There is almost no person in the world who has not seen this fish at some point in their life, and almost no hobbyist who hasn’t kept this fish at some point in their life, this is the cardinal tetra! The cardinal tetra, or Paracheirodon axelrodi, is arguably the most famous fish in the world, and it’s easy to see why, when you see a large school of these nano tetras swimming around in a tank. The top side of this fish is a neon glowing blue from tip to tail, running straight through the eyes, and the belly side is a deep red, also from tip to tail. These bright colors and small body size make it a popular fish to add to any size aquarium.
In the wild these fish have a vast range, covering the majority of the course of the amazon river, and so are fairly adjustable anyways, but ours are European tank bred, which means they are even more readily adapted to aquarium life, and ready to grace your aquarium! Coming in at about an inch currently, you can expect them to get up to double that, but most specimens will cap out around 1½ inches. These tetras really appreciate decorations such as branches and plants to swim in and out of, and these will contribute greatly to more natural behavior. Contrary to what you might think, more hiding places tends to bring fish out into the open more to search for food, as they have a secure place to dart back to if a threat does happen to emerge, which does not happen in your home tank. Some slow flowing water is a good thing as well, and since they are small fish that don’t eat too much, a sponge filter which moves water slowly would be good to have. These fish will thrive in water that is acidic to slightly alkaline, and you will want to keep the hardness of the water under 150ppm. Although these fish can adapt to harder water and still be healthy, their colors will tend to wash out slightly, and never be as vibrant.
When considering tankmates for the cardinal tetras, it is best to remember that they are a fish which requires a school to thrive, and you should consider getting at least 8 of this species, with more always being better as long as your filter is capable of handling it. Besides more of their own kind, you might also consider some bottom dwellers to clean up the food that makes it past the cardinals, as they will not feed from the substrate, and only eat while the food is in the water column. A very popular choice in this regard is some corydoras, and just the two kinds of fish can make a very attractive display alongside some plants and wood. These shoaling fish do NOT ship individually bagged.
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