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What Fish Can Live With Neon Tetras? [15 Not So Obvious Choices]

Neon tetras are great for aquarium hobbyists, especially beginners. They are hardy, easy to care for and can thrive in a tank with a many different species of fish. Right now, you may be wondering to yourself, ‘what fish can live with neon tetras?’

What fish can live with neon tetras? Neon tetras make good tank mates with angelfish, bettas, cardinal tetras, cory catfish, discus fish, guppies, harlequin rasboras, mollies, plecos, white cloud minnows and, of course, other neon tetras. They can also co-exist with African dwarf frogs, apple snails, loaches and ghost shrimp.

I should note that larger, more aggressive fish such as cichlids do not make good tank mates for neon tetras.

Now that you know which fish can live in a tank with neon tetras, let’s explore this in more detail below. We will discuss why these fish make good tank mates for tetras as well as look at other aquarium species that can co-exist in a tank with tetras. We will also look at how many tetras should be kept together in a community tank and whether or not they can become aggressive in a new environment.

So, if you’re ready to learn all you need to know about neon tetras and their tank mates, then let’s get started?

What Are Good Tank Mates for Neon Tetras?

Smaller, peaceful fish (and other calm aquarium dwellers) will do well in a tank with neon tetras. Let’s take a look at the top 15 compatible tank mates for tetras. These include the following:

African Dwarf Frogs

These cute little guys make excellent tank mates for neon tetras. They don’t grow very big which is what you want as you don’t want them to eat the tetras! There is very little waste associated with this species as well so you don’t have to worry too much about nitrites or ammonia in the water.


On average, angelfish and neon tetras can live quite well together in a community tank, as long as you get both species when they are small (just babies) and let them grow-up together. If you put an adult angelfish in with tetras you run the risk of the tetras being bullied or even eaten by the angelfish.

Apple Snails

These snails are easily found online or in your local pet shop. They can co-exist in a community tank with neon tetras and will also help keep the aquarium walls clean and free of algae. They can grow quite big (up to the size of a softball) so you will eventually need to upgrade to a larger tank.


Betta fish are a great addition to a freshwater aquarium and make good tank mates for neon tetras. Tetras tend to swim in the upper or middle parts of the tank often, staying away from bettas. It is best to have just one male betta fish in a community tank with at least 6 to 8 tetras. If you opt for female Bettas you can have more than one Betta in the tank with the tetras.

Cardinal Tetras

These tetras do well with neon’s as they are of the same species and approximately the same size. They should be kept in groups of 6 or more so be prepared to buy a school of them if you plan to put them in a community tank with neon tetras.

Cory Catfish

These fish are very calm and peaceful. They are friendly toward their own species as well as others in a community tank. They do best in groups of at least 6 and also require plants in the aquarium to feel safe and secure. They stick close to the bottom of the tank whereas tetras like to swim freely near the top.

Mixing neon tetras with Cory catfish is very common practice in the hobby for good reason. These fish just work great together.

Discus Fish

Discus fish are very peaceful and can live in harmony with many different species of fish in a community tank. The rosy discus are especially good and because they don’t require a high-level of care but are active and enjoyable to watch swimming about with neon tetras.

The contrast in body size make these fish quite interesting to watch in a tank.

Ghost Shrimp

These little guys are very small and can be a great addition to a community tank with neon tetras. They are usually sold a food for larger fish but make great tank mates for tetras as they pose no threat to any fish in an aquarium.


These fish are quite small (2 or 3 inches) and very calm making them excellent tank mates for neon tetras. They do well in groups of about 4 to 6 and are a top choice of aquarium hobbyists for their easy and docile nature.

A bonus to having guppies is the beautiful coloring in these fish. Combine the guppies colors with the blue and red in the tetras and your tank will pop with color.

Harlequin Rasboras

Rasboras are quite timid and will co-exist well in a community tank with neon tetras. They can become stressed and intimidated with fish such as bettas but do okay with smaller, fish such as tetras. They are a schooling fish so you should have at least 8 or more in your aquarium.

Rasboras always remind me of soldiers for some reason. Maybe their coloring and pattern is why. I don’t know why but when I see a school of them I think of little fish soldiers.


Loaches are great tank mates for neon tetras and are bottom feeders so they stay close to the substrate away from where tetras like to swim about. They are calm and peaceful but can grow quite large (up to 16 inches). It is better to choose the smaller, 5-inch ones like dwarf or zebra loaches.


Molly fish are very popular in freshwater aquariums though they tend to prefer a slightly salted water environment. They make good tank mates for neon tetras and come in a variety of types including balloon mollies and black mollies.

Neon Tetras

Neon tetras, since they are a schooling fish, live well (and thrive) in a community tank with other members of their species. They should be kept in schools of at least 6 to 8 (although 16 to 20 is better) in a 20-gallon aquarium with other small, docile fish.

I have a 10 gallon with 10 neon tetras at the time of writing this article. I will be adding some pygmy Cory’s soon. I will also add a few more tetras once the Cory’s are acclimated.


These calm fish are great for keeping a community tank clean and reducing algae amounts in the water. They spend most of their time at the bottom of the tank and won’t bother any free-swimming fish such as neon tetras. Choose the smaller ones such as clown plecos which grow to only 5 inches long.

Or another option is to purchase young plecos if you have a larger aquarium aside from your neon tank and could put the plecos in the larger tank if necessary once they grow much larger. This is assuming your tetra tank is small.

White Cloud Minnows

These little guys are very small and similar in size to neon tetras. They are active, schooling fish that need a 20-gallon tank environment to live well and swim freely. Hiding places such as plants and rocks are also recommended for these fish, as well as tetras.

If you choose white cloud minnows you will have a very busy and active aquarium. If you are wanting a calm aquarium do not combine these fish. If action is what you are looking for then this is  great choice.


The things to keep in mind when choosing tank mates for neon tetras include the following:

  • No nibblers or any aggressive fish which could cause stress or harm to tetras.
  • Stick with small fish similar in size to the tetras.
  • Make sure your tank is large enough to house a school of tetras as well as other tank mates.
  • Choose bottom-feeders as they will not bother free-swimming tetras (my choice)
  • Opt for fish and other aquarium dwellers that eat the same food and like the same environmental conditions (such as water temperature, PH level and lighting) as tetras. Which I have provided to you in this article.

How Many Tetras Should be Kept Together?

Neon tetras will thrive in a community tank if they have at least a school of 6 or 8. It is better to have more, somewhere between 16 and 20, however. The aquarium should hold at least 20 gallons of water as they enjoying swimming freely about the tank. The general ‘rule of thumb’ with neon tetras is that larger the school, the happier the fish will be!

Are Neon Tetras Fin Nippers?

Neon tetras, like cardinal tetras, tend to be calm and docile and will not usually nip at other fish. The glow tetras, on the other hand, can be fin nippers and should not be kept in a tank with neon tetras as they are not of the same species and can become aggressive.

It is important to note that new neon tetras introduced to a tank with other tetras may feel threatened in their new environment and could chase and possibly nip at the fins of their tank mates. As they get used to their new environment, this behavior should stop. Also make sure to have plenty of hiding places as this will help your fish feel safe.


In conclusion, many different fish can live peacefully in a community tank with neon tetras, especially smaller species similar in size including guppies, minnows and other tetras. Dwarf frogs, apple snails and ghost shrimp will also do well in a tank with tetras. Larger, more aggressive fish (such as cichlids) should not be kept in an aquarium with tetras as they run the risk of being bullied or even eaten!

Something you will want to consider regardless of what kind of fish you have is are there enough hiding places. I have an excellent article on the topic and it is geared towards neon tetras. Feel free to read at the following link. Do neon tetras need hiding places?

While we are on the subject of tetras maybe you want to know if neon tetras get pregnant. If so another excellent and informative article on my site talks about this subject which can be found at the following link. Do neon tetras get pregnant?

That’s all I have for this article. I appreciate you taking the time to read and learn what fish would make good tank mates for neon tetras.

Good luck, fellow aquarium hobbyists. Happy fish keeping!