Cardinal Tetra in a planted aquarium - possible? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-16-2003, 06:56 PM Thread Starter
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Hi there,

I really want to have many cardinal tetras for my next planted tank. I think it's a beautifull fish !!

However reading about this fish I discovered that it requires very soft water (GH < 3 was mentioned on some sites, GH=6 on others) with very low PH. This is in contradiction with plants - most of them need some hardness, moreover, some plants that exist in soft/acidic environment thrive when given harder conditions. Now comes this cardinal tetra and asks for GH<3. How can I settle the conflict?

In addition a PH between 4 and 6 is required. If I go for a PH=6.5 and if I want the optimal CO2 = 15 ppm then my KH should be as low as KH=2 which is a very small and dangerous buffering level.

Temprature is also an issue - many sites quote 23-27 while some people say that they are thriving at 28. I need 28 degrees because of discus. Is this yet another conflict?

Could people who actually raised these fish tell me what is their water chemistry and if the cardinal tetras are at their (glowing) best?


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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-16-2003, 07:05 PM
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Cardinals, in fact most fish are highly adaptable in terms of water chemistry that they can adapt to. I keep cardinals in water with a KH between 4 and 5 and a GH somewhere above 20. My pH is around 7.0 with co2 injection and they are absolutely fine. I don't think they should have a problem being kept at that temperature, but I've never tried. Perhaps others here have. You need to worry about matching their water parameters closer if you plan on trying to breed them.


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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-16-2003, 07:09 PM
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I've had a school of about 40 cardinal tetras in my planted tank for the last 6 months or so. They are doing wonderfully and are as bright as can be. My GH is about 22dGH and my pH is kept at about 7.0. Temperature is usually about 76-78F. Based on my experience, I'm sure you will have no problems keeping them with your water parameters. Apparently, much like discus, they only need the lower parameters for breeding purposes.

The only thing to watch out for with cardinals is that most of the time they are wild caught and thus are very stressed and/or starving by the time they get to you. Be sure to quarantine them, as they can be sensitive at first and many people lose cardinals when they first get em. (They get sick easily at first, probably due to stress of the change from wild to tank life.) Once they're settled in however, they are very hardy.

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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-16-2003, 08:19 PM
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I have also kept cardinals in "non-ideal" conditions. My water is Ph = 7.0, Kh = 10, Gh = 21, and temp = 79F. I have had my school of 9 for about 1.5 years know and they look great. With careful acculmation, I think they will be ok in your tank.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-16-2003, 08:42 PM
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Cardinals should be fine in your planted tank. I've read that cardinals have to have below 7.0 pH and then I read that they are ok in anywhere for about 5.5-8.0! You are smart to come get your information here where other fish-keeper are that have had the experience. I currently have 22 cardinal tetras in my planted tank. I keep the temperature at 82 degrees right now and they are absolutely FINE. They aren't as delicate as you might think.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-16-2003, 09:19 PM
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I have a school of 35 in my aquarium. They are doing just fine in a pH of 6.8 and a KH of 4. I keep the temperature at 78.


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