What Do Neon Tetras (Paracheirodon innesi) Eat?

What do neon tetras eat? A common question among new aquarists who wish to add neon tetras to their home aquariums. Of course, those who wish to supplement the food they give their neon tetras also ask this question.

So, what do neon tetras eat? First neon tetras are naturally omnivorous species. This means that they can eat foods from both plants and animals. Thus, you can feed your neon tetras with flakes, pellets, frozen foods, and vegetables.

This page contains all the commercial food you can simply purchase for your neon tetras. Also, you’ll find foods you can easily prepare in your home that are equally healthy for your pet fish.

What Food Would the Neon Tetra Eat in the Wild?

While in their natural habitat, neon tetras would usually feed on algae, insect larvae, and invertebrates. This fish species is indigenous to the freshwaters of Peru, Brazil, and Colombia.

They would usually swim in the middle of the water column. With their natural food, neon tetras can live up to 10 years.

Just like when they sleep, the bright red stripes on the body of neon tetras will fade away if they are malnourished.

What Foods Can You Feed Neon Tetras in the Aquarium?

When keeping neon tetras in your aquarium, the quality of food you give them matters a lot. Bearing in mind that these fish are omnivores, you can give them anything from animals to plant materials.

Therefore, the base food can be high-quality flakes or pellets, then supplementing it with freeze-dried foods, frozen foods, or live foods. Several other things can go into the box.

Neon tetras’ favored foods can include blood worms, daphnia, brine shrimps, and tubifex in the form of frozen food.

Common Neon Tetra Foods in the Market

Here are foods you can simply purchase from the market for your neon tetras:

High-Quality Flake Foods

Flake foods provide a balanced diet for your neon tetras. They usually contain extra vitamins and proteins to nourish your neon tetras.

Normally, flakes are most appropriate for fish swimming in the upper column of the aquarium. Neon tetras occupy the middle; however, they can easily reach the water surface to feed and go back.

For a community tank, high-quality flakes can be your way out as most fish feed on them. For example, if you have neon tetras and bettas in a tank, you can feed them once with flake foods.

Fish Pellets or Sinking Pellets

Pellets are fish food made from fish, shrimp, and squid meals. They usually contain more nutrients than other fish foods. Therefore, it is only ideal to feed your neon tetras a little less of pellets.

Once you place pellets into your fish tank, they start to sink to the bottom of the tank. Some do so at a faster rate, while others sink slowly. It would be better to choose slow-sinking pellets for your neon tetras so they can easily catch them.

With fish pellets, you don’t have to worry about accumulating excess feed in your tank. The water quality tends to remain intact. This does not mean you shouldn’t change your aquarium water as often as required.

You can purchase fish pellets easily from the market. There are various types that you find.

Brine Shrimps

If your neon tetras are still in their fry stage or larvae stage, the brine shrimp is the ideal food for them. This is because brine shrimps are tiny, thus they can easily ingest and digest it.

The Brine shrimp is rich in energy and very crucial for fish keepers. Even adult tetras also feed on them.

The common market name for brine shrimps is “artemia” and “sea monkey”.


If you’re looking for a protein supplement for your neon tetras, then bloodworms are a good choice. The fish food market will sell bloodworms as frozen or freeze-dried.

Live Daphnia

These tiny live crustaceans are the most common live feed among fish keepers. You can purchase the live daphnia for your neon tetras to add to their food menu.

Algae Tablets

Algae tablets add a touch of vegetables to the diet of your neon tetras. Neon tetras are omnivores, so they will appreciate this supplement.

This fish food contains various algae which include Chlorella, Laminaria, and Ascophyllum nodosum.

Mysis Shrimps

The fish food market sells Mysis shrimps in frozen forms. They are suitable for your neon tetras and are rich in essential fatty acids and amino acids. Mysis shrimps are macroscopic crustaceans.

Frozen Fish Foods

There are several frozen fish foods that you can find in the market. Some of these include frozen krill, tubifex, frozen bloodworms, frozen polychaete, frozen rotifer, frozen daphnia, and frozen brine shrimps.

Always choose the tiny bloodworms for your neon tetras. It is also suitable when feeding breeding tetras.


Your neon tetras will appreciate a meal of tubeworms. This fish food comes in packs of small cubes that require rehydration before introducing to the tank.

Neon Tetra Foods that You Can Prepare in the Home

Sometimes you’ll need to supplement your neon tetra food with these healthy home-made foods.

Fruit and Vegetable Materials

To improve the immune system of your neon tetras, you should feed them vegetable supplements. This fish species can feed on several vegetables and fruit material including grains. These usually contain antioxidants and other minerals that strengthen the immune system of your fish.

You can make use of fruits such as pears, carrots, apples, cucumbers, strawberries, oranges, etc. Finely chop these fruits that they can easily fit into the mouth of your neon tetras. Feed your neon tetras fruit supplement 2 – 3 times a week.

For Vegetable materials, you can choose from romaine lettuce, spinach, chard, and cabbage. These will help keep pet tetras in a healthy condition.

Homemade Meaty Foods

Boil your chicken or beef, chop it into tiny pieces and feed to your neon tetras. Chicken meat is a good source of phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, iron, and potassium.

You can also feed eggs to your fish. Eggs are rich in protein and several vitamins such as vitamins A, B6, B12, D, E, and K. More so, the yolk of an egg is a source of thiamine, zinc, phosphorus, calcium, etc.

You can easily prepare these meaty foods for your neon tetras in the comfort of your home.

Which is Healthier to Feed Your Neon Tetras, Commercial or Homemade Foods?

Just like humans, it is easier to say that the foods you prepare in your home under strict conditions are healthier and safer. The same will apply to your neon tetra fish if you pay special attention to preparing their meals.

However, this doesn’t write off the importance of commercial foods for your aquarium companions. Of course, commercial foods try to mimic the foods they eat in the wild. Moreover, they are processed and supplemented with nutrients required by your neon tetras.

Always go for high-quality commercial foods for the best results.

Try to be feeding your fish both commercial and homemade foods interchangeably. You should know you’re feeding your neon tetras right when they are active and colors are brighter.

Can I Feed My Neon Tetra Fish Human Food?

The answer is yes! Most of the homemade foods for your neon tetras are human foods. The varieties of vegetables and meats are equally edible by humans. For example, lettuce, cucumbers, spinach, boiled meats (beef and chicken), eggs, etc.

You should however pay extra attention to the size of food you give your neon tetras. The size of food should be smaller than the mouth of these fish. This will make it fit in easily to avoid choking your fish.

Would Neon Tetras Eat Algae Wafers?

Yes, neon tetras eat algae wafers. In fact, while in the wild, algae are likely their most common diet and you can equally feed them algae in the aquarium.

Algae wafers are typical neon tetra feed made from combining algae and vegetables. They come in small disks and you can easily add them to your neon tetras’ tank.

With algae wafers, you can leave your neon tetras for few days. This is possible as adding extra algae wafers in the tank won’t decrease the water quality. So, it is safe to add a little more to sustain your neon tetras for longer.

Can You Feed Shrimps to Neon Tetras?

Yes, you can add shrimps to their diet when they’re dried. Neon tetras feed on crustaceans and shrimps are among.

Note that you don’t just add dried shrimps into the aquarium of neon tetras. This is because the sharp parts such as the tail, legs, and head can cause injuries to them. Make sure to remove these parts and grind them to make them smaller for easier consumption.

When shrimps are alive, they can serve as nice tank mates for your neon tetras.

Will Neon Tetras Eat Betta Fish Food?

Neon tetras as omnivores can eat almost anything you feed them including betta fish feed. So, if you have bettas, you can share their feed with your neon tetras.


Keeping neon tetras is not a hassle when it comes to feeding them. This fish species will likely eat anything that you place in the tank for them so long it fits into their mouth.

However, you should focus on giving them healthy foods. They are happier and tend to glow better when fed rightly.

This page presented all the healthy food that you can feed your neon tetras. Keep this guide handy and your neon tetras will be thankful.