What is The Neon Tetra Disease?

What is The Neon Tetra Disease?

Even though many people consider tetras to be low-maintenance pets, they still require proper care in order to live a healthy life.

Unfortunately, some fish owners may not be aware of the dangers that lurk in their tanks, and one such danger is Neon Tetra Disease.

Neon Tetra Disease (NTD) is an extremely deadly aquatic virus that affects neon tetras and other small tropical fish. The virus damages the kidneys and liver, which eventually leads to death

In this article, we will take a closer look at NTD, what causes it, and how to prevent it.

Causes of Neon Tetra Disease

Neon Tetra Disease is caused by an organism known as Pleistophora hyphessobryconis.

Once fish eat the dead bodies of other fish in the tank or live food servings like Tubifex, which can act as a disease carrier, it is passed throughout the aquarium.

Parasitic spores enter the fish’s body after it dies, consuming the healthy host.

As the disease advances, cysts form on the infected animals and deteriorate from the inside out.

Symptoms of Neon Tetra Disease in Fish

Symptoms in neon tetra disease progress as follows:


At first, the only sign may be restlessness, especially at night.

The first thing that most owners notice is that the afflicted fish no longer school with the others, which indicates that something is wrong.

Color Loss

Fish begins to lose coloration, often in one part of the body.

Muscle deterioration progresses as the condition advances, with white tissue appearing in the color band and areas near the back.

As more muscle tissue is damaged, the white coloration grows.


The fish’s body may assume a lumpy appearance as the cysts deform the muscles.

Fish Has Difficulty Swimming

Swimming becomes increasingly random over time, and it’s evident that the fish isn’t healthy.

Curved Spine

´╗┐In advanced cases, the spine may become curved. Damage to the muscles can cause spine curvature or deformation, making it difficult for the fish to swim.

Secondary Infections

Fin rot and bloating are examples of secondary infections.

It is hard to believe that the fins could decay due to this infection, especially the caudal fin. However, secondary infection is primarily to blame here, not the disease itself.

Why Do Neon Tetras Get Sick?

Neon tetras are very sensitive to environmental changes and will quickly become stressed if their water quality is poor or they do not receive the proper diet.

Here are some reasons that can cause these diseases:


The first reason neon tetras appear unhealthy is that they are kept in high numbers.

Fish farms know they’re always in demand; thus, they produce them in large amounts.

Wholesalers buy hundreds of them at once, huge quantities are sent to your local pet store, and the retail employee combines the newest shipment of tetras with an existing group that hasn’t sold yet.

There is an increased danger that at least one of the fish in a group will be ill and that it will pass on the disease to the others.

Poor Diet

The pet store, fish farms, and wholesalers all want to spend as little food and time with the fish as possible to stay successful.

It’s not uncommon for a whole tank of 100 tetras to get only a few pinches of fish flakes.

This strategy works in the short term for most fish, but it does not work well in high-stress, overcrowded tanks with neon tetras.

When you keep neon tetras in high-stress, crowded conditions, they may acquire diseases including ich, fungal infections, or even neon tetra disease.

How to Get Healthier Neon Tetras

To have healthier neon tetras, there are some simple things you can do:

Don’t Overcrowd Your Tank

While you may be able to get away with keeping 10-20 tetras in a 5-gallon tank, you should stick to 5-10 neon tetras.

These species are sensitive to water quality and will do better in a less crowded tank.

Feed Them a High-Quality Diet

A diet of high-quality food is essential for the health of any fish.

So, it is recommended to feed them a varied diet of living, frozen, and freeze-dried food.

This will ensure that they get the nutrients to stay healthy and active.

How to Prevent Neon Tetra Disease

Unfortunately, NTD currently cannot be cured and is highly contagious.

Therefore, the best course of action is to prevent it from occurring in the first place.

The following are some tips to prevent Neon Tetra Disease:

Quarantine the New Fish

To ensure the health of your new fish, quarantine them in a different container for several weeks to check for any problems and prevent contact with your current pets.

After their traumatic trip from the fish farm, they use the quarantine tank to help them recuperate.

Adjust The Water Temperature

NTD is more prevalent at warmer temperatures and can quickly kill your fish.

So, if you keep your water temperature below 68 degrees Fahrenheit, you can decrease the chance of neon tetra disease.

Use Filters and Dechlorinators

Using a quality filter and dechlorinator in your tank can help keep the water clean and free from harmful toxins.

This will help reduce the stress on your fish and decrease the likelihood of them getting sick.

Perform Regular Water Changes

Replace about 20-25% of the water every week to maintain good water quality.

This will help remove any toxins that have built up and replenish the oxygen levels in the water.

Monitor The Tank’s pH Levels

The pH of your tank’s water should be maintained at a neutral level of 6.5-7.5.

If it falls outside this range, you can use a pH adjuster to bring it back to the correct level.

Don’t Include Predators.

If you have any fish in your tank that are natural predators to neon tetras, such as barracuda or Oscars, you increase the chance of neon tetra disease.

Remove these fish from your tank to protect your neon tetras and prevent the disease from spreading.

Why Do Neon Tetras Get Curved Spines?

A curved spine or an irregular body shape are often considered signs of NTD, but we feel malformed neon tetras are more often a breeding problem.

Aquariums buy a lot of nano fish and they give no time to sort through them to get rid of the ones with bent backs.

Rather than individually counting them, they estimate the neon tetras’ counts for shipping by weighing them.

They only scoop out the defective fish once they’ve arrived at the fish store because they don’t want the shop to appear imperfect.

However, they don’t move all of the infected fish since they are tiny, and the problem won’t be evident until they age and get larger.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Fish Can Be Affected?

NTD can infect any fish that come in contact with it but is most commonly found in neon tetras.

Fish such as, Angelfish, Barbs, and Rasboras all are at risk of contracting the disease.

Is It Possible to Completely Eradicate the Disease from a Tank Even After Infection?

This disease is highly contagious due to how quickly it can spread.

It’s not the tank that causes problems; it’s the fish spreading illness among themselves.

So, it is critical to quarantine the sick fish and keeps good water levels and hygiene to avoid further harm to the ecosystem.

Also, you must do other preventative actions including regulating the water temperature, having a good filter, and keeping up on water changes.

Do All Neon Tetras Carry This Disease?

No, the illness is passed from one species to another and is caused by fish consuming other dead fish tissue.

The most significant thing you can do to avoid this condition is not acquire fish that appear ill and to properly QT any new arrivals.

What Are Some of the Best Ways to Spot the Disease Early on?

Inflamed hosts develop symptoms such as restlessness in fish, discoloration, fin rot, and other physical indications.

If you spot an illness early on, you can treat the water and suspend the feeding to halt the progress of the disease.

Is The Neon Tetra Disease Treatable?

Neon tetra disease is a very prevalent disease affecting fish species.

Although many other diseases are curable, this one condition is exceptionally harmful to the fish’s health.

There is no cure if a neon tetra becomes infected with the disease.

As a result, neon tetras afflicted by the illness are immediately transferred to another aquarium or killed.

If the disease is carried from tank to tank, you must separate them as soon as possible to avoid spreading it.

What Should I Do If My Fish Is Suffering from Neon Tetra Disease?

Neon tetra disease is not curable, but it is preventable.

If a neon tetra becomes infected with the illness, it is crucial to remove it from the tank as soon as possible because the ailment is highly transmissible.

So, if you want the greatest for your fish and the whole tank, go with methods that prevent illness.

The easiest method to guarantee that is to quarantine all the new fish you add to the tank.

This approach ensures that the health problems do not spread to other fish in the tank.

Also, avoid adding new fish to the tank if you notice anything wrong with them during quarantine, as this might cause stress.

Does an Antibacterial Treatment work?

If you’re sure it’s neon tetra disease and that your fish has been exposed to an infection, a medication against bacteria may help.

A thorough antibacterial therapy can work wonders even if it isn’t neon tetra disease or superficial bacterial infection.

It can help prevent additional infections and obstruct the spread of germs.

Is it worth it?

Yes, antibacterial treatments such as API Melafix Antibacterial Fish Remedy can prevent the spread of bacteria.

This is a beautiful choice for novice aquarium keepers because it is safe and effective. It also aids in the healing of any injuries or lacerations on the fish’s body.

Is Cardinal Tetra Disease has the Same Symptoms?

The symptoms and effects of cardinal tetra disease and neon tetra disease are comparable.

They can show similar signs of stress and tiredness, even if they’re not stressed outside the tank.

So, be on the lookout for any significant changes in the fish’s behavior and remove them if necessary.

Because these illnesses are highly transmissible and spread quickly, you must handle them with care and, if necessary, euthanize them, so they do not have to live in agony.

Can Guppies Get Neon Tetra Disease?

As we mentioned, several other fish species, such as angels, rasboras, and barbs, have frequently been afflicted by neon tetra illnesses.

However, there are few cases of guppies infected by the illness.

Because neon tetra disease spreads so rapidly, it’s no surprise that guppies kept nearby can be affected.

If the guppies consume infected neon tetras in the tank, they can get infected.

Can Bettas Get Neon Tetra Disease?

Even bettas are susceptible to neon tetra disease if they keep in touch with the infected neon tetra fish, like guppies.

Bettas are already highly territorial.

Therefore, we recommend that you keep them away from neon tetras and keep them in the tank alone or with the same species and in manageable numbers.

If a neon tetra is infected, it should be removed from the community tank.

Follow it up with a thorough antibacterial treatment to eliminate any remaining bacterial infection in the water.

Is Neon Tetra Disease Contagious?

Neon tetra disease is highly contagious and can infect multiple fish species in the tank in seconds or minutes.

However, keep in mind that the illness is non-communicable to humans.

So, you can treat the infected tank by yourself without worrying about your health.

Since the disease progresses rapidly, you must find the infected fish immediately and remove them from the tank as early as possible.

The quicker you remove them, the easier it becomes to contain the spread and ensure that the other fish are in the best of health.

What is False Neon Tetra Disease?

A neon tetra disease infection shows many of the same signs as a typical bacterial infection.

It might be difficult for aquarists to differentiate between two species, so they frequently diagnose the symptoms as neon tetra disease.

There’s also the chance it’s a phony neon tetra illness, which is more like a bacterial infection and not as bad.

Fortunately, the disease is treatable, and the fish do not die from it.

However, even for these, an early diagnosis is critical so that the fish may be isolated and treated with the proper antibacterial therapy.

Last Words

By following the steps above, you can create a healthy environment for your neon tetras and help prevent the spread of NTD.

If you think your fish might have NTD, don’t hesitate to quarantine the infected fish and contact a vet specializing in fish health.

They will be able to give you a definite diagnosis and help you find the best course of treatment for your fish.

Thanks for reading! We hope this article has been helpful.