"Best Choice" Pet Best Choice
Neon Tetras are tiny, brightly colored, tropical fish native to South America. Wild fish are found primarily in blackwater streams of Brazil, Peru, and Columbia. The fishes’ bright coloring may be important for finding mates in murky water. Neon Tetras are one of the most popular aquarium fish in the United States. An estimated 20 million fish are imported each year for the U.S. pet trade. Neon Tetras are easily bred in captivity and 95% of the individuals available in pet stores are from breeding facilities in southeast Asia. Some wild-caught Neon Tetras are still imported from South America.
The Neon Tetra is very similar in appearance to the Cardinal Tetra (P. axelrodi), another South American fish that is not considered by PetWatch to be a Best Choice Pet. Cardinal Tetras are usually wild-caught, and they are more delicate and difficult to keep alive in a home aquarium. The two species can be distinguished by the length of their red body stripes. For Neon Tetras, the stripe runs only half the length of the body whereas in Cardinal Tetras, the stripe runs the entire length of the body. This rest of this report applies only to Neon Tetras.