What is the Best pH Level for Neon Tetras?

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Neon tetras are amazingly colored fish originating from the blackwater streams across the Amazon basin. They mostly inhabit dense jungles and deep forests, where streams are heavily planted and feature little or no sunshine.

Neon tetras are very popular fish in the aquarium hobby because they don’t require a large aquarium and are easy to keep. But what are the ideal water parameters for keeping neon tetras healthy and happy?

Ideal pH Level for Neon Tetras

Neon tetras, especially those that are being bred in captivity, can adapt to a range of pH levels, the most important is to keep the pH level stable. They thrive in acidic water, having a pH level somewhere between 6 and 6.8, but will also feel comfortable in alkaline water.

Can Low pH Level Kill Neon Tetras?

Low pH levels can kill any fish, including neon tetras. However, with them naturally being designed to survive in more acidic waters, these peculiar creatures are certainly more resistant to other species.

For instance, the blackwater conditions in their wild habitat are mostly around 4.0 to 4.5. This means that your pet would probably survive with no health consequences under such acidity, but if the spike is significant it can also harm them.

The captive-bred versions of neon tetras should be kept under 6,0 to 6,8 as they are simply not used to living in such acidic environments as their wild siblings are. Also, never dropping pH below 6,0 is highly recommendable for inexperienced keepers, as this can drastically change the compounds across a tank and requires automatically much more work in keeping parameters stable.

Therefore, you should really avoid for the alkalinity dropping below such a level. And, more importantly, the drop should never be drastic, as this can cause serious damage to your pets. 

Too low pH can trigger stress or aggressive behavior among a tetra school, but it can also damage their gills and leave serious skin burns. All in all, consistent low pH across a neon tetra tank can make your fish die.

Measuring Water pH Level

Measuring water pH levels on a regular basis is essential. Moreover, this is the only way to ensure that you can keep track of the changes and intervene when necessary.

There are several popular tools among aquarium keepers nowadays, but they mostly consist out of 3 main methods.

Test kits are super-affordable solutions, and they are divided into two groups. The first uses throw-away testing strips, which are to be submerged into water and later compared to the result color chart.

Very similarly, the second type of test kits uses chemicals that react in coloration when applied to the sample water. Test strips are surely the most affordable choice among all, but they are designed for one-time use and are not that exceptionally reliable.

Last but not least, digital testing meters are the best option by far. Indeed, these are not that much of an investment either, but they do offer the most precise readings and they are super simple to use.

One of such handy solutions is Ruolan’s PH Meter. With meters like these, testing water is certainly no trouble for any aquarist enthusiast and there is no room for excuses anymore. After a simple calibration process, you can just place the meter inside the aquarium water and the exact pH level will be displayed on the screen in just a few seconds.

Best pH for Breeding Neon Tetra

Neon tetras are often kept in tanks with pH levels ranging up to even 6 or 7. This happens mostly in community tanks, where neon tetras can adapt more easily to more alkaline water than their tank mates could ever adapt to more acidic conditions. However, they will rarely decide to breed in such tanks.

If you want to breed neon tetras, and want them to start laying eggs, you will have to reduce the pH level of your tank. These fish only breed in acidic water, with pH levels between 5.5 to 6. In their natural habitat, this drop in pH is caused by heavy rains.

How to Reduce pH Level in Your Aquarium?

If you are looking to adjust your pH level by decreasing it, there are some natural yet effective tricks to do that.

One particular way which your neon tetras will especially enjoy is by adding peat moss. You can either plant it among the substrate as comfy bedding or you can take a step further and filter through it. Additionally, adding driftwood to the tank is always a good idea as well. And so is increasing carbon dioxide.

If you add a simple bubble counter to your neon tetra tank, this should slowly cause the water to become more acidic.

If none of this works and your pH levels are simply too high, you should head to stronger (and probably chemical) solutions.

How to Increase pH Level in Your Aquarium?

Increasing pH levels in your aquarium may come as a more fun process than having to lower it. Indeed, when having to increase alkalinity, you can simply re-decorate!

Rocks are always a highly efficient method to obtain that, including petrified rocks and corals, but also limestone. Be careful, however, not to add too many at once or this could seriously compromise the alkalinity of your fish tank. Alternatively, you can lower the carbon dioxide by increasing the aeration, as this will also help a lot, but also by adding some decorative shells.

Finally, some aquarium keepers live to add some baking soda to their tanks. However, this can become tricky very soon if not dosed correctly or not applied regularly. Therefore, it is perhaps safer to save this method as the last option.  

Wrapping Up

pH is vitally important, not just for fish but for basically all living creatures. Therefore, adapting it to the required levels is essential.

When it comes to neon tetras, the main thing about water alkalinity is keeping it stable and unchanged. Indeed, these fish are amazingly adaptable to different levels and can thrive both in acidic and alkaline water.

What they cannot adapt to are oscillations and spikes. Situations like these can cause massive disruptions and stress to your delicate pets. All in all, a testing meter and a bit of attention from your side are the best combos to ensure neon tetras have a happy life.

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