Cardinal tetra

Aquarium fish: Cardinal tetra (Paracheirodon axelrodi)
Size: 4 – 5 cm
Origin: South America
Water temperature: 23-29 ° C
Aquarium volume: 70 l

Cardinal tetra (Paracheirodon axelrodi ) – a shoal, freshwater aquarium fish from the tetras family.


Neon Red comes from South America. It lives in densely overgrown, slow-flowing rivers and backwaters in the Orinoco and Rio Negro basins of Venezuela, Brazil and Colombia.

Characteristics and disposition

A species reminiscent of the popular Neon Innes ( P. innesi ).

The red stripe of red neon runs along the entire body, in others the red color is limited only to the back part. The fish are characterized by a steel-blue, glossy strip that extends from the mouth to the level of the fat fin. In its natural habitat (black water biotope), it helps fish see each other and hold shoals, and confuses predators. Males are usually smaller and more slender than females. A minimum of 6 animals should be kept in the aquarium, 10 or more are recommended.

In a large group they feel more confident, present more interesting behaviors and look more effective. The species is very calm and gentle, usually it swims in the middle parts of the reservoir.

Nutrition and feeding

We can feed fish with crushed dry, frozen and live foods, e.g. with hydration, artemia, daphnia.


Red neon lights look best in a large shoal in an aquarium with a dark substrate.

They require a tank of at least 70 liters, densely planted in places, with not too strong lighting. Fish do best in soft and acidic water. If we want to reproduce their natural environment, it is enough to use a substrate or river gravel, a few roots and dry leaves, e.g. oak. Water is best filtered through peat.

Cardinal tetra is not the best company for very active and large fish (eg Skalar , Brzanka ). It is best to keep them with calm fish with similar requirements (eg Neon Innesa , Wedge Razbora , Kirysek variegated ).


Reproduction is difficult. We get more fry by breeding the fish in groups in a 45x25x25 cm tank. A shaded aquarium should contain fine-leaved plants, such as java moss or an artificial “mop”.

You can also use a net for the bottom. Soft and acidic water required in the range of 5.5-6.5 ph and 1-5 ° dgH, and a temperature of 26-28 ° C. Filtering the water through peat or using an RO filter will help. A small sponge filter is enough to oxygenate the water. When breeding neon lights in a larger group, there should be one male for each female.

We feed the fish abundantly with live food and wait for the spawn to appear. After spawning, adult fish are caught. However, it is best to reproduce red neon in pairs. Before the planned reproduction, we separate males from females and feed them with live food. When the females are rounder and the males more intensely colored, we choose the thickest female and the prettiest male and transfer them to the breeding aquarium in the evening.

Spawning usually takes place at night, often around midnight, what is interesting, they are not disturbed then by the light on and show their night body colors all the time. If we do not observe the eggs within a few days, we try it with another pair. Hatching takes place after 24-36 hours, after another 3-4 days, the young start swimming in search of food. In the first days, we feed them with micro liquid foods until they can eat the micro nematodes. Both the fry and the roe are very light sensitive.


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