14 Neon Tetra Tank Mates

Neon Tetra Tank Mates
Neon Tetra Tank Mates, photo by Brandy Dopkins

Neon tetra tank mates are certainly a possibility, without a doubt. When setting up your neon tetras, you should be aware that they thrive in groups of 6 or more. So the first tank mates that you will be needing to get is a few of their own species. After that, you can start adding in some different species fish to the community tank.


Below are a few neon tetra tank mates that can possibly be housed together with your neon tetras. Of course, always use caution when mixing fish. If you see any aggression being done, simply separate the fish from one another.

African Dwarf Frogs

African Dwarf frogs are great tank mates for neon tetras if you are looking for a little variety in your fish tank (apart from fish species). African dwarf frogs stay fairly small which is good because you wont have to worry about your African dwarf frog eating your neon tetras. Being relatively small, these types of frogs produce very little waste, so you don’t have to worry about nitrates/nitrites/ammonia.


Some fish-keepers have been able to keep angelfish and neon tetras together before, while others have had their angelfish eat some neon tetras. It is recommended that you get both as babies and have them grow up with one another. As the fish get bigger, you will have to keep an eye on the two of them. If you see any fights or die-offs, you should separate them immediately.

Apple Snail

The most common snail being sold in pet stores today is the apple snail. Apple snails can be put into a neon tetra tank with no problem due to its large hard shell. Not only will you have variety in your fish tank, but you will also have an invertebrate who helps clean algae off your glass walls of the aquarium. If housing an apple snail is in mind, just know that they can get up to the size of a softball, meaning you will be needing a large tank.


Guppies stay relatively small (2.5 inches) and they are pretty calm which is why they would make great tank mates for your neon tetras. Similar to the neon tetras, guppies like to be in groups. Luckily, they do not need as large as a group like the neon tetras do. A number between 3 – 5 will be good.

Cardinal Tetras

Neon tetras do well with other tetra species like the cardinal tetra. Again, they do well in groups of 6 or more, so you will be needing to buy a group of the cardinal tetras as well.

Corydoras Catfish (Cory Catfish)

Cory catfish are very calm and peaceful fish. It’s almost unheard of that they’d be aggressive. They are very friendly fish, especially with themselves. Be sure to get a good-sized group of cories, they need a minimum of five to feel secure and happy. Adding fake or real plant will also help make the cories feel safe. Also, make sure to use sand substrate so the cories don’t hurt themselves or lose their barbs. They will spend most of their time at the bottom of the tank, while the neon tetras will spend most of their time swimming near the top of the tank, so you know they will never have any problems with one another.

Feeder Fish

Nobody really thinks about adding feeder fish to a tank when thinking about fish tank mates. But they really do make great tank mates to any community tank. Since they are practically at the bottom of the food chain, you won’t have to worry about them eating any other fish in the tank or starting any trouble. If you hand-pick the feeder fish yourself from the pet shop, you can get some pretty nice bright orange fish that will make your tank look colorful.

Ghost Shrimp

Ghost Shrimp stay very small and are usually sold as food for other fish, but can be a great addition to your neon tetra tank. They won’t harm your neon tetras in any way. If you have larger fish in your tank, they can also serve as a little snack for them once in a while.


Halfbeaks are community fish and would not have any problem with a few guppies or other small community fish.


Loaches are great tank mates because they are mostly bottom feeders, meaning they will spend most of their days on the bottom of the fish tank. They will stay away from most of the fish in your fish tank (including your neon tetras). They are very calm and peaceful fish. Be careful when choosing a loach though, as some can reach the length of 16 inches. I personally recommend khuli loaches, dwarf loaches, , and zebra loaches. These loaches stay smaller than 5 inches.


I feel that almost every freshwater fish tank today has a molly in it. Although mollies like water that is lightly salted, they live in most freshwater tanks perfectly fine. Mollies and neon tetras can co-exist with one another perfectly. The most common ones are the balloon molly, black molly, and sailfin molly.


If you want an additional hand to help with the algae in the tank, I suggest getting a pleco. Plecos are very calm fish that stay to themselves in any tank. Most plecos spend their days eating algae on rocks and glass, not bothering anybody. Some plecos get big, while other stay small (5 inches) like the clown plecos, bristlenose plecos, and rubber lipped plecos. Choose the proper pleco for your size tank.

Red Cherry Shrimp

The red cherry shrimp is another awesome type of shrimp tank mate for neon tetras because they help clean the tank by eating the algae off rocks, ornaments, gravel, and etc. Make sure to only buy a few because they breed like crazy!


Male swordtails are aggressive towards each other, but swordtails are fine with neon tetras (1 male per tank). You should have a tight-fitting lid on your aquarium because swordtails can easily jump out of an uncovered aquarium.

A Guide in Choosing Neon Tetra Tank Mates

  • No nibblers – do not get any fish that will nibble at your neon tetras. This will cause stress and sometimes fights.
  • Small fish – You’re neon tetras are small, so it’s best to stick with small fish as tank mates.
  • Tank size – If you are getting tank mates for your neon tetras, make sure you have the room for all the fish to have their space.
  • Bottom Feeders – Many bottom feeders are fish that can live well with neon tetras. (Plecos, catfish, loaches, and etc…)
  • Diet & Water Requirements – Make sure to choose only fish that require the same diet and water conditions as your neon tetras.


  1. Hi, this article is almost perfect for beginners like me. Except for the lack of pictures. Please include photos of each of the species you discuss so that we can see what you’re talking about.

    • Hello Tristan,
      Bettas tend to feel threatend by colorful fish. I doubt the betta would be able to catch the tetras, but to avoid stressing the betta out, I would not.

      1 Bettas CAN do good with neons.
      2 Betts can have very diverse personalities so it may work out well or not
      3 For best results have an established tank with neons and then add the betta
      4 the tank should be at LEAST 10 gallons(34 liters)

      I have a 10 gallon with 5 neons, a betta, and an otto cat.

      1 NO fin nippers(they WILL get killed)
      2 No super vibrant and/or flashy colors(although vibrant neons aren’t to flashy)
      3 Fast fish- bettas swim slow thus a fast fish won’t be to easy for a betta to catch up to
      4 Other tropical fish- bettas water is best at 78F or more, but can be slightly lower
      5 Bottom dwellers- bettas tend to stay neat the top of the tank
      6 Always add the betta into a tank with the other fish already in it

  2. Had a feederfish with my neon tetras. After it got large enough, the feederfish began to feed on my neons. I would recommend taking them off this list, expecially since they have different water requirements.

  3. I got 2 Neon Tetras, 1 Dalmatian Mollie, 1 Black Mollie, 3 different smaller Mollie’s, and 2 Otocinclus. I came in today & there is no trace of the 2 Neon Tetras 🙁 I think either the Dalmatian or Black Mollie ate them. They seemed to be fine throughout the day & not bothering them at all, only to be missing now. I have read online that other people have had the same issue with the Dalmatian and Black Mollie. Do Angel fish get along with Mollies?

    • Hello Shelly,
      I’m sorry to hear about your loss. If this is true, I will have to mention this in the article. I will do more research to see how often this happens. As for the molly and angel fish, I have kept both in the same tank (55 gallons) without a problem. Please share your experience if you decide to house both of them over time.

  4. I would like to say that not all “feeder fish” are Goldfish, most of your Fish Pet Shops carry a variety of “feeder fish”, including but not limited to, White Clouds, guppies, mosquito fish, platies, most “feeder fish” are from livebearers which tend to have a very large temperature range

    However, these fish tend to not be in the best of health and are seldom properly cared for.

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