What is Neon Tetra Disease and how can it be Prevented?

What is Neon Tetra Disease?

Neon tetras are a popular nano fish known for their beautiful, red and blue stripes, but sometimes they get a bad reputation for being a “sensitive” fish that is prone to dying. These tetras have proven to be just as resilient as other danios or rasboras. However, there are a few factors that can weaken their immunity and increase their risk of getting sick. Let’s discuss why neon tetras get sick, what is neon tetra disease, and how to prevent it.

Why Do Neon Tetras Get Sick?

Because neon tetras are kept in large numbers, the first reason they may appear sickly is that they are often kept in high numbers. Because they are always in high demand, fish farms raise them in huge numbers. Wholesalers purchase thousands at a given time. Large quantities are then sent to local pet shops. Then, the retail employee mixes the new shipment with an older group that hasn’t yet sold. There is a greater chance that one fish will become sick if you have a lot of them.

Neon tetras also tend to be underfed at the various facilities they are kept in. Wholesalers and pet shops all aim to spend as little time and food with fish as possible in order to keep their businesses afloat. A whole tank of 100 tetras may only get a few pinches of fish flakes, which means not every fish gets a bite. While this is a good practice for most fish, it can cause problems in the long-term. Neon tetras are often kept in stressful, overcrowded environments that lead to diseases such as ich, fungal infections or neon tetra illness.

Neon tetras can be kept in large numbers, with very little food and underoptimal conditions.

Finally, many beginners tend to buy neon tetras because they are colorful and cheap. Oftentimes, they don’t spend a lot of time looking up the care requirements and may buy a large bag of them to put in a tiny aquarium with poor water quality and aggressive tank mates. If neon tetras were pricier and cost $10 each, people would likely be more careful and do research on proper husbandry before taking them home. Neon tetras aren’t necessarily more sensitive than fish. They just get kept in potentially less favorable conditions throughout their supply chain.

How to get healthier neon tetras

Try to get the largest neon tetras possible. They may be sold as large, jumbo, or XL neon tetras. While they usually cost more, it’s well-worth the price because fish farms must feed more food to these tetras in order to raise them to a certain size. At Aquarium Co-Op, we try to order the bigger, full-grown neon tetras, put them in quarantine, treatwith preventative medications, and feed them well. These best practices help our customers be more successful with their neon tetras and ultimately more satisfied with our store.

You can help your neon tetras reach a healthy weight once they are home. Frozen bloodworms might be too large for young juveniles. Instead of giving them frozen bloodworms, you can give them baby brine shrimp, daphnia and cyclops as well as micro pellets. You can also give them small meals throughout your day to maximize their effectiveness.

What is Neon Tetra Disease?

NTD is one of the most misdiagnosed diseases in the hobby. Just because a neon tetra is sick doesn’t automatically mean that it has neon tetra disease. A tetra with white spots is likely to have ich. If your tetra has a white patch, it could be symptom of NTD, but it could also be a symptom of many other illnesses. NTD is very rare. The white patches are more likely to be due to a fungal or common bacterial infection. We recommend using the quarantine medication trio (which treats bacteria, fungus, and parasites) and building up the fish’s immunity with fresh foods and good care. NTD is a condition where the disease continues to affect fish and kills them over time.

This neon tetra is marked by a small white spot on its body. Without proper training and equipment, it can be difficult to diagnose accurately.

NTD can be caused by a mycobacterium which is sometimes misidentified with fish tuberculosis. It thrives in environments with warm water, low dissolved oxygen, low pH, and organically rich environments. These conditions can often be found in tanks with neon tetras. Ruth Francis-Floyd explains in her book on Mycobacterial Infections of Fish that “poor husbandry, chronic stress and anything else that impairs immune function of the fish will increase their likelihood of infection.”


How to Prevent Neon Tetra Disease

NTD is extremely contagious and cannot be treated currently. Therefore, the best course of action is prevention and minimizing its spread. You should quarantine any new fish for several weeks in a separate container to monitor their health and to prevent them from being exposed to your animals. You can also use the quarantine tank as a place to assist them in recovering from their stressful trip from the fish farm. Keep the water a little cooler at 74-76degF (23-24degC), don’t include any territorial tank mates, add an air stone or sponge filter for increased oxygenation, and feed a good mixture of healthy foods. To save the school, you might consider killing a sick neon petrif.

Why do Neon Tetras Get Curved Spines?

NTD can be described as a curving spine or twisted bodies. But we believe that malformed neon tetras are more likely to be a breeding issue. Fish farms are able to produce thousands of nano fish per year and have no time to separate the ones with bent backs. In fact, instead of individually counting them, they weigh the neon tetras to approximate their numbers for shipping. The fish shop employees may not have the time to remove the defective fish until they arrive at the store. They don’t want to make the shop look bad. You might not be able to see the spines of neon tetras until they grow larger.

Crooked spine isn’t a typical symptom for mycobacterium. It could be due to a birth defect, injury or birth defect.

Bottom line: Neon tetras are not to be scared of. Our fish store has seen many thousands and even thousands of fish over the years. While we have had to lose a few fish to mycobacterium, NTD has never been seen in a large number of neon tetras. They are just as resilient as other schooling nano fish, and we believe they’re one of the best fish you can get for a beautiful display aquarium. To order your neon tetras, check out our top online fish vendors: