Do Neon Tetras Get Lonely? Here’s The Truth

As neon tetras are small in size, many people think they can keep just one or two of them in a small bowl or tank, as a schooling fish that is not ideal for them at all. If you are thinking of doing the same, then you are probably wondering if neon tetras get lonely or not if kept alone.

As neon tetras are schooling fishes, they will get lonely, uncomfortable, and stressed when kept alone. There have to be at least six neon tetras in a tank. Otherwise, a neon tetra will get lonely and stressed despite having other tankmates of different varieties.

In this article, I will discuss why you should not keep a neon tetra alone and what happens if neon tetras get lonely. Also, in the past, I have kept a neon tetra alone and the outcome was not great. I am going to share my experience with you.

So, let’s begin, shall we?

Can a Neon Tetra Live Alone?

Neon tetras can not live alone as they are schooling fish. Schooling fishes have a particular behavior that makes them feel strong while they are in a large group. Staying alone in a tank can make them stressed and eventually die.

Scientists believe that schooling fishes stay in a large group for the protection that can protect them from predators. Staying in a large group also allows them to find an appropriate mate for reproduction.

You should not keep schooling fish alone in your tank. However, I have a Honey Gourami on my tank, and as they are shoaling fish, they have no issues staying alone. Although, they like each other’s company while keeping a few honey gouramis together.

So, if you are thinking of keeping one fish in your tank, you should not add neon tetra to your tank; you can keep Betta, Honey Gourami, Oscar, etc. 

Do Neon Tetras Stay Together?

Yes, neon tetras are schooling fish, and they stay together in a tank or in the wild. If you go to any fish store, they usually sell 5 to 10 neon tetras together, and they probably won’t sell you one. However, you should get at least 6 neon tetras for your tank; make sure your tank is at least 10 – 15 gallons.  

5 Reasons Why Neon Tetras Stay Together:

Neon Tetras stay together for the following reasons:

  1. They are schooling fish (Schooling is their natural behavior)
  2. Staying in a large group makes them feel safe
  3. It helps them find their appropriate mate to reproduce
  4. Staying in a group make them stronger happier, and they won’t get stressed easily
  5. Staying together offers them better-living conditions.

What Would Happen If You Keep Neon Tetras Alone?

Here are the following things that could happen if you keep neon tetras alone:

1. Scared

Neon tetras will get scared if you keep him alone. Other fishes in a community tank could bully him and show aggression which will make him weak. Even if you intend to keep your neon tetra alone on one tank, they will get scared due to loneliness. 

2. Stressed

Due to the loneliness, he will get scared and stressed. He will try to hide in your tank for protection purposes. If your neon tetra gets stressed, he won’t eat or swim properly; he will get sick lose his natural color.

3. Get Sick

Ick is a disease that shows a white spot on fish’s bodies, and fish often get this disease due to stress. If you have any fish in your tank that shows this symptom which means your fish might be in stress. You should immediately talk to your veterinarian.

4. Death

Although, normally, neon tetras live for two to three years. After getting stressed and sick, it might not live that long. So, you should never put your neon tetra alone on a fish tank. 

So, Can You Have Just One Neon Tetra?

If you have read this far, you already know the answer. You should not keep just one neon tetra. Keeping just one neon tetra does not feel ethical to me as it’s harmful to the health of the fish.

As I told you before, I had kept one tetra in a small tank when I did not know any better. I would never do that again. That neon tetra always acted scared at first. After a few days, it lost its appetite, and I could tell that it was getting lonely.

I kept a bunch of guppies with the neon tetra, even though that didn’t help. So, I kept on digging and learned more about how neon tetras live in nature. So, I added a bunch of neon tetras, and instantly the fish got better.

How Many Neon Tetras Should You Keep?

A school of 8 neon tetras

You should keep at least ten neon tetras together for them to feel comfortable and live stress-free. Expert aquarists suggest keeping at least six neon tetras.

But from what I have seen, Neon tetras are the happiest when they get a school of ten and above.

From my past incident of keeping a neon tetra alone, I realized that you can not keep just one neon tetra in a tank. So, always try to keep at least 8-10.

That’s the number I usually recommend to people. However, never go below 6. That’s a bare minimum. 

Don’t keep 1 or 2 neon tetras even if there are other varieties of fish around. As neon tetras are schooling fish, you have to provide them with a large school of neon tetras. Otherwise, don’t keep them at all.

Do Neon Tetras Need Friends?

Neon tetras are very playful in nature. They usually need a lot of friends of their own kind. Otherwise, they feel lonely and stressed.

This is true for all types of schooling and community fishes out there in nature and inside aquariums.

Related Questions:

Are Two Tetras Enough?

Keeping two tetras in a tank won’t be enough. Being a schooling fish, neon tetras feel safe in a large group, and you should keep at least six tetras to your tank. Make sure your tank is about 10 to 15 gallons, if you have a larger tank, you could add more tetras.

Which Are Ideal Tank Mates For Neon Tetras?

There are many ideal tank mates for neon tetras. Here are some of the top ones:

  • Guppies
  • Harlequin Rasboras
  • Dwarf Gourami
  • Hatchetfish
  • Chili Rasboras
  • Zebra Danios
  • Swordtails
  • Mollies

Final Thoughts:

There you go! Neon tetras get lonely if they are kept alone or very low in number in a tank. It doesn’t matter if there are other types of fish in the tank or not.

A neon tetra feels safe in the presence of other neon tetras. So, don’t let your neon tetras get lonely. If you love neon tetras, get a 20 gallon plus tank and keep lots of them together.

I hope this article was helpful. That’s all for now. Till next time, Ciao!

Sifatul Shohan

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