Neon Tetra Not Schooling: 7 Common Causes & What To Do Next

Neon Tetras are stunning fish with red linings and silver bodies, which makes them a worthy investment for any aquarium. 

However, if it’s your first time keeping these aquatic creatures, you may wonder: Why is my Neon Tetra not schooling?

This article will show you the potential causes and tips to encourage this behavior in this species if necessary. Let’s find out!

Neon Tetra Not Schooling: Common Causes

In nature, Neon Tetras tend to school to feel safer when they are in environments with natural predators. 

However, these aquatic creatures won’t form schools because they don’t see any dangers around their habitats. 

Besides, these fish don’t show this natural behavior due to various reasons, as shown below:

This Fish Species Doesn’t School.

Contrary to popular belief that Tetras prefer to school, these aquatic creatures shoal. It’s their natural behavior and reflex in the wild. 

Moreover, these fish won’t form schools when they feel no predators swimming around. 

Your Aquarium Is Spacious.

These creatures can freely swim around in a sizable tank. Tetras are naturally curious fish that will explore every corner of your spacious aquarium.

When you keep them in a too-compact tank, they may feel uncomfortable and cluster closer together.

Spacious tank

It Is Not Feeding Time.

After keeping Tetras for a time, you may notice that these fish only school together when it’s feeding time. 

Some will feel comfortable and freely swim near the water’s surface to grab the food you provide them. 

These fish are among the mid-level feeder groups. They gather in the aquarium’s center as the food descends to this level.

In other words, if you don’t give them food, these creatures may not school in your tank. 

Neon Tetra Swims In A Loose Group.

A group is not considered school since these fish won’t always stick together. They are in a loose group and willing to shoal if necessary. 

However, they don’t need to do this naturally since you offer favorable environments for them to have a safer and healthier life. 

You Don’t Bother Them.

You may see your fish stick together if you put your hand in your aquarium to move decorations or do some cleaning. 

It seems that these aquatic creatures are schooling, but they are trying to stay away from the disturbing thing – your hand.

If you don’t bother your Tetras, they won’t school or shoal. They feel safe and comfortable in this environment. 

If you plan to clean your tank without removing fish, this video is helpful for you:

Neon Tetra Aren’t Scared Or Upset.

Tetras feel safe when they are in numbers. They will stick together to seek comfort and extra protection if you make noise near the tank. 

If you don’t make these creatures upset or scared, they will separately swim around your aquarium. 

They feel safe.

They Know They Are In Captivity.

In nature, predators always lurk, and threats exist everywhere. For this reason, these creatures shoal or school in numbers to protect each other. 

Like other fish, it’s the natural behavior of this species when they notice threats in their habitats. 

If your aquarium has no threat lurking around, these fish won’t school for extra protection. 

When Do Neon Tetras School?

As shared earlier, these creatures don’t school but shoal. They stick together when they notice predators and other threats. 

When they show this behavior, they may be in danger or uncomfortable. You must figure out the root causes. 

You should keep 6 – 10 fish in the same tank so that they will feel relaxed, as these creatures depend on numbers to feel safe. 

If they are under stress, they may suffer serious health problems and even die due to fear of predators. 

Moreover, you must ensure your aquarium provides enough space for these creatures to swim around. 

They school due to threats.

How To Make Neon Tetra School?

If you find it hard to make these creatures school, ensure you add enough Neon Tetras in numbers to facilitate this behavior. 

You can consider introducing more fish to mimic their natural habitats so that they will school together to get more protection. 

Moreover, keeping other species in your tank is a good idea, but these fish won’t harm your Tetras. 

These tank mates should be big or active enough to make your Tetras want to stick together. Below are some ideal friends for this species:

  • Guppies
  • Killifish
  • Angelfish
  • Mollies
  • Hatchetfish
  • Platies
  • Halfbeaks

Tips for making these creatures school


How Can You Tell If A Neon Tetra Is Stressed?

Here are some signs when these creatures are under stress:

  • Swim frantically
  • Crash at the tank bottom
  • Rub on rocks or gravel
  • Lock fins at the sides

Why Did One Of My Neon Tetras Disappear?

These aquatic may disappear from your aquarium because of the following reasons:

  • They die, but you overlook this issue. 
  • Aggressive tankmates attack and eat them. 
  • They jump out of your tank. 
  • They hide around aquarium decorations and plants. 

Why Are Neon Tetras So Hard To Keep Alive?

Many aquarists find it hard to keep these creatures in their tanks. These fish are often attacked and eaten by larger species due to their tiny size. 

Besides, they require stability and warmth. You must ensure the water temperature in your aquarium is around 78℉.

Is 3 Neon Tetras Enough?

The population of these fish depends on your tank size. However, it’s best to keep at least 6 Tetras in the same tank so that they will feel comfortable and safe and grow healthy. 

Do Neon Tetras Need An Air Pump?

No. These fish don’t require an air pump in their tank. A good filter is enough to promote aeration and create oxygen. 

Final Thoughts

Neon Tetras not schooling is a normal phenomenon in any tank. It’s a good sign that your fish are comfortable and happy in the environment you provide. 

If you notice these creatures stick together, they may be upset or scared of threats and predators. Thus, ensure you keep them in numbers in your tank. 

Hopefully, this post will be helpful for you. Thanks for reading!