What is Neon Tetra Disease and how can it be prevented?
Neon tetras are a popular nano fish known for their beautiful, red and blue stripes, but sometimes they get a bad reputation for being a “sensitive” fish that is prone to dying. We have found that these tetras are as tough as other danios as rasboras. But there are many factors that could weaken their immunity or make them more susceptible to illness. Let’s discuss why neon tetras get sick, what is neon tetra disease, and how to prevent it.
Why Do Neon Tetras Get Sick?
Neon tetras can appear sickly because they are kept in large quantities. Because they are always in high demand, fish farms raise them in huge numbers. Wholesalers procure thousands of them at a time, large batches get sent to your local pet store, and then the retail employee mixes the latest shipment of tetras with an existing group that hasn’t sold yet. There is a greater chance that one fish will become sick if you have a lot of them.
Neon tetras also tend to be underfed at the various facilities they are kept in. The fish farms, wholesalers, and pet stores all want to spend the least amount of food and time with the fish as possible so that they can stay profitable. A 100-tetra tank may only receive a few fish flakes. This means that not all fish are able to get a bite. This practice is fine for most fish. However, neon tetras that are kept in overcrowded, high-stress environments can lead to fungal infections and even neon tetra diseases.
Neon Tetras are often kept in large numbers and with limited food.
Finally, many beginners tend to buy neon tetras because they are colorful and cheap. Oftentimes, they don’t spend a lot of time looking up the care requirements and may buy a large bag of them to put in a tiny aquarium with poor water quality and aggressive tank mates. Neon tetras would have been more expensive at $10 each so people would be more careful about taking care of them. We believe that neon tetras don’t have to be more sensitive than other fish. They just need to be kept in worse conditions during the supply chain.
How to Make Your Neon Tetras Healthier
If possible, try to buy the biggest neon tetras you can. Sometimes they are sold as jumbo, XL, or large neon tetras. While they usually cost more, it’s well-worth the price because fish farms must feed more food to these tetras in order to raise them to a certain size. At Aquarium Co-Op, we try to order the bigger, full-grown neon tetras, put them in quarantine, treatwith preventative medications, and feed them well. These best practices make it easier for our customers to be successful with their neon Tetras and more satisfied with our store.
You can help your neon tetras reach a healthy weight once they are home. Frozen bloodworms might be too large for young juveniles. Instead of giving them frozen bloodworms, you can give them baby brine shrimp, daphnia and cyclops as well as micro pellets. They also like to eat when the food is slowly sinking in water (rather that being on the ground), so make sure they have small meals throughout the day.
What is Neon Tetra Disease (NTD)?
NTD is one of the most misdiagnosed diseases in the hobby. Just because a neon tetra is sick doesn’t automatically mean that it has neon tetra disease. Your tetra may have ich if it has white spots. A white spot on your tetra could indicate NTD. However, it may also be a sign of other diseases. NTD is very rare. The white patches are more likely to be due to a fungal or common bacterial infection. The trio of quarantine medications (which treat bacteria, fungus and parasites) is recommended. We also recommend building the fish’s immunity through fresh food and good care. If the disease still doesn’t go away and is steadily knocking out fish over time, then you could have a case of NTD.
This neon tetra is marked by a small white spot on its body. Without proper training and equipment, it can be difficult to diagnose accurately.
NTD is caused by a mycobacterium that is sometimes misidentified as fish tuberculosis. It thrives in warm water, low dissolved oxygen and low pH. These conditions are often found in tanks that contain neon tetras. Ruth Francis-Floyd explains in her book on Mycobacterial Infections of Fish that “poor husbandry, chronic stress and anything else that impairs immune function of the fish will increase their likelihood of infection.”
How to Prevent Neon Tetra Disease
NTD is extremely contagious and cannot be treated currently. Therefore, the best course of action is prevention and minimizing its spread. You should quarantine any new fish for several weeks in a separate container to monitor their health and to prevent them from being exposed to your animals. You can also use the quarantine tank as a place to assist them in recovering from their stressful trip from the fish farm. Keep the water at 74-76 degrees F (23-24degC), and don’t add any territorial tank mates. You can also add an air filter or sponge filter for more oxygenation. If you spot a sick neon tetra that likely has NTD and does not respond to your ministrations, you may need to consider euthanizing it to save the rest of the school.
Neon Tetras have curved spines.
A curved spine or twisted body is often touted as a symptom of NTD, but we believe malformed neon tetras tend to be a breeding issue. Fish farms produce tons of nano fish and don’t have time to sift through them to take out the ones with bent backs. In fact, instead of individually counting them, they weigh the neon tetras to approximate their numbers for shipping. Employees might not be able to pick out defective fish until the fish are delivered to the fish shop. This is because they don’t want the shop looking bad. You might not be able to see the spines of neon tetras until they grow larger.
Crooked spine isn’t a typical symptom for mycobacterium. It could be due to a birth defect, injury or birth defect.
Bottom line: Neon tetras are not to be scared of. Over the years, our fish shop has seen thousands to thousands of fish. Although we have lost some fish to mycobacterium over time, we have never witnessed NTD spread or wipe out entire tanks of neon Tetras. They are just as resilient as other schooling nano fish, and we believe they’re one of the best fish you can get for a beautiful display aquarium. Check out our preferred online fish vendors to get your own neon tetras today: