The Cardinal Tetra is a brightly coloured freshwater fish that originates from South America. The majority of the fish that enter the hobby are wild caught. They like to spend their time schooling in the middle of the water column.
Though they are similar looking to the Neon Tetra, these are slightly bigger and their colourful stripes extend the entire length of their bodies, unlike the neons whose colour stops half way down their bodies.
- Community with non-aggressive tank mates.
- Kept in groups of at least 6
- Temperatures between 23°C and 27°C
- Water between pH 5.0 and pH 6.2
- A school of at least 15 fish is desirable
- Lots of live plants & driftwood are preferred
- Minimum of 20 gallons (90 litres) per school
- They do better in an established with stable parameters
Temperament wise, these fish are about as docile as you can get but due to their small size, they are best kept with smaller, non-aggressive fish. They are fast swimmers, and will be more likely to exhibit schooling behaviour if they feel threatened.
They prefer a mature tank with stable water parameters, but once the tank is established they are very easy to care for and add a great pop of colour to your tank.
- These are omnivores
- They will eat pretty much anything that is put in the tank.
- They are fairly fast eaters and will gorge themselves if given the opportunity.
- Flake food is preferred.
Male & Female Neon Tetra
Size: Maximum length 5cm
Colour: Brown base with an electric blue stripe along the top then a bright red stripe running from the tail right the way through to the head of the fish. Interestingly, these fish lose all colour at night and go nearly completely brown to become camouflaged at night.
Sexing: Males tend to be slimmer, the females tend to have a more rounded belly which can make the blue stripe appear to be bent.
Although the Cardinal Tetra is a brightly coloured fish, and is pretty much a staple of the tropical aquarists hobby, I personally don’t rate them. Maybe it’s because everyone seems to have them and to me, they are just an unexciting fish to own.
They don’t have big personalities, they don’t really have a job (even as a dither fish, I think there are more interesting options to go for), and really and truthfully they just take up valuable real-estate within my tank.
They are very easy to care for, and couple that with their bright colours they do make great beginner fish, but I expect after a couple years of owning tanks with them in, you will find yourself looking for the more interesting species out there.
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