Which tetra is better: cardinal or neon? - Betta Care Fish Guide (2023)

Keeping fish as pets can be easy, and there are many small species that thrive in small aquariums. That is why they are perfect for families and people who live in small spaces like apartments.

The cardinal tetra and the neon tetra are two of the most desirable species of small tropical aquarium fish. Although visually similar, these two species are very different.

The best species of tetra for...

The best species of tetra for freshwater aquariums

If you want to find out the difference between a cardinal tetra and a neon tetra, read on.

(Video) Cardinal Tetra Care Guide | How to Tell Cardinal Tetras & Neon Tetras Apart

Cardeal Tetra against neon tetras

Both the cardinal tetra and neon tetra are popular freshwater aquarium fish and both look very similar. Both tetra species have a slender body, two dorsal fins and an orange or red stripe down the sides, and reach the same maximum size of around 5 cm. However, there are some differences between the two types.

tank size

Cardinal tetras prefer a tank of at least 10 gallons, while neon tetras can do well in tanks up to five gallons.


Both species are peaceful and get along well with other similarly sized fish. Avoid the larger, more aggressive fish that may eat the smaller tetra species.

water conditions

Both cardinal and neon tetras prefer neutral to slightly acidic water with a pH of 6.0-7.5 and a temperature between 70-86F.


Both species are omnivores and require a balanced diet of flakes, pellets, small frozen food such as Artemia or mosquito larvae and even live food such as mosquito larvae.


Both species can be difficult to breed in a home aquarium, but if water conditions remain stable and there are enough hiding places for the juveniles to hide from the adult fish, then it is possible. Neon Tetra Eggs typically hatch within 24 hours, while Cardinal Tetra Eggs can take up to 48 hours.


Both species of tetra are peaceful and active swimmers, often seen together at school in the aquarium.

hope of life

Cardinal tetras typically live 3 to 5 years, while neon tetras have a lifespan of 2 to 3 years with proper care.

Both species are popular choices for aquarists because of their bright colors, small size, and peaceful nature. They make a great addition to any freshwater aquarium and can be kept with other small fish of similar temperament and size.

Which tetra is better: cardinal or neon? - Betta Care Fish Guide (1)

Cardinal tetras versus neon green tetras

The cardinal tetra and the green neon tetra are two of the most popular aquarium fish. The cardinal tetra is a small, slender fish that can reach up to 1.5 inches in length as an adult. They have silver-grey bodies with a red stripe running down the back from head to tail. They also have black spots on their fins that give them their distinctive name.

(Video) Cardinal Tetra care guide all you need to know before you go and buy one! You must watch JR Aquarium

The Green Neon Tetra is slightly larger than its cousin, reaching up to 2 inches in size as an adult. Its body is an iridescent green tinge with a black stripe down the side and rosy red accents on the edges of its fins.

Both species are peaceful and great for beginners, but there are some key differences between them.

tank size

Cardinal Tetras require at least 10 gallons for a school of 6-8 fish, while Green Neon Tetras require at least 15 gallons for the same number of fish.


Both types of tetras do well in community tanks with other peaceful fish of the same size or smaller, such as guppies, corydoras, pygmy gouramis, and danios. However, it is important to note that they should not be kept with aggressive species such as cichlids or larger predatory species.

water conditions

Cardinal tetras prefer slightly acidic water with a pH of 6-7 and a temperature of around 24°C. On the other hand, green neon tetra needs slightly harder water with a pH of 6.5-7.5 and a temperature between 22-28°C (72-82°F).


Both types of tetras are omnivores, but the green neon tetra is more likely to eat prepared flake foods than the cardinal tetra. To keep them healthy, provide them with a varied diet of live, frozen, and freeze-dried foods.


Breeding both types of tetras is relatively easy as long as you have the right conditions and tank parameters. The male cardinal tetra builds a bubble nest for the eggs while the greenNeon tetras lay their eggson plants or other surfaces in the tank.

hope of life

Cardinal tetras typically live 4 to 5 years, while neon green tetras can live up to 8 years with proper care. Both types of tetra can live much longer with a healthy diet, ideal water conditions, and regular tank maintenance.

Overall, both Cardinal Tetras and Neon Green Tetras are colourful, peaceful fish that make a great addition to any community aquarium. They require similar care and maintenance, but differ slightly in their water requirements and lifespan. With the right conditions and nutrition, both can make beautiful, long-lasting additions to your aquarium.

Cardinal Tetra vs. Gold Neon Tetra

The cardinal tetra and the golden neon tetra are two popular aquarium fish known for their bright colors. The cardinal tetra (Paracheirodon axelrodi) is native to Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Venezuela. It has a bright red body and bright teal stripes down its back and sides, making it particularly eye-catching. The golden neon tetra (Paracheirodon innesi) is native to the Amazon region of South America and has a golden yellow body with blue stripes down the back and sides.

(Video) Neon Tetra | Beginner Guide

In terms of care requirements, both fish are relatively easy to care for. However, they have some differences.

tank size

Cardinal Tetras are a small species, reaching lengths of up to 1.5 inches, making them suitable for smaller tanks. A 10 gallon tank is the minimum recommended size, and larger tanks can hold more fish. Golden neon tetras reach slightly larger sizes at around 2 inches long and require at least a 20 gallon tank for a school of 6.


Cardinal Tetras are relatively peaceful fish and thrive best when kept in schools of at least 6-8 individuals. They can be housed with other small, peaceful species such as corydoras or pygmy gouramis. Golden neon tetras are also peaceful and do best in schools of 6 to 8 individuals. They can be housed with other small, peaceful species such as corydoras or pygmy gouramis.

water conditions

Cardinal tetras prefer water conditions that mimic their natural environment, which are slow-flowing streams with pH values ​​between 4.5 and 7.0 and a temperature of 22-28 °C (72-82 °F). Golden neon tetras prefer similar water conditions with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5, temperatures between 68 and 81°F (20 and 27°C), and hardness levels between 4 and 15 dH.


Cardinal tetras are best fed small, nutrient-dense foods such as live or frozen brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms. Gold neon tetras should be fed a more varied diet, including flake food, freeze-dried mosquito larvae, and other high-quality fish food.


Cardinal tetras are egg dispersers and readily breed in tanks that mimic their natural environment. The water should be soft and acidic, with a pH of 5 to 6, temperatures of 25 to 28°C, and plenty of moss or floating plants for the eggs to attach to. Golden neon tetras are also egg dispersers and prefer similar water conditions.


Cardinal tetras are naturally gregarious fish, which means they are most comfortable when in the presence of other members of their species. Maintaining a school of at least 6 people is important to ensure they remain healthy, active and display natural behaviour.

Gold Neon Tetras are also schooling fish and should be kept in a school of at least 6 individuals to ensure they remain healthy and active. At school, they often form tight groups and swim together in the pool. Both species are relatively peaceful and should not become aggressive towards other housemates. Also, both species prefer low-light aquariums and can become stressed if exposed to too much light.

hope of life

Cardinal tetras can live up to 5 years with proper care, while golden neon tetras can live up to 6-8 years. Both species require weekly water changes and regular tank maintenance for optimal health. With the right diet, water conditions, and care, these fish have the potential to bring a lot of joy and beauty to any aquarium.

Are neon tetras or cardinal tetras easier to keep?

The neon tetra differs from the cardinal tetra in several important ways, although they share a striking resemblance. The neon tetra differs from the cardinal tetra in that it is smaller and has a less continuous pattern of blue and red on its body. Alternatively, neon tetras are typically identified by a blue head and red tail. The red tetra's colors are more vibrant, but these fish are still beautiful.

(Video) Cardinal Tetra Care | Cardinal Tetra Care Guide

Neon tetras are easier to care for than they used to be, as they are now kept almost exclusively in the aquarium. The vast majority of cardinal tetras are imported from the wild, making them particularly vulnerable to changes in tank temperature and chemistry, as well as poor water quality.

Like most fish, neon tetras are typically bred in captivity. This increases their accessibility as they can be farmed and not taken from the wild. That's why you can buy them for less than cardinal tetras. Typically, you should expect to pay between $1 and $2 for a neon tetra.

Can cardinal tetras live with neon tetras?

The vast majority of tetra species are schooling fish. Tetras can only go to school with conspecifics. They need the company of other fish, which they can dominate or be dominated by their great sense of social hierarchy.

Neon tetras get along better with other tetras. When tetras are added to an aquarium, they can improve aesthetics and increase the variety of fish in them.

Some of the reasons tetras should be included in a neon aquarium:

  • Tetras are a good addition to an aquarium as they do not disturb the other residents.
  • Tetras come in a rainbow of colors, making them a fun addition to any aquarium.
  • It won't break the bank to get a tetra.

The cardinal tetra can coexist with the neon tetra. Both swim in schools. That means they need more than a few friends to be happy and feel safe.

Neon tetras are one of the best choices for a community aquarium because of their calm demeanor. Additionally, their small size makes them suitable for a bowl or other small tank. Like neon tetras, cardinal tetras are peaceful fish but need more space. As adults, they grow slightly larger than neon tetras. The size and composition of your tank will determine how many fish you should have as they will swim together and form a school.

frequently asked Questions

Why are cardinal tetras more expensive?

Compared to neon tetras, cardinal tetras are not only slightly larger, but also more difficult to care for. InCardinal psalmthey are caught in the wild, they are usually more expensive than neon tetras.

Will Cardinal Tetras and Neon Tetras School together

The social behavior of neon tetras and cardinal tetras is very similar. During the day it is not uncommon to see a schoolCardinal tetras and neon tetras swim together. This improves their sense of security and their ability to walk to food sources.

(Video) Neon Tetras vs Cardinal Tetras- How to Keep Them Long Term

final thoughts

You have to decide for yourself which school of fish is most suitable for your aquarium. Whether you choose one or both, your aquarium will benefit from the addition of these tetras. The Neon Tetra is a better buy if you're trying to cut corners. The bright colors of cardinal tetras can tempt you to haggle for a lower price. Choose the one you like best and your aquarium will soon be given new color accents. Both cardinal tetras and neon tetras require a community tank with plenty of hiding plants and a school environment. This will ensure your satisfaction in your aquarium.

Related posts:
  • What you need to know about the ideal pH of the cardinal tetra
  • Neon Tetra Temperature Guide (Need a Heater?)


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