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Green Neon Tetra (Paracheirodon simulans)

Paracheirodon simulans
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Family: Characidae

Known from the middle-to-upper rio Negro drainage, Brazil upstream of the mouth of its principal tributary the rio Branco.

Unlike its congeners P. innesi and P. axelrodi this species is an exclusive inhabitant of blackwater environments and tends to be found only in the upper, terra firme, reaches of tributary drainages. Such habitats typically contain slow to moderately-flowing water with thick, often overhanging, riparian vegetation and sandy substrates covered in fallen branches, tree roots and leaf litter. The water is typically acidic, of negligible carbonate hardness and conductivity and stained brownish due to the presence of humic substances released by decomposing organic matter. Although it occurs over a similar range to P. axelrodi the two are not found together and P. simulans also tends to occur in warmer waters.

Maximum Standard Length:
15 – 25 mm.

Aquarium Size:
An aquarium with base dimensions of 45 x 30cm or larger is recommended. It is advised to find a filter which has a water flow between 4-5 times the volume of your aquarium. At a volume of 41 litres.

Maintenance generally presents few problems although a degree of care is necessary since fish in the trade are exclusively collected in the wild and can be sensitive, especially post-import. It perhaps looks best in a heavily-planted set-up or natural-style arrangement comprising a sandy substrate plus some driftwood roots and branches.

The addition of dried leaf litter would further emphasise the natural feel and as well as offering additional cover for the fish brings with it the growth of microbe colonies as decomposition occurs. These can provide a valuable secondary food source for fry and the humic substances released by the decaying leaves are also considered beneficial, with alder cones also useful in this respect.

There’s no need to use natural peat, the collection of which is both unsustainable and environmentally-destructive. This species seems to do best under fairly dim lighting but you can add aquatic plant species that can survive under such conditions such as Microsorum, Taxiphyllum or Cryptocoryne spp., while floating vegetation, such as Ceratopteris spp., is also appreciated. It is also sensitive to fluctuating or deteriorating water conditions and should never be added to biologically-immature aquaria.

Water Conditions:
Temperature: 21 – 35°C
pH: 3.0 – 6.5
Hardness: 18 – 143 ppm

In aquaria it may survive on a diet of dried foods but like most fishes does best when offered a varied menu which in this case should also contain live and frozen chironomid larvae (bloodworm), mosquito larvae, Daphnia, Moina, etc.

Behaviour and Compatibility:
Peaceful with other species but does not make an ideal community fish due to its small size and somewhat specialised requirements Ideally it should be maintained alone or at most with diminutive, non-aggressive characids and smaller callichthyid or loricariid catfishes. It is gregarious and naturally forms schools meaning 8-10 specimens is the minimum recommended purchase since the fish will be less shy and display more interesting behaviour.

Sexual Dimorphism:
Sexually mature females are normally noticeably rounder-bodied and a little larger than males.