White Spots On Neon Tetra: Top Reasons & Solutions

Neon tetras are among the most common fish for inexperienced aquarists, mostly thanks to their hardiness and accessibility. However, this does not mean that neon tetras are immune to diseases.

If the conditions are unstable, these fish can still develop certain ailments. And those are what cause white spots on neon tetra.

So, can white spots kill fish? And how long does a white spot take to clear? Keep reading if you want to know the best ways to treat your sick neon tetras.

What Are White Spots On Neon Tetras?

White spots scattering on neon tetras are the most obvious symptoms that your fish have come down with ich. Ich is a widely popular aquatic disease that can wreak havoc on a community tank and threaten the lifespan of all its residents.

sicked neon tetra fish

What Is Ich?

Ich – scientifically known as ichthyophthirius multifiliis – is a parasite that spreads on aquatic animals. Not only does it infect neon tetras, but ich can also prey on all other species such as crustaceans and reptiles.

Once burrowed inside neon tetras, ich will start sucking out blood and nutrients to grow. The longer it stays inside the fish, the easier it becomes for a single ich cell to divide remarkably.

Eventually, ich will claim most of the fish’s flesh, leading it to die off. Unless treated timely, ich-infected neon tetras will probably end up dying due to lack of oxygen and starvation.

What Are The Symptoms Of Ich On Neon Tetras?

Detecting ich on neon tetras is relatively simple, as the signs are quite obvious.

Firstly, you will see your fish trying to rub itself against gravel or rocks. This is because when ich starts burrowing itself on the fish’s skin, the sensation will be itchy.

Imagine how you feel should you get bitten by a mosquito! The discomfort will force neon tetras to try to relieve themselves through scratching.

Secondly, ich-infected neon tetras will be lethargic. They are not as active during the day. Instead of swimming around leisurely, neon tetras will either stay in one place or swim erratically.

Thirdly, white spots will start to appear on the fish’s scales and bodies. The size of these spots varies significantly, but they all have the same milky white shade. You may even see these spots appearing on other fish inside the tank as well since ich is highly contagious.

Finally, if your fish are in advanced stages, blood swelling or redness is to be seen on their gills and bodies. These usually happen when ich has become almost irreversible and cannot be treated.

In case you need more grounds to ascertain that your neon tetras have been infected with ich, consider checking the state of your aquarium. If ich is prevalent inside the tank, it will smell like ammonia.

Furthermore, the gravel and tank’s substrate are also filled with tiny white spots, similar to those on a fish’s body.

How To Treat White Spots on Neon Tetras

white spot on neon tetra

Once you have found out that your neon tetras have been infected with ich, proceed to perform a complete water change right away. A refreshing source of water for the tank helps to get rid of any residual ich parasites and minimizes the chances of worsening the conditions.

Make sure to clean the gravel and tank substrate as well. Check your water filters to see if they are running sufficiently.

Next up, slowly raise the water’s temperature to around 80 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. A slightly warmer environment fastens the growth of ich parasite. As a result, you are more likely to medicate your fish once the ich’s life cycle is completed.

Now, adding water to the water is another approach to dial down the severity of your ich-infected neon tetras. The ideal ratio is ½ tablespoon of salt for every 20 gallons of water. A little bit of salinity is useful when it comes to sterilizing the water.

After completing these steps, rest assured that mild ich parasites will be gone within a few days. But if your fish have moved to the next phase where medicines are required, you may have to consult with experienced vets for the right treatments.


1. How do you know when a tetra is dying?

If you see your fish developing some of the symptoms below, chances are it is about to die.

  • Discoloration: Dying tetras have a much paler skin color compared to healthy tetras.
  • Lethargy: Dying tetras are not as energetic. They will appear much more sluggish than their healthy counterparts and do not swim around as much.
  • Rotten fins: Dying tetras tend to have rotten fins and scales. Sometimes, the fins are also nipped and injured.
  • Weird swimming patterns: Since dying tetras have lost their balance, they will not be able to swim properly.

Tetras reaching their final days are beyond saving. The best course of action you can take regarding dying tetras is to remove them from the community tank. This way, they will not be able to infect other healthy fish.

2. Do tetra die easily?

Not really. Tetras are quite hardy and can adapt to many different environments. That said, if the water’s conditions are subpar and tetras are not fed the right way, they can still perish within months.

Furthermore, tetras are also susceptible to illnesses, which aggravate their health and affect their overall lifespan.

Therefore, while tetras are not easy to die, it does not mean you can slack off on their caretaking.


White spots on neon tetra tell you that these fish are having ich. But more often than not, ich is treatable if detected early on. Make sure you follow the tips and tricks above and voila, ich will no longer be a concern for your aquarium fish.