Can Neon Tetras Live Alone? 7 Possible Risks

No, neon tetras can’t live alone. they’re schooling fish that rely on each other to thrive and survive. Keeping a neon tetra on its own can cause stress, loneliness, depression, discoloration, appetite loss, and weakening of the immune system. It’ll eventually result in death.

Below, we’re discussing the reasons why neon tetras can’t live on their own, and the effects of isolation on neon tetras. Let’s get started.

Can Neon Tetras Live Alone?

No, neon tetras can’t live alone. In their natural habitat, these are schooling fish, which means their strength and vitality lie in numbers.

Neon tetras thrive in massive groups in the wild. If you keep just one in a tank, you’d be going against their nature and centuries of evolution, forcing the fish to live a life that’s not suitable for its needs.

The single neon tetra fish will be under extreme stress and will feel very lonely and depressed. Consequently, it’ll stop eating and fall sick until it dies. That’s simply cruel.

Neon Tetra

What Happens to a Neon Tetra Living on Its Own?

Here’s what you can expect to happen to a neon tetra fish living alone:

1. It’ll Get Stressed

First of all, the neon tetra will become very stressed. This is because the species is naturally used to living in schools.

Members of the group rely on each other to eat, play, move, and so on. Alone, a tetra fish can’t get what it needs to thrive, which will put it under constant stress that triggers an increased release of body stress hormones.

When a neon tetra is stressed for extended periods, its growth and health will heavily suffer to the point that its lifespan is shortened.

2. It’ll Feel Lonely

As schooling fish, neon tetras are highly social within their species. They need to live in relatively large groups to somewhat mimic how they live in massive schools in the wild.

Without any companions, a neon tetra won’t be happy, active, or healthy. As such, it’ll probably feel lonely and dull.

3. It’ll Feel Depressed

If you didn’t know that fish could get depressed, you do now. That’s right, a fish such as neon tetra can become depressed if you keep it in a tank alone.

I mean, imagine having no one at all to interact with, wouldn’t you feel down?

Depression in neon tetras can lead to the following:

  • Inactivity and sluggish movement.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Unnecessary aggression.
  • Compromised immunity.

4. It’ll Lose Its Color

Stress, depression, or illness can all cause a neon tetra fish to lose its color. This is just one way keeping a neon tetra alone can affect its body system.

Once separated, you’ll start noticing its bright colors fading by the day.

5. It’ll Lose Its Appetite

Unsurprisingly, a neon tetra will lose its appetite when it’s kept all alone in a tank. It may be due to stress, loneliness, depression, illness, or a combination of all these.

You’ll probably notice the fish hiding away most of the time because it’s so anxious. As such, it’ll refuse to come out to eat and will become very weak as it slowly starves.

6. It’ll Be More Prone to Illness

Neon tetras aren’t a very hardy species, especially outside of their habitat in the wild. When you take one and keep it on its own in a tank, the weakening resulting from stress, loneliness, depression, and/or loss of appetite will affect its immunity against diseases.

As such, the neon tetra will become more prone to developing sickness, which will only get worse with time and eventually lead to death.

7. It’ll Die

Finally, a neon tetra kept alone in a tank will end up dead.

This won’t happen immediately. But as the fish slowly becomes weaker and more susceptible to illness while being constantly depressed and stressed, it’ll fall sick and ultimately die.

Unless you introduce other neon tetras into the tank, nothing you do can make that lone fish healthy and lively again.

Can One Neon Tetra Live With Other Tank Mates?

Keeping a neon tetra alone and all the negative effects following it aren’t exclusive to having a single neon tetra in a tank entirely on its own. The same things will happen if you keep one neon tetra in a community aquarium with other tank mates of different species.

When we say that neon tetra is schooling fish, this means they need to stay in a large group of their own kind. Being alone among others won’t only cause extra stress, but it’ll also make the neon tetra more aggressive.

You see, neon tetras establish a pecking order among their group without bothering other fish. If this group doesn’t exist, the single neon tetra may behave aggressively toward its tank mates as a way of trying to create a pecking order.

Even if those tank mates are peaceful and don’t hit back, the situation isn’t good for either side.

Can You Have Only Two or Three Neon Tetras?

While it’s slightly better to keep two or three neon tetras in a tank instead of only one, we still don’t recommend it.

As schooling fish, neon tetras need to live in large groups. There should be at least six in a tank.

Having only two or three will delay the effects of stress and depression, but they’ll eventually happen.

Group of Neon Tetra

How Many Neon Tetras Should You Keep Per Gallon?

As a rule of thumb, each inch of a fish requires one gallon of water.

Since the average size of neon tetras is two inches and factoring in the space that decorations take up, you end up with a rough estimation of one neon tetra per 3 gallons of water.

So, if you’re keeping the minimum number of neon tetras, then your tank should be around 18 gallons (3 x 6).

Wrap Up

Neon tetras can’t live alone because they’re schooling fish that depend on each other to thrive and survive.

If you keep a neon tetra on its own, you’re putting it at risk of stress, loneliness, depression, discoloration, appetite loss, and weakening of the immune system. Ultimately, you’ll cause its death.