Paracheirodon: Greek, para = the side of + Greek, cheir = hand + Greek, odous = teeth
One of the most colourful and popular fish in the hobby. Cardinal tetras look stunning in a large shoal. They need to be kept in a shoal of at least six or more individuals with similar sized peaceful fish. Larger fish such as angelfish may simply regard them as food and eat them. In nature cardinal tetras rarely live longer than one year, just enough adults survive to make it to the next breeding season to begin the cycle again, however in captivity they will live for several years with good care.
Wild cardinal tetras feed on small aquatic and stranded terrestrial invertebrates in their natural habitat. In captivity they are unfussy feeders and will accept all suitably sized dried, frozen and live food.
Female cardinal tetras are much plumper than the males while the males generally have slightly more vibrant colours.
Cardinal tetras are one of the most difficult tetras to breed in captivity. Most specimens are still wild caught because of this. The eggs and fry are light sensitive, they require very soft slightly acidic aged water to breed. If you can get them to spawn the eggs will hatch after about 30 hrs and the fry will be free swimming after four days when they will feed on infusoria or a commercial liquid fry food.
Has never been evaluated but there are some projects in operation where the fish are harvested in a sustainable manner to support both the local people and the aquarium trade. This relationship with locals and trade has spin off benefits because the local people rather than exploit the habitat look after it instead so that they can carry on making money from the trade.
pH: 4 - 6
dGH: 5 - 12
Temperature: 23 - 27°C (74 - 80°F)
Size: 2.5cm (1in)
Min tank size: 60 litres
Difficulty level: Easy
Aquarium type: Community
Swimming level: Middle
Origin: South America: Upper Orinoco and Negro River basins.
Species: P. axelrodi (Schultz, 1956)
Synonyms: Cheirodon axelrodi, Hyphessobrycon cardinalis