Are Neon Tetras Aggressive or Peaceful?

If you have recently adopted a colorful group of neon tetras, you are probably spending time observing your pets doing their own thing. They are so active, and it is pure amusement watching them while schooling.

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However, they can sometimes attack each other, too. If you have noticed some slightly hostile behavior among your pets, and you are now looking for an answer to: “are neon tetras aggressive or peaceful? “, I hope this detailed explanation will help you out.

Generally, neon tetras are among the most peaceful fish pets one could ever own, and they mostly enjoy the company of their own species.

However, there can be some triggers that lead to aggressive behavior even among such friendly fish. It is not unusual, but it mostly is completely avoidable.

Neon Tetra Aggressive Behavior

Here are a few reasons why neon tetras can become aggressive.

– Small Group

Neon tetras are schooling fish. If kept in groups that are simply too small to form a well-functioning school, they can start becoming irritable and aggressive over time. Indeed, they require to be kept in tanks with at least 6 specimens to thrive.

If such conditions are not met, individuals will not feel safe and comfortable enough around their aquarium. They may feel frightened and threatened and can become quite easy to trigger and lead to attacking other fish.

Additionally, fish that are forced to live in too small schools can develop a weakened immune system as well as severe stress. They may eventually even become depressive.   

– Small Tank

The only thing which is worse than keeping tetras in too small groups is actually keeping them in too small tanks. Obviously, such an environment can easily trigger abnormal behavior in these usually peaceful creatures and make them get into frequent conflicts.

Being schooling fish, neon tetras love swimming around the tank simultaneously, often in the same direction. If there is not enough space for them to swim synchronously, they will literally bump into each other and react highly aggressively.

Furthermore, small tanks can lead to water parameter spikes and less oxygenation, meaning that neon tetras are forced to live in unsuitable conditions and their overall wellbeing becomes then seriously compromised.

– Mating Season

Finally, a perfectly natural and normal aggressive behavior that needs no human intervention is related to the mating season. When ideal breeding conditions are met, this can trigger the “mating season feeling” among a particular school of neon tetras.

Males will often become territorial and overly protective over their females, fighting off other males which they encounter.

It would be good to separate from the school the female and the male you wish to breed into an isolation tank. However, this will probably not stop the other males from demonstrating domination over other females.

As long as such mating season conditions are not terminated, your pets will simply be slightly more aggressive than usual.

Why Neon Tetras are Chasing Each Other?

If your fish are chasing each other, there may be several reasons hiding behind such behavior. Most of the time, they are probably playing. These little fin nippers love playing around by chasing their own kind, so as long as there are no injuries, they are probably fine.

Other times, there can be a bully hiding among the peaceful group. It is usually a larger specimen chasing the smaller ones, especially if they have been added to the tank only recently.

Will Neon Tetras Kill Each Other?

Neon tetras can kill each other, but probably not in the way you imagined. Indeed, these fish are not ferocious attackers or agile sparing partners who fight to the death, but they obviously can seriously injure other fish.

Such wounds can lead to infections or even to the inability of swimming, which can consequentially lead to death.

These little fish seem to be quite active fin nippers. Indeed, when they fight with their own kind, they will mostly attack their fins in a super-quick move and will release immediately afterward.

If such minute attacks are repeated several times before the fight is over, they can certainly cause much damage to their opponents. And if there are any bacteria present around their home, these can become infected in no time, leading to vital complications and often to death.

How Many Neon Tetras Should You Keep?

You should never keep less than 6 neon tetras, or you are otherwise risking having stressed and hostile pets instead of happy and peaceful ones. The maximum number of tetras, however, depends on the size of your tank.

The usual thumb rule is to allow 1 gallon of water per 1 inch of neon tetra. Therefore, if you own a 10-gallon aquarium, you can keep about 10 tiny fish inside it. Moreover, you can even slightly overstock it, if you are willing to invest in a stronger filtration system.

Will Neon Tetras Attack Other Fish?

No, neon tetras usually avoid getting into conflict with other fish. Even if you have a larger school of extremely confident fish, they will still simply circle around their tank mates and continue acting peacefully.

However, being omnivorous, they will happily eat fry whenever they get a chance to. Baby fish make excellent meaty treats to neon tetras, and they will never hesitate to feed on them. Indeed, they will eat both their own fry and those of other fish species.

Wrapping Up

Neon tetras are not aggressive fish by nature. Mostly, they act as natural prays instead of hunters. Indeed, they live in enormously large schools in the wild for the basic reason of being safer.

Seeing many fish will not stop the predators from attacking, but the chance of more fish surviving is certainly higher then.

When kept in captivity, these neon-colored creatures continue to implement such amicable temperament, unless there are unwanted triggers occurring. These mostly include too small schools or too small tanks, as well as dirty and inappropriate water conditions.

However, if you provide a stable and calm environment to your neon pets, there will be a friendly atmosphere all year round.

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