What Do Neon Tetras Eat? (How To Make Food From Scratch)

Neon Tetras are freshwater fish in the characin family native to clearwater and blackwater streams in South America. They are popular aquarium fish because of their bright colors that stand out from the water.

Neon Tetras have a simple diet and will eat most store-bought flake foods, but they should also be fed small amounts of brine shrimp, freeze-dried bloodworms, Daphnia, and Tubifex. Micropellet food should also supplement their diet.

This article discusses the diet of Neon Tetras, what you should feed them and how often, the best food for Neon Tetras, and how to feed them.

What Do Neon Tetras Eat?

In the wild, Neon Tetras are omnivores. They eat both animal material and plant material. They will eat natural foods like algae, larvae, and tiny invertebrates.

In captivity, they eat whatever they are fed. They will eat just about any food. Fish flakes are OK to feed your Neon Tetras. But as they grow bigger, they require other foods to stay healthy. Full-grown Neon Tetras in aquariums should be fed small foods like Daphnia, Tubifex, freeze-dried bloodworms, brine shrimp, and micropellet foods.

One of the best things you can feed your Neon Tetras is a tropical sinking pellet. These contain natural color enhancers. When Neon Tetras and other fish eat tropical sinking pellets, it brings out their color.

Feeding your Neon Tetras frozen foods like freeze-dried bloodworms adds more variety to their diet. Live foods also add variety to their diets and will ensure good health.

What Live Food Do Neon Tetras Eat?

Aquarium fish eat what you serve them. They can’t find food on their own, so you must feed them the right foods. While flake food works just fine to provide the proper nutrients to fish, Neon Tetras prefer live food over fish flakes.


While some aquarists say Tubifex may do more harm than good to your fish, others say it is one of the best things to feed aquarium fish. Tubifex is nutritious and is available at most pet stores; however, you run the risk of bringing disease into your tank.

Freshwater fish like Neon Tetras love Tubifex worms, but you should be careful about where you buy them. Tubifex worms eat whatever they are fed, and commercially bred Tubifex worms live off fish manure, making them hotspots for bacteria and parasites.

Brine shrimp

Brine shrimp is also a great live food option to feed Neon Tetras. Also known as Artemia, they can be costly. Not every fish store carries live brine shrimp, but most carry frozen brine shrimp.

Some fish stores sell brine shrimp eggs and hatching kits that allow you to raise your own live brine shrimp.


Daphnias are water fleas, and they are one of the best live foods to give freshwater fish. They do not carry as much risk of disease compared to Tubifex, and they still provide the necessary nutrients for your Neon Tetras.

While you can’t find Daphnia at fish stores, local fish clubs may be able to provide a starter colony of Daphnia. You can raise Daphnia in your tank until your Neon Tetras can eat them.

Other Live Foods

You have a lot of options when it comes to feeding your freshwater fish live foods. You can feed them Grindal worms, micro worms, mosquito larvae, white worms, earthworms, maggots, vinegar eels, and wingless fruit flies.

What Frozen Foods Can You Feed Neon Tetras?

You can feed your Neon Tetras frozen food if you find that live food is too expensive or if you can’t find any.


Frozen or freeze-dried bloodworms are a great choice to feed your Neon Tetras. Bloodworms provide an excellent source of protein for Neon Tetras.

Brine Shrimp

Brine shrimp does not have to be live. You can feed your fish frozen brine shrimp as well. Brine shrimp refers to the larvae of a particular shrimp species. They are very small, so it is easy for Neon Tetras to digest them.

Mysis shrimp

Mysis shrimp are macroscopic crustaceans that are sold frozen. They are rich in fatty and amino acids. Because they are so small, you can feed them to your Neon Tetras at any stage of their life.

What Freeze-Dried Foods Can You Feed Neon Tetras?


Bloodworms can be freeze-dried. They are a good source of protein for your freshwater fish. However, you need to be careful not to give your neon tetras too much blood worm at a time as they’re extremely fatty.

Other Food For Neon Tetras

In addition to fish flakes, frozen or freeze-dried, and live food, you can feed your Neon Tetras vegetable matter. Because they are omnivores, they need both plant and animal material.

Neon Tetras need a variety of grains, fruits, and vegetables to get their minerals and antioxidants. Neon Tetras also need vegetable matter to maintain strong immune systems.

You can feed Neon Tetras strawberries, grapes, oranges, and cucumbers. You can feed them this plant matter two or three times a week, or you can mix it in with their regular food. Just remember that the size of the food you give them should be smaller than their mouths.

You can also feed your Neon Tetras finely chopped meat such as chicken, beef, or eggs. When feeding your fish meat, you must first boil it and blend it or chop it.

Chicken is great for providing protein and minerals to your Neon Tetras. Chicken is a good source of calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, and potassium.

You can also feed egg yolks to your Neon Tetras. They are rich in protein and vitamins your fish need.

What’s the Best Store-bought Food for Neon Tetras?

Neon Tetras are not picky. They will eat just about anything they are fed.

Flake food is ideal for providing the necessary nutrients. Fish flakes give your fish a well-balanced diet because they contain the essential vitamins and minerals your freshwater fish need. It is also the easiest to feed community fish because most fish can live off of fish flakes.

An excellent choice for Neon Tetra fish feed is TetraMin Tropical Granules. Tetramin also has Tropical Fish Flakes and Algae Wafers. A combination of these three feeds will give your fish the necessary nutrients and provide a well-balanced diet of plant and animal matter.

Omega One Freeze-Dried Tubifex Worms is another great store-bought fish food source for Neon Tetras. They are high in protein and rich in vitamins and minerals. It is also a safer alternative than live Tubifex because it doesn’t carry a high risk of parasites or bacteria.

Omega One also has other frozen fish food products such as freeze-dried brine shrimp and bloodworms. These freeze-dried fish food products will provide the protein and nutrients that your Neon Tetras need.

API Tropical Pellets are sinking pellets, so they sink to the bottom of the tank. Tropical pellets contain high-quality proteins from squid and shrimp, making them a great choice for your Neon Tetras. It is specifically made to help your fish digest food better.

Step-by-step Guide to Feeding Neon Tetras

The feeding process is simple for Neon Tetras. With any type of food you feed them, you can simply drop it into the tank. Preparing the food can get tricky, so you must know how to prepare certain foods.

Fish Flakes

To feed Neon Tetras fish flakes, add the fish flakes to your tank so that it gets distributed to the whole tank evenly. This facilitates community sharing and ensures that each fish gets a portion of the feed.

If you have just introduced Neon Tetras to your tank, you can divide the feed into two portions and put one portion on each side of the tank.

Live Food

When feeding your Neon Tetra live food, you must examine the size of the pieces of food. Neon Tetras are small fish, so they have tiny mouths. You must only give them food that is chopped up into pieces that are smaller than their mouths.

When feeding your Neon Tetras live food, you want to give them about five minutes to eat it, then clear the rest out of your tank. You don’t want to let the rest rot in your aquarium.


As mentioned earlier, Neon Tetras eat live worms such as Tubifex, grindal worms, micro worms, white worms, and earthworms. Once you have chopped them up into appropriate bite-sized pieces, you can simply drop the feed into the tank.


When feeding Neon Tetras shrimp, you must first prepare the shrimp by removing the heads, legs, and tails. These parts of the shrimp are sharp and can harm your fish by causing injuries to their dietary tracts.

After you have prepared the shrimp, it may still be too big for your Neon Tetras to digest. Remember, you must chop up Neon Tetras’ food so that the pieces are smaller than their mouths.

You can also purchase shrimp that has already been prepared.

Frozen Food

When you purchase frozen fish food from a pet store such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, or Mysis shrimp, it will most likely be ready to add to your tank. Examine the food to make sure the pieces are small enough for your Neon Tetras to digest. If they are small enough, you can drop the feed into your tank.


Neon Tetras can eat vegetables such as peas, broccoli, carrots, cucumber, potato, cabbage, lettuce, and corn. When feeding your Neon Tetras vegetables, you must either blend the vegetables or chop them up into tiny pieces that are smaller than their mouths. Once the feed is prepared, you can drop it into the tank.

You can mix the vegetable blend in with boiled chicken or another type of feed and drop the food mixture into the tank.


Neon Tetras can consume animal protein such as chicken, beef, and egg yolks. When feeding your fish meat, you must first cook it. Once the meat is cooked, you can chop it up into small pieces and drop the feed into the tank.

How Often Should You Feed Neon Tetras?

You should feed your Neon Tetras two to three times per day. The amount you feed them depends on how many fish are in your tank and how big they are.

Add a small amount of feed to your tank and observe how your fish react. If your fish eat all of the food within a couple of minutes, add more feed. If they don’t eat all of the feed after one to two minutes, stop adding the feed.

Overfeeding your fish will affect the quality of the tank’s water and will generate nitrate, nitrate ions, and ammonia, so you want to avoid adding too much food.

How Much Do Neon Tetras Eat?

Because Neon Tetras are tiny fish, they eat a small amount of feed. They will usually consume between 1-2.5% of their body weight each day. You can do the math based on the size of your fish and how many fish you have to determine how much fish food to add to your tank.

If your Neon Tetras do not finish all of the food you add within a couple of minutes, you should reduce the amount of food you are giving them.

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Can You Overfeed a Neon Tetra?

Yes, you can overfeed a Neon Tetra. Neon Tetras are scavengers in the wild, so they will eat as much food as they can. They eat everything they can find, so they will eat everything you feed them.

Since they have small stomachs and eat everything available, overfeeding them can cause health issues for your fish. That’s why it is important to reduce the amount of food you give them if they do not finish all of the food after a couple of minutes.

Do Neon Tetras Eat Algae?

Yes, Neon Tetras eat algae in the wild and in captivity. In the wild, algae is one of the main things Neon Tetras eat. In aquariums, they will eat algae if they are fed algae tablets/algae wafers.

Can I Make My Own Fish Food for Neon Tetras?

Yes, you can make your own fish food for Neon Tetras. If you find that store-bought fish food is not giving you the results you want, making your own food can be beneficial for your fish. The main reason to make your own fish food is to ensure your fish are eating high-quality food.

With homemade fish food, you can tailor the food to your fish specifically so that it meets their exact dietary requirements. Homemade fish food can be more cost-effective than store-bought food and is usually pretty easy to make.

How to Make Fish Food for Neon Tetras

  1. Get the equipment. To make your own fish food, you will need a blender, a pan, a knife, a freezer, and ice cube trays.
  2. Pick out three or four main ingredients. For Neon Tetras, this can be bloodworms, boiled chicken, vegetables or algae, and Mysis or brine shrimp. Remember that Neon Tetras are omnivores, so they will benefit from a mix of animal and plant protein.
  3. Cut up the vegetables and blend them or chop up the cooked meat into small pieces. As for shrimp, remove the heads, legs, and tails, then chop them up into tiny pieces. You can feed your fish the mix of food or you can blend the ingredients together in a blender.
  4. Adapt the recipe to suit the needs of your fish. You can adjust the recipe by adding more or less of certain ingredients. You can also add vitamins and supplements to the food mix.
  5. You can store your fish food in the freezer by adding the food to ice cube trays. Frozen fish food should last up to a year in the freezer if you transfer the frozen ice cubes into an air-tight container or sealed bag.
  6. You can either shave off pieces of the fish food ice cube or drop the ice cube in the tank. Your fish may be confused about the new food. Try to make the home-made food as close to their old food as possible. Or you can feed them their old food in the morning and the new food in the evening until they get used to the new food.
  7. Alter the recipe every few months to give your fish some variety.

Neon Tetras are small schooling fish that make popular aquarium fish because they are easy to take care of and have bright colors that stand out from the water.

In aquariums, Neon Tetras eat fish flakes, frozen or freeze-dried food, and live food. Feeding them a varied diet can help them stay healthy and live longer. Fish flakes are great for filling your fishes’ bellies and enhancing their color, but you should also feed your fish frozen or live food as supplements.

When it comes to Neon Tetras, they will eat just about anything you feed them. They are omnivores, and they are scavengers. As long as the food is chopped up small enough to smaller pieces than their mouths, you can feed them any mix of fish flakes, micro-pellets, frozen or freeze-dried food, live food, cooked meat, etc and vegetables.

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