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10 Great Neon Tetra Tank Mates (With Pictures)

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By Lindsey Stanton

Tropical fish named

The neon tetra is a fantastic little aquarium fish, one with plenty of blue and red, plus some other colors thrown in too. A little school of neon tetras can make for a colorful and lively aquarium. However, what if you want to have more than neon tetras? Yeah, having community fish tanks with more than one type of fish is always a great way to go. A diverse aquarium community can really bring things to the next level.

So, what are some of the best neon tetra tank mate options?

  • Cardinal Tetra.
  • Mollies.
  • Loaches.
  • African Dwarf Frogs.
  • Cory Catfish.
  • Angelfish.
  • Guppies.
  • Rasboras.
  • Ghost Shrimp.
  • Plecos.

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The 10 Great Neon Tetra Tank Mates

What you need to know about neon tetras is that they are very peaceful schooling fish. Neon tetras should be kept in groups of at least five or seven, and the more the merrier. Some people have dozens or even hundreds of neon tetras living in the same tank.

They are very small and peaceful fish that wouldn’t hurt a fly. They aren’t territorial or aggressive, and they won’t pick fights with other fish. It’s important that the neon tetra tank mates are not large enough to eat them or aggressive enough to bully them.

Keep in mind that neon tetras won’t grow longer than about 1.5 inches, and they like to stick to the middle of the water column. These are all important things to keep in mind when choosing tank mates for your community aquarium.

1. Cardinal Tetra

cardinal tetra
Image Credit: Kristiana Berzina, Shutterstock

The best tank mate is the cardinal tetra. The cardinal tetra, besides having a different color scheme from the neon tetra, is virtually the same fish. They are both tetra fish. They have virtually the same tank requirements and required water conditions.

They both eat the same foods and are very peaceful and mildly tempered. Moreover, if you get a few of each, chances are pretty big that they will eventually merge into one big school of cardinal tetras and neon tetras.


2. Mollies

sunburst platy
Image Credit: Joan Carles Juarez, Shutterstock

Another great neon tetra tank mate is the molly fish. First off, mollies will do fine in the same water conditions as neon tetras. Both are freshwater fish that require fairly warm water with virtually the same pH levels. Both fish also enjoy heavily planted tanks with the same substrate.

Mollies can grow to between 2 and 3 inches in length, so they definitely are not large enough to eat your neon tetras, and moreover, mollies are not fans of eating other fish anyway. Next, mollies are very peaceful fish that really won’t bother other fish at all. They are not territorial either. In other words, mollies and neon tetras should be able to live in the same tank without causing problems for each other.

What’s also nice is that the generally dull and dark colors of the molly will create a contrast with the bright and vibrant colors of your neon tetras.


3. Loaches

clown loach
Image Credit: Joan Carles Juarez, Shutterstock

Loaches also make for good neon tetra tank makes. Loaches are also very peaceful fish that won’t bother others. They are not very territorial or aggressive and will avoid confrontation at all costs. Moreover, loaches are bottom dwellers and scavengers, which means that they tend to stick to the bottom of the tank, usually hovering around the substrate in search of food.

In other words, they won’t invade the territory of your neon tetras. Loaches can be a bit aggressive towards other fish if they are housed alone. This means that to ensure that your loaches are peaceful and don’t bother the neon tetra, you should have at least six loaches. This, therefore, means that the tank must be large enough to house two schools of fish.

There are many types of loaches, but your average loach will grow to no more than 3 or 4 inches, and they are not large enough to eat neon tetras, plus they are more or less 100% scavengers. The darker colors which loaches feature will contrast with your neon tetras.


4. African Dwarf Frog

two african dwarf frogs
Image Credit: Dan Olsen, Shutterstock

The African dwarf frog is another great neon tetra tank make. You might be worried that the African dwarf frogs are going to eat the neon tetras. However, unless the neon tetras are still fry, or babies in other words, then there is no chance of an African dwarf frog eating them.

African dwarf frogs, although they do appreciate live foods, are not really hunters, and even when they do hunt, they tend to go for slow-moving crustaceans and insect larvae. African dwarf frogs really are not fast or agile enough to catch neon tetras, nor are they large enough to eat them. African dwarf frogs only grow to 2.5 inches at most, not large enough to threaten tetras.

Moreover, the frogs are very peaceful by nature and should not bother the fish, and they are actually not very strong swimmers. Also, both neon tetras and African dwarf frogs can live in the same water conditions and parameters.


5. Corydoras Catfish

two spotted cory catfish in sandy rocks
Image Credit: Dimitris Leonidas, Shutterstock

Yet another great tank mate for the neon tetra is the Corydoras catfish, otherwise simply known as the cory. Cory catfish make for great neon tetra tank mates because they only grow to around 2.5 inches in length and are not large enough to eat neon tetras. Moreover, cory catfish are not strong swimmers, and either way, they aren’t quick enough to catch neon tetras.

On that same note, cory catfish are peaceful bottom feeders. They are scavengers that stick to foraging for food on the substrate. Therefore when kept in the same tank, cory catfish and neon tetras won’t bump into each other very much. It’s also convenient because the Corydoras will clean up the mess left behind by your tetras.

Let’s keep in mind that cory catfish are schooling fish, which means that they should be kept in groups of six, so ensure that your aquarium is large enough for a small school of neon tetras and a small school of Corydoras catfish.


6. Angelfish

zebra angelfish
Image Credit: Joan Carles Juarez, Shutterstock

One thing to keep in mind when it comes to angelfish is that they are a species of Cichlid, and yes, Cichlids can be aggressive. However, of all Cichlids, angelfish are usually considered to be the least aggressive. Moreover, if they are aggressive or territorial, it’s usually only towards other angelfish, particularly during mating season. However, when it comes to other fish like neon tetras, angelfish should leave them alone.

Also, angelfish are not nearly as fast or agile as neon tetra, and even if they try to pick a fight, the neon tetras can easily avoid the angelfish. Angelfish can grow to 10 inches in length, so they are much larger than neon tetras. Yes, angelfish can technically eat neon tetras since they are large enough to do so and yes, they do eat meat. However, once again, angelfish just aren’t fast or agile enough to catch small and speedy tetras, so this should not be a problem.

If you keep the angelfish well-fed, this won’t be a problem either way. Angelfish can be very beautiful depending on the coloration, and they contrast the tetra colors in the tank. Moreover, there is also a nice size contrast to keep in mind. Angelfish and neon tetras can live in the same water conditions and parameters just fine.


7. Guppies

lots of guppies swimming
Image Credit: underworld, Shutterstock

Guppies are rather perfect tank mates for neon tetras in virtually every way. For one, they both require about the same tank set up with the same plants, the same water parameters, and the same water conditions.

In terms of size, the guppies will grow to no longer than 2.4 inches long, with males being almost a full inch shorter than that. So, in other words, neither fish is much larger than the other, something that always helps to keep the peace. The guppy is not a schooling fish but does best when kept in large groups, and a few other guppies and neon tetras should do just fine together.

Moreover, guppies are not aggressive fish in the least and they make for excellent community fish for most aquariums. They can peacefully co-exist with virtually all other fish of similar size that is non-aggressive. Guppies can be fairly colorful too, which makes for a great addition to any community fish tank.


8. Rasboras

Rasbora
Image Credit: Salparadis, Shutterstock

Rasboras, particularly harlequin rasboras are some very beautiful fish that are full of red and orange, which complements the blues and reds of neon tetras quite well. Moreover, rasboras are not aggressive or territorial fish and won’t pick fights with other fish. Now, rasboras are fast swimmers, and they might swim circles around the tetras, but they will not try to fight or bite them.

Your average rasbora is going to grow to around 2 inches, a bit larger than neon tetras, but it’s not large enough to eat them and not aggressive enough to try. Rasboras tend to eat zooplankton, small crustaceans, and insect larvae anyway, not other fish. Rasboras are schooling fish and should be kept in groups of eight to 10. Therefore, make sure to have a tank large enough for a school of rasboras and a school of neon tetras.

Simply put, these fish can survive in the same water conditions and parameters, they require virtually the same tank setup, and they won’t bother each other either.


9. Ghost Shrimp

ghost shrimp Nicholas Toh, Shutterstock
Image Credit: Nicholas Toh, Shutterstock

Ghost shrimp are good neon tetra tank mates mainly because they are excellent scavengers. Ghost shrimp love to scavenge and forage for food at the bottom of the tank, which is convenient because they will clean up any messes and uneaten food from your neon tetras.

No, ghost shrimp aren’t the most attractive creatures out there, but they certainly bring some benefits to the tank. Moreover, the shrimp are very small and shy, and they aren’t going to pick fights with your tetras.

On that same note, the shrimp are going to stick to the bottom of the tank, whereas the neon tetras will stick to the middle of the water column. Also, neon tetras and ghost shrimp can both survive in the same tank, in terms of water conditions and parameters.


10. Pleco

sunshine pleco
Image Credit: Pavaphon Supanantananont, Shutterstock

The other neon tetra tank mate you should consider getting is the pleco or common pleco. The common pleco grows to around 24 inches or 2 feet in length, which means that you will need a very large tank. Now, in terms of their behavior, plecos are not aggressive and won’t pick fights with your neon tetras. At the same time, plecos are bottom dwellers and scavengers, and even if they do get a bit aggressive towards your neon tetras, they won’t eat them.

Plecos scavenge for food at the substrate, and they will stay out of the way of your neon tetras and won’t try to eat them. Plecos, because they are bottom feeders, also make for a good cleanup crew for any mess your neon tetras make. Both of these fish will do just fine in the same water conditions and parameters.

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Commonly Asked Questions

Neon Tetra And Betta Fish, Is It OK?

You can keep a betta fish with neon tetras. Betta fish tend to stick near the top of the water column, and neon tetras more near the middle of the water column. This means that for the most part, the neon tetras will stay out of the way of the betta fish. That said, betta fish are territorial and aggressive, and they are bullies. This means that the tank needs be more than large enough to house both fish comfortably.

If the betta fish feels cramped, like its territory is being invaded, it will attack the neon tetras. This is a big gamble and if you try housing these fish together, get ready to see your neon tetras fighting for their lives.

Can Neon Tetras Live With Goldfish?

No, goldfish and neon tetras should not be kept in the same tank. Goldfish are usually cold water fish, which means that they require much cooler waters than the tropical neon tetra. They simply cannot survive in the same tank. Also, larger goldfish can and will eat neon tetras if given the chance.

5 Tank Mates To Avoid With Neon Tetras

There are some fish that you should avoid housing with neon tetras at all costs, and these include the following.

Fish to avoid:
  • Blue Ram Cichlids (& other aggressive Cichlids)
  • Bala Sharks.Redtail Sharks
  • Goldfish
  • Barbs
  • Piranhas

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Conclusion

There are plenty of great tank mates for neon tetras. Generally speaking, anything smaller or similar in size is recommended. The fish should be peaceful, and if they are much larger than the tetras, they need to be extremely mildly tempered. Other than that, as long as they can survive in the same tank setup and the same water conditions, all should be just fine.


Featured Image Credit: yoshi0511, Shutterstock

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