How to Tell if a Neon Tetra Is Going to Lay Eggs?

By Nadine Oraby | 2020 Update

Neon tetras are simple creatures, but their mating process is a bit complicated. It is not so easy to breed neon tetras, but it is not impossible.

How to tell if a neon tetra is going to lay eggs? If you notice that a female neon tetra has a swelling belly, it means that it is about to lay eggs very soon. First of all, you should point out the female neon tetras and then look for the ones with a larger belly than the rest.

Now let us take a closer look at female neon tetras and spawning eggs. Be prepared for some surprises that will leave you speechless!

How to select a female neon tetra that is going to lay eggs?

It is not at all a very difficult process, by the way.

If you know the features of a female neon tetra, it will be easier for you to select them from a group of neon tetras later on. You just need to be an observant person and detect slight changes in appearances.

A male neon tetra does not look completely different from a female one; however, the male looks slimmer and it has a neon blue straight line, whereas the female has a curved blue color and a curvy body.

If the female neon tetra has a larger belly in comparison to the rest of the neon tetras, this indicates that the female neon tetra is carrying eggs and they are about to be spawned.

Another hint: take a look at the males’ behaviors. They always perform a certain dance to win their female’s attention. They swim in a square motion and do jumpy movements and every once in a while they freeze in their place. This means that mating is about to take place. Moreover, there is usually a dark spot on their bodies and their belly swells from the bottom.

How long does it take for a tetra to lay eggs?

A neon tetra spawns about 60 or 130 eggs which the male immediately fertilizes; however, not every single one of them will hatch. It takes around 24 hours for the eggs to start hatching. You will see 40 or 50 baby neon tetras hatching from the eggs.

The baby tetras look like tiny particles of glass which are swimming around the tank. They are completely transparent, but you can notice them if you pay attention. The fry look so heartwarming and adorable but as soon as the eggs hatch, it is necessary to separate the baby tetras from their parents or else the parents would eat their young.

Yes, that is a tragic thing indeed! So, in order to avoid that abominable fate, just take the adult tetras back to their tank and keep the babies alone in their breeder tank.

Do neon tetras need a heater?

Since neon tetras and cardinals are tropical fish and live in fresh water in tropical regions, a heater is necessary to provide them with a familiar habitat.

The water’s temperature has to reach 72 or 82 degrees Fahrenheit. So, there must be a heater provided. Not only that, but also keep in mind to provide the tank with a filter in order to purify the water frequently.

The water gets easily polluted by the fish’s wastes and the food leftovers. Neon tetras are really sensitive to any sudden changes in the water’s conditions, so the filter will improve the water’s conditions whenever necessary. Also, the amount of ammonia has to be taken care of to get rid of any bacteria.

How to tell if a neon tetra is pregnant or sick?

A lot of people confuse a pregnant tetra with a sick one. By now, you already know how to identify a female tetra but to distinguish between stress and pregnancy is a totally different story.

Sometimes female neon tetras have a swelling belly and they look as if they are carrying lots of eggs in their bellies. However, they end up dying after a short while.

This incident leaves their owners confused and heartbroken after which they start wondering if they were too careless to notice that maybe their neon tetra was sick and that disease caused her belly to swell.

In reality, a disease could definitely be causing a neon tetra to have a large belly which might be mistaken for pregnancy. Especially if you see a male’s belly getting larger, it indicates that he is infected with a disease.

How to tell if a neon tetra is pregnant or just fat?

Here is another example of people confusing a pregnant tetra and a fat one. People sometimes feel awkward when they notice their tetras getting fatter and fatter but not exhibiting sickness or spawning any eggs.

So, what is that supposed to mean?

Neon tetras are not supposed to get fat. If they do, this means that there is something wrong. Either they are sick, carrying eggs or there is something wrong with the water. Sometimes the nitrate levels are really high; they must be between 10 and 20 ppm. Therefore, the water has to be changed regularly.

High nitrate levels can cause your neon tetras to fall ill.

When can neon tetras begin breeding?

Even though we rarely see incidents of neon tetras breeding, we do know some facts about this phenomenon.

When neon tetras are nine months old, they have reached their breeding age. It has been seen that tetras can interbreed with other fish but this is not a great option because the eggs and the babies will be eaten instantly by other adult fish.

Moreover, the water needs to reach a certain temperature to be suitable for the adult neon tetras to breed. The good breeding temperature is 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Why aren’t the eggs hatching?

Some people notice that after their female neon tetras lay the eggs, the eggs do not hatch. These are a few explanations:

  • The eggs might not be fertilized
  • The fish could be eating the eggs or the babies before you see them

So, the safer thing is to remove the eggs as soon as the adult tetras fertilize them and wait to see if they hatch. You can safely and easily remove the eggs from the tank of the adult tetras but make sure you keep them outside the tank for only 2 seconds and place them directly in a separate tank with a convenient water temperature.

Neon Tetra | Beginner Guide (Video)

Related questions

How do neon tetra eggs look like? The eggs look very tiny and white or yellow; they cannot be easily seen. Sometimes people mistake them for wastes and throw them away.

When do neon tetras usually spawn? Spawning usually occurs in the morning. During spawning, you will see the tetras chasing each other and swimming around plants.

How to know whether neon tetra eggs have been fertilized? When the eggs become very white, it means that they are not fertilized. If they are fertilized, in 24 hours you will see the eggs hatching. You have to keep the eggs in the dark or else they would die.


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