Do Neon Tetras Kill Each Other? (Myths Busted)

Neon Tetras are very popular fish among aquarists, and everyone would love to keep them. It’s very common for fish to fight each other or show aggression. You might be wondering, does this aggression lead neon tetras to kill each other?

It’s highly unlikely that neon tetras kill each other. However, they can fight with each other when they are stressed for some reason. Also, male neon tetras attack each other during mating time to get attention from the females. If neon tetras are dying, it can be because of water conditions or disease, not killed by fellow neon tetras.

In this article, I will clear out various myths and confusions regarding neon tetras attacking or killing each other. I will also share my experience of keeping multiple neon tetras together. So, keep reading.

Do Neon Tetras Attack Each Other?

Yes, neon tetras do attack each other to establish a hierarchy in their group. If you put young neon tetras with a few adult neon tetras, they could bully them by rejecting them from their group, but it usually won’t last long.

As you already know, neon tetras are schooling fish; they feel safe when they are in a large group and could protect them from predators.

If there are a few in number on your tank, they will feel stressed, and they might contemplate this stress by showing aggressive behavior to each other.

Another reason for neon tetras to attack each other is if you have imbalanced water conditions on your tank. Make sure you have 0 ammonia or nitrite levels.

If you properly cycle water on your tank, this should not be the case.

So, improper water conditions make neon tetras stressed, and they contemplate the stress by attacking each other. But, they most certainly won’t kill each other.

Why do Neon Tetras Chase Each Other?

Although neon tetras are peaceful in nature, sometimes you will see them fighting or chasing each other.

I have figured out several possible reasons for which neon tetras actually chase each other.

1. To Have Fun or Play With Each Other:

Young neon tetras often chase each other. I love seeing neon tetras chasing each other. Most of the time they don’t try to harm or fight.

Neon tetras are very playful fish if you keep them in larger numbers. If your neon tetras are chasing each other, they are most likely playing with each other.

However, there are several other reasons for which your neon tetras are chasing each other. 

Let’s talk about them.

2. To Get Attention From The Females:

During the mating season, male neon tetras are often seen chasing each other or fighting with each other in front of the females.

Doing this, they try to grab the attention of the females. As neon tetras live in large groups, it is common to have little fights and chasing among male neon tetras to decide who gets the girls.   

It’s kinda funny. Have you seen the mating dance of neon tetras? It’s a marvelous show. Usually, they do mating in the morning.

So, during mating time, make sure you wake up early in the morning and observe the dance of the male neon tetra while mating. It feels really good. You must see.

Also, before the mating, one male tetra can come to bother the other; that is when you might see them chasing each other as well.

3. To Show Dominance:

When a new neon tetra is added to an already established school of neon tetras, you might see other neon tetras chasing the newly added neon tetra.

The old ones try to show dominance and possibly want to establish a hierarchy.

Once I added two new and young neon tetras to my tank where I already had an established school of neon tetras.

I saw that the newly added neon tetras wanted to school with other neon tetras. But some of the neon tetras tried to bully them at first and chased them.

Soon, everything became normal. So, if your neon tetras are chasing each other, it might be the case that you have added new neon tetras in the tank.

4. To define Territory:

I know that neon tetras are not territory fish like bettas or gouramis. However, if you keep too many of them in a small tank, they will want more space and chase each other to establish their territory.

If your tank is overcrowded with tetras, try to get a better tank or reduce their numbers to give them enough space to thrive.

I actually don’t prefer reducing the numbers of neon tetras. It’s always a better idea to keep neon tetras in a bigger tank as the water condition in a large tank stays very stable, and neon tetras need stable water conditions to live and grow properly.

I have also heard from fellow aquarists online if the water condition is bad, neon tetras can get stressed and aggressive.

They are not generally aggressive fish. But I agree with them that neon tetras can become a little aggressive when they are stressed.

SO, my point is to keep them in a large enough tank so that neon tetras do not feel overcrowded and lack of space as it will result in chasing each other.

Are Neon Tetras Fin Nippers?

Neon tetras are peaceful schooling fish, and yes, they are fin nipper. However, neon tetras don’t always nip the fin of other fishes unless they feel they are being attacked. They most likely do it to defend themselves.

If you have a large aquarium where you can keep a lot of tetras which will make them feel safe and they might not nip fin of their own species or other fish.

Neon tetras are well known for their color and schooling behavior, and they also chase each other or other fish for no particular reason. But it’s more likely to defend themselves or if they are stressed.

Do Neon Tetras Stay Together?

Neon tetras are shoaling and schooling fish, and their natural behavior is to stay together in a group. Keeping a few neon tetras is not wise; it makes them stressed, and they start to lose their color.

If you intend to keep neon tetras, try to add at least ten neon tetras to your aquarium, and more is better for a schooling fish like neon tetras.

Can You Mix Tetras With Other Tetras?

You can mix tetras with other tetras, which will form schools. But, try to keep at least six tetras from each species to form a school. Otherwise, single tetra from other species won’t join the large group of tetra from another species.

Tetras are peaceful community fish, and they are also peaceful with each of their species, but they have a certain behavior. If you have enough tetra from each particular species that can form a school, all of them will school together. 

Final Thoughts:

Neon tetras won’t kill each other. If your neon tetras are dying and for some reason you are thinking that neon’s are killing each other then, there is a high your neon tetras are dying out of disease.

Still, if you feel like your neon tetras are getting aggressive and chasing each other a lot introduce some hiding space. That might help.

Asif Iqbal

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