Cardinal Tetra


The Cardinal Tetra brings delicate beauty to any home freshwater aquarium. It has a bright blue stripe contrasted by a lower red stripe that runs the entire length of its body. This coloration differs from its cousin, the Neon Tetra, which has a red stripe that runs only halfway down the body. Equally as peaceful as Neon Tetras, Paracheirodon axelrodi will school together for a brilliant display of activity and color to dress small to large aquarium systems.

Native to the slow moving waters of the various, well-vegetated tributaries in South America, the Cardinal Tetra needs at least a 10-gallon aquarium that is densely planted with areas of low or subdued lighting. Though relatively hardy, the Cardinal Tetra does best in soft, acidic water with few fluctuations in water parameters. The Cardinal Tetra should be kept in groups of six or more and be housed with equally peaceful tankmates.

Breeding the Cardinal Tetra requires very soft water in the 1-2 dH range, a pH of 5-6, and low lighting levels. The female may lay as many as 130 eggs and the adults should be removed at this time. The eggs will hatch in about 24 hours and will become waterborne in approximately five days. Feed the fry baby brine shrimp and other suitable small foods.

The Cardinal Tetra will accept many small foods such as brine shrimp or daphnia, freeze-dried bloodworms and tubifex, micro pellet food, and high quality flake food.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Mercedes June 14, 2010 at 12:42 pm

My tank had about 10 Cardinals to begin with (bought the tank from someone else) with the move they were too sensitive and stressed to survive for very long. They were also about 3 years old, 3″ long. I ended up replacing them and bought 15 at once knowing some would die and have about 7-10 left and are about 3″ long. They are gorgeous and add such a vibrant yet delicate touch to the tank. However, they are VERY sensitive fish and any alteration or too much stress can send them overboard easily. Even the introduction of new fish incorrectly can kill them (I had that happen once). I’ll never go back to Neon Tetras after these guys.

philip delgrosso March 16, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Not an easy fish to keep. Very touchy to poor water quality, NO2 & NH4. Sad thing is people see these beautiful fish in the store and far too often attempt to keep them in a new tanks with the resulting total loss.This fish is for cycled tanks with good water quality. LIve plants a plus! No denying this fish’s beauty, but beware! Do not add chemicals to your water to mess around with ph, let them adjust to your local water ph. Unless of course you ph is way up there 8.0 + . Mine is around 7.6 -7.4 and they have grown large and healthy. Water changes a must and just a good idea with these guys. I keep neons and cardinals together and they simply outshine the neons in color. Cardinals can be dim-witted at times, definitly not as smart as neons!

Jonathan September 3, 2011 at 6:38 am

I have found that Cardinals are much healthier than Neons. A nice school of these offers a beautiful splash of color to the tank.

Leave a Comment