Cardinal Tetra (Paracheirodon axelrodi)
Native Location: Rivers in South America
Size: 5cm ( 2 inches)
Temperature Range: 26 – 28℃ (79 – 82℉)
Preferred pH Range: 6.0 – 6.8
Minimum Aquarium Size: 75L (20 gallons)
Potential Tankmates: Neon Tetras, Dwarf Gourami, Mystery Snails
Care Level: Beginner
Cardinal Tetra is a popular aquarium fish. They are becoming a common sight in aquariums. But, still less widespread in comparison to Neon Tetras. Cardinal Tetra is a member of the Characidae family. They are social fish and are the cause of no drama in community tanks. So long as water quality is consistent, they are hardy to many types of water conditions. All levels of experience can enjoy their colours and lively lifestyle.
One of the most important parts of caring for Cardinal Tetras is providing them with the right diet. It will keep their colourings and immune systems high. They will eat almost anything you put in your tank. Some tiny animals and underwater plants and roots are also to their liking. Cardinal Tetra eats the larvae of chironomid midges and microcrustaceans. These are a very peaceful species and will shoal with other peaceable fish. Cardinal Tetra will also ignore anything else they do not shoal with, in the tank. Aggressive and territorial species will find them easy to bully. This harassment can stress Cardinal Tetras to the point of death. Avoid other, large non-aggressive fish, as Cardinal Tetra will become a snack for them. Keep them in groups of at least six individuals. But, know that the bigger the school, the happier they will be.
These fish will not venture to the bottom of your aquarium often. If you choose to have bottom-dwellers in your tank, a sandy substrate is best, so Cardinal Tetras will be less likely to scratch themselves on it. Plants are ideal for providing shelter but scattering some decorations will also work. If your Cardinal Tetras become stressed they will want to hide. Plants such as Anubis ferns and Java ferns are excellent choices. There must also be plenty of open water for swimming.
It is a feat to be able to distinguish between sexes of the Cardinal Tetras species. They have very similar, striking colourations. But female bodies will appear rounder and male have a hook protruding from their anal fin. In the wild, Cardinal Tetras breed upstream in shaded regions. Breeding at home is possible with the right conditions. When the female starts carrying eggs, she will let the male swim alongside her as they move plants around.