Everything You Need To Know About Cardinal Tetra Fish

cardinal tetra fish

Cardinal Tetra fish – also known as the best beginner fish, is extremely simple to care for yet colorful and beautiful. Adding a cardinal tetra fish group to your tank will add a hint of color to your tank.

Plus, one can sit and spend hours watching them swim around. They have synchronized fin movements and look divine when swimming around inside the tank. 

Suppose you want to ensure that your cardinal tetra fish remains healthy and you know how to care for it and look after it properly; no need to go anywhere.

This is a complete beginner-friendly guide that will show you how to feed, look after, set up a tank, and even breed your cardinal tetra fish. Let’s get started. 


The cardinal tetra fish care is quite easy. They are peaceful fish that are mostly found in the red and blue color variation. With an omnivorous diet and a “minding my own business” attitude, they are a great addition to any community tank. 

This fish can live up to five years, and the cardinal tetra fish size can reach around two inches. They are smaller in size, making them easy to keep.

Plus, they are compatible with almost all freshwater community fish, so you can have the option of keeping them by themselves or adding them to your community tank with other fish. 


The cardinal tetra fish appearance is strikingly similar to a neon tetra. Therefore, these two are often confused with one another.

However, the main difference between the two is that the stripe on the neon tetra fish is only halfway across its body, whereas in the cardinal Tetra fish, it runs all the way till the end of the fish’s body. Plus, the cardinal tetra colors are more vibrant. 

The fish belongs to the Characidae fish family and is quite social in nature. These Fish are preferred by many tank owners, and the cardinal tetra fish price is around two to three dollars per fish. 

They are hardy and quite tolerant when it comes to tank conditions and parameters. This makes them an ideal choice for those who have little to no experience when it comes to fish keeping. They have a small size with an elongated body and small-sized fins that are barely noticeable. 

Their body has a shaded color with an iridescent finish that makes them look extremely attractive. Some people believe that fish also change their color. Other than the red and blue variation, the silver and golden colored fish is also quite attractive. 

It is hard to distinguish between the male and the female cardinal tetra fish because they look quite similar. The female fish’s body appears rounder when it is carrying eggs. However, other than that, it is almost impossible to sex the two genders. 

But you should not be concerned about identifying the male and female cardinal tetra fish as they are mostly sold and kept in large groups, so it is likely you will end up with a mix of both male cardinal tetra fish as well as the female cardinal tetra fish. 


The cardinal tetra fish loves to be kept with its own kind. The larger the group, the better. They mostly occupy the middle and the upper column inside the aquarium tank; therefore, you will rarely see them close to the bottom. 

The cardinal tetra fish temperament is peaceful, and they like to keep to themselves. When kept in a group, you will see them swimming around and being active. However, when kept alone, they will become reclusive. Some might even lose their bright color as a sign of distress and loneliness. 

Make sure that they are kept with peaceful fish. Large-sized, aggressive fish will bully the cardinal tetra, and the cardinal tetra will become distressed. You can opt to add them to a community tank or choose to keep them in a tank with only cardinal tetra fish. They will do well in both cases. 


By nature, the cardinal tetra fish is omnivorous. Therefore, they are considerably easier to feed due to the large variety of food that they can be fed. They will consume everything and anything that is added to the tank, so they are not picky eaters at all. 

It is the tank owner’s responsibility to maintain a balanced cardinal tetra fish diet that comprises of both proteins as well as plant-based components.

You can buy pellet or flake based fish food for your cardinal tetra fish and feed it to them. It is an easy feeding option, but the nutritional value of the store-bought food is not that great. 

It is best to add green vegetables like cucumbers, peas, spinach, cabbage, and lettuce, etc., to the tank. Make sure that you cut the vegetables into very small pieces so that the fish can easily consume them. You can also add live food and feed them brine shrimps or worms. 

Many people inquire about how often the cardinal tetra fish should be fed? A group of adult fish will need to be fed twice a day. However, be vigilant when adding food to the tank. Control the amount of food and only add portions that the fish can consume within a couple of minutes. 

Adding too much food to the tank can lead to the fish being overfed, which can be the cause of many health issues and diseases. Other than this, the extra food can also decay inside the tank and release toxins, thus disturbing the hygiene of your tank. 

Habitat and Tank Setup

Whenever you are setting up a tank for any fish, it is very important to do some research about the fish’s natural habitat and environment. The goal should be to replicate and recreate the fish’s natural habitat as closely as possible. This will keep the fish comfortable and help it feel at ease. 

The cardinal tetra fish is native to the South American region and can be found in the Orinoco and Negro rivers. Some people have also found them in the African and Central American regions. The natural cardinal fish habitat comprises large rivers, shallow creeks, and flooded areas. 

Naturally, there is a lot of room for the fish to swim around in these regions. Since the cardinal tetra fish will barely spend any time close to the bottom of the aquarium tank, choosing a substrate is not an issue. 

The cardinal tetra fish has a shy nature and can easily be bullied. Therefore, make sure that you add some plants and decorations to the tank.

These will provide the fish with hiding spots for when it feels intimidated and threatened. Some plant recommendations include Amazon Swords, Java Fern, and Anubias Nana. 

Control the number of plants and decorations that you add to the tank as the cardinal tetra fish likes to swim around inside the tank. Keep room so that nothing gets in the fish’s way and it can swim around as desired.

The ideal temperature range for a cardinal tetra fish tank is between 73-81 degrees Fahrenheit, and the pH should be maintained between 6-7. 

Standard aquarium lighting should be enough, and you do not have to worry about water currents as the filter outlet will be enough to create a comfortable flow of water for the fish. 

Although the cardinal tetra fish size is only close to two inches, they are kept in groups and need space to swim around. Therefore, do not make the mistake of keeping them in a very small tank.

The tank should have a minimum capacity of twenty gallons to be able to house a group of six cardinal tetra fish. Generally, add an additional two gallons per one cardinal tetra fish that you would like to add to the group. 

Tank Mates

The cardinal tetra fish is amongst the best community tank fish. They like to stay within their own group and do not get into trouble with other fish inside the tank.

They do get intimidated quite easily; therefore, make sure that you do not group them with aggressive fish that might harass them inside the tank. 

Other than aggressive fish, larger fish should also be avoided. These fish can easily scare the small cardinal tetra fish and even nip at them. 

Some highly recommended tank mates for cardinal tetra fish include Neon Tetra fish, Hatchetfish, Mollies, Dwarf Gourami fish, Angelfish, and Guppies. 

The fish that take up the lower region of the aquarium tank and like to stay close to the base are also ideal tank mates since the cardinal tetra fish does not dwell in that region of the tank.

You can also add shrimps and snails to the tank as the cardinal tetra fish will not eat them or pose any threat to these invertebrates. 

If you want to ensure that the cardinal tetra fish remains comfortable, add a minimum of six cardinal tetra fish to a tank. The more cardinal tetra fish they are kept with, the happier they will be. 


They were caring for a cardinal tetra fish, not hard. They are quite hardy and can easily tolerate a range of aquarium tank conditions. 

When you keep a cardinal Tetra fish, you have to be extremely careful about what it is being fed. Feeding the cardinal tetra fish a poor diet can not only lead to illness, but it can also take away their vibrant colors from them.

Moreover, maintain stable tank conditions as a sudden fluctuation towards any extreme can lead to distress in the fish and affect their health in an adverse manner. 

The tank’s hygiene and cleanliness is another important factor that needs to be taken into consideration. The tank should be clean and free from decaying matter.

A portion of the tank water should be replaced weekly, and it is best to invest in a filter to prevent any sort of toxin buildup inside the tank. 

The common diseases Neon Tetra can also affect the cardinal tetra fish. This causes the formation of cysts on the fish’s body and can also affect its color.

The main cause of this disease is a parasite that can make its way inside the tank through live food or if a decoration or plant is added to the tank without cleaning it first. 

Itch, Fin Rot, and Bloat are some other diseases that you should look out for when you keep a cardinal tetra group together or even add them to a community tank. 


Cardinal tetra fish breeding is quite simple and easy. All you have to do is to replicate their natural habitat conditions and find a mated pair. 

Separate the mated pair and keep them in a tank with dim lights. Ensure stable water parameters inside the tank and provide a nutritious and rich cardinal tetra fish diet to prepare the male and the female fish for spawning. 

The female fish’s body will become rounder when it is carrying eggs in its belly. When the female is ready to release the eggs, the male will swim right next to her, and the pair will release eggs and sperms respectively in a shaded area.

Therefore, adding plants to the breeding tank is a great idea as it provides shade and serves as a safe place for the female to release the eggs.

The eggs hatch and fry are released within three days. Feed the fry properly but provide crushed pellets that the fry can consume easily. You will notice that the fry will grow at a rapid rate, and within eight to twelve weeks, they will develop the vibrant colors the cardinal tetra fish is famous for. 


If you are looking for an easy to care for, small-sized, and vibrant colored fish, the cardinal tetra fish, is a great fit. This fish is easy to care for and looks great when kept in a group of its own and even if added in a community tank. 

From the tank set up to caring and even breeding, each aspect is quite simple, making the cardinal tetra fish a beginner-friendly fish with people who lack experience regarding fish keeping.

John Kilmerstone

I love keeping pet fish and receive a lot of joy and peace from watching these colorful creatures. Please visit this website and explore the wonderful world of pet fish. Discover how to care for and look after pet fish and amplify your satisfaction.

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