buy them singly for less than $5 a piece. Some sellers offer group purchases, which can make stocking your aquarium easier with compatible fish. You’ll see small specimens for sale, often around an inch long.

Typical Behavior & Temperament

You couldn’t ask for a more peaceful fish. This species will get along with compatible, docile species. It tends to keep to its own species when schooling. Individuals often swim alone and come back together when they perceive a threat. The dancing colors make for quite a show. This species usually swims in the middle of the tank.

Appearance & Varieties

The Glowlight Tetra shares many traits of other species in the Characidae family. It has an elongated body with laterally placed black eyes. The characteristic feature and the reason for its name is the iridescent red-orange stripe down its length. The coloration extends to the base of its fins. Male and female fish look similar, with the latter slightly larger than the former. The maximum size is 2 inches long.

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How to Take Care of Glowlight Tetra

Its ease of care makes the Glowlight Tetra a popular choice with hobbyists. It is both hardy and relatively tolerant of minor changes in the water chemistry. The fish is relatively long-lived for species of its kind, reaching 3 or more years with stable conditions.

Glowlight tetra
Image Credit: Besjunior, Shutterstock


Habitat, Tank Conditions & Setup

Tank Setup

The species is a tropical fish, making a heater a necessary addition. We recommend keeping the middle of the tank open so that they can swim with their school or alone. Remember that they are active and will likely spend their time darting around the tank when not swimming along the bottom.

Aquarium Size

You should purchase the Glowlight Tetra in small groups of at least six fish for a 10-gallon tank, although the bigger, the better. That’s especially true if you plan on adding other schooling species to give everyone their space. We don’t recommend anything smaller with the aquarium or group size. The beauty of this tetra stands out more when there are several in the tank.

Water Conditions

The Glowlight Tetra fares best in temperatures between 75℉ to 82℉. Its native habitat often is water that is slightly acidic from rotting vegetation. You can keep the pH between 6.0–8.0, with a dH of 2–15. While the tetra is somewhat tolerant of fluctuating conditions, we recommend keeping the water chemistry as stable as possible to avoid stressing the fish.

You should do bi-monthly partial water changes as part of your routine maintenance. We also suggest testing it regularly for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH levels.

Glowlight Tetra fish
Image Credit: Grigorev Mikhail, Shutterstock


This species isn’t picky about the substrate. You can use either gravel or sand. We suggest getting a dark color to make the colors of the tetra pop against it.


In the wild, these fish live in waters with plenty of plants and cover. You should replicate those conditions in your aquarium with live or artificial plants. The Glowlight Tetra is an omnivore, though, making live plants more desirable.

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Are Glowlight Tetra Good Tank Mates?

The Glowlight Tetra makes an excellent tank mate for livebearers and similarly docile species, such as Zebra Danios, rasboras, and other tetra species. Of course, size is another consideration. Large fish will eat smaller ones, no matter how peaceful they are. It’s worth mentioning that this species is also a micro-predator that will readily eat live food.

What to Feed Your Glowlight Tetra

The Glowlight Tetra is an omnivore and, thus, plays a role in several branches of the food web—including prey! In the wild, it eats aquatic plants, crustaceans, and invertebrates. However, this fish isn’t a picky eater. It will readily eat commercial granules or flakes. If you want to keep its colors bright and vibrant, be sure to offer your tetras frozen and live foods, like bloodworms and brine shrimp.

We recommend feeding smaller quantities a few times daily instead of a large meal that will sink into the substrate. Make sure to also offer your tetras foods small enough for them to eat.

Pair of Glowlight Tetra Fish in a Black Background
Image Credit: Grigorev Mikhail, Shutterstock

Keeping Your Glowlight Tetra Healthy

A stable environment and a well-balanced diet are the ways to keep your Glowlight Tetras healthy and vibrant. Don’t skimp on maintenance despite their hardiness and tolerance. Remember that the larger waters in which these fish live don’t change a lot or often. Your challenge is ensuring the same environment with your aquarium. Tetras don’t need special care, just regular maintenance.


It’s best to set up a separate tank for spawning since the parents will eat the eggs. It doesn’t have to be large. A 5-gallon aquarium will suffice. Keep the water on the warm end of the spectrum and slightly acidic. A spawning mop or plants with fine leaves, such as Java moss, will provide a platform. Keep watch on the spawning tank so that you can remove the parents quickly back into the main aquarium.

Glowlight Tetras are relatively easy to breed. The removal part is the challenge. The eggs will hatch in about 2 days. You can offer the free-swimming fry a starter food or crushed flakes to give them a healthy start. You can put them in the main tank once they reach a suitable size. Remember that the young are vulnerable at this stage. Make sure the conditions stay stable, and don’t overfeed them.

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Are Glowlight Tetras Suitable For Your Aquarium?

The Glowlight Tetras are excellent beginner fish because of their easy care and maintenance. Their beautiful color is another reason to add them to your community tank. Basic aquarium maintenance will provide an ideal environment for them to grow and thrive. Stocking your tank with compatible species no larger than your tetras will offer a rewarding experience.

Featured Image Credit: Digital Art StudioTH, Shutterstock

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