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Not-So Neon

While false and black neon tetras aren't as popular as their neon tetra cousins, they make great aquarium residents.

By Mike Wickham |

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The neon tetra (Paracheirodon innesi) is a mainstay of the hobby. In fact, it is one of the most popular tropical fish in the world. The true neon has a red patch on the underside, lined above with a fluorescent turquoise stripe that reflects so brightly that it seems to be battery-operated. Neon tetras are so inexpensive and commonly available that everyone knows them.

So I am going to look at two of the other fish that share the “neon” moniker — the black and green neons, which you don’t see or hear about as frequently.

Green Neon Tetra
The green neon tetra (Paracheirodon simulans) is also sometimes labeled as the “false neon tetra.” At first glance, you may actually think this fish is a neon tetra. The appearance is very close, but you will see differences if you pay attention. First off, the green neon tetra’s fluorescent stripes (it has one on either side) are thinner and longer. On the neon tetra, the stripes run from the eyes to the adipose fin; the stripes run instead from the eyes to the base of the tail on the green neon. Like the neon tetra, the green neon has a red color below the neon stripes on the rear half of the body. Unlike the neon, however, this red color is quite subdued. “Faded” is the word that comes to mind when I see it, since I’m used to seeing true neons with brighter red colors.

Want to read the full story? Pick up the June 2011 issue of Aquarium Fish International today.

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