Neon tetras are one of the most commonly kept species of fish within the fish keeping community and although their popularity has slowed recently, there are still a huge number of people who add neon tetras to their tank each month.
With there being such a large number of people keeping neon tetras in their tank, we have noticed a steadily increasing number of people reaching out each month with a wide range of different questions about keeping the fish.
One thing that we have seen a number of people asking about recently is why their neon tetra has red gills but due to their being a number of different potential causes, discussions about red gills on neon tetras often get heated on social media.
This is why we wanted to publish our own article going over the topic to try and help as many of our readers as possible and help you better workout the potential problems that may be causing your neon tetra to have red gills as well as how you can identify the problem with your fish.
Why Your Neon Tetra Has Red Gills!
We have our list of the five main reasons that your neon tetra has red gills below that should be able to help you get a rough idea of the potential problems with your tank:-
- Poor Water Parameters!
- The Ammonia Cycle!
If you are new to the fish keeping hobby then your neon tetras may have irritated gills due to more than one problem in your tank.
Even some experienced fish keepers can have multiple issues with their fish at the same time too so we will be taking a more detailed look at the more common ones now.
Poor Water Parameters!
One of the first things that you will want to check if your neon tetra has red gills is the water parameters in your tank.
There are a wide range of potential problems with your water parameters that can irritate and inflame the gills of your neon tetras.
You will commonly find that the cheap $1 water test strips are inaccurate and will often not test for all of the water parameters you need to monitor in your tank.
If possible, you really should be using a more expensive test kit, ideally, a $20 master test kit but even a $5 test kit can be much better than the $1 kits.
Once you have a reading for your tank you can work on correcting any problems with the water parameters in your tank.
If you are on a budget and have to stick with the $1 test kits then you can use multiple strips at once. Testing your aquarium’s tank water with three strips and then taking the average of all three strips rather than just going with what one says is probably the best option with the cheaper kits.
The Ammonia Cycle!
The ammonia cycle is a natural process that occurs in all aquariums.
It is the process that breaks down fish waste and other organic matter into ammonia.
Ammonia is highly toxic to all fish and can cause irritation, inflammation, and even burns on the gills of your neon tetras causing them to turn red.
The ammonia cycle is started by adding fish to your tank.
As the fish produce waste, the ammonia levels in your tank will start to rise.
The ammonia levels will continue to rise until they reach a level that is toxic to your fish.
At this point, you will need to take action to remove the ammonia from your tank before it kills your neon tetras.
Most water kits will test for ammonia but you also need to keep an eye on your nitrate and nitrite levels too as they can also cause your neon tetras gills to turn red too.
The easiest way to deal with the ammonia cycle causing your neon tetras gills to turn red is to do a partial water change as soon as possible. We would recommend that you only do a 25% water change as anything high can actually cause problems with the good bacteria in your tank and cause additional problems later down the line.
Ideally, you should be changing between 10% and 20% of your tanks water each week to deal with the ammonia cycle anyway.
In some cases, your neon tetra may have an infection due to parasites, fungus, bacteria or a virus that can irritate the gills of your fish and cause them to turn red.
The most common infections that affect the gills of neon tetras are caused by bacteria.
Bacterial infections can be treated with a wide range of different antibiotics but you will need to take a sample of your fish to a vet or an experienced fish keeper to get a proper diagnosis as some infections look similar to others.
If you treat your neon tetra for the wrong infection then you could make the situation a whole lot worse so try to look for signs of confirmation of what you are able to treat or use a general purpose treatment like Melafix, Pimafix or General Cure.
One of the most common reasons that neon tetras gills turn red is due to stress.
There are a wide range of different things that can stress out your neon tetras but some of the more common ones include:
- An overcrowded tank.
- Poor water quality.
- Too much light.
- Lack of hiding places.
- Not enough oxygen in the water.
If your neon tetra is stressed then you will need to take action to reduce the stress in their environment.
The best way to do this is by ensuring that your tank is not overcrowded, that the water quality is good, that there is plenty of hiding places and that the tank is not in direct sunlight.
You should also make sure that your filter is working properly and that there is enough oxygen in the water for your fish.
If you are not sure how to do this then we would recommend that you speak to a local fish store or an experienced fish keeper for advice.
In some cases, your neon tetra gills may turn red due to an injury.
This is most commonly caused by a sharp object in the tank that has cut or punctured the gill of your fish.
If you suspect that your neon tetra has been injured then you will need to take a close look at their gills to see if you can identify the cause of the problem.
If you can not find anything then it is likely that the injury is internal and you will need to take your fish to a vet or an experienced fish keeper for further advice.