How To Breed Neon Tetras (Eggs To Adults)

Breeding Neon Tetras aren’t for the faint-hearted, especially if you are starting with store-bought Tetras. If you are geared for the, try and try again approach I will guide you through the steps of successfully raising your own Neon Tetra fry.

If you have done some research, you will have heard that water conditions and temperatures are very important parts of this process. I will guide you through how to work with the requirements, and through practice, you will be an expert in no time.

The nice thing about breeding with Tetras is you don’t need additional aeration or filters, just adding water daily and later doing small water changes are enough for the fry.

Male And Female Neon Tetra Selection (Breeding Pairs)

Neon Tetras reach maturity at around 3 months and can be used for breeding from around then. When you bring Tetras home from the store they will most likely be sexually matured already and ready to get spawning.

You will have to know which ones are male and female. Males are a bit smaller and skinnier, and their neon stripes appear straighter because of their skinnier bodies. The female, on the other hand, appears a bit larger with a rounder belly, which causes her neon stripes to appear curved. A girl has got to have curves, right?

Once you know how many pairs you will be trying for round one, you can get your things together to start the spawning process. It is best to start conditioning your Tetras by feeding them baby brine shrimp two or three times a day for a week or two before starting spawning. This will also help you determine males and females better, as the brine shrimp help fatten them up a bit, making the “curves” more apparent.

Breeding Items Required For Neon Tetras Plastic Container No Lights Water And Plant

What You Need To Get Neon Tetras Spawning

If you are going to have a couple of breeding pairs spawning, you can just double or triple the required items listed, as the listed items would be for one breeding pair.

  • 4 Litre / 1 Gallon new fish dedicated plastic tub with darker colored lid
  • Live plants such as Java Moss, homemade spawning mop or cleaned coco fiber
  • Cool and dark room, roughly around 22-25 degrees Celcius / 71.6-77 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Pure water

Your plastic tub should provide some visibility (maybe on one side), but if it looks frosted, it would be best to keep light out of it and also so the pairs don’t see other fish if you are keeping tubs next to each other. This is important as spawning only occurs in the dark, and the eggs are photosensitive, so you don’t want to expose them to light for prolonged times. Thus, the lid should also be a solid or darker color to help.

You will need a small amount of live plants, a sinking spawning mop, or coco fiber in the tub to ensure the spawning couple’s eggs have something to stick to and also give them the feeling of being more private while doing their private business in the dark (wink-wink)

The ideal water temperature for spawning is about 25 degrees Celcius / 77 degrees Fahrenheit, so make sure the room where you will be doing this maintains that temperature roughly throughout the night until the next morning. You could use your air conditioner in the room to ensure a steady temperature throughout.

Make sure to have a dark towel at hand to cover the tubs after placing the breeding pairs in them. Also, make sure the pairs can’t see each other. This is very important; spawning will not occur if there is too much light or other fish visible. You can expect anything from 60 – 130 eggs from the female at a time.

What is pure water, you may ask? Well, it is rainwater collected in a clean container (not from the roof or gutters) or reverse osmosis water bought at a water shop. For fry to hatch out, you require low to no TDS levels in your water. So, by using pure water, you ensure your TDS is low without having to test the water.

Dechlorinated or tank water from the parents would have too high TDS levels for the fry. TDS (total dissolved solids) is the amount of matter dissolved in the volume of water, such as minerals, metals, salts, etc. Make sure to test the PH levels of the water you will be using for the tubs at around 6.2/6.3.

The Guide To Breeding Neon Tetras In Tubs

  • Set out your tubs in the chosen room and add your plant selection, filling each tub halfway. Test the water’s pH levels before adding it to the tubs.
  • Make sure you have sufficient coverings between tubs so the pairs don’t see each other and that you have a dark towel ready to cover them for the night.
  • Grab a container filled with your chosen breeding pairs and slowly add the pairs to their individual tubs. Once they are in you can place the lid over the tub to stop the Tetras from jumping out. Don’t seal the tub entirely with the lid, just enough so they can’t jump out.
  • Cover the tubs with dark towels to ensure it is nice and dark for them. Switch off lights and check in on them in the morning.
  • Remove the adult Tetras in the morning to their original adult tank.

After removing the Tetra breeding pairs from the containers, you will be looking for clear, translucent-looking eggs; those would be your fertilized eggs. If your eggs are milky white, they are not fertilized, or they are older eggs that have been in the female for a while. Always cover the containers with fertilized eggs again after your inspection.

The milky unfertilized eggs you might experience in the beginning are because the eggs are already in the female fish, and they become “old”; the more you do this spawning process, the “fresher” the eggs will be for the fertilization process. The reason the female holds onto her eggs in the community tank would be because of all the other fish.

Unfortunately, breeding with store-bought Neon Tetras will involve a lot of trial and error. You will have to try and try again, switching pairs around until you are successful. If you are starting the process over with new breeding pairs, you have to start with fresh, pure water.

Fertilized And Unfertilized Fish Eggs On Spawning Mop

Fertilized Neon Tetra Eggs

Once your Neon Tetras have successfully spawned fertilized eggs in their tubs and the parents are removed, here are the next steps to take to ensure you can feed your new Neon Tetra fry and grow them to adults. Once all the fertilized eggs have hatched, you don’t have to cover the containers anymore with a towel, but it’s best to keep the lid over for possible jumpers.

  • You will add a bit more pure water to their tub each day. Once the tub is full and your fry is a bit bigger, you can do daily 15% water changes. Don’t worry about the stuff at the bottom of the tank for now; the daily water changes will assist in keeping the water quality at an acceptable level.
  • Your babies will start hatching on day two and they will be very difficult to see. On day three, you will start to see little black dots (their eyes), and at this stage, they will start eating and you can feed them the diluted egg yolk mixture.
  • If you have floating plants, you can add a bit to your tubs for the babies. They love hiding in and around floating plants, which encourages them to swim around.
  • At around day nine or ten, depending on the size of your fry, you can start incorporating baby brine shrimp into their diet.
  • Once you start feeding them baby brine shrimp, you can also start incorporating a little bit of dechlorinated tap water into their daily water changes. This will help get them ready for when you move them to their bigger tank.
  • You can transfer your babies to their new bigger tank once they reach a size of 2-3mm.

Homebred Neon Tetra fish are of better quality overall and will provide you with a better yield once you start breeding with your homebred babies.

What To Feed Your Neon Tetra Fry

You will have to feed your fry from day three when you start seeing their eyes. The diluted egg yolk works best for these tiny fry. You will need to boil an egg and separate the yolk from the white. The yolk will be food for the fry for the next nine to ten days. I like to break a bit off and keep the rest of the yolk in a small sealed container in the fridge for later use; a little goes a long way.

You will need to get a disposable plastic dropper/pipette to drop the diluted mixture into the tub for the babies. In a small container, you will mix a bit of the egg yolk with water to create a runny, whitish, milky water. This you can suck up with your dropper and drop into each container four times a day (if possible).

I suggest keeping your diluted mixture in the fridge, too, just for safety. After 9 – 10 days, you can start feeding the fry baby brine shrimp 3 times per day. Once the babies are placed in their larger tank you can feed them what you would feed your other adults. Brine shrimp can be incorporated again when you want to start breeding with them.

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