Neon Tetra Eating Habits: 13 Things You Should Know

There is no better way to keep your Neon Tetras healthy fish than to feed them well. The best way to get a good, healthy fish is to feed them foods that fit their nutritional needs and stay with them all day. The right foods not only keep them healthy but also avoid diseases.

In order to do that, you need to be aware of the eating habits of Neon Tetras. 

What does that mean? Well, you will avoid diseases by making sure they get the right foods at the right time of day. This is achieved by keeping their water quality high and avoiding stress. The best way to avoid stress is to maintain a healthy, stable environment and to provide the fish with the right nutrition.

Keeping your fish healthy and eating healthy is the best way to achieve the goal of getting healthy fish for your aquarium. To get the best health, you need to know how and when to feed them.

That’s why in this article, we are going to take a deep dive into the eating habits of Neon Tetras. So, without any further ado, let’s begin! 

1. What Do Neon Tetras Like To Eat?

Neon tetras are omnivores, and they like to eat live foods like brine shrimp, frozen worms, fish pallets, and as well as algae wafers.

As you might probably already know that Neon Tetras are omnivores which means these little guys aren’t that fussy about food in the least. These fishes typically eat various species of small invertebrates. 

A few examples of the foods eaten by Neon Tetras include filamentous algae, crustaceans, invertebrates, fallen fruits, carrion, and so on.

Furthermore, the diet of Neon Tetras varies depending on their growth stage. The diet of young Neon Tetras is mainly composed of crustaceans and other invertebrates. But as these fishes grow, their diet is gradually changing. 

The diet of Neon Tetras in the adult stage includes a wide range of different food sources. For instance, the diet of Neon Tetras in the adult stage includes small fishes, bivalve molluscs, crustaceans, and so on.

In short, Neon Tetras are omnivorous fishes. And they basically eat whatever they can find.

2. What is The Best Food To Feed Neon Tetras?

Live foods like brine shrimp, daphnia, worms are the best food to feed neon tetras as they are high in protein which ensure their proper growth and coloration.

In the wild, these little fishes mostly feed on small invertebrates. However, in captivity, Neon Tetras are fed with live foods. The food which is fed to these fishes must be a very specific kind of food.

Actually, the best food for neon tetras is composed of small live foods, high-quality fish flakes and algae wafers. Live foods can be worms, mussels, or other small invertebrates. 

You can feed these live foods to your Neon Tetras in a tank. And it will provide these fishes with all the necessary nutrients which they need.

As omnivores, neon tetras need to take nutrition from both plant and animal sources. I believe, feeding live foods, algae wafers and high quality fish pallets in turn is the best neon tetras.

That’s why I try to bring variation in the diet of my fishes.

3. What do tetras Eat in The Wild? 

In the wild, tetras mostly eat small insects and invertebrates. Their most favorite foods are small invertebrates such as shrimp, molluscs, and so on.

Also, Tetras have the capability of eating both animals and plants. In fact, they can eat both kinds of food. For example, a variety of plants, which are often used in aquaria, are rich in nutrients. And the foods which Tetras eat in the wild are rich in nutrients as well.

4. Are Neon Tetras Top Feeders?

Neon Tetras are not top feeders. They are widely considered to be mid-level feeders. However, Neon tetras will swim to the top and bottom of the tank to eat if they are starving.

Remember to be gentle while placing the food in water. Otherwise, the food will fall too fast.

5. How Often Do Neon Tetras Eat?

Most neon tetras eat once or twice per day. Feeding them more than twice per day is not ideal. You can just follow the same feeding schedule that you would do for other tropical fish in the aquarium while feeding your neon tetras. 

Neon tetras are not frequent diners and so  feeding  your neon tetras, only once per day is usually sufficient.

But if you feel that your neon tetras are not getting the enough nutrients as they should, you can also feed them twice a day. I.e. once in the morning and once at night.

6. Will Tetras Eat Carrots?

Actually, Neon Tetras can eat various kinds of vegetables. And that includes carrots as well. Some of the other vegetables eaten by Neon tetras include broccoli, peas, cucumber, potato, lettuce, and corn. 

If you do decide to feed some carrots to your Neon Tetras, you have to boil them and chop them up into tiny pieces that are smaller than their mouths, otherwise they won’t be able to eat it. You can then drop them on to the tank. 

Alternatively, you can blend the carrots and then pour that on the tank in order to feed your neon tetras.

Personally, I would frequently feed carrots to my tetras. The two things I have found to be important are:

  1. Boil the carrot for 15 – 20 minutes and cut carrots in small sizes to fit into their mouth. I found that if you cut them too big, they have a hard time getting them into their mouth.
  2. Make sure the carrots are not frozen, and that they are free of any chemicals.

If you do feed the carrot to them, be sure to only feed them 1 or 2 at a time. They can get sick from too much of a good thing.

You might also want to make sure that you are giving them other vegetables that are rich in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.

7. How Long Can Neon Tetras Go Without Food?

Neon Tetras are actually pretty resilient, and they can go without eating any kind of food for around 10-12 days at a stretch. However, it should be noted that this is the case only if they were being regularly fed multiple times a day in the days leading up to the time period in question. 

Your Neon Tetras will be able to live up to a week or so if you have a regular tank setup. On the other hand, they could live up to three weeks on a planted tank.

Furthermore, tetras can go without food for a longer period of time if they are being fed a diet that is high in protein.

8. How Do You Know If Neon Tetras Are Hungry?

Your Neon Tetras will likely be swimming around in the aquarium if they are eating. And they usually hunt for food in the aquarium substrate.

There’s a simple method of finding out whether your Neon Tetras are hungry or not. 

Neon tetras start digging aquarium substrates and nipping plants when they are hungry.

If Neon Tetras are digging around in the aquarium’s substrate, then they are clearly searching for something. And that something is most likely to be food.

So, if you see your fish combing through the substrate, that’s a clear indication that your Neon Tetras are hungry, and you should feed them immediately.  

Sometimes Neon Tetras also go to inspect the top of the aquarium. This unusual behavior is also an indication of hunger.

So be sure to check your fishtank’s top regularly to ensure that they are not caught up in a “feeding frenzy” and that they are not digging or sniffing at things that are not food.

My Neons swim around and swim back and forth, sometimes they sniff the surface of the water for a minute or two and then do it again. 

They seemed to be looking for something on the surface and then turning back down below. 

What I found is that they don’t do this when they are all the way to the back. They tend to come to the front, take a glance around, and then go to the back. 

9. How Do I Make Sure My Neon Tetras Eat?

As Neon Tetras are often caught up in a feeding frenzy, causing them to appear to be starving.

Try to make the environment as close to their natural environment as possible. Include some live plants and hiding spaces to make them feel better. This way, they’ll be less likely to become caught up in a “feeding frenzy” and will be more likely to take a healthy interest in their surroundings. 

Make sure that there are no dead or decaying plants or other nasties in the tank.

Neon Tetras prefer environments with lots of plants and algae. This is where they are most likely to find food.

If the substrate is light in color, try to make the water a darker color. This makes it easier for them to see in the aquarium and also easier for them to get to the foods that they have buried in the substrate.

In short, make sure that your Neon Tetras are able to see what they are eating and that they have easy access to the foods that they need.

10. Do Neon Tetras Eat Live Plants?

As Neon Tetras are omnivorous, they can eat both plant-based (i.e. live plants) and meat-based food. So while feeding your Neon Tetras in your aquarium, if you put live plants inside it, you can expect them to nibble on that.

It’s also possible that your fish will eat some dead plants, algae and even some live plants. They are perfectly entitled to do so. 

However, if you put meat-based food inside the aquarium, then you can expect them to eat that. And the best type of food to feed your Neon Tetras in their aquarium is a vegetarian type of food, so that they can stay on a healthy and balanced diet.  

So, it’s a good idea to feed them live plants.

11. What Plants Do Neon Tetras Like?

Most Neon Tetras can eat both meat and plant-based foods. But it’s your job to ensure that they have access to both. 

Live plants will give them a better environment to live in and will also provide the nitrogen that they need for a healthy diet. 

You should decorate your aquarium with floating plants such as Java moss or hornwort. These plants will also create secluded hideaways where your Neon Tetras can hide themselves (they really like that). Driftwood can also do the same thing.

Live plants will also prevent your fish from growing algae in their aquarium. If your fish do tend to grow algae, you can use the help of an aquarium cleaner to remove the dead algae.

12. Can Tetras Eat Betta Food?

Yes, tetras can eat betta food. Most tetras are not picky about foods, they will eat anything that fits in their mouth. That includes betta food as well.

In fact, betta foods are usually high in protein and other nutrients. Both bettas and tetras are omnivores and have similar food habits. That’s why you can feed betta foods to your tetras without any doubts.

The bottom line is, if you feed your Tetras a food that is made specifically for bettas, your Tetras won’t have a problem eating it. 

13. Do Neon Tetras Eat Tropical Flakes?

Yes, Neon Tetras love eating tropical fish flakes. However, if a particular neon tetra has not eaten tropical flakes before, it might try to ignore it for a while.

As I have mentioned before, Neon Tetras will eat anything that is floating in the water. 

But, if you place your fish in a tank that is filled with tropical flakes, you can expect them to not be interested. They will likely just ignore the flakes and swim around the tank. 

If you do feed your Tetras the tropical flakes, they will start swimming in the direction of the flakes. 

Then, they will check to see if the flakes are edible by sniffing them or looking at them.

If they like what they are smelling, they will start to eat the flakes and swim around the tank.

Final Thoughts

As mentioned earlier, there are numerous ways of feeding your neon tetras. You can feed them a live food diet.

Or you can feed them a dry food diet. The best way to feed your neon tetras is to feed them the foods that fit their needs.

And you can do this by feeding them the right foods at the right time of day.

However, when it comes to feeding your neon tetras, there are a few things you need to consider.

The first thing you need to consider is that your fish tank should have a stable environment.

And a stable environment means that the water should be clear, it should be stable, and it should be free of pollutants and chemicals.

When you are keeping your neon tetras, you should be feeding them the foods that will help them to stay healthy and live longer.

Asif Iqbal

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