Cardinal Tetra is one of the Tetra species among the other two from the same genus which are Neon Tetra and Green Neon Tetra. They are always mistaken for each other because they all look similar. Cardinal Tetra life span is 1 year out in the nature but housing them in the aquarium with proper care will allow the fish to live up to 2 to 5 year. This is a post about cardinal tetra care which will help to understand its habit and assist you on giving proper care to your cardinal tetra.

Most aquarists  are having trouble on differentiating cardinal tetra and neon tetra because they look almost the same. The body of the fish comes with blue neon stripe running from the nose to the length of the body. You can see a beautiful red stripe below the blue neon stripe. Cardinal Tetra come with a full red stripe until its tail and the neon tetra runs only halfway of the body only.

Let’s go thru cardinal tetra care which will help you to understand the fish more. The first thing to do is to set up an aquarium for the fish.

Aquarium Setup

Cardinal Tetra

Cardinal Tetra

The fish are active in swimming and most of the time, the fish would swim around in the middle or at the top of the aquarium. The fish can grow up to 5 cm and when that happen, you may start thinking of getting a bigger aquarium to house them. Cardinal Tetra may be small but the fish are shoaling fish and you may need to house 6 to 10 cardinal tetra in an aquarium.

Some aquarist said housing them in a 10 gallon aquarium are enough but providing them a comfortable environment is your first priority. I would recommend housing them in a 20 gallon size aquarium with a slow filtration system. Decorate the aquarium with a dimly illuminated environment and keep the water soft.

The fish originate from black water which are slightly acidic and soft. Keeping the fish in the home aquarium, it is better to provide them soft and acidic water which is compatible with the fish. I would recommend getting pH test kit to monitor the pH level to make sure that they are in between 4.0 – 6.0 pH.

Don’t forget maintaining the water temperature of the aquarium which is between 23 – 27°C. Install water heater with a thermometer in the aquarium to maintain then water temperature. Setup the aquarium with dark substrate and live plant. The fish would appreciate a dim lighting in the aquarium so the fish can reflect the natural beauty of its coloration.

The fish can jump and to avoid them to jump out from the aquarium, you may need an aquarium with a cover on the top. The fish prefer bio type set up which is also one of the best option for tetra fish. The best substrate for bio type set up would be river sand and driftwood branches.

You don’t have to add many live plant in the aquarium because the natural habitat of the fish doesn’t have many plant. Remove dried leaves in the aquarium because the dried leaves will stain the water and change the pH of the water. Always clean the aquarium to ensure the comfort of your tetra fish.

Cleaning the aquarium plays an important role for cardinal tetra care in which you need to pay attention. Nitrates and phosphates builds up in most home aquarium. Performing water change regularly is one of the basic to keep the fish healthy and happy in the aquarium. Perform a 25 – 50% water change every week if the aquarium are densely stocked to maintain the water quality.

Feeding Them

Feeding the fish are important in “cardinal tetra care”. The fish are omnivores so there are plenty of fish product you can feed them with. The primary food for cardinal tetra are blood worms and tubiflex worm in the wild. You can feed the fish with flakes, pellet, live and dried –freeze food.

There are plenty of high quality fish food product which you can consider and I personally recommend Hikari product and Tetra product to feed cardinal tetras. The fish require high vitamin and it is better to provide high quality flakes to the fish. Feed the fish once or twice a day to prevent over feeding. Feed the fish and watch the fish consume the food in 5 minute.

 The Challenges Keeping Cardinal Tetra

The fish don’t survive long. The fish are very intolerant with unstable water conditions. This is why cardinal tetra are not suitable for beginner who just started keeping fish. Most of the Cardinal Tetra are caught in the wild and it is important to keep the aquarium similar with the natural habitat.

Always remember not to add the fish to a new cycle tanks because they are sensitive with the water parameter. I would suggest to get a pH test kit to test the pH level of the water before introducing the fish into the aquarium. After reading the post of “cardinal tetra care”, what do you think? I would recommend this fish only to experienced fish keeper because they are very sensitive and not suitable for beginner. Feel free to leave a comment below and share your thought about cardinal tetra fish. Cheers!