The Colorful Enchantment of the Cardinal and Neon Tetras

If you’re an aquarium lover and fish are your thing, then the Cardinal Tetra and Neon Tetra will be two fish you will want to consider because their vivid color will enchant your tank as they change from dormant coloration to vibrant depending on the time of day and activity level. Both fish are sensitive to water temperature and acid levels and because of the similarity in the species, will school together if they live in the same tank. It is important for the health of the fish that you understand how to balance the water conditions in your tank. Aquarists recommend a fully cycled tank before introducing these particular fish.

Both the Cardinal Tetra and Neon Tetra have been mistaken for one another due to their opalescent red stripe. The best way to tell the difference between the two very similar Tetras is the length of the stripe. While the Neon Tetra’s stripe extends from the middle of its body to the tail, the Cardinal Tetra’s strip reaches the entire length of its body. While the Neon Tetra display a pale blue back over a pale sterling belly and a prismatic blue stripe that runs horizontally along each side of the fish which also extends the entire length of the body. These gorgeous fish give the illusion of color change when inactive at night, transforming its colors to silver and then reactivating their more opalescent colors as the day and their activity increase. These fish are also completely transparent, including their fins, with the exception of their colorful markings.

The Cardinal Tetra, on the other hand, are even more vibrant with their glowing blue stripe slightly more vivid and the as is the red stripe that is found underneath. The Cardinal Tetra is also more sensitive than the Neon Tetra with regard to spawning. The Neon Tetra have less difficulty spawning in captivity. The Cardinal Tetra will spawn in captivity if the conditions are right, but little success has been seen thus far.

Both the Cardinal Tetra and Neon Tetra need a place of shelter when they feel threatened, so vegetation should be available in variety and quantity and both fish should be kept safe by not keeping them in the same tank with larger more aggressive fish who may see them as their next meal. Keeping the tank resembling its wild habitat will keep these fish happiest.