Genus name: Paracheirodon Axelrodi
Also known as: Red Neon Tetra
Distribution: South America in tributaries of the Orinoco and Rio Negro
Length: up to 1.8″ (4.5cm)
Water Temperature: 73-79F (23-26C)
Diet: Worms, small crustaceans, dried food
Water: soft and slightly acidic water preferred
Lives: In the middle areas of the aquarium
The Cardinal Tetra is one of the most colourful and popular of the American characins, and is called because the red colouring is reminiscent of a cardinal’s robes. It has a broad, iridescent blue-green band which extends from its mouth to just before the tail, on the top of the body. The bottom half, and the tail, of the Cardinal Tetra is a bright red colour.
It is very similar to the Neon Tetra, and is often mistaken for it. Although they are the same colour, the Cardinal Tetra has more red on its body, whereas the Neon Tetra has silver.
Cardinal Tetra shoal very well with other tetras, in particular Neon Tetras, and look very stunning in the aquarium. Ensure there are at least 6 in total so they can shoal properly.
As with other tetras, the Cardinal Tetra male is slimmer than the female, whilst the female is slightly bigger, bulkier and more rounded.
Cardinal Tetra will breed in captivity, however they are very difficult to rear. The female will release the eggs and the male Cardinal Tetra will release the sperm at the same time, while they are swimming. The eggs hatch within 24-30 hours, and the young are free-swimming in 3-4 days. However, the eggs are photo-sensitive, and need very subdued lighting to survive. The young Cardinal Tetra are also affected by the light, and have to be gradually introduced to it over their first few days of life.
Due to the difficulty of breeding, most Cardinal Tetras are imported from the wild.