Why did My Neon Tetra Disappear?

Observing your adorable neon tetras one day and realizing some of them have disappeared the next morning can cause somehow a mini heart attack. However, there can be several reasons hiding behind such odd occasions.

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4 Reasons Why Neon Tetra is Missing

There could be many reasons why your neon tetras are disappearing from your fish tank, including death, being eaten by aggressive tank mates, jumping from the tank, or just simply hiding somewhere between plants or aquarium decorations.

Here you can find more details about the most common reasons why you can’t see one of your neon tetras anymore:

Neon Tetra Died

Sadly, the most common reason for not seeing your neon tetra anymore is also the worst one: your fish may be dead. Indeed, if you have some helpful cleaners around your neon tanks, such as snails or shrimp, they have probably already done their job and have eaten the body of your neon fish.

Moreover, it is not unusual for such small fish dying, either because of an illness or for any other reason, and their tank mates cleaning their bodies out. This is actually helpful because a decomposing body can bring to immediate ammonia spikes across the tank and compromise the wellbeing of all other creatures living in there.

Aggressive Tank Mates

Neon tetras are surprisingly small living beings. Therefore, there is always a chance of larger fish mistaking them for a meal at some point. Such chances are much lower with peaceful and smaller species, but they severely increase when the temperament of the tank mates is commonly aggressive.

For instance, if you keep your neons with some usually overly territorial betta fish or tiger barbs, it is likely that some of your neon fish will get eaten eventually.

If that occurs, you will most likely not be able of noticing any sign that something like that has happened. Your fish, once it gets eaten by a tank mate, will simply disappear.

Jumped Out

Yes, your fish can decide to jump out of the tank from time to time, and you will soon be able of finding them dried out around your living room. This happens not so much because they want to become athletes, but rather because something is wrong among their tank and they feel the urge to escape.

Aggressive tank mates, too much light, inappropriate water conditions, or even a stronger vibration in the middle of the night can cause your fish pet to become really stressed or frightened, and simply to jump out of the tank.

An ideal environment and a tank lid are the only things to help you keep your fish where they belong. Lowering the water level is not the best idea, as this can only increase their ability to jump higher and hurt themselves even more.

Hiding Somewhere

Finally, a perfectly safe reason for not seeing your neon tetra. If you have heavily planted your tank, placed some decorative hiding tunnels and have plenty of substrate, you have done a great job and brought the neon tank resembling to their natural environment.

However, this can bring to your pets actually being able of successfully hiding both from their tank mates and from yourself.

While hiding is not dangerous by itself, the reasons which bring your fish to hide can be. For instance, if there are unsuitable tank mates, neon tetras will often hide among plants and caves without getting outside unless they have to eat.

Other times, sick fish can isolate themselves from the rest of the school by hiding. Whatever the reason may be, you should monitor such behavior and understand if there is anything wrong. Try luring your pets out with some tasty snack and look for any aggressive behavior.

Finding Missing Neon Tetra

If your fish is missing, you should really try to find it before its body starts decomposing.  

Try gently shaking out the plants a bit and see if there is any response. Next, caves and tunnels make excellent hiding spots for such tiny fish, so you can give it a try and look for your pets there. Additionally, some neons can eventually end up in the filter if they are weak or ill.

If there is no luck inside the tank, you may search for them briefly outside, too. If your tank has no lid or if the lid has an opening (even the smallest one), your fish may have jumped out and can now be drying out on the floor.

Finally, if there is no luck in finding your fish, the chances are it has already been eaten by tank mates or snails. In that case, you will never be able to see your missing neon again, but at least you do not have to deal with decaying bodies and your other pets have found themselves a fresh meal.

Just to be sure, you may want to check your ammonia levels for a few days in a row. If the levels are fine and as usual, your missing pet fish is definitely not there anymore.

Disposing a Dead Neon Tetra

Flushing down the toilet is to be avoided nowadays, so you are basically left with two safe (and ethical) methods of disposing of your dead pet body.

You can simply surround it with a plastic bag and dispose of it in your usual household garbage bin or you can bury it in your backyard. Both ways are perfectly fine and natural, and there is no risk of any disease spreading.

If you are not feeling comfortable with either, ask your local vet for cremation or further advice.

Why Do Neon Tetras Die?

Neon tetras are tiny sensitive fish and can die for multiple reasons. Too small school, inappropriate water conditions, unsuitable tank mates, low quality food or too much sunshine are all common triggers that cause death to these creatures, as well as various diseases and infections.

Wrapping Up

A missing neon tetra is not always a sign for alert, but most of the time it is, so this is nothing to disregard.

Check your water parameters first and then for signs of aggressive behavior among your pets. If there is nothing wrong, your fish may be simply hiding.

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