Glowlight tetra is one of the most popular ornamental fish you will find in most aquariums today. And that is for a great reason.

It’s a peaceful, easy-to-maintain, and lively fish. But that doesn’t imply effortless success.

Observing certain requirements is a must if you wish to be a proud Glo light tetra fishkeeper.

This article will share crucial tips to help you raise a dazzling pool of glowlight tetras like a pro. These are the same tips we have applied in our own and our client’s aquariums with excellent results.

Species Overview

Quick Species Facts
Scientific Name Hemigrammus Erythrozonus
Common Names Glolight, Fire Neon, Glow Neon Tetra, Glolite Tetra
Family Characidae
Distribution Northeastern South America
Lifespan 4 years
Size 1.5-1.6 Inch
Type Schooling
Color Silver, orange-red stripe
Habitation Freshwater

Glowlight tetra originated from the  Essequibo River Basin, Guyana, and the wetlands of Suriname. According to scientific research, these rivers contain plenty of tannins, making the rivers slightly acidic and soft, a perfect condition for their growth.

The species is also claimed to be present in parts of Columbia and Venezuela, in addition to its native nations. However, this finding is dubious due to a lack of actual evidence.

What is Their Size?

Compared to other fish species, this fish is small. An adult will only reach one and a half inches (3.3 to 4 cm). But, on rare occasions, they can grow up to two inches.

Even then, they’re bigger than their cousin species, the Cardinal Tetra and Neon tetra.

Color and Appearance

These fish have unmistakable features. Uniquely, they have a torpedo shape with an almost entire transparent body. Also, they feature a unique reddish-orange stripe that appears on each side of the body, from the tip of the head to the end of the tail.

The reflective stripe of Glowlight tetra makes them most attractive. Make sure your aquarium has adequate lighting to highlight its glorious appeal.

What is Their Life Expectancy?

With such beautiful fish, one would expect them to live long. It turns out the fish doesn’t live long.

Even under the best care, the glow neon tetra can only live up to 4 to 5 years. In contrast to others, this lifespan is low.

Pro Tip: To guarantee a long life for your glow neon tetra fish, they need proper feeding. Also maintaining proper hygiene will help in preventing diseases.

How to Identify Male from Female?

For the experienced fishkeepers, telling females apart from males is easy peasy. All you have to do is check out the adult sizes and shapes. You would expect the males to have a bigger body size, right?

That is the expectation of most people. But in comparison with other animals, in most fish species, females are bigger. Our friends, the glowlight tetra, are no different.

Usually, males are slender and much smaller than females. In contrast, the females are larger, plumper, and with a more rounded belly.

Availability and Price

Over the years, this lively fish has spread around the world. As such, compared to before, these ornamental fish are plentiful and are affordable.

For two dollars only, you can have a pair to start you off. 

Comprehensive Care Guide

Quick Care Facts
Care Level Easy
Social Peaceful
Temperament Non-aggressive
Tank Mates Neon tetra, Cardinal tetra
Diet Omnivores
Breeding Scatters eggs
Hardiness Hardy

What Do They Eat?

Interestingly, some glowlight tetras are pretty selective in what they eat. This can be challenging as it might mean buying expensive feeds most of the time. 

Fortunately, this fish is not a fussy feeder. In the wild, they feed on:

  • Tiny plants
  • Insects
  • Larvae
  • Crustaceans

But in an aquarium setting, they will devour:

  • Flakes
  • Freeze-dried, frozen foods
  • Brine shrimps
  • Other live foods
  • Worms

It is crucial to avoid over-feeding the fish. Not only is overfeeding bad for fish health, but it creates problems for the fish in other ways as well. Unused food for the glowlight tetra contaminates the fish tank creating a perfect breeding ground for diseases.

See also  Bloodfin (Redfin) Tetra Care Sheet - Tank Setup, Diet, Breeding & Disease

Author Note: To avoid overfeeding we recommend you create a feeding timetable. Feeding once or two times a day is a great, healthy routine.

Are They Temperamental?

When it comes to the Glowlight tetras, you can say that they are both friendly and social.

These friendly little guys will shoal in your tank happily all day long, making friends with their own kinds and other similar species.

They get along well with other non-aggressive species but will school up if you let them, so make sure to keep an eye on your numbers!

According to research, when a predator attacks glowlight tetras’ shoals, they exhibit fin flicking symptoms, which helps them evade the predators and avoid becoming prey.

Breeding: Mating and Spawning

Well, breeding to boost your glowlight tetra stock is not easy, and for successful breeding, you will need meticulous planning.

For this procedure, you will need a separate tank for breeding. The aim is to set up a neutral place to help control critical factors at play. To start, put soft water in this tank., keeping the softness no more than 6 dGH.

Pro Tip: If no soft water is available, you can soften it with peat moss. To do this, put peat moss in clean water, let it settle for 2-3 days and it’s done. This simple trick will save you the trouble of having to find soft water elsewhere.

Equally important is the water pH. For best results, the water pH should be in the range of 5.5 to 7.0.

Your next action is to track the breeder’s temperature. In our experience, the sweet spot for spawning is in the range of between 26-28°C. Between this range, female glowlight tetra spawns faster.

Your breeder is all set now. But you must make the breeding pair ready for it. Feed them in a separate tank for a few weeks to prepare them for the oncoming spawning.

If you follow closely, you will notice when the female glowlight tetra is getting plumper around the tummy. That is the time to transfer the pair to the prepared tank.


Ideally, spawning should happen one day after transferring to the new tank. At the opportune time, the male glow tetra starts to display some unique behavior. The male will swim around, darting from one point to another, flicking its fins as it approaches the female.

At the end of this courtship ritual, the pair rolls over, and the female in an upside position will release the eggs. And on a natural cue, the male will fertilize the approximately 150-200 eggs laid. At this point, their work is done.

Remove the glowlight tetra, or else they will eat the eggs. Usually, this should happen within days after transferring the pair to the new tank. If not, most likely, something went wrong with the preparation.

In case, abort the venture and start all over again.


At this point, utmost care is required to ease successful hatching. Sometimes most eggs won’t hatch. While there may be other reasons, fungal infections are the culprit. There is no consensus on what causes the fungal infection that prevents glowlight tetra from hatching.

Some people believe intense lighting is the cause. But the real problem lies in the tank hygiene and water cleanness. Also, we recommend adding methylene blue in the tank to prevent fungal growth.

Assuming no mishap, within 24 hours, the eggs will hatch. It’s time to feed the small tetras.

Feeding the Frys

Within the first 1-2 days, the newly hatched glowlight tetra fry will not need feeding. During this period, they will be using the yolk sack for their nourishment. But, take caution as this is their most delicate stage for their survival.

If the yolk is depleted, it is time to feed them. You can start them off with Infusoria, paramecium culture, crushed flakes, or rotifers. Usually, this will take 1-2 more days.

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They will be of the right size to feed on newly hatched brine shrimps by this time. You can wean them off to more complex foods such as nauplii or live worms as they progress.

If all goes well, they will show the full characteristics of an adult glowlight tetra in three weeks.

Some Common Diseases

Most of the diseases affecting glowlight tetra are those found in other freshwater tropical fish species. Here are a few.

Ich Disease

Ich is a common disease of freshwater fish. Ich, a parasitic infection, is a contagious disease that can wipe out the whole glow neon fish population.

Symptoms include the appearance of white spots all over the fish’s body. The first step in its treatment is to quarantine to curb its spread.

Neon Tetra Disease

The highly contagious disease is named after neon tetra fish from which it was first observed. A parasite, Pleistophora Hyphessobryconis, causes the disease. While it starts mildly, it is a fast spreader with severe consequences.

Infections start when a glowlight tetra feeds on an infected dead fish. Once lodged inside the fish, the parasite eats away the entire organs of the fish.

They start from the intestines, spread to the skeletal tissue, and end up on the skin tissues as lumps. Remove any dead fish in the tank and quarantine the infected.

Know in detail how to dispose of and clean and disinfect the tank if you find a Dead Fish.

Symptoms include:

  • Partial body discoloration
  • Difficulty in swimming
  • Curved spine
  • Fin rot and bloating
  • Lumpy body from cysts

Gill Disease (Dactylogyrus)

This is another common disease among many freshwater fish species. Also known as Gill Flukes, it thrives best in conditions caused by poor tank hygiene.


  • General body sores, especially the gills
  • A quick movement of the fins while in one spot
  • Pale red skin


  • Disinfect the water with chlorine to prevent the spores
  • Deworm to prevent the flukes

Fin Rot/Tail Rot

A bacterial infection, the disease mainly affects the tails and fins.

Like in the case of Gill’s Disease, unhygienic aquarium conditions are the leading cause. Other causes include secondary infection from injuries by a bite from another fish.


  • Difficulty in swimming
  • Decaying fins
  • In severe cases, gangrene may set in on the affected part


  • Improve the hygiene of the water tank
  • Quarantine the affected glow light tetra to avoid infecting others
  • Buy antibiotics from approved professional outlets for home treatment or seek professional help

Expert Tip: As you can see there is a trend in our analysis of the glowlight tetra diseases. The bottom line is hygiene. To keep away infections, maintain the tank in clean condition at all times. This observation has worked well in our aquariums as well.

Read more about Fish Diseases, Types, Prevention, and Indicators.

Tetra Tank Recommendations

Quick Tank Facts
Minimum Tank Size 20 Gallons
Tank Level Mid
Water Temperature 72-80°F(24-28°C)
Water Hardness Approximately 6-15 dGH
pH Level 5.5-7.5

Tank Size

The size of the tank depends on the number of glowlight tetra you want to keep. Typically, a 20-gallon tank (60 cm wide) will be enough if you plan to have half a dozen pieces. It follows that keeping more will need an even bigger tank.

Use a bigger tank, and you will thank us for it. Also, using a larger tank reduces the incidences of poisoning from wastes. 

Fire neons are shoaling fish, and they love to swim in groups. Thus, a spacious tank will give them enough room to swim freely and happily.

Tank Set-Up

When setting up the tank, it is essential to mimic the natural rivers from which Glowlight tetra originate as much as possible. For this to happen, the plants, substrates, and lighting must be on point.

Live Plants

Usually, plants will create hiding places like in the wild, and growing floating plants will serve a fantastic purpose to this end. Also, research shows plants play an essential role in inducing spawning.

Some of the excellent examples we recommend include Java moss, hornwort, and driftwood. Alternatively, you can paint three sides of the glass to create the same effects.

Besides, you can use Vallisneria, Floating Pistia for water darkening tannins.

See also  Bleeding Heart Tetra – Detailed Manual for Care in Captivity


Choosing the right substrate is essential for this project. Ideally, your tank should have peat and gravel or river sand and peat.

First, introduce the peat, followed by gravel. The gravels create an aesthetic look and mimic the river rock in the natural setting. 


Normally, Glowlight tetra does not like direct light glare. For their best comfort, place your tank in a section of the house with a low light level. Oftentimes, using enough tannin-producing plants is enough to reduce the level of water clarity.

Author Note: Glaring light interferes with spawning. To avoid excessive light, we recommend locating the tank in the dim light section of the house. Also, you can use a spawning mop or a suitable plant such as Java moss for the same purpose.

Filtration and Oxygenation

For the healthy living of your glowlight tetra, oxygen is an essential component. If you observe your fish swimming near the top of the fish tank gasping, they are in trouble. That is a sure sign of low oxygen levels in the tank.

Naturally, as the oxygen levels deplete in the tanks, oxygen concentration will be higher near the top surface of the tank. To help boost the oxygen levels and reduce ammonia’s build-up, you need to install a filter.

A filter has a mechanism of pushing water from the bottom of the tank to the surface. The circulation increases oxygenation and reduces the build-up of toxic wastes.

Keep in mind to often change the water in the fish tank to protect your glowlight tetra fish. Replacing 25% of the water every two to four weeks is enough to keep Nitrates levels low.

Read more about Filtration here.

Water Parameters

Glowlight tetra thrives best in slightly acidic water pH between 6 to 7.5. If you wish to increase water acidity, we recommend using Indian almond leaves.

Water hardness and temperature are the other important factors to observe. Their ideal levels should be 15dGH and 25 °C, respectively.

Glow Tetra Fish Tankmates

Glowlight tetra can peacefully coexist with other fish species. But, remember, like all schooling fishes, they love their own company more. If you keep enough of their own kind, they wouldn’t be bothered by the presence of other species of fish.

Other than their own members, their next best friends are their cousin species:

  • Neon tetra
  • Cardinal tetra (Glow tetras have been spotted shoaling with them, along with their own species, which is a glorious sight to behold.)

Adding small species such as:

Pro tip: Keep in mind to especially avoid mixing them with the predatory types of fishes. Glowlight tetra is especially a snack for the angelfish. Additionally, keep away all large fish likely to either scare or eat them up.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Tetra Glow Fish Need a Heater?

Yes. The tropical climate temperatures from which glowlight tetra originate are usually more regular than other climatic zones. Consider using an aquarium heater to adapt them closer to their natural habitats. The heater will protect them from extreme weather fluctuations.

Do Glolite Tetra Fish Glow in the Dark?

The glowlight tetras glow in the dark but not as bright as when in a lighted environment. Keeping the tank in a well-lit area will make them glow more. But keeping it too bright is not good for them.

Are Glow Neon Tetra Fin Nippers?

No. Generally, fire neons are unaggressive fish, and as such, they can be kept with long-finned fish at no risk of fish nipping. They are comfortable living with long-finned fish such as the Betta Splendens.

Do They Eat Cherry Shrimps?

Glowlight tetra and cherry shrimps can coexist. Being peaceful fish, they rarely attack other fish. However, as for baby cherry shrimps, that is a different matter. To avoid them from eating baby cherry shrimps, we recommend keeping them in a different tank.

Can You Overfeed Glowlight tetra fish?

Overfeeding should be avoided at all costs. Put only enough feed for them to feed on. Overfeeding is terrible for your fish as it slows spawning. Also, excess feeds in the tanks contaminate water causing lousy health.

Take Away: Is This Fish Worthy Adding to Your Aquarium?

As we have found out, it is a fantastic pet fish. They are easy to maintain and easy to breed. Whether you are a beginner or a pro-aquarist, keeping and enjoying glowlight tetra is for everyone.

All you need to do is prepare an appropriate tank set up, head over to a pet shop, and stock your Aquarium. But don’t forget to follow the critical ideas we have shared in this guide.

About the Author

Charles Ataya

Charles Ataya has a wealth of experience in fishkeeping and Aquarium management. With a Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Management and over five years of experience, he is an authority in the fisheries industry. He regularly writes on fishkeeping and aquarium best practices.

Career Highlights:

  • A self-motivated fishkeeping professional with a proven track record of managing aquariums
  • Strong understanding of the fisheries industry with solid experience in the fisheries industry
  • Passionate about Aquarium management and maintenance
  • Focused on meeting deadlines to ensure project success
  • Reliable and dedicated team worker

Educational Highlights:

Bachelor of Science in Wildlife and Fisheries Management | University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya(2008-2011)

  • Upper-Class Honors
  • Relevant course work: Introduction to marine wildlife, Marine biology, Fish Nutrition, Fish breeding, Fisheries planning, and management.

Writing Experience

His online writing career journey started about 5 years ago after learning about it from a friend. Since then, he has become a passionate online writer with impressive writing skills. His specialty niche is the fisheries industry which comes naturally, as it is his field of training. 

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