Cardinal Tetra (Paracheirodon Axelrodi) Fish Species Profile

Article Contains

The Cardinal tetra is arguably the world's most popular aquarium fish species. It is similar in appearance and often confused with the Neon tetra.

The Cardinal tetra is a highly sociable fish and should be kept in as large groups as possible, so they form tight groups and create a dazzling shoaling effect that forms the focal point of any aquarium. They are more sensitive and susceptible to poor water conditions than their neon cousins and prefer a heavily planted aquarium that replicates a more natural habitat.

Scientific NameParacheirodon Axelrodi
OriginsSouth America
Aquarium LevelMiddle - Top
Best kept asGroups 6+
Lifespan5 years
Maximum Size2.0 inch
Water Conditions
Water TypeFreshwater
Temperature73.4 - 84.2 ℉ (23 - 29 ℃)
PH3.5 - 7.5
GH1 - 5
KH2 - 6
TDS20 - 215

Origins of the Cardinal Tetra

This species comes from South America from slow-moving creeks such as the Orinoco and the Rio Negro, feeding mainly on worms and crustaceans on the lower levels of the canals and streams.


Cardinal tetras will accept virtually all forms of aquarium food such as flakes, pellets, granules to frozen and live foods which should be included in their diet, as well as green vegetables on occasion to maintain a healthy balanced diet.

Sexing the Cardinal Tetra

The male and female Cardinals are similar in appearance and colour, making it quite difficult to determine the gender when young. However, as the fish mature, this becomes easier to determine as females become plumper and larger than their male counterparts.

Breeding the Cardinal Tetra

When it comes to breeding the Cardinal Tetra, it is advisable to provide them with their own dimly lit aquarium comprising of very soft water; it is advisable to include plants and moss to encourage spawning behaviour.

Once the adults have spawned its essential to remove them as quickly as possible because if given the opportunity, they will egg the eggs and fry once they have hatched.

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Date Added: 5/8/2020 - Updated: 9/16/2020 7:31:57 PM