How Many Tetras In A 5-Gallon Tank? Is It Possible?

How Many Tetras In A 5-Gallon Tank? Is It Possible?

Are you wondering how many tetras in a 5-gallon tank?

I would hold on before you rush out and buy your tank. Well, at least read this article first. I know what you are thinking. This species of fish is small so a five-gallon tank must be big enough.

You are right they are small but to keep them in the best conditions a five-gallon tank is far too small.

In today’s post, we are going all neon tetra!

I am going to show you the best tank size to keep your new fish in a stress-free environment. If you have ever thought how many tetras in a 5-gallon tank then this post is exactly what you need to read.

Never Heard Of A Neon Tetra? Let Me Introduce You…

I very much doubt that you have never heard of a Neon Tetra. This is one species that is highly available. If you visit any fish store today you are bound to see these little guys.

To aquarists, their scientific name is Paracheirodon Innesi. Most people have probably never heard them being called this.

So where can you find Neons in the wild?

They originate from the clear waters and blackwaters of South America. The rivers of Peru, Brazil, and Columbia is where they tend to be found in the wild. (Near where the guppies originate learn more about guppy fish tanks here)

They are very peaceful and sedate fish but can be easily spooked.

This is why they are normally found in large groups. They school together, meaning they are excellent synchronized swimmers.

If you see a lot of schooling behavior in your Neon Tetra tank it could mean they are scared of something. If your group of Neons is quite spread out this means that they feel totally safe and secure.

They are schooling fish though, so don’t panic every time you see them swimming in a group.

To keep these little dudes happy you need to have quite acidic water parameters.

The PH should be around 6.5. Unlike other freshwater fish, they like cooler temperatures around 72 and 76 degrees Fahrenheit.

Neons like to take a break from the group dynamics from time to time.

So make sure that your tank has spots for them to hide. They love having dense vegetation for this very reason.

They also love driftwood and rocks to hide in too.

The Rule Of Thumb For Choosing The Best Tank Size You Need For Your Fish

When it comes to choosing a tank size for a new fish keeper a common rule springs to mind. You need 1 gallon of water for every inch of fish. If we follow this then we could safely keep 2-3 neon tetras.

Couldn’t we?

You see neons can actually grow to around two inches. This means that you could only keep two of this species comfortably in a five-gallon aquarium.

This leads us to a bigger problem:

Neons are schooling fish.

They need to be kept in groups of neons to feel safe.

In smaller numbers, these fish can become extremely nervous. A nervous little tetra will become stressed out in time and this could lead to bigger problems.

The most serious problem being death!

If your goal as a fish keeper is to house a fantastic school of neon tetras then you need to invest in a bigger tank.

For a school of 5 neon tetras, the best fish tank would be a 10-gallon tank. That’s approximately 2 inches per fish.

So the minimum tank size for neon tetras would be 10-gallon.

Click here if you want to know the best fish for a 5-gallon tanks

What Is The Best School Size For Neon Tetras?

What makes a neon tetra a schooling fish?

Time for me to get all scientific on you.

If a group of fish stays together for social reasons they known as shoaling. If they swim in a coordinated manner (in the same direction) then they are schooling.

Neon tetras, in particular, like to stay together for social reasons but they are also excellent synchronized swimmers.

Earlier in the post, I mentioned that you could keep five tetras. Now, this is an acceptable school size but it is still on the small side. If you want to see neons at their best then I would say you want to aim for around ten.

If your budget is on the small size go with a 10 gallon and keep 5 tetras but if you have some extra budget aim for the 20-gallon tank.

This means you can keep 10 neons comfortably. You could even add a snail or ghost shrimp into the mix.

By upping the school size you are going to see these little creatures at their best. They are going to be more active. You will also witness their synchronization at it’s best.

Going for the larger school size will definitely increase your viewing pleasure.

Ok, So What Is The Best Tank For Neon Tetras?

So we have established that we are going to need a tank of around 10-gallons to keep our tetras happy. This gives you plenty of room for plants, driftwood and rocks.

I would say this is a must for Neons.

They like to kick back and chill away from their group sometimes.

Properly Aquascaping your tank really helps keep them chilled.

If you do have the budget for a 20-gallon I would go for this as it will give you more options. You will have plenty room to aquascape or you could get a tank mate for these dudes.

Marina LED Aquarium Kit Is A Great 10 Gallon Tank For Beginners

Marina is a great aquarium brank and this 10 gallon is perfect for Neon Tetras.

Marina 10 Galllon LED Aquarium Kit

It is made of tempered glass. This means it won’t break or shatter with temperature changes or water pressure. An extra layer of safety for your Neons.

For your tank filtration, you get Marina Slim S15 clip-on filter with quick-change filter cartridges. This is a budget filter but will be good enough to get you started.

In my opinion upgrading to an Aquaclear 30 Power Filter would be a great option for this tank. This will filter all the water in your tank four times an hour.

Image of the AquaClear 70 review

AquaClear is my go-to brand for smaller tanks. You can learn more about why fish need a filter here. 

You have LED lights built-in to the hood just remember to keep a routine so that the Neons have a normal sleeping pattern.

The hood shuts quietly so that it doesn’t spook these nervous little fish.

You don’t get a heater, which is a must!

You need to keep your water temperature consistent and a heater will monitor this for you. If our water parameters keep changing you will stress these little fish out.

I would suggest the Fluval M Submersible Heater. For a 10 gallon a 50-watt would be sufficient.

My Honest Answer: So How Many Tetras In A 5 Gallon Tank Then?

Sorry to disappoint you but I would ditch the five-gallon tank.

It is far too small for a group of neon tetras. You need to keep at least 5 of them and when they can grow to 2 inches you are looking at 10 inches of fish.

The rule of thumb is 1 inch per gallon of water.

A 10-gallon tank would be the minimum if you follow this rule of thumb.

When it comes to group size five is still pretty low. In my opinion, you should look to house around 10 to really see neon tetras at their best.

If a 20-gallon tank is really out of the question then 5 would work in a 10-gallon tank.

I hope this post has really helped you understand the tank size needed to keep tetras. If you have any questions please leave a comment. If you have enjoyed this post please share with your friends.

1 reply
  1. ayush
    ayush says:

    That’s a great article. I haven’t read anything like this elsewhere.
    I found every information I need about keeping glowlight tetra reading this article.
    thanks again for sharing the information.


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