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Neon Tetra vs Cardinal Tetra

What's the difference between the neon tetra and the cardinal tetra? The short answer is that the neon tetra has red across the back half its lower body, while the cardinal tetra is solid red across its full lower body. The Glowlight Tetra Aquarium Fish also looks similar, but with no red color on its lower body. Both are very popular beginner fish simply because they are so beautiful. It's harder to find cardinal tetras for sale though. Check out the difference between the neon tetra vs the cardinal tetra below.

Neon Tetra Aquarium Fish - Popular Beginner's First Fish

Neon Tetra Aquarium Fish, Paracheirodon innesi
Neon Tetra

The neon tetra aquarium fish is one of the most popular beginners first fish tank mates because of its bright color. However, the neon tetra is actually one of the harder fish to care for because it gets scared and sick quite easily. The Neon Tetra originally came from the upper Amazon near Peru, where it occupied dark locations. Neon Tetras have a stripe along the length of their body that changes between blue and green depending on the viewing angle.

Neon Tetra Aquarium Fish, Paracheirodon innesi
Neon Tetra

Neon Tetra Aquarium Fish - Water Quality

Neon Tetra Aquarium Fish are easier to transport than Cardinal Tetras, which makes it much easier to find Neon Tetras as compared to Cardinal Tetras. Neon tetras appreciate blackwater water quality conditions. Blackwater refers to the soft dark water created by the accumulation of decaying leaves in slow moving and still waters. The best water quality conditions can be created by filtering water through peat or by adding blackwater extract sold by suppliers such as Tetra. Blackwater extract will turn the water an amber color.

Neon Tetra Aquarium Fish - Schooling & Feeding

Neon tetra aquarium fish should be kept in a school of at least 6 and the more you increase their numbers, the better the schooling effect. Neon tetra enjoy feeding on food flakes, spirulina, freeze-dried bloodworms and live foods, such as brine shrimp and bloodworms.

Neon Tetra Aquarium Fish, Paracheirodon innesi
Neon Tetra

Neon Tetra Aquarium Fish - Breeding

Acidic water is needed for neon tetra aquarium fish breeding. The pair of neon tetra mates should be fed live food. Peat or blackwater extract can be used to greatly increase the chances of success in breeding. Cover the tank at night to block out all light. Then uncover the tank near dawn to induce breeding. The neon tetra pair should be removed from the tank after breeding.

Neon Tetra Aquarium Fish Tank Mates:

Neon tetra aquarium fish tank mates - compatible with the Black Phantom Tetra, Cardinal Tetra, Corydoras Catfish, Ghost Shrimp, Glass Fish, Glowlight Tetra, Guppies, Honey Gouramis, Harlequin Rasbora, Ram Cichlid, White Cloud>

Neon Tetra Aquarium Fish - Profile

  • Scientific Name: Paracheirodon innesi

  • Family: Characin

  • Temperature: 20 - 21 C; 68 - 79 F

  • pH: 6.5

  • Size: 2.5 cm; 1 inch

  • Life Span: 8 years

  • Breeding: Difficult, Egg Layer

Cardinal Tetra Aquarium Fish

Cardinal Tetra Aquarium Fish, Paracheirodon axelrodi
Cardinal Tetra

The Cardinal Tetra is one of the very popular aquarium tank mates for its bright colors. It is more colorful than the Neon Tetra Aquarium Fish and can be distinguished by the full red lower body. It originally came from Columbia and Venezuela. The tank should be well established as Cardinal Tetras are very susceptible to water quality changes and ammonia build up. After they adjust to a new tank, they are quite hardy and do not suffer from disease the way Neons do.

Cardinal Tetra Aquarium Fish - Water Quality

Cardinals appreciate blackwater conditions, which refers to the soft dark water created by the accumulation of decaying leaves in slow moving and still waters. This can be replicated by filtering through peat or by adding blackwater extract sold by suppliers such as Tetra. This will turn the water an amber color.

Cardinal Tetra Aquarium Fish - Schooling & Feeding

Cardinal Tetras are a schooling fish, so 6 to 10 are recommended, which means a tank of 20 gallons or more is best. They will lose their color if they lack companionship. A dark substrate and dark background help bring out their color. Cardinal Tetras appreciate low light levels and lots of plants. They are an extremely peaceful fish and don't compete with other species. They eat small flake foods, freeze dried bloodworms and live foods, such as brine shrimp.

Cardinal Tetra Aquarium Fish, Paracheirodon axelrodi
Cardinal Tetra

Cardinal Tetra Aquarium Fish - Breeding

Cardinal Tetra Females are larger and wider than males. Cardinal Tetras spawn on flat surfaces, such as plant leaves. They prefer low light levels for breeding, such as dusk and dawn. The water should be at around 75F with a pH of 5 and a dH of 2, which is very soft. Blackwater extract will greatly increase the chances of success in breeding. Up to 100 fry will hatch in just over 24 hours. Be sure to remove the parents from the tank before the fry hatch. The fry will be able to eat finely ground flake foods in about 4 days. They will quickly become interested in brine shrimp too.

Cardinal Tetra Aquarium Fish, Paracheirodon axelrodi
Cardinal Tetra

Cardinal Tetra Aquarium Fish - Treating Ich

Cardinal Tetra aquarium fish need special care in treating ich, because Cardinal Tetras will die if they are exposed to normal doses of Quick Cure. Malachite green is one of the main ingredients in Quick Cure and it can kill Cardinal Tetras. Quick Cure should only be used with Cardinal Tetras if ich is actually present and the dosage should be reduced well below recommended levels. Otherwise the cure will be worse than the disease.

Cardinal Tetra Aquarium Fish Tank Mates:

Cardinal Tetra aquarium fish tank mates - compatible with Black Phantom Tetra, Corydoras Catfish, Discus, Ghost Shrimp, Glass Fish, Glowlight Tetra, Guppies, Honey Gouramis, Harlequin Rasbora, Otto, Ram Cichlid, Neon Tetra, White Cloud

Cardinal Tetra Aquarium Fish - Profile

  • Scientific Name: Paracheirodon axelrodi

  • Family: Characin

  • Temperature: 22 - 27 C; 72 - 80 F

  • pH: 4.0 - 6.8

  • Size: 5 cm; 2 inches

  • Life Span: 5 years

  • Breeding: Difficult, Egg Layer