The Planted Tank Forum banner
1 - 18 of 18 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys, what are peoples experiences with cardinal tetras ?. Are they easier to keep then neons, ive kept neons successfully but im now thinking about trying cardinals.

Is a ph 7.5 to 7.6 to high for them ? and my water temp is set at 26 degree's C.

Im wondering if these conditions would suit cardinals. Ive got neons going quite well in this tank. But i am in the thought process of either getting more neons and having a school of 25ish fish, or trading in the 10 neons ive got and swapping to cardinals.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
119 Posts
I keep a school of about 30 cardinal tetras in a 150 gallon with a tap water ph of 7.6-7.8. The temp stays around 82. I did have a few die off when I first got them, as they have a reputation of being a bit sensitive when stressed, but the majority have survived a 96 hour power outage with water temps as low as 72. The tank has medium light and is heavily planted.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,821 Posts
Hi Ssyd,

First of all welcome to TPT! You live in a beautiful city, we visited shortly after the Olympics and had an amazing time both there in Sydney and a little north of Cairns.

I keep a school of 12 - 18 Cardinal Tetras in a 30 gallon tank with rasboras (Trigonostigma heteromorpha /previously Rasbora heteromorpha) and they do great. I also have Corydoras sterbai, Otocinclus and Siamese Algae Eater (SAE / Crossocheilus oblongus). I also keep Apistos in the tank until about 6 months ago and their were no problems either. I find they typically live 2-3 years before they head to the big tank in the sky.

I think on of the keys to success with Cardinals (or any fish) is to buy healthy stock that has been conditioned to your local water and are feeding well with full stomachs. Fish that have just arrived at the store, sick fish, fish or with pinched bellies are likely to have problems. Also acclimate the fish slowly; I usually do my acclimation via the "Drip Method" and it takes an hour or two for me to acclimate the new fish before releasing them in my tank.

30 gallon with Cardinals


 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Hi @Ssyd, I've got 22 cardinal tetras in my planted tank right now and they are schooling really well. IMO, they are more hardy and less sensitive than neons.

Keep in mind that these guys are soft water fish so a PH around 6.5 below is more ideal. They would show more vivid reds and blues. Though a PH of 7.5 to 7.6 is OK too.

Your water temperature is spot on!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
147 Posts
I would say cardinals are more difficult than neons, but they are still a pretty simple fish. I read somewhere that most neons are tank bred where as cardinals tend to be more wild caught. I'm not sure if that is true or not, but it kinda makes since and explains the different in difficulty.

The best tips I can give you is to find a reputable source. Buy a few more than you actually want, because it is quite possible that a few will die from the stress of getting moved to a new tank and finally make sure that if you buy smaller/younger fish, that you allow them time to grow out before putting them with other fish. You can typically find them pretty small and other fish will eat them pretty quickly.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for all the info everyone!
It has been a help to read them all. Im trying to figure out if it is worth taking a chance on something new or staying with neons which are my old tried and true option. The neons are currently now in a 5ft 285 litre (around 75 gals i think) tank. And have been living in it for 4 months, which before i moved and set up the new 5ft tank, they were in a 2ft 24 gal tank. Which is why im thinking of changing to cardinals as i now have more space so i can create a larger school or either neons or cardinals.

Another factor is, cardinals are a fair bit more expensive where i am. In local shops their around $5 each for cardinals but only $2 for neons. And every now and then you get two for one neon sales but not everywhere has cardinals, so they virtually don't go on sale. Which means their is a big difference between setting up a school of 25 neons compared to 25 cardinals.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
402 Posts
I have 23 cardinals in a 38-gallon planted setup. About half are wild-caught (which I think is more commonly what you get at the LFS) and half are tank-raised. I bought in three batches. The first wild batch from the LFS, I lost none. The second wild batch from the LFS was carrying ich, and I lost about a dozen (some from the first, some from the second) before things settled. (I know, I know, should have QT'd.) The third tank-raised batch from msjinkzd, I didn't lose a single one. They are all very colorful, happy, and active in my soft-water setup (pH around 6.5, KH around 1, GH around 6) at 77 degrees.

My experience and what I've read is that they can be sensitive at first, but once they're stable and in a stable tank, they are quite hardy. I have redone the substrate and otherwise mucked around in my tank (re-scaping etc.) and haven't lost any since the ich incident.

tl;dr: great looking fish, hardy once acclimated, highly recommend.

Bump:
I would say cardinals are more difficult than neons, but they are still a pretty simple fish. I read somewhere that most neons are tank bred where as cardinals tend to be more wild caught. I'm not sure if that is true or not, but it kinda makes since and explains the different in difficulty.

The best tips I can give you is to find a reputable source. Buy a few more than you actually want, because it is quite possible that a few will die from the stress of getting moved to a new tank and finally make sure that if you buy smaller/younger fish, that you allow them time to grow out before putting them with other fish. You can typically find them pretty small and other fish will eat them pretty quickly.
Agreed on all of this. Most you find will be wild-caught. msjinkzd often has them tank-raised, and mine from her have been very hardy (no losses yet, and it's been months). Also, I'd guess that tank-raised fishes will do better in your higher pH setup.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
119 Posts
Yes I agree with all of the info submitted here. If you end up going cardinals, make sure the ones you buy have good color and don't already look stressed out before you take them home, or you'll increase your chances of losing them. As far as neons, my opinion is that if you're budget conscious you should go with them. Many of the chain stores will have $1 sales on them around here and if you quarantine them properly they end up doing very well for the most part. I used to laugh at the people working at Petsmart when I would walk in for a neon sale and tell them I wanted ALL of them. Of course aesthetically, they aren't quite the same.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
566 Posts
IMO cardinals and rummys are the most fragile of the tetras followed by neons. Neons are hardier, cheaper, and easier to acquire. I always buy my small tetras the day after a water change so they have the whole week to adjust. I feel like the first water change or two is a testing ground for them. If they make it past the first big water change, the survival rate goes way up. Its that first week when you lose them. Also, I buy cardinal from a store that has a low turnover rate, so there the fish that have survived a month or two. If they have only been at you LFS for a couple of days and then go into your tank, forget it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
247 Posts
Love cardinals. Just put 5 in the tank tonight to see how they fare with a few fish that may have posed a problem. All good and they were completely ignored. I got them because a large group of them have been at LFS for a couple of weeks, so went for it. Definitely getting another 10-15 for sure. They don't ship well typically, so losses are usually in the beginning. I find neons are more easily acclimated, but cardinals are more spectacular in many more ways I find.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,259 Posts
All things being equal, cardinals are the better choice. But, all things being equal depends heavily on quality stock, if you know you're getting quality specimens, cardinals are the absolute better choice. I was a neon guy for years. Then about a year ago, I was finally able to get quality cardinals locally, and I won't look back. Cardinals all the way.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
76 Posts
If you have the tank space for it, or friends to split an order with, check on a bulk purchase for cardinal tetras. As an example, a local shop sells them for $3 each. I special ordered 100 wild-caught for $95 in November & have lost 2 with the temp at 76 & ph at 7.0

The seasons can also make a difference in price on some wild-caught fish. I bought those in November. I originally wanted them in July, but they would have been $200 for wild-caught or $275 for tank raised.

Good luck!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,557 Posts
I think it's the case in most soft-water/blackwater tetras that they prefer to be kept in similar water to their home waters. But if acclimated carefully to harder water, they will adapt and thrive. They aren't what I would call tough, but with good feeding,( live and fresh food, they are little carnivores..)
you will succeed.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,507 Posts
Hi Ssyd,

I think on of the keys to success with Cardinals (or any fish) is to buy healthy stock that has been conditioned to your local water and are feeding well with full stomachs. Fish that have just arrived at the store, sick fish, fish or with pinched bellies are likely to have problems. Also acclimate the fish slowly; I usually do my acclimation via the "Drip Method" and it takes an hour or two for me to acclimate the new fish before releasing them in my tank.

30 gallon with Cardinals


X2 on the above advice, I used to drip acclimate. There's absolutely nothing wrong with it, I just use a different method. I take about 2/3 of the water out of the fish store bag, float the bag and add (1) shot glass sized cup of tank water. After 20 minutes I take (1) glass out of the bag, dump it into my "fish bucket"and add another glass of tank water. I do that 2 more times, then dump the bag into my fish bucket and net the new fish into the tank. I never let any store water go into the tank.

I've never really found Cards, Rummy Nose, Thread Fins or any of the other "sensitive" fish to be any harder to keep than other "easy" fish.

Tommy
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
382 Posts
I drip acclimate them for about 30 minutes. My tank has a ph of 6.8 with co2 injection and aquasoil substrate. The temperature is set at 80 F. I added 20 cardinal tetras (not at the same time) and I lost at most 2 or 3, so I was shocked that many survived. Once they survive a week of two, then they tend to be hardy. They look fantastic in a densely planted with black substrate. The colors look best in low lighting.
 
1 - 18 of 18 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top