Fish Facts

Which is Better Neon or Cardinal Tetra?

Many people get confused between neon and cardinal tetra. Here is a detailed guide that explains both of these fish in detail.

Which is Better Neon or Cardinal Tetra? Neon and cardinal Tetra differ in their size, appearance, diet, water and temperature requirements, and behavior. Cardinal tetra is bigger and friendly while neon tetra is smaller in size and aggressive in nature.

Which is Better Neon or Cardinal Tetra?

There are considerable differences between the neon and cardinal tetra. We will identify every habit of these species. 

Comparison Chart for Neon Tetra Vs. Cardinal Tetra

Differences Neon Tetra Cardinal Tetra
Size 3 inches 5 inches
Appearance The round dorsal fin and red lines on half of the body. The regular dorsal fin and have red lines on all surfaces.
Suitable tank size 30 gallons for 20 neon fish 30 gallons for 30 cardinals
Water temperature 70 F 75 F
Social behavior Peaceful Aggressive
Nature of diet Bloodworms, vegetable foods Meaty foods

Diet requirements

There is a difference between the needs of their diets also. If you have grown them in the tank from their birth, then you can make their habits of eating on their own.

You can give their bloodworms, freezy diets, and whatever you want to do so. If you have purchased them after some growth, you have to take care of their eating habits.

If you change the diet of the pets suddenly, then you will face multiple problems there. You cannot manage their health problems. They may start suffering from food poison and other fatal diseases. If you take good care of their needs, then they will live peacefully with you.

You cannot buy wild fish because they have multiple problems with them. Increase or decrease the food amount depending on their age. They will need less food when they have grown enough.  

Water requirements

Neon tetras want to live in the soft water as they originate from the Amazon River. You must provide a pH that is less than neutral. If it goes more than it, then you can change the water immediately.

You should note all these issues that help them to grow at a rapid pace. You must provide the best possible environment for them.

Cardinal tetras need highly acidic water that may pH less than 4. You can increase it to some extent as they love to live in the soft waters. Their origin is from Brazil and Venezuela.

You must have complete information about the fish that you are growing in the tank. You cannot add the hard water to both of these fish tanks. Hard water may create several problems for their growth.

You can keep the pH of water more than three because filters will not work in pure acidic water. You may not clean the water, and it may remain full of debris and other waste.

You must note all these things while implementing any condition to it. If you maintain the pH between 3 and 4.5, then it will be easy for all the filters to manage the flow of the water.

You should keep the water soft all the water and its hardness should not increase from 20 DH. If you have managed all these factors, it will be suitable for both species to live easily.

If we look at a suitable temperature for both of them, then there is a difference. Neon tetra needs some cool water, while cardinal tetras need some warm weather. You can keep neon tetras and guppies together.

You have to provide less than 70 degrees Fahrenheit for neon tetra fish, while cardinal tetras want temperatures more than 75 Fahrenheit. You can increase or decrease from two Fahrenheit but not more than that.

By knowing the suitable temperature, we have concluded that both require a different type of water. We cannot place them in one water tank. There are multiple problems for them if we keep them in a similar environment.

Social behavior of neon and cardinal tetra

The social behavior of neon fish is much better than cardinal tetras. Cardinal tetras usually have wild nature because they do not live in aquariums. Cardinals will lose their temperament, while neon has a peaceful behavior.

You can purchase them when they are one week older. At that age, you can make their habits on your own. You can keep them in any environment.

If you have purchased them after some age, then you will face a few problems of their nature. They may start fighting with their fellow fish. If you have purchased them from the pet owners, then you can discuss their habits with them.

You will not get the peaceful nature of the fish after buying from the fish market. You must take care of these things that will help you to manage all these things. Few people like small-sized black skirt tetras.

You must check the nature before buying it. Neon tetra fish usually want to live in groups that are bigger than 15. Cardinals love to live multiple dozens, and you have to set up a big tank for them.

You can keep one cardinal tetra for one gallon of the tank. If you want to place 60 cardinals in your tank, then you have to set up a tank of 60 gallons. You can increase the number of fish in it when they get familiar with it. You should choose the best tetra fish for your fish tank.

You cannot keep both of them with any other species of fish. You can keep all of the fish of the same species in an aquarium. This setting will not create any problem for the pet owners. You should not even think of other tank mates for the cardinals as they will start fighting with them.

You may see multiple dead fish after some time in the aquarium due to this fight. You must note all these things while setting up a tank for pets. You can add Kuhli loaches for cleaning the tank.

Difference in Size

There is a difference between the sizes of these species. Cardinals are stronger than neon tetra as they have a bigger size and have a strong body. They may dominate them if we make a comparison between their strengths.

The average size of the cardinal tetra is about 5 inches. This size is bigger than many species of fish. You may check that the fish that you are buying should be in a suitable size.

Neon tetra has a size of 3 cm on average that is less than the cardinalfish. You will check the cardinals may have much more weight than the neon fish. Both of them are good to keep a pet in your aquarium.

Suitable tank size

Neon tetra requires a larger tank size as compared to the cardinals. You can place 50 cardinals in a 50-gallon tank while 30 neon fish in the same size tank.

The movement of these fish is much more than the cardinal. So, they require a larger size tank. These sizes have been calculated on an average basis. 

The appearance of Neon tetra and cardinal tetra

There are a few differences between the shape of the fins and skin type. Neon has soft skin and has small red lines on the top of their body. You will see these red lines from their head till the middle of the body, and you can note these symbols while buying them.

You will see these red lines from the head of their body to its tail. You will see that the tail of these fish is wider than the neon fish.

The dorsal fin of the cardinal tetra fish will be in regular shape, while the neon tetra will have a round shape of a dorsal fin. The shape of the head, tail, and other parts is nearly the same in both of them.

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