Do Neon Tetras Have a Large Bioload?

If your fishes have a large bioload, you have to change tank water more frequently, which can be tiresome. So, as an aquarist who wants to keep neon tetras, it’s a very common question to ask if neon tetras have a large bioload.

Neon tetras are tiny fish that are about 1.5 inches long and don’t produce a large bioload. Bioload depends on a lot of factors such as fish poop, uneaten food, plant, etc. However, keeping 20 – 30 tetras in a 15-gallon tank can produce a large bioload in an aquarium.

In this article, I am going to explain what a bioload is, how you can determine the bioload in your fish tank and how you can reduce the bioload in your tank. So, keep reading the article till the end!

What is Bioload?

Generally, bioload or biological load is referred to as all the wastes living organisms produce in a given environment.

Aquarists use the term bioload as the amount of waste fishes, plants, and other organisms produced inside a fish tank.

How to Determine The Bioload of your Fish Tank?

There is no unit of measurement that will help you determine the bioload of your fish tank. But if your fish tank is large enough and you have a lot of fish, then it’s going to produce a lot of waste.

Let’s say you have a 75-gallon tank, and you have a lot of fish in there also; you have a decent amount of plant and substrate, then your tank is going to produce a good number of bioload.

By a lot of fish, I meant an adequate amount of fish that looks better on a 75-gallon aquarium.

Now, let’s go further to understand the bioload of your tank. If your tank has 30 neon tetras or ten goldfish, then your aquarium is going to have about the same amount of bioload.

Because goldfish eat a lot and produce a lot of poop, whereas neon tetras are small fish, and they don’t produce a lot of poop.

Here are the factors that play a significant role in bioload:

  • Large-sized fish or fish that eats a lot is going to have a large bioload
  • Small-sized fish such as tetras are going to have a small bioload.
  • Smaller tank with overcrowded fish
  • Inadequate filtration system
  • How much do you feed your fish
  • Amount of plants

In a nutshell, the more living organism you have in your aquarium, the more bioload it’s going to produce. 

How Do You Know Your Tank Has a Large Bioload?

Neon Tetra Fish Tank; Water quality dropping rapidly

If you see that the water quality is dropping rapidly and your filter is not doing a good job, then you can tell that your tank has a large bioload. [Source]

Let me explain!

Depending on the size of the tank, there is going to be a limit of bioload your tank can handle. Having a higher bioload will require a better and more powerful filter to handle everything. Having a HOB or Backsump filter with good filter media in it, works better than a power filter.

Check out the filtration system of our 20 gallon tank:

Back Sump Filter works 10 times better than a regular power filter

If your tank is overcrowded or you have fishes with a large bioload, then your filter has to keep up with a large amount of waste.

If it can’t, then the water quality will drop. Ammonia in the water will rise, and your fishes will suffer and be more vulnerable to diseases.

In a fish tank with an optimum level of fish producing low bioload, the amount of ammonia and nitrites stay close to zero as the bacteria in the filter crush the ammonia and nitrites.

If your fishes have a large bioload and there are not enough bacteria inside the filter, then the ammonia and nitrites will be released back into the aquarium through the filter.

Trust me; you don’t want that to happen.

What Effects Does Bioload Have on Your Aquarium?

As you now know that when you have a large bioload in the aquarium, the ammonia and nitrate are going to increase, and it can remain even after filtration. So, what effects do bioload can have on an aquarium:

  1. Increases the amount of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates
  2. Decrease the quality of water
  3. Puts pressure on the filtration system
  4. Causes disease, grow algae
  5. Causes death

Bioloads are the waste that remains in the aquarium with fishes, and without a proper filtration system, bioloads can cause significant issues to your tank.

What To Do If Your Fishes Have Large Bioloads?

As I was saying, your filter needs to trap the wastes and process ammonia and nitrites; if it fails, water quality will drop frequently.

If your fishes have large bioloads, here is a list of things you can do:

  • Change Water More Frequently: It is recommended to make small water changes every week. But you can do small water changes every 2-3 days to keep the ammonia low.
  • Install a Stronger Filter: If the current filter is not doing a good enough job, then change the filter. The rule of thumb is if your tank is 1 gallon, then the filter should be able to filter 4 gallons of water per hour.
  • Use Good Biomedia Inside The Filter: Bio media improves the culture of beneficial bacteria inside the filter, which helps in the breakdown of ammonia.

Tips to Reduce Bioload For Your Neon Tetra Tank?

Individually neon tetras don’t have a big bio-load. But people always keep them in large schools. So, if you have a small tank and large school of neon tetras, then the combined bioload of the entire school of neon tetra can be pretty high, and it can disrupt the balance of your fish tank.

Follow the tips below to reduce bioload for your neon tetra tank:

1. Use Bigger Tank:

A bigger tank means more stable water parameters and more capacity to handle bioload. Don’t keep your neon tetras in a small tank, as you have to keep neon tetras in large numbers.

Make sure the tank is at least 20 gallons. Anything above the range is better. If you go with a smaller tank, the water quality will not be stable. This will harm the fish.

Also, if you have a 20-gallon tank, that doesn’t mean there will be 20 gallons of water. The other things like stones, gravel, and driftwoods will take up a lot of space.

My point is a bigger tank will increase the capacity of handling bioloads from your neon tetras, and the water quality will not deteriorate.

2. Install FIlter With Good Bio media Inside:

Never use a small hang-on filter that has no room for bio media inside. The problem with small filters is that there is only a sponge that traps the floating waste inside the filter.

They don’t play many roles in breaking down ammonia due to a lack of bacteria culture.

That’s why, install an external filter big enough to hold enough good quality bio media for a better bacterial culture which will minimize the amount of ammonia and nitrites in the water properly.

3. Don’t keep other fishes that have huge bioload:

Stocking your aquarium with a lot of fish can increase the amount of bioload, especially when you have other fishes with big bio-loads.

Some Freshwater Aquarium Fishes With Large Bio-load:

  • Gold Fish
  • Koi
  • Plecos
  • Oscars
  • Arowana
  • Big Size Angelfish

As there are no measurements or tools to measure the bioload in an aquarium but you can easily reduce the bioload by keeping fishes that produce tiny bioload.

Here’s a list of Aquarium Fishes With Comparatively tiny Bio-load:

  • Neon Tetras
  • Cardinal Tetras
  • Mollies
  • Platys
  • Honey Gouramis
  • Zebra Danios

Also, it is not always true that small fishes like neon tetras or guppies don’t produce too much waste. Just overcrowd your tank with these guys and see how much waste they produce.

But in general, large fish eat more than smaller fish, thus producing more waste, and also fishes that eat frequently are going to produce a large bioload.

If you want to keep ten goldfish in your aquarium, it’s going to produce the same amount of bioload as 30 neon tetras.

So, when you are adding fish to your aquarium, just check their size and diet then you can guess the amount of bioload they are going to produce.

Don’t Make Your Aquarium Overcrowded:

We all want to stock our aquarium with a lot of fish, but overcrowding is not a good idea as it offers less space for fish to swim, and it’s also harder for the filtration system to keep up and will produce a lot of waste.

So, add adequate fish to your aquarium; as long as you have a good filtration system that can filter the whole aquarium water 3 to 4 times in an hour, you are going to be just fine.

How Many Babies Do Neon Tetras Have?

A single female neon tetra can have 50-100 babies. Neon tetras lay 50-100 eggs at a time, and the eggs usually hatch within a day.

It can be really hard to breed neon tetras in a community tank as the temperature and water conditions need to be adjusted properly.

So, if you have lots of neon tetras, don’t worry. There is a high possibility that your tank will not overcrowd the tank with hundreds of neon fries and increase the overall bioload.

Do Neon Tetras Need a Big Tank?

Yes, neon tetras need a big tank to thrive. The minimum recommended tank size for keeping neon tetras is 20 gallons.

Neon tetras are nano fish, so it is very obvious to think that they can do well in a five or 10-gallon tank.

However, as neon tetras are schooling fish, you will need to keep them in large numbers. That’s why the recommended tank size for neon tetras is at least 20 gallons. You can comfortably keep ten neon tetras in a 20-gallon tank.

They might do well in a slightly smaller tank and slightly smaller school size (at least 6) if your tank has a better filtration system.

Final Thoughts:

There you have it! Individual neon tetras have very little bioload. You don’t need to worry about bioload in a neon tetra tank unless you overcrowd your tank with a lot of these guys.

The bottom line is, if you are worried about the bioload of your fish tank, keep two things in mind:

  • Number 1: Don’t keep large fish in a small tank.
  • Number 2: Don’t make your fish tank overcrowded.

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Asif Iqbal

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