Why Won’t My Neon Tetra Eat?

Neon Tetras might stop eating because they’re sick, new to the aquarium, or suffering from stress. They might also be eating without you noticing it because they’re mid-level eaters.

Despite being among the hardiest species in a freshwater tank, you need to pay attention to their feeding schedule, provide them with the right food, and make sure that they feel safe to stay healthy.

These colorful fish are the perfect addition to your aquarium because of their fascinating colors and eye-catching schooling behavior. This is why they’ve become pretty popular, as they blend well with different creatures in a freshwater tank.

So, read this article to understand why your neon tetras aren’t eating and what to do to keep them happy and healthy.

Neon Tetra Fish

Why Won’t My Neon Tetra Eat?

Neon tetras are among the best choices for beginner aquarists because they’re easy to care for. In addition, these tolerant and hardy fish will cope well with different water and temperature parameters, unlike other fish that are pickier.

Yet a sudden change in their environment will affect them significantly. So, you’ll start noticing that they haven’t eaten for several days.

This usually happens for numerous reasons.

Your Fish is Still Adjusting

New neon tetras will spend some time exploring the aquarium when you first add them. These sensitive fish need time to adjust to their new home. They might avoid eating until they’ve got used to their new environment.

Your Fish is Sick

Your new neon tetra might come from the store carrying some diseases that prohibit it from eating. Moreover, these diseases can spread to the other neon tetras in the tank.

The most common disease is Neon Tetra Disease, which is caused by a parasite usually found in infected live food. The parasites attack the fish’s digestive tract, causing painful muscle cysts.

Your Fish is Stressed

Neon tetras are prone to stress due to sudden changes in their environment. The following factors can cause your fish to become stressed and avoid eating for long periods.

  • Your fish is lonely.
  • Changes in the water temperature or pH levels.
  • Higher levels of ammonia and nitrate.
  • Movement of the tank.
  • The presence of larger, more aggressive fish.

Food Pieces are Too Big

Neon tetras are rather small fish, growing to a maximum length of 1.5 inches. As a result, most types of fish food can be too big for them.

When the food pellets are too large, neon tetras won’t be able to feed. Other fish in the tank might be able to consume different types of pellets, but you’ll notice that your neon tetras aren’t eating.

Your Fish isn’t Hungry

Neon tetras are small fish and don’t need to eat much. So you might think that it’s not eating enough, but this might not be true.

In general, neon tetras will eat once or twice a day and can go for a couple of days without food. However, overfeeding your fish can lead to several health issues, so you should avoid it.

Although you could see other fish feeding near the surface of the water, neon tetras prefer to feed in the middle of the tank.

They hide in the wild from birds that might prey on them, so they could be eating when you’re not paying attention. Moreover, as the food spends more time in the water, it becomes easier for them to swallow.

How to Get My Neon Tetra to Eat?

You can do a few things to encourage your pet neon tetra to eat its food.

Give Your Fish Time

Once you introduce neon tetras to a new tank, it’s recommended to keep the lights off for about 24 hours. Playing too much with them will make them more nervous, and they’ll hide behind décor pieces.

During this adjustment period, leaving the fish on their own is best to give them the needed privacy and encourage them to eat.

Quarantine Your Fish

If you notice that one of your neon tetras isn’t eating, you should immediately quarantine it. This fish might be sick, and diseases like NTD spread quickly to other fish.

Unfortunately, this disease isn’t treatable, so you should remove a sick fish as soon as you notice it.

Ich is another disease that affects neon tetras. Putting the sick fish in a freshwater tank with some aquarium salt will help relieve the symptoms.

Remove Stress Triggers

Neon tetras have a calm temperament, and putting them with bigger or more aggressive fish that bite and attack them can lead to a lot of stress in your tank. This is why you need to pick suitable tank mates like mollies and guppies to keep your fish relaxed and happy.

These fish live in schools, and when you keep one fish in the tank, it can become too lonely. In addition, the fish will avoid eating, and might eventually die.

At least six to ten neon tetras should live in one tank, or they’ll become too stressed and uncomfortable.

You should maintain suitable water parameters to keep your neon tetras happy and avoid stress. They prefer to live in warm temperatures between 70 and 81 degrees Fahrenheit, so in winter, you might need to use a heater to keep them warm and comfortable.

Using peat moss and wood shavings will help reduce the pH level in the water as these fish aren’t tolerant of alkaline water. You should also make sure that you’re using soft water and that the chemical concentrations are kept to minimal with weekly 10% water changes.

Remove too many obstacles to allow the fish to move freely, as this will encourage them to eat.

Try Breaking the Food into Pieces

Even the smallest food pellets can still be too big for your neon tetras. Luckily, they’re soft enough to be crushed using your hands, so your small fish can eat them.

If you’re providing live treats, make sure to offer the smallest ones. You can also grate veggies like carrots and broccoli and add them to the tank.

Wrap Up

Neon tetras might not be eating because they’re stressed, sick, or still adjusting to the tank. Therefore, it’s essential to quarantine a non-eating neon tetra if the other fish seem fine.

In most cases, this problem can be solved by paying attention to the water parameters and providing your fish with the right type of food. Soon enough, your fish will be feeding happily and swimming around the tank, dazzling everyone with its iridescent colors.