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Home > Fish > Glowlight Tetra: Vet-Reviewed Care Guide, Pictures, Tank Setup & Info

Glowlight Tetra: Vet-Reviewed Care Guide, Pictures, Tank Setup & Info

Glowlight Tetra fish

Vet approved

Dr. Luqman Javed Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Luqman Javed

Veterinarian, DVM

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Roughly 11.1 million American households have a freshwater tank, which is over five times as many with a saltwater aquarium.1 Research has shown you can experience mental health benefits by looking at an aquarium of fish.2 An aquarium with community fish like the glowlight tetra is particularly pleasing because of its activity level and beauty.

Size: Up to 2 inches (5 cm) long
Lifespan: 2–4 years
Compatible Tank Mates: Neon tetras, cardinal tetras, guppies
Suitable for: Beginners
Temperament: Peaceful, friendly, schooling

This species has a lot going for it, from their temperament requirements to its affordability. Even setting up a tank for these fish is easy. Their needs are modest, and you don’t need a large aquarium to provide the ideal setting.

Glowlight Tetra Characteristics

Ease of Care


Glowlight Tetra Cost

The glowlight tetra is part of the Characidae family. Species vary in their habitats, but they are usually river-dwelling. They live in many parts of the South Americas. This fish is part of the Hemigrammus genus of its native land in the Amazon Basin of South America. It is not the only species you’ll find from this group. You may recognize the names of some related species, including the fire-head tetra and rummy-nose tetra.

This is a popular aquarium fish. You might see it called glo-light tetra or fire neon. It gets its name from its brilliant orange-colored line bisecting its clear body. The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) considers it a species of least concern. The impact of the export pet trade is unknown since it is relatively easy to breed in captivity.

Glowlight tetras are inexpensive aquarium fish. You can expect to pay under $5 a piece for them. However, they fare best in groups of six or more, which gives them the security of safety in numbers. They are also more active and, thus, enjoyable. Many online sites offer them for sale in small schools at a discounted price.

Glowlight tetra or Hemigrammus erythrozonus, silver in colour and a bright iridescent orange to red stripe
Image Credit: Besjunior, Shutterstock

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Sociability of the Glowlight Tetra

The glowlight tetra is a schooling fish. It’s a common survival strategy for smaller species and those that are often prey to larger fish. The tetras aren’t as visible and active if you have smaller numbers. Instincts will drive them to hide, even in a community tank. They aren’t aggressive and will thrive in aquariums with fish of similar temperaments.

Keeping glowlight tetras is the best way to enjoy these fish. They are active and will make a beautiful display as they swim on mass through your tank.

Do These Fish Make Good Pets?👪

Glowlight tetras make excellent pets because of their docile nature. Some enthusiasts like to specialize in certain species. However, if you want a community tank, these fish provide an excellent start because of their compatibility. They’ll get along with other peaceful tetras, peaceful bottom dwellers, and livebearers. They don’t have special needs like some species, which makes their care relatively easy.

Does This Fish Make a Good Tank Mate?

Glowlight tetras are not aggressive in the least. That makes them good tank mates for many compatible species. The concern rests more on the other side of the equation. Incompatible species include most cichlids, large catfish, goldfish, and other aggressive species.

a group of Glowlight tetra fish or Hemigrammus erythrozonus
Image Credit: Besjunior, Shutterstock

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Care Guide & Tank Setup

Water Quality, pH & Temperature

Good water quality that replicates a species’ native habitat is the goal when keeping glowlight tetras or any fish. This species does best in water temperatures between 72° – 82 °F (22° – 28 °C). A slightly acidic or neutral pH between 6– 7.5 is ideal. This species is more tolerant than other tetras.


We like to use dark-colored substrates with colorful fish like the glowlight tetra. They put the spotlight on the gorgeous neon-like colors and make them pop with this neutral background. These fish live in river habitats and will benefit from live plants and a darkened environment. You can also add some floating plants to filter the light from your hood.


Glowlight tetras are predominantly carnivores, so they’re unlikely to cause much damage to your plants. They typically prefer to free-swim in the middle portion of the tank. Therefore, carpet and floating plants will leave them a free lane to swim.

Little fish swim in the plant aqua tank
Image Credit: Nathawit Thanee, Shutterstock


The live plants in your tank need UV light to thrive. Glowlight tetras are also diurnal and active during the day. You can dial back the brightness of your aquarium by adding tannins to soften the lighting and create a more natural environment. Driftwood and rocks will replicate its river habitat and provide additional places to hide.


Tropical fish do best when the tank conditions are stable. The water chemistry of the rivers in which they swim in the wild probably won’t fluctuate much. The filter can ensure the same environment in a captive setting. A well-placed filter will agitate the surface and provide adequate aeration. You should supplement the action of the filter with weekly partial water changes to rid the tank of toxins.

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Things to Know When Owning a Glowlight Tetra

Food & Diet Requirements🥫

Glowlight tetras are predominantly carnivores, though they can adjust to omnivore foods if necessary. They will readily take various foods, including pellets, flakes, and freeze-dried products. Examples of suitable foods include Tubifex, Chironomous, Atremia Nauplii, Daphnia, or adequately sized fish pellets.

small planktonic crustaceans usually used as fish food in aquariums
Image Credit:, Shutterstock

Size & Growth Rate📏

You won’t notice dramatic growth in your tetras once they are older than 2 months of age. Their maximum size is around 2 inches long. Offering your pets a high-quality diet will ensure they have adequate nutrition to meet their needs.


There are no subspecies or color variations of the glowlight tetra.

Lifespan and Health Conditions 🏥

Providing optimal water conditions is the best way to safeguard the health of your fish. While they’re somewhat tolerant of changes, you should keep things as stable as possible. They can live up to 4 years in captivity.

Non-Infectious Conditions
  • Aggressive/predatory tank mates
  • Small shoal size
  • Small tank size (overcrowding)
  • Poor water quality
  • Injuries from substrate/strong currents
Infectious Conditions
  • Neon Tetra Disease
  • Ich
  • Fin or tail rot
  • Velvet
  • Bacterial infections
  • Fungal infections

Please note that these lists are not comprehensive.

Male vs. Female

It’s difficult to tell the sexes of the glowlight tetras apart when young. However, sexually mature females are generally plumper than males with rounded bellies. There are no major behavioral differences between the two.

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3 Little-Known Facts About the Glowlight Tetra

1. Glowlight Tetras Are More Active in Groups

A single or a few tetras won’t be as active as a group of fish. Many species use this survival strategy to confuse predators. It can make it more challenging for them to hone in on a single fish.

2. Gold Mining Is a Major Environmental Threat to Native Fish Populations

The greatest risk from gold mining is its effects on the quality of the water. Industrial effluents can also contaminate the water.

3. Glowlight Tetras Have Interesting Courtship Rituals

You can breed these fish in captivity, but it’s not as easy as other species. If you’re lucky enough to replicate the right conditions, you’ll notice the elaborate courtship rituals that proceed spawning. There is the usual chasing and evading. The male does a “barrel roll” as the time grows near.

two glowlight tetra fish on black background
Image Credit: Grigorev Mikhail, Shutterstock



Glowlight tetras are an excellent choice for beginners who want to keep a community tank. You won’t find many better species to populate your aquarium. They add color and are interesting to watch as they dart about their space. They are compatible with many other species with similar needs, which makes care even easier for someone new to the hobby.

Luckily, these tetras are affordable and easy to find. The same thing applies to the many compatible species. The right setup will make an attractive display.

Featured Image Credit: Grigorev Mikhail, Shutterstock

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