Do Tetras Lay Eggs and How Do They Breed?

Yes, tetras most certainly do lay their eggs as they are not livebearers. Typically, the female tetra will disperse her eggs all across the tank in various locations for the male tetra to then fertilize them by releasing his milt into the aquarium. On average, female tetras will lay between 50 to 130 eggs, and approximately 40 of them will hatch within just 24 hours of being fertilized!

Tetras are an incredibly popular freshwater fish species as they are peaceful, easy to care for, and absolutely mesmerizing with their brilliant showcase of colorations and patterns. So, let's find out how they breed and lay their eggs.

How Do Tetras Lay Eggs?

Tetras lay eggs via a ritual referred to by many hobbyists as the "mating dance". During this process, the male tetra will approach the female tetra by swimming around her in an erratic, almost squared pattern. After a short while, the female will join the male, swimming beside him. Once the mating has finished, the female will lay up to 130 eggs over the entire fish tank. Tetra eggs are usually small and clear.

The graphic below showcases some of the best terraines and hiding spots for you to replicate for your tetra fry!

The eggs are also sticky so that they can cling onto sand and rocks, after these eggs have been laid, the male will begin fertilizing them. Usually, out of the 130 or fewer eggs, between 30 and 40 will actually hatch. Once hatched, the tetra fry will continuously feed on their egg sack until they are strong enough to start swimming around freely - it will usually take them a couple of days to be able to swim.

Unfortunately, much the same as guppies, tetra are known for eating their fry. So, once they have learned to swim, they will immediately find hiding places to avoid being eaten, so make sure that you have enough spots around your aquarium for them to hide in.

How Can You Tell Your Tetra Is About To Lay Eggs?

Sometimes, figuring out whether your neon tetra is carrying eggs can be pretty difficult due to them mostly looking the same as they always do. What makes this even harder is that most hobbyists do not know what to look out for either. Here are some ways you can find out whether your tetras are about to lay eggs.

Large Bellies

It may seem obvious, but a great way of identifying whether you have a pregnant tetra on your hands is by checking to see if they have a swollen belly. If they do, the chances are that you have a female tetra carrying some eggs, or, you have been overfeeding your fish and they have a swollen tummy as a result of this.

Neon tetras and goldfish

Turn On Your Aquarium Light

Another great way of checking to see if you have a female tetra who is carrying eggs is by turning the aquarium light on an hour before you would typically feed your fish. By doing this you will be able to see if your tetras are spawning or even courting. You should always make sure your tank has had at least 12 hours of dark before turning the light back on as it will lead your fish to believe it is daytime.

What do Tetra Eggs Look Like?

Tetra eggs are transparent, white, or yellow in color, and are smaller than a millimeter, usually taking up a spherical appearance. If they have a black dot located in the middle, it means that they are fertilized. Once the eggs have been laid they will either float to the bottom of the tank or cling onto leaves and moss, depending on how sticky they are. If you are struggling to see the eggs due to their small appearance, use a flashlight (torch) to spot them.

Neon tetra eggs

How Often Do Tetras Lay Eggs and How Long Does It Take To Hatch?

Tetras tend to lay eggs and spawn frequently, a pair of tetras will usually spawn every 14 days in the wild when they have more freedom and do not have to worry about surviving. In captivity, breeding tetras is much more difficult. However, if all the requirements are met, tetras should have no problem breeding in captivity, typically laying between 50 to 130 eggs at a time.

How Long Does It Take For Tetras To Lay Eggs?

Every 14 days you should expect your tetras to lay eggs, however, this is only the case if your aquarium has been correctly set up, making sure the water conditions and health of your tetras are as close to perfect as you can get them.

How Long Does It Take For Tetra Eggs To Hatch?

Once your tetras have fertilized their eggs it will usually take 48 hours for the fry to hatch, but sometimes it can take only 24 hours. Approximately 4 days after hatching, your tetra fry will start swimming freely.

Do tetras eat shrimp?

Where Do Tetras Lay Eggs?

Tetras tend to lay their eggs all over the tank, and once they have done so, expect to find them in various places across your aquarium. You will usually find eggs attached to plant leaves, moss, or at the bottom of the tank on the substrate.


Tetras definitely do lay eggs, and you will likely experience their breeding patterns once they are settled in your tank. If you want your tetras to breed, then you should make sure their tank is set up correctly and that you have provided them with a healthy and balanced diet. Only happy and healthy tetras will breed in captivity. Good luck!

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