Top 5 Best Neon Tetra Plants

Neon tetras are a popular freshwater fish that indeed require many aquarium plants within their fish tank setup. They originate from South America and the Amazon, where they reside in clear streams and blackwater rivers, which contain a plethora of live plants. As a fishkeeper, it is your responsibility to replicate your fish's natural environment as close as possible. You can do this by adding aquarium plants, and the best ones for neon tetras are as follows:

  • Amazon Sword
  • Brazilian Pennywort
  • Java Fern
  • Ludwigia Repens
  • Water Lettuce
5 best neon tetra plants

Neon tetras require live plants for a multitude of reasons, with the main ones being that they need to hide from predatory fish, so plants make them feel safer. They also help to filter out bright aquarium lighting, which is good for neon tetras as they don't do well under intense aquarium lighting all the time.

5 Best Plants For Neon Tetras

Now that we know why the beautiful and colorful tetra fish require aquarium live plants in order to thrive within their fish tank, let's check out the best live plants for them!

1. Amazon Sword

Amazon Swords are a beautiful plant that take on a bushy appearance, joined by thin stems that grow from the central root. The leaves of the plant almost resemble that of a sword, hence the name adoption. They are easily one of the most popular and easy to look after aquarium plants and are well-suited to the neon tetra as they both share the same tank setup.

  • Scientific name: Echinodorus grisebachii
  • Family: Alismataceae
  • Care level: Easy
  • Light requirements: Moderate lighting
  • Growth rate: Fast-growing
  • Temperature range: 72-82°F (22 to 28°C)
  • pH level: Between 6.5 and 7.5
  • Hardiness: Very hardy
  • Placement: Center of tank
  • Max size: 20 inches (50cm) wide
  • Minimum tank size: 30 gallons (135 liters)
Neon tetra plants

Amazon swords tend to grow incredibly well in nutrient-rich substrates, and if you accommodate this growing environment they will be healthier and grow fast. Due to their hardiness, they can tolerate an abundance of different temperature ranges and water parameters, making them perfectly compatible with neon tetras!

2. Brazilian Pennywort

Brazilian Pennywort may not sounds like the nicest name in the world, but this aquarium plant does a brilliant job and is loved by neon tetras. As a floating plant, it is easy to care for, making it a brilliant choice for beginners.

Floating plants do a great job of filtering aquarium light, which creates a more realistic tank environment and it also helps lower the temperature and moderate it better in your aquarium.

  • Scientific name: Hydrocotyle leucocephala
  • Family: Araliaceae
  • Care level: Easy
  • Light requirements: Moderate
  • Growth rate: Fast
  • Temperature range: 78-83°F (25 to 29°C)
  • pH level: Between 6.0 and 8.0
  • Hardiness: They are very hardy and adaptable
  • Placement: Floating
  • Max size: 24 inches (60cm) in length
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons (45 liters)
Neon tetra plants

Fortunately, due to the plant floating, you do not need any substrate or specific substrate to keep it in your aquarium. They are incredibly adaptable too, not requiring crazy water parameters or temperatures, they can adapt well to almost any environment you keep it in.

3. Java Fern

Native to China, Malaysia, and Taiwan, the Java Fern, also known as Microsorum Pteropus, grows on roots and rocks along freshwater streams, rivers, and waterfalls. They are one of the most popular aquarium plants in the hobby too, coming in several different forms, with the most commonly used in aquariums being the Needle Leaf, Narrow Leaf, Lance Leaf, and Windelov.

  • Scientific name: Microsorum Pteropus
  • Family: Polypodiaceae
  • Care level: Easy
  • Light requirements: Low to medium
  • Growth rate: Fast
  • Temperature range: 70-75°F (21 to 24°C)
  • pH level: Between 6.0 and 7.5
  • Hardiness: Very hardy
  • Placement: Middle of the tank
  • Max size: 13.5 inches (35cm) in length
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons (45 liters)
Neon tetra plants

Java ferns are also incredibly easy to care for, making them compatible with beginner aquarists. They are also super hardy and very affordable!

Due to their popularity, they are readily available in most fish-keeping stores and even pet stores. Their compatibility with neon tetras is not only brilliant because they provide them with hiding spots, but they also require pretty much the exact same tank setup and parameters.

4. Ludwigia Repens

Ludwigia Repens are a popular aquarium plant, sporting a unique and beautiful red coloration, they are also considered to be oxygenating plants too. These plants are easy to care for and can handle a wide range of different water parameters, making them extremely compatible with beginner hobbyists.

  • Scientific name: Ludwigia repens
  • Family: Onagraceae
  • Care level: Easy
  • Light requirements: Medium to high
  • Growth rate: Fast
  • Temperature range: 75-79°F (24 to 26°C)
  • pH level: Between 6.0 and 8.0
  • Hardiness: They are very hardy
  • Placement: The middle of your tank or at the back
  • Max size: 12 to 20 inches (30 to 50cm) in length
  • Minimum tank size: 20 gallons (75 liters)
  • Neon tetra plants

    By introducing this plant to your freshwater aquarium you will ensure that your neon tetras have a suitable place to hide. They are also hardy plants that will require minimal work. You can also keep them floating around in your tank, which is good for filtering your aquarium light, giving a more realistic feel for your tetras and their natural habitat.

    5. Water Lettuce

    Water lettuce is an awesome and unique free-floating aquarium plant that shares the same appearance as, you guessed it, lettuce! Unfortunately, they can be difficult to keep in a home aquarium as they require a good amount of humidity to grow, however, if you follow the tank requirements correctly and spend a little more time looking after them, they will grow big and healthy.

    • Scientific name: Pistia
    • Family: Araceae
    • Care level: Medium level difficulty
    • Light requirements: Moderate lighting
    • Growth rate: Medium speed
    • Temperature range: 72-86°F (22 to 30°C)
    • pH level: Between 6.5 and 7.5
    • Hardiness: They are not the hardiest plant, but can still handle a range of different water parameters
    • Placement: Surface of the water
    • Max size: 10 inches (25cm) wide
    • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons (45 liters)
    Neon tetra plants

    Water lettuce do not require any substrate or specific substrate due to them being floating plants. Water lettuce can be pretty hard to manage and look after properly, especially if you are a beginner hobbyist. So, make sure you know exactly what you are doing with this plant in order to let it grow and benefit your neon tetras!


    Now that we have identified some of the best plants to accompany your neon tetras, let's dive into some commonly posed questions by hobbyists.

    Do Neon Tetras Need Plants?

    No, neon tetras do not need live plants to survive or even live a healthy life. However, there are many benefits to keeping neon tetras with live plants, providing hiding spaces for them that will alleviate any stress. Not only this, but it helps to replicate their natural environment in the wild, which is never a bad thing for the Tetra Species of fish.

    Will Neon Tetras Eat Plants?

    Yes, neon tetras are omnivores which means that they have to eat a balanced diet, typically consisting of both plant matter and meat. So, you will likely see a neon tetra or two nibbling away at your live plants, fortunately, they are such tiny fish that they will not cause serious damage to them. Tetras love eating plants and they eat algae too, which is great if you want to remove your aquarium algae without cleaning it all out yourself.

    Do Tetras Like Plants?

    Of course tetras like plants, in fact, they absolutely love them! Plants help reduce stress in your fish, which promotes overall health, and plants also provide many hiding spots as well as a light filter, and on occasion, a healthy snack!