Search for:


Neon Tetra Disease in Aquariums - by Carl Strohmeyer

NEON TETRA DISEASE (Identification, prevention and possible treatment of):


This term is often a catch all name for diseases of Neon Tetras specifically and many other fish as well.

The usual cause is by a Sporozoan (parasitic spore-forming protozoan which reproduce sexually and asexually in alternate generations by means of spores); Pleistophora hyphessobryconis, although there are other causes including many fungi that will imitate this Sporozoan infection.

The true Pleistophora hyphessobryconis infestation is very difficult to treat, and basically impossible to treat in the later stages of this infestation (which is when most aquarists first notice this disease). However, contrary to popular opinion on the web and elsewhere where many are just repeating what they hear elsewhere it is somewhat treatable in the early stages and VERY preventable from spreading.




The disease cycle begins when parasitic spores enter the fish after The fish ingests infected food or organic debris, such as the bodies of dead fish, or live food (often Tubiflex Worms). After the spores enter the intestinal tract, the newly hatched embryos burrow through the intestinal wall and produce cysts within the muscle tissue. These muscles containing the cysts begin to die, resulting in a pale whitish tissue.

Initially the only symptom may be restlessness especially when lights are turned on and off. The infected fish often will stop schooling with others of their species. Soon the swimming becomes more erratic and the tell tale symptom of the white muscle tissue becomes apparent.


Other fish are susceptible to this infestation as well, this includes and is not limited too:

*Most Tetras

*Many Danios (including White Clouds)



 Symptoms in order of progression:


  Restlessness and sensitivity.

  The fish become more isolated

  The fish has difficulty swimming (at this point treatment will generally fail)

  The tell tale white/ pale tissue appears.

  As cysts develop and produce more spores, body may become lumpy or irregular.

  Often in advanced cases spine may become deformed or curved.

TREATMENT (and more importantly; stopping the spread of this disease):


A bath with Methylene Blue is the first step. To prepare this bath I use 1 teaspoon 2.303% solution per 5 gallons (double dose) in a bath of aquarium water from the tank the fish you wish to treat came from, I usually use about a ½ gallon of water, however you may use less. Measurement of the Methylene Blue does not need to be precise as this bath should be used for about 30 minutes (although do NOT overdose). Make sure you keep the water in a warm area, as in a cold room the water temperature can drop rapidly which would stress the fish. Do NOT pour this water back into your display aquarium when finished. This can be performed twice per day.


In the tank you need to treat with Quick Cure, or ParaGuard-Parasite Treatment, or Medicated Wonder Shells (although Medicated Wonder Shells are better as a follow up treatment). Continue this treatment for 7-10 days.

If at all possible I strongly recommend at least temporarily attaching a UV Sterilizer (for more information about UV Sterilization, please read this article: http://americanaquariumproducts.com/AquariumUVSterilization.html ).

If all these steps are followed my success rate in stopping the spread of this disease is nearly 100% and treating early stages at around 20% to 50%. If you cannot add the UV Sterilizer, the other steps will still help a lot, especially in stopping the spread.




I will note it is common to confuse true Neon Tetra Disease caused by the Sporozoan; Pleistophora hyphessobryconis with other diseases such as many fungi infections, I call these False Neon Tetra Disease or FNT Disease. These false infections often do not have the symptoms leading up to the white/ pale tissue and the discoloration is more faint and much less white and defined than True Neon Tetra Disease.

It is best to treat as for true Neon Tetra Disease as most similar in appearance infections will respond to this treatment especially the MB Bath. Generally FNT disease will treat better with the Medicated Wonder Shells as these are more potent for fungus, although less potent against True Neon Tetra Disease.


For my full article (including pictures) about Neon Tetra Disease, please visit this site:   



Professional aquarium maintenance experience since 1978 as the owner of one of the larger aquarium maintenance companies in LA, CA.

I have been in the hobby since 1969.



       Article Source: http://www.ElectricArticles.com