Are Neon Tetras Fin Nippers?

Neon Tetras are generally considered to be peaceful fish suitable for community tanks but are neon tetras fin nippers? Yes, Neon Tetras are notorious for nipping the fins of other types of fish, particularly those  with long, flowing fins which are easy to nip on.

Although Neon Tetras prefer to live in a school of their own kind, they will still nip on the fins of other Neon Tetras.

Fin nipping can be a natural behavior of Neon Tetras as they sometimes use fin nipping as a form of expression or to sort of introduce themselves to other fish in the tank. 

However, there are also reasons such as overcrowding in tanks that may cause the Neons to nip fins, and also if a male Tetra would like to mate with another female, they would nip at the fins of other male Tetras.

Claim for territory is another reason Tetras will nip at other fishes as they send a warning to other fish who may threaten it.

Will fin nipping lead to anything serious?

If a Neon Tetra continuously nips the fins of another fish, it can lead to the fish getting stressed and may lead to fin rot. If the fish nipping is constant, it is no longer suitable to keep the fish together and really they must be separated in to separate tanks.

Are all Neon Tetras fin nippers?

Not all Neon Tetras will nip fins, however, however all Neon Tetras have a tendancy to nip fins depending on the circumstances. If they feel threatened a Neon Tetra might nip at fins or chase  another fish away from their territory. Not getting enough food, or simply want to chase another male Tetra to win over the female Tetra during mating are other reasons that may cause any Neon to act aggressively and start to nip at fins.

(For more information on neon tetra care check out our awesome guide – How To Care For Neon Tetras)

What to do with Neon Tetras that nip fins of other fish?

You may be surprised once you see your other fish with nipped fins nips, and the culprit is your Neon Tetra. There are types of fish that are not suitable to be together, and this is what you need to research before setting up your aquarium.

If you are having a problem with a Neon Tetra that has been creating havoc in your fish tank, leaving some occupants with frayed fins, it must be the time to act on it. Some things you can do to keep the fin-nippers from creating further damage to your fish tank are as follows.

Observing the Neon Tetra fin nipper

First, know whether the fin nipping is normal behavior, and the Neon Tetra that is doing the deed is not just being playful with other fish in the tank. Neon Tetras love to chase and nip at other fish, even their own kind. Sometimes this is their form of introduction to the newly introduced fishes.

If you notice that it is no longer a playful display and it is causing stress to the other fish in the tank, you need to act on it.

You may need to examine what is causing it to become aggressive. You may have added a new type of fish to the mix, not knowing that your Neon Tetra is feeling threatened. Check if the fin nipper is often in hiding and if it is joining the other fish.

Frequent hiding may mean that the Neon Tetra feels their territory is being threatened and do not want to leave the spot.

Adding additional hiding spots will help to have darting space for all the fishes in the tank, and if the fin nipper is eyeing another fish, there are spaces to hide for the bullied fish.

Provide a larger fish tank

Once you’ve noticed your Neon Tetras having fin nipping issues, maybe it is time to furnish a larger fish tank. A bigger tank can help your Neon Tetras, and other fish in the tank move freely, and they can swim comfortably as there is a bigger space to move around.

Problems are lesser compared to smaller aquariums.

Remove the offending Tetra

No matter how you many methods you try, such as plants and decorations inside the tank so there is a hiding place for the other fish, a highly aggressive Neon Tetra will not stop. This is true, even if it is not mating season or the fish has all the ideal requirements for all the fish to live peacefully, and there is enough feeding, the fin nipping and harassment to other fish may very well continue.

The other fish will get stressed and suffer because of the constant nipping and attacks that can lead to death for the other occupant of the fish tank.

What you can do in this situation is remove the offending neon to a separate tank if you have one or you could try to find another owner that can take care of the fin nipper or if someone is willing to house the fin nipper in a separate tank.

You can also return the fish to the pet shop where you bought it and let them know why you have to decide on it. Although this is the last resort, you may need it if there is no other fallback.

What tank mates are suitable for Neon Tetras?

Choosing ideal tank mates for your Neon Tetras can help keep the peace within the fish tank. Also, you must not get tank mates that are big enough to eat the Neon Tetras if you don’t want them to clean your Tetras in one go.

Here are some ideas for tank mates for Neon Tetras

  • Gouramis – A fish with large dorsal and anal fins. They also have a variety of beautiful colors like flame and powder blue. They are omnivores and can live in temperatures between 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit.
    Gouramis are a curious type of fish and will often investigate their surroundings. The female kind is more peaceful compared to the males as they tend to clash with each other.

  • Guppies – Appearance of the colorful and showy tail with a small and slim body. They are omnivores that will thrive in a water temperature between 75 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. This fish species is peaceful and curious. They can live together with Neon Tetras as long as they don’t outnumber them.

  • Corydoras – An appearance of a domed head with a flattened ventral side to make it possible for them to stick at the bottom. There are also various colors and patterns available. They will thrive in water temperatures between 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

    They are considered fish tank cleaner cause they love to scout for leftover food. Corydoras also just sleep after eating and once they spent their energy. Generally, they are peaceful and will not squabble with other fish species. Corys will thrive more if with their own species.

  • Clown Pleco – This little fish will occupy a tiny space in your fish tank and not cause chaos in the fish tank. They have a light brown base covered with mustard yellow stripes. Clown Plecos are easy to care for, and their diet is mostly herbivore. The water temperature they prefer should be between 75 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

    What is unique about this fish is its preference to hide most of the day unless they are feeding on something. They prefer algae compared to other diets. A very pleasant fish species.

  • Chili Rasboras – Appearance of a small, slim-bodied fish that has bright red markings with small fins. They can thrive in water temperatures between 68 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Rasboras are peaceful fish and prefer to stay on the surface most of the time. They are a school of fish with at least a group of five or more.

three corydoras on light gravel
Corydoras make good tank mates for Neon Tetras

What to consider to prevent your Neon Tetras nipping fins?

  • Ensure that you have the proper information and facts about the fish you will combine with your Neon Tetras.

  • Do not mix your Neon Tetras with the likes of tiger barbs, cichlids, and bettas. Chaos will surely ensue because of the behavior of these fish is often aggressive and they look to  defend their territory.

  • Check slow swimming fish and remove them from the mix. They easily fall prey to Neon Tetras and their fin nipping behavior. Since they are slow, and mostly moving at such a lazy pace, the Neons can easily nip on their fins.

  • Set up enough hiding spots and cover for all the other fish. Provide enough plants – live or artificial or decorative stones, where it can create a safe haven for fish that need to hide.

  • Remove the weak and separate those who have suffered from the Neon Tetra’s fin nipping behavior. This should be done early before the harassed fish becomes too weak or even dies.

  • Changing water weekly keeps the water environment clean and assists the healing process for those with nipped fins. This also ensures that your Neon Tetra is always at their best behavior and not stressed with their surroundings.