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So I have really not been happy with my decision to go with cardinal tetras..

Per my last thread. I currently have 6 cardinal tetras in my 29g biocube. I am still not sure if they are behaving normally or not. Extremely skittish, scared of the slightest...anything, breathing quickly. BUT they seem to be surviving even if they had some damage to their gills.


At this point I think I want to put some more things in here for a few reasons:

1. The tetras are leaving food (I reallllly don't think I'm over feeding with a small pinch twice a day). I think the food is just getting swept out of site and they aren't interested in eating off the floor and seeking it out. It's creating an algae/fungal(?) issue as far as I can tell. So I would like a clean up crew.

2. The tank just doesn't have much action with just the 6 tiny fish.

3. I feel like the fish might be a little bit less skittish and happier if there was more going on in the tank so they didn't notice the slightest change in lighting or movement.

4. I want stuff in here that I don't feel like I am going to kill with the slightest error. It has been really causing me a lot of stress feeling like I have 6 partially injured hyper delicate fish in my tank.


I want the cheapest, ugliest, heartiest things you guys got to suggest (bottom feeders and non bottom feeders).
 

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I had 25 cardinals in a 40 they always hid.I'm chalking it up to the high light. They would come out when i dimmed the light.

I since swapped them out for harequin rasboras. I love them they school well and out front and center. Ive heard lamchop rasboras are just as good and have better color. Although my lfs sells them under the same name as harequins but never have more then one at a time since they come in the same bag/shippment.
 

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I've got about 60 cards in my 180 and they are still "skittish", but I do agree with Nlewis about the Cories. Pandas or Bandits stay pretty small but they are always on the go cleaning up what the Cards didn't eat.
 

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Cardinals are known for preferring shaded locations. Ditto the suggestions above: More Cards so they are a good school, and some bottom feeding fish to get the food that the Cards miss.
 

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Hmm, since we aren't sure if there is potential issue with the water/tank that is causing the cardinals to breath rapidly, or if the tank is fine and it's just unhealthy cardinals, I might suggest just getting one fish as a "test" fish. I'm thinking maybe a anabantoid. Probably a gourami since I think your water flow is a bit too strong for longer finned Bettas.

If that dies quickly or stays gasping surface air most of the time, I would say there is a issue with the water/tank. I'd recommend this route as a test, rather than get a bunch of fish and they potentially get harmed/die if there is a problem. If the gourami survives with no issues, then I would feel more comfortable adding other fish. I would have suggested Corydoras as they are bottom feeders, pretty hardy and can breathe atmospheric air, but they should be kept in groups and so I wouldn't want a whole group of them to be used as "test" fish. just my personal suggestion.

Just to speak on the Cardinals from the previous threads, the breathing in the video was very rapid and was not normal breathing. In my honest experience, cardinal tetras NOR neon tetras are "sensitive" fish (I've kept them in multiple conditions and they are not delicate fish, regardless what others may say. Just my honest opinion from my experience). And the group size of just 5 or 6, was not too bad to cause them to breathe as rapid as seen in the video.
 

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I have cardinals and neons mixed in a 20L. I have a Planted Plus 24/7 set to MAX (highish light) and they school together and are always front and center. Maybe do a 50/50 mix....say 10 neons and 10 cardinals and see what happens.
 

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One of my favorites are cherry barbs.Cheap,colorful and easy to care for,two females for each male and they will chase each other all over the tank without a care except maybe getting a date lol they are also not skittish in the least.One thing you might try is turning off your filter when feeding,it gives them a better chance to find food before it is carried away.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTgRdso4DTE
 

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A bit of thought about why fish act like they do may help? Who is the most likely fish to be scared of everything? The one who is the most likely to be eaten! So doesn't it also follow that moving away from the fish who are traditional bait fish in nature will move you into a different behavior?
Some of the smaller cichlids would be my choice but since they can be hard to find in a given area if you are looking for a specific fish as well as cheap, I have others in mind. For pretty cheap, ugly (depends on outlook?) and durable go for bristlenose catfish? Algea eaters are super ugly , easy to find and only bother those who bother them. A single clown loach can be pretty neat for years but will outgrow that tank after a few years.
A single convict cichlid is cheap and easy to find. Not breeding make them calmer. A single angelfish can be stunning.

Get out of the cheap realm as those are almost always the bait fish! Which is cheaper, a five dollar fish that lives five years or a dollar fish that only lives six months?
 
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