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Neon is one of the most popular aquarium small fish. This small brilliant fish has won the hearts of aquarium lovers. This Neon fish deserves a special place amongst such mini-small fishes, as the guppy, sword-bearers and Tetra. Neon gained such reputation thanks to the unpretentious compactness and neon coloring of the body.

Latin name: Paracheirodon
Group, family: Cyprinoid, haratsinovy (for latin Characidae).
Comfortable water temperature: 18-24 °C  (for producers: 22 °C).
pH 5.5 to 8 ° (for future producers of pH to 6.8 °) .
Rigidity of dH: 5-20 ° (for future producers - dH to 10 °).
Aggression: Not aggressive.
Ease of maintenance: Easy.

Compatibility : Compatible with Tetra, sword-bearers, Petsiliya, Ornatus, Pulcher, flashlight fish. Neon fishes are not compatible with large aggressive fishes such as Tsihlami, Mahseer, large  cat fish , goldfishes, Labe, Gurrami.

How long do they live: Life expectancy of neon directly depends on temperature of water. 18 °C - 4 years, 22 °C – 3 years, 27 °C – 1.5 years. Apparently with increase in temperature, the biorhythm of neon also increases. For this reason the Neon aquarium should be maintained at cooler temperatures. For life expectancy of other small fishes look at this article.


The minimum aquarium size for the Neon fishes is 10 liters. This can accommodate 4 Neon fishes. Neon are small but gregarious fishes and therefore they are recommended to be kept in more spacious aquariums. To understand how many Neon can be accommodated in what size aquarium press here.

Aquarium requirements:
- Aeration and filtration are necessary. Weekly replacement 1/3rd of aquarium water is ideal.
- It is not necessary to cover the aquarium. This small fishes though mobile do not jump out of the aquarium.
- Lighting should be moderate. The aquarium should have various shade zones. This is achieved by live plants and floating plants.
- Aquarium can be decorated as per your taste with stones, grottoes, snags other shelters. Open space for swimming should be provided.
- Feeding and diet of neon: Small fishes are omnivorous. They like dry food, live feed and substitutes. Like other small fishes Neons love live feed like crank, Artemy, carriage, Cyclops and water flea. Neon feeds from a water surface or in thicket. The food which has fallen to bottom can remain untouched. Therefore small fishes should be fed small portions so that the food does not fall to the bootom.

The homeland and natural dwelling of neon are the streams and the rivers of South America: Peru, Colombia and Brazil. The rivers - the beginning of Amazon River from San Paulo de Olivensa to Iquitos, The river of Putumayo and the river Purus to Side du Tapaua are full of this fish. As you can see, natural area of dwelling of neon it is very far from our homeland and mysterious. For this reason the records of  these small fishes in the aquarium world is in its infancy. In 1935 A Frenchman A. Rabo found these neon fishes in waters of river Putumayo (East Peru).
He was delighted and surprised with beauty of this red-blue small fish. He introduced this fish to some individuals in United States of America and Old Europe. In 1936 this species of unusual small fishes were studied and described by the American ichthyologist S. Myers.
Germany is considered the second home of Neon fish. Germans managed to breed for the first time this neon fishes under artificial conditions. In United States of America, and in France these small fishes could not be bred under artificial conditions. The soft water in Germany was the reason for success of Germans in breeding this fish.
Description: Neon is a small, brisk fish. In aquarium conditions males reach the sizes of 3 cm. Females can reach 3.5 cm.
Color of neon: There are different kinds of neon and a color of each kind is different. All of them have a reflective lateral line. This line gives the fish a special characteristic.

Behavioural features: Neon are peace loving , bright small fishes that live in clusters. These small fishes like to be in big company . Aquarium should have big space. Cat fishes are friend of Neon and stay well together. They keep the aquarium clean.

Reproduction of neon is not so difficult. They do not need special conditions or hormonal injections. Sexual distinctions: Males are smaller than females by about 0.5 cm, they are much more slender than females, and their neon lateral strip is straight without waves. Females are larger than males, they are fuller with bigger stomach. Their neon strip is bent in the middle .
Preparation for spawning: Neons becomes sexually mature in 6-9 months. For successful cultivation
neons should be in comfortable conditions with big aquarium, different kind of food should be fed and comfortable temperature of water is necessary. Before spawning males and females should be kept separately, they should be fed with a lot of live food for 2 weeks. Temperature of water should not be less than 19 °C. The ideal age for the reproduction of these fishes is at 10 to12 months.

IMPORTANT: Temperature and conditions of water in aquarium are very important! The fish eggs aren't impregnated by spermatozoa in too hard water and the eggs die in bright light.

The spawning aquarium should be 40 centimeters long The bottom has to be without gravel or soil, at the bottom a separator grid should be placed. The back and side walls of the aquarium should be dark and the substrate should be dark as well. Level of water should be 15 cm, temperature should be 20-22 °C, rigidity of dH to 2 °, KH 0 °, рН 5,5-6,5 °, lighting is only natural. Spawning water is recommended to be disinfected with UV light or ozone.
Photo : The example of a spawning aquarium for neon .

Spawning: neon - males and females are landed in prepared aquarium for spawning in the afternoon, but closely to evening in the ratio by the 1:1st or 3 males on 1 female. Usually fishes spawn to next morning at sunrise. However, this process can be tightened for 3 days. During spawning neon should not be feeding .
 Females put fish eggs for time from 50 to 200 fish egg.
Right now after spawn parents should be take out from aquarium. Aquarium should be dark . (remember – light is pernicious for fish eggs!!! ). Neon – parents should be take out from aquarium because they could eat young fish from fish eggs.
Within four hours after spawning it is necessary to look after fish eggs and if fish eggs will turn out to white color you should immediately remove them.
Incubatory term for neon fish eggs is approximately 22 hours.
Photo :Neon's fish eggs

Photo : Neon's Larva
Photo : young fish from fish eggs

Care of young fish : young neon starts floating for 4-5 days, up to this time they do not move and hung in aquarium.
Young neon need aeration, the water temperature of 20-22 °C and daily substitution 1/10 volumes of water. Water in an aquarium has to be up to 10 centimeters.
Since that moment, as they start floating (4-5 days) it is necessary to feed them often but not much. As a first food for them special forages for thresh small fishes is necessary to use . These food is on sale in many pet-shops, for example, TETRA MIN Baby and TETRA MIN Junior or SERA MICROGRAN. It is also possible to feet them with the ground boiled egg yolk, kolovratka and infusorian.

You should be very careful with illumination of a spawning aquarium , when you grow up young neon fish. Lighting is strengthen gradually. 100% ordinary lighting can be done only after young fish "will become independent", and it occurs by 1st month of life. Otherwise young fish could loose orientation.


Small fishes can have all types infectious and not infectious diseases. Being small and fragile the Neons stress very easily. Uncomfortable water temperature and lack of a gregarious way of life can to be reason for different diseases (for example - ihtioftirose , "Manka” ). They have an illness inherent only in them - plistoforoz is called a neon illness".
This infection causes the Blue and red strips on neon body to fade. There is no treatment for this illness.
Photo : Plistoforoz "A neon illness"

Photo : Ikhtioftirioz (" Manka " of neon)

- It is best to feed the neon only once a day and regularly fast them once in a week . This will make them healthy .
- Use dark gravel and dark background to decorate the aquarium.
- Avoid using copper in the aquarium neon do not like it. Neon should not have stress. Stress could make color of their bodies completely gray .

Neon have been bred to give them attractive colors. They come in different varieties like:

Neon veil
Neon orange or red
Neon blue or ordinary (Paracheirodon innesi)
Neon dark blue (Paracheirodon simulans)
Neon red (Paracheirodon axelrodi)
Neon green (Kostelo)
Neon black (Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi)
Neon gold (Paracheirodon innesi var. )
Neon diamond or brilliant (Paracheirodon innesi diamond),
"albino" neon .

Neon blue or ordinary (Paracheirodon innesi)
Blue neon is the most popular among neon. They have fantastically bright coloring. The top of their body has a beautiful turquoise-blue strip, and the lower part of their bodies have a red color, their back is grayish-brown and all their fins are transparent. They differ from others with the extended, long shape
of a body. Females of blue neon are 4 cm long and the males are 3,5 cm.

Neon dark blue (Paracheirodon simulans)
This type of neon is lost sight by aquariums because of similarity in the name with blue neon . Ancestors of dark blue neon are blue and red neon. The small fish have long slender body and their stripe passes in the middle on all body. They can reach the sizes of 4 cm.

Neon red (Paracheirodon axelrodi)
They are from rivers Orinoco and Riu Negru. This neon is very similar to blue neon, just a little difference in color. Two long stripes of shining blue and red color passes along their body. They can reach the length of 5,5 centimeters.

Neon green or Costello
The dorsal surface of these neon is dark green. A wide band of dark color passes along the whole body and there is a shining turquoise-blue stripe in it . They can reach the size of 3,5 centimeters.

Neon black (Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi)
This neon have long slightly flat little body. Two stripes pass along their whole body. The top band is narrow silvery, and the bottom one is wide black.

Neon gold (Paracheirodon innesi var. )
This is the smallest neon of all. They reach maximum length of only 1,5 centimeters. They are decorated with a gold stripe which runs along their whole little body.

Neon diamond or brilliant (Paracheirodon innesi diamond)
These neon fish have no stripe along their body. They have shining silver body and reddish tail .
They can reach the length of 3 centimeters.

Neon veil
These are very rare and expensive type of neon Their fins form elegant veil. They can reach 4 cm. In length. They should be cared for like all other neon. They can cost around 5 US dollars per fish.

Neon orange
These are the rarest of all neon. They have a shining orange color and are shaped like a segment of orange the fruit. This type of neon are prestigious acquisition of the aquarium world. The interesting facts about neon.

"Neon: bloody history"
As it was already told earlier told a citizen of France – August Rabo was the first person interested in neon. He was a dashing businessman and searched for gold in rainforests of the Amazon river. He also caught exotic butterflies and collected orchids. Not out of curiosity or hobby but for commercial purposes. He saw thw the shiny neon as shining gold coins.
While wandering in the Amazons rain forests August Rabo picked up tropical fever. He was lucky that the Peruvian Indians helped him back to health . While in one of Indian homes he for the first time saw neon which floated in a handcrafted flat dish. He decided to profit from these brilliant small fishes .
He organized transportation of small fishes to the US continent. He put them waterproofed wooden boxes.
He did not feed the fish during transportation. All the same Neon were hardy and safely reached United States of America.
Rabo sent large part of surviving Neon to Germany. The remaining fish He gave to William Innes a fanatic and an expert on tropical fishes. William Innes was a publisher of Aquarium magazine and Rabo hoped that Innes will write an article about Neon. This will be a good advertisement for Rabo and he could sell his fish for a good profit in future.
Innes wrote and published the article about neon. He also presented these small fishes to ichthyologist D. Myers. In 1936 D. Myers published scientific work on this fish and described them as new species of fishes. He named them Paracheirodon innes in honor of William Innes.

William Thornton Innes (1874 - 1969) – He was born in Philadelphia , USA . , After graduating from school ng, he began to work for his father in publishing house. In 1917 he published his first book "About Goldfishes". In 1932 he founded the famous magazine "Aquarium" which survived for 35 years.
Innes also regularly organized aquarium exhibitions. In 1932 he published the book "Exotic aquarium Fishes" The book became very popular and went through several reprints.
Dr. George Sprague Myers (1905–1985) spent most of his career at Stanford University, where he was one of the leading American ichthyologists of the twentieth century. He served as the editor of Stanford Ichthyological Bulletin as well as president of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. Myers was also head of the Division of Fishes at the United States National Museum, and held a position as an ichthyologist for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. He was also an advisor in fisheries and ichthyology to the Brazilian Government.

So the neon boom began! Various aquariums paid generous amount of money to August Rabo for the regular supply of neon. Aquarium suppliers expected to breed neon and sell them but all the neon fish eggs died for the reasons unknown.
Rabo understood the advantage of his monopoly and kept the habitat of neon a secret. He secretly went to Amazon several times to bring back a fresh supply of the fish. This went on for 3 years. Finally the spies of the aquarium firms tracked him down and killed him near river Ukayali. The trade of these fish went on without Rabo.
Neon , what is more about ?
Thus began the awareness of proper chemistry of aquarium water, attention to lighting etc.
Aquarium business became more sophisticated.
- Light is catastrophic for neon fish eggs. They develop only in the twilight similar to tropical environment of the Amazon River.
- Neon has scales, and under it they have skin which consists of special pigmentary cages – a chromatophore. These chromatophores are responsible for the metallic coloring of small fishes .
- Neon do not radiate light, the color is only reflection and refraction of falling rays of light.
It is often asked why neon have such prominent and attractive coloring. Does it make them more susceptible to attack by predators. There is no scientific answers to these questions. The coloring is believed to be necessary for attracting the mate for reproduction. It is also believed to confuse the predators when a flock of neon suddenly scatters when threatened.
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