Paracheirodon axelrodi (Shultz, 1956)

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Paracheirodon axelrodi (Shultz, 1956)

Copyright © Andrzej Ostropolski 2010

 The “Cardinal Tetra” is one of the most popular and most desired fish in a tropical freshwater tank, because of its awesome coloration. However, keeping these fish requires certain knowledge.  The Paracheirodon axelrodi is a freshwater fish of the Characin family of order Characiformes. It is native to the upper Orinoco and Negro rivers in South America. Growing to about 3 cm (1.25 in) total length, the cardinal tetra has the striking iridescent blue line characteristic of the Paracheirodon species laterally bisecting the fish, with the body below this line being red colour. Cardinal tetra is a shoaling, peaceful and it should be 6 or more fish in aquarium.

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It is a top and middle dweller that prefers a densely planted aquarium with dark bottom substrate and some open space in the centre. It is recommendable to use floating plants to dim the light.  The Paracheirodon axelrodi is difficult fish to breed. The fish need soft and acid water (1° – 2°of hardness, Ph of 5.0 – 6.0) with a temperature of about 82°F(28°C). Use Java moss or a synthetic net substitute over the bottom of the tank to protects scattered eggs and reduce the lighting as the fry is very light sensitive for the first week of life. Cardinal Tetras usually spawn at twilight. The male embraces the female when spawning and about 400-500 eggs are scattered. Remove the parents soon as they complete spawning and leave tank in dark for next week. The eggs hatch in about 24 hours and the fry start free-swimming in about five days. The fry feed of liquid fry food, infusoria, or hard-boiled egg yolk mixed with water. The Paracheirodon axelrodi reach sexual maturity within a year. 

Latin name Paracheirodon axelrodi
Size Up to 1.25 inches (3 cm)
Difficulty Easy
Water Temperature 71.6 – 82.4°F or 22 – 28°C
Water pH 5.5 – 6.5 pH
Water Hardness 5 – 15 dGH
Peaceful or Aggressive Peaceful shoaling fish
Number of same species in tank Six or more, more is better
Community Fish Yes
Sexes Males are generally slimmerFemales are larger and more rounder
Space in aquarium Middle to bottom
Food Flake food, blood worms and brine shrimp
Breeding Not easy to breed – require high quality water
Breeding temperature 82.4°F or 28°C
Common names Cardinal Tetra, Cardinal Neon Tetra, Red Neon
Lifespan in aquarium Up to 4 years

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