large shoal of neon tetras in an aquarium
Neon tetras - Paracheirodon innesi
Neon tetras - Paracheirodon innesi, are a popular freshwater aquarium fish native to the soft, acidic blackwater and clearwater streams of tropical South America, notably southeastern Colombia, eastern Peru, and western Brazil. Named in honour of American aquarist Dr. William T. Innes, it was as first described by renowned ichthyologist (fish scientist) Dr. George S. Myers in 1936.

Four neon tetra in an aquarium
Neon tetras 
Growing to approximately 3-4 cm in length the most notable features of the neon tetra are its brightly coloured horizontal stripes. An iridescent blue stripe extends from above the eye to the base of the adipose fin, while a lower iridescent red stripe that begins at the middle of the body and extends to the base of the caudal fin. As a shoaling species the eye-catching stripes are believed to help individuals maintain their position in the group, particularly in the dark blackwater streams.

The iridescent colours are known to become subdued in the evening and at night and also when fishkeepers work on the tank. Surprisingly, aside from the iridescent stripes, the body of the neon tetra is completely transparent - including the fins.

Neon tetras display slight dimorphism in that the females have a slightly larger belly. The male also has a relatively straight blue stripe whereas the females stipe has a slight kink in it.

Under aquarium conditions, neon tetra will require an approximate temperature of between  26 degrees Celsius, with a pH of 6.0 to 6.5 and a KH of 1.0 to 2.0, which resembles in part their native Amazon environments. They will perform best in groups of six or more otherwise they can display timid, nervous behaviour. They are considered to be a 'mid-level' tank species and are most suitable for amazon style or community aquarius composed of slow-moving, non-aggressive fish. Because of their relatively small size they will be prone to being bullied and even eaten by larger, more aggressive fish species.

Neon tetras are omnivorous in the wild but in the aquarium environment will happily feed from dried, flaked fish food. To maintain optimum condition, occasionally feed with freeze-dried or live foods such as brine shrimp, daphnia or bloodworms. Tubifex worms should be avoided as can be infected with various diseases.

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