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Are Neon Tetras Fin Nippers?

Neon tetras are without a doubt one of if not the most popular entry-level fish for people who are new to fish keeping to add to their tanks.

Every single month we see a number of questions from the fish keeping community, especially people new to fish keeping ranging from what to feed your tetras to how they will interact with various tank mates that you keep in the aquarium with them.

One of the more particular questions that we have seen people asking about time and time again recently based on are neon tetras fin nippers or not?

Due to seeing so many people reaching out and asking bout the potential for their neon tetras to nip the fins of any other fish in their tank each month as well as the majority of the advice we see on social media on the subject being incorrect, we decided to publish our own article on the topic.

We are hoping that we will be able to help as many of our readers as possible who are considering getting some neon tetras for their aquarium better understand how they may interact with their other fish.

This should help you avoid some of the more common mistakes that we have noticed time and time again from the community when it comes to keeping neon tetras with other fish and help you build yourself a harmonious aquarium that is free from aggression and fin nipping.

Are Neon Tetras Aggressive To Other Fish?

Although neon tetras are usually placid and will usually just swim around their aquarium and not pay their tank mates much attention, if some situations, neon tetras can become aggressive.

The most common reasons that a neon tetra will become aggressive is due to being in an aquarium that is too small, being in an aquarium that is overstocked or being in an aquarium where the tetras tank mates are attacking it first.

Neon tetras do tend to be aggressive for many beginner fish keepers due to the fact that they end up being kept in unsuitable conditions.

This causes the stress and anxiety in the fish to spike causing them to act aggressively to their tank mates and start nipping fins but this is easily avoided and it is often not even the fault of the fish keeper but the fault of the sales assistant at the pet store recommending an aquarium that is far too small.

We have seen people with ten neon tetras in a five gallon tank and this will drastically increase the chances of your fish being aggressive.

The minimum tank size we recommend is a basic 10 gallon aquarium with a maximum of eight neon tetras in but we would highly recommend a cheap 20 gallon aquarium if possible with between eight and sixteen neon tetras in depending on the other tank mates.

“Neon tetra” by Takeshi Kawai is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

Are Neon Tetras Fin Nippers?

Most neon tetras will not nip the fins of their tank mates when kept in ideal conditions meaning a tank that is large enough, stocked correctly, has ideal water parameters, and does not have any fish in it that are being aggressive to your neon tetras.

Although this may sound like a lot, its basic stuff and most fish keepers will easily be able to create the conditions to prevent their neon tetras from nipping the fins of their other fish.

One rule that we always recommend that our readers follow is to have one inch of fish per gallon of water in the tank and a minimum of ten gallons in your aquarium.

This means that a 10 gallon aquarium can have up to a maximum of eight neon tetras but is usually too small to keep other species in there.

Most people should be trying to get a a cheap 20 gallon aquarium though as you can keep between eight and sixteen neon tetras in there as well as a number of other fish species too.

We tend to recommend that you don’t have less than six neon tetras in your aquarium as they are a schooling fish so do need around six neon tetras in the same tank to school up to feel safe. If you only have one neon tetra in your tank then its anxiety and stress levels may spike and they may start nipping the fins of their tank mates or acting aggressive.

If you do have a single neon tetra in your tank then it may school with ember tetras or cardinal tetras and prevent this issue though.

How Do You Keep Neon Tetras from Fin Biting?

The issues that usually result in a neon tetra biting the fins of its tank mates are usually down to the neon tetra being in a tank that is either too small for it or its tank is overstocked with fish.

You are able to prevent the neon tetra from biting the fins of its tank mates by upgrading to a larger tank or by putting your neon tetra in its own tank.

Due to neon tetras being a schooling fish that require a minimum of around six neon tetras to feel safe and secure, it is usually not recommended that you remove a single neon tetra and put it in a tank where it is alone.

As we touched on earlier in the article, upgrading to a 10 gallon aquarium or even a a cheap 20 gallon aquarium is a much better option and increases the space available to your neon tetra and reduce the chance of it biting the fins of your other fish in your tank.

If you have a fish in your tank that is being particularly aggressive to your neon tetras then they will defend themselves by biting the fins of the fish that is being aggressive towards them.

If you do have neon tetras that are biting the fins of their tank mates you should try to workout if it is your neon tetra being aggressive and just biting their tank mates fins or is it due to the other fish being aggressive to the neon tetras and they are just defending themselves?


That brings our article going over if neon tetras are fin nippers or not to an end. We hope that we have been able to help as many of our readers as possible better understand the three main situations when neon tetras will end up being more aggressive and nipping the fins of their tank mates. For the most part, you should easily be able to prevent the aggression by upgrading to a larger aquarium tank size or by correctly stocking the tank you have.