What Do Neon Tetras Eat? (3 Best Foods)

Last Updated on 2023-08-05

If you’re wondering what neon tetras eat then you’ve found the right article! In this article, not only will you find out what you should feed your neon tetras, you’ll also learn the different live, and froze foods to feed them as well!

So keep reading to find out everything you need to know!

What Do Neon Tetras Eat?

In the wild, Neon Tetras are omnivores. Which means they’ll eat both animal material and plant material. However, in a fish tank things are different.

Neon Tetras are omnivorous so you need to feed them both plant and animal matter. Typically you should feed them high quality flake food in combination with small amounts of live food such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, daphnia, and tubifex, as well as blanched vegetables.

One of the best things you can feed your Neon Tetras is tropical fish flakes. Look for ones with natural color enhancers to really bring out the color and shine in your neon tetras!

If you’re not sure what type of tetra flakes to get I’d recommend Tetra Color Plus.

What Live Food Do Neon Tetras Eat?

If you want to know which live food to feed your neon tetras, there are plenty to choose from! Here are some of my favourite choices!

Any of the following live foods are great for neon tetras: daphnia, brine shrimp, mosquito larvae, tubifex grindal worms, micro worms, white worms, black worms, bloodworms, vinegar eels, and wingless fruit flies.

However, here’s a little bit more about my personal favourites, and the ones I’d recommend for your tank.


Daphnia 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 others, and they still provide the necessary nutrients for your Neon Tetras.

You can pick daphnia up in most fish stores, however, if you have a big tank, it may be worth culturing your own daphnia to feed your fish!

Brine shrimp

Brine shrimp is also a great live food option for Neon Tetras. Also known as Artemia, however, they can be a little bit more costly. Also keep in mind not every fish store carries live brine shrimp, but most carry frozen brine shrimp.

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


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.

So if you do plan on using tubifex, be sure to do so with caution and make sure you’re buying them from a reputable seller.

Mosquito Larvae

My seond all time favourite food to feed fish is mosquito larvae. In a lot of cases, this is exactly what tropical fish would be eating in the wild, so why not put it in their tank too?

Just make sure you’re not letting the mosquito larvae live long enough to become adult mosquitoes, otherwise you’re going to have a very bad time.

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. However, when you’re feeding your neon tetras frozen food, make sure you’re letting them soak in a small amount of the tap water so they can defrost properly first.

With that being said some great choices are:


Again, daphnia has to be number one. Daphnia is full of fibre and protein and it’s one of the best snacks you can give your neon tetra in addition to their tropical flakes!


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.

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What Freeze-Dried Foods Can You Feed Neon Tetras?

Freeze dried foods often lack a lot of the nutrients that frozen, and especially live foods carry! However, there is still some nutrition in freeze-dried foods, and as a tasty treat, they can be fantastic for your neon tetras.


Top of the list again is freeze dried daphnia, I use to have a tub of freeze dried daphnia next to my community tank which I could soak for a minute and then sprinkle in whenever I wanted to give my fish a treat.


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 blanched vegetables too. Remember neon tetras are omnivores, so they need both plant and animal matter.

You can feed Neon Tetras strawberries, grapes, oranges, and cucumbers. However, make sure you only feed them this two or three times a week, otherwise, they may start to become bloated and unhealthy. Just remember that the size of the food you give them should be smaller than their mouths.

You can also feed your Neon Tetras meat such as chicken, beef, or eggs. When feeding your fish meat, make sure to boil it first, before blending it up until it’s a paste you can put little bits into the tank at a time.

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. And they will eat just about anything they are fed.

Flake food is ideal for providing the necessary nutrients. Fish flakes are going to provide your tetras with a well-balanced diet full of the essential vitamins and minerals they need. They are also the easiest to feed community fish because most fish can live off of them.

My number one rated flakes for neon tetras is Tetra Color Plus, however, here’s some of the most popular brands! Remember, when looking for food for your fish, check the ingredients. The ingredients at the front are the ones that are used the most, so this will give you a good indicator on whether the food is high quality or not.

Tetra Color Plus

To give your fish a little bit more life and razzle dazzle, I’d highly recommend tetra color plus. The main ingredients are fish meal and shrimp meal, which are going to give your neon’s that little bit of added vibrancy which will allow their colors to pop in your tank.

Tetra ColorPlus Fish Food Flakes, Tropical Flakes With Natural Color Enhancers, 7.06 Ounce
  • TROPICAL FORMULATION: Highly digestible flake formula for use as staple food for all tropical fish.

Tetra Min Tropical Granules

Another great choice is TetraMin Tropical Granules. They have the perfect amount of crude protein to ensure your tetras are going to stay healthy and happy!

Tetra TetraMin Tropical Granules 3.52 Ounces, Nutritionally Balanced Fish Food
  • TROPICAL FORMULATION: Highly digestible ingredients for use as staple food for your mid-feeding tropical fish.

Omega One Freeze-Dried Tubifex Worms

Omega One Freeze-Dried Tubifex Worms is another great choice if you want to vary your tetras diet a little bit more. 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 have other choices such as freeze-dried brine shrimp and bloodworms. They’re all going to be a great choice for your tetras when fed to them in moderation.)

Omega One Freeze Dried Tubifex Worms, 1.5 oz
  • NUTRITIOUS TREAT: Freeze-Dried Tubifex Worms are an excellent high-protein treat for all freshwater and saltwater fish

How To Feed Your Neon Tetras

Feeding your neon tetras is incredibly easy, however, the process may be slightly different depending on the type of food you feed them.

Fish Flakes

To feed Neon Tetras fish flakes, add the fish flakes to your tank making sure they get distributed across the whole tank evenly.

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.

When you’re done sprinkling keep an eye out for any uneaten food. Whatever is left uneaten at the end should be removed from the tank.

Live Food

When feeding your Neon Tetras live food, give them about five minutes to eat, then clear the rest out of your tank. If you don’t clear them from the tank, then they may end up breeding, your tetras may become overfed, or they may begin to die or rot.

It’s best to start with a smaller portion than you think you need, and if your tetras still seem hungry add little bits at a time.

Also avoid pouring the water live food comes in into the tank as it may introduce nasty bacteria.

Frozen Food

When you purchase frozen fish food you won’t be able to add it to your tank straight away. Instead you should get a cube and cut it into quarters. Once it’s cut let it defrost, so it’s edible. Once it’s fully defrosted you can then add it and watch your tetras chomp away!


Neon Tetras can eat vegetables such as peas, broccoli, carrots, cucumber, potato, cabbage, and lettuce. When feeding your Neon Tetras vegetables, make sure to blanch them and then either blend them or chop them up into tiny pieces that are smaller than their mouths.


As previously mentioned, to prepare meat for your neon tetras you should boil it first, before blending it up. Then you can just drip small parts of the blended meat into your tank for the tetras!

How Often Should You Feed Neon Tetras?

You should feed your Neon Tetras one to two times per day. The amount you feed them depends on how many fish are in your tank and how big they are. The general rule is to add enough food for them to eat for two minutes.

To be specific, add a small amount of feed to your tank and observe how your tetras react. If they eat all of the food within a couple of minutes, add more. If they don’t eat all of it after one to two minutes, don’t add more.

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

How Much Do Neon Tetras Eat?

Because Neon Tetras are tiny fish, they only eat a small amount. 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.

Can You Overfeed a Neon Tetra?

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. 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?

Neon Tetras eat algae in the wild and in captivity. However, they’re not the best algae eaters, and if you notice algae in the tank, then there are far more efficient choices to eat it.

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.

For the average fish keeper, however, storebought food is going to be more than good enough for their neon tetras.

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. Then blend it all 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. To feed your tetras the cube, just take it out, cut a chunk off and allow it to defrost before adding it to the tank.
  7. Alter the recipe every few weeks 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, 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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