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How To Treat A Bloated Neon Tetra!

With neon tetras being one of the most commonly kept fish in the fish keeping hobby due to them being so cheap and easy to care for while also having some very unique looks to them, it’s easy to see why we often get multiple questions each month about caring for neon tetras as well as the common issues the species can suffer from.

It really is great to see so many people new to fish keeping reaching out for advice on their problems to help ensure that their fish are happy and healthy though so we always try to help.

Over the last couple of months, there has definitely been an increase in the number of people reaching out and asking questions about their neon tetras being bloated.

This is actually a surprisingly common issue so it’s understandable that so many people have issues with it and it is often something that fish keepers of all levels of experience can have problems with too due to there being a number of potential causes of bloating in neon tetras.

Due to seeing so many people asking so many questions while also having so many potential causes of bloating in neon tetras, we decided to try and compile all of the questions we see from the community into this single article.

Our goal is to try and help as many of our readers as possible who are having problems with bloating in their neon tetras and our table of contents below should be able to help you quickly navigate the article as required.

Can Neon Tetras Get Bloat?

Neon tetras can get bloat with it being a relatively common issue for neon tetras with some of the causes being serious where as others are generally easy to fix.

Thankfully, due to their small size, it is generally very easy to identify the early signs of bloat in a neon tetra allowing you to catch the issue early and increase the chances of survival in the fish.

In most situations, it is relatively easy to diagnose the cause of the bloat in your neon tetra too often making it much easier to successfully treat the condition.

One of the most common problems that we see from fish keepers of all levels who do have a bloated neon tetra is that they will often try to treat for dropsy as it is generally the most serious cause of bloat in any type of fish and overlook much more common causes that are cheaper and easier to treat that have a higher chance of being the cause of the issue.

Bloat will often occur in different areas of your neon tetra too making it easier to identify exactly whats going on.

The three most common areas of bloat for a neon tetra is the front of the belly, the back of the belly, and full body bloat.

This will often offer you enough information to narrow down the potential causes of the bloat and treat the fish but some people do prefer to book a video call with a veterinarian to have them quickly go over their fish and offer their professional opinion.

“Neon Tetra” by michelle.khuu is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

Why Is My Neon Tetra Bloated?

The four most common causes of bloating in neon tetras are overfeeding, constipation, pregnancy, and dropsy often in that order of how common each one is.

There are some less common bacterial and parasitic infections that can sometimes cause bloating in neon tetras too but they do tend to be rare.

Overfeeding and constipation are usually very closely linked to each other when it comes to bloating in fish.

You are often able to identify overfeeding or constipation as the cause of the bloating in your fish due to the bloating being towards the front of the bellow of the fish. “Pregnancy” or being ready to spawn eggs usually causes bloating at the back of the belly of the fish making it easier to identify this as the potential cause.

Dropsy will often cause bloating in all areas of the neon tetra with it quickly spreading from the original area of the bloating to cover the full fish.

The less common bacterial and parasitic infections also work in a very similar way to this too with the bloat often spreading to other areas of the fish as the issue spreads where as the causes covered above are often localised to the belly of the fish.

How To Treat A Bloated Neon Tetra!

The treatment for the bloat in your neon tetra will depend on the cause of the bloat.

You can usually just leave a neon tetra who is bloated due to being close to spawning her eggs, an overfed or constipated neon tetra can often be fed peas to help it poop and get rid of the bloat, with dropsy usually needing a specialist treatment to treat its bloat.

One of the most common things that we see people new to keeping neon tetras worry about is why their fish has not spawned her eggs.

Although a neon tetra can spawn her full egg clutch in less than an hour when the time comes, she may retain her eggs for up to two weeks in some situations before choosing to spawn them.

This is generally nothing to worry about and although it is usually rare in neon tetras, it is considered natural for some fish to choose to retain their eggs this long before spawing them.

Regular green peas are considered the best natural laxative for fish but due to the tiny size of neon tetras, it can be a pain to get them to eat green peas to help treat bloat caused due to overfeeding or constipation.

Smashing the peas up into tiny pieces is usually the best option to take as it makes the peas small enough for the neon tetras to eat them and they can help the fish poop surprisingly quick too.

How To Treat Dropsy In Neon Tetras!

You should always use a specialist treatment for treating dropsy in your neon tetras as the bloat is a symptom of a serious infection that can spread to your other fish if you are unable to quarantine the infected fish or treat it quickly.

Thankfully, there are a number of cheap treatments that can quickly treat dropsy such as Pimafix and Melafix.

We have a dedicated Pimafix vs Melafix article online that goes into the slight differences between the two products but both have the proven ability to treat dropsy quickly.

We usually recommend that our readers use Pimafix for problems such as dropsy though as it does tend to have a slightly stronger natural ingredient than Melafix helping to treat the bloat in your neon tetra quicker.

If you have sensitive fish or live plants in your aquarium with your neon tetras then you can use Melafix as it can still treat dropsy but is not as harsh on the more sensitive things you may have in your tank.

There are a number of other suitable treatments on the market for dropsy too but we usually recommend that our readers stick to Pimafix or Melafix as they tend to be the best options with their reputations amongst fish keepers reflecting this.


That brings our article going over why your neon tetra is bloated, how to identify the cause of the bloat, and how to treat the bloat to an end. We hope that we have been able to help you better understand that bloat in neon tetras is not down to the same cause and that each of the potential causes do need their own treatments to treat the bloat in your fish so you will often need to workout what is causing the issue in your fish prior to attempting to treat it.