Red Neon

The little tetra is one of the most popular fish in the aquarium hobby. Certainly also because of its spectacular colors. Here you can find out what defines the red neon and what you should pay attention to when caring for it.


  • Name: Red Neon (Paracheirodon axelrodi)
  • System: Real tetras
  • Size: up to 4 cm
  • Origin: northern South America
  • Attitude: easy
  • Aquarium size: from 54 liters (60 cm)
  • pH value: 5.0-6.5
  • Water temperature: 23-29 ° C

Interesting Facts About the Fish

Scientific name

Paracheirodon axelrodi

Other names

Cardinal Tra, Cheirodon axelrodi, Hyphessobrycon cardinalis

Caution: do not confuse it with the neon tetra (Paracheirodon innesi)! This is a different species. The main distinguishing feature is the red stripe: in the case of the neon tetra, it does not extend to the head, as in the case of the red neon, but only roughly to the middle of the body.


The red neon grows to about 4 cm long.


The little tetras shimmer brilliantly in intense colors when they are well-being. It is adorned by the lower, bright red, and eponymous stripe that extends from the gill cover to the root of the caudal fin. A light blue, shiny stripe runs over this.


The small fish is found in Venezuela, Brazil, and Colombia, namely in the Rio Negro and Orinoco. Displaced populations live in Suriname.


Distinguishing between males and females is possible, but difficult. The females are just a bit fuller and may have a small kink in the blue stripe. Males usually stay smaller. The offspring of the red neon turns out to be difficult. Therefore, wild-caught fish are still often in the trade. Very soft water is recommended for breeding. In addition, there should be fine-feathered plants in the tank. The red neon spawns at dusk. At best, a dimmable lighting unit with a control unit for sunrise and sunset simulation is required here.

Life expectancy

The red neon is about 5-10 years old.

Interesting Facts


The red neon is – even if you might not suspect it at first because of its small size – a predatory fish. In nature, it prefers to feed on animal food, for example, insect larvae and small crustaceans. In addition, the smallest amounts of algae are irregularly consumed. In the aquarium, he is an uncomplicated boarder who can be fed with common types of food. A finely granulated feed with a high proportion of animal proteins is recommended here. In addition, frozen and/or live food should be offered.

Group size

The red neon needs the community for its well-being. A group should consist of at least 10 animals, preferably more. The spectacular colors also come into their own when caring for larger groups.

Aquarium size

A standard aquarium with dimensions 60x30x30cm (54 liters) is sufficient for the maintenance of a smaller group. Larger aquariums are of course also recommended here, so that particularly large swarms can also be maintained.

Pool equipment

The basin should definitely have a dark substrate. There are two reasons for this: On the one hand, it brings out the animals’ pretty colors better, and on the other hand, the animals feel much more comfortable. Red neons that are kept on a light floor are most stressed. This makes you pale, shy, and prone to disease.

The lighting must not be too bright. Glaring light has the same effect on the cardinal tract as a light ground. This can be remedied by dense vegetation. Floating plants, for example, that shield some light are well suited. Nevertheless, there must be enough free swimming space. Mangrove or bog roots not only look chic, but they also release tannins into the water, which contribute to the well-being of the small tetras.


Even if it is a predatory fish: the red neon is a very compatible and peaceful fish that is perfect for a community tank! His calm manner is also pleasant for other pool residents. It is better to avoid socializing with hectic swimmers – that stresses the little tetra. Even if it is often common in beginner pools: livebearer tooth carps such as guppies, molly, or swordtails are therefore actually not the best company for red neons. (The demands on the water values ​​also differ!)
On the other hand, they can be optimally socialized with armored catfish, peaceful cichlids (e.g. butterfly cichlids), and other small tetras.

Required water values

The pretty tetras are easy to care for at water temperatures between 23-29 ° C and a pH value of around 5.0-6.5.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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