Scientific Name: Paracheirodon Innesi

Breeding Method: Egg scatterer

Ease of Breeding: Moderate

Introduction: For years, the only Neons available to hobbyists were wild-caught; today, a better understanding of their spawning habits has made it possible for both commercial fish farms and hob­byists to breed them in captivity.

Sex Differences: Difficult to distin­guish, although females in breeding condition tend to be plumper than the males. Many breeders solve the prob­lem of sexing Neons by spawning them in small groups.

Water Conditions: Soft, acidic water, with a pH of 6.0 or lower and hardness between 2 and 3 dH. Some breeders report success using water filtered over peat or adding black-water extract to the tank. Temperature should be about 77°F.

Equipment: A 10-gallon tank, situated in a spot where it will receive only subdued light­ing. Cover or paint the back and sides to further cut down on light. Add Java moss or a thin layer of peat to the bottom of the tank as a spawning substrate.

Conditioning and Triggers: Fish become sexually mature around seven or eight months of age. Separately condition males and females (assuming you can tell which is which) for about a week on brine shrimp and tubifex worms. Some breeders report that covering the tank entirely, then gradually uncovering over a period to increase light lev­els and simulate daybreak, seems to trigger spawning.

Spawning: The fish usually begin courting a day or so after being placed in the breed­ing tank, but may not spawn for several days after that. Males chase the females around wildly; the pair then release eggs and milt above a clump of Java moss or peat on the substrate. The fertilized eggs, no larger than grains of sand, drift down into the moss. Remove the adults to prevent them from eating their eggs, and cover the top of the aquarium with dark paper or cloth, since the eggs are very sensitive to light.

Brood Size: Up to 400.

Fry Care: Fry will hatch in 24 to 36 hours, and become free swimming a few days after that. Feed infusoria or liquid fry food for the first week, then add baby brine shrimp to their diet. At that time, also add a sponge filter. Make sure the fry have plenty to eat, but do not overfeed - they have been known to eat to the point where their stomachs burst. Begin water changes after three weeks, removing very small quantities and replacing them with water of the same parameters. After eight weeks, gradually substitute water that is a little harder and has a pH closer to that in which they'll be living as adults. Neon fry do not begin to take on their adult colors until they are about a half-inch in size.

Species with Similar Breeding Habits: Cardinal Tetra (Paracheirodon axelrodi); Black Neon (Hypfiessobrycon herbertaxelrodi).