Cardinal Tetra Lifespan: How Long Do Cardinal Tetras Live?

Cardinal tetras are a type of freshwater fish popular in the aquarium hobby because of their bright color. These fish are one of the most popular fish to keep in a freshwater aquarium, and for a good reason: they are effortless to care for, cheap, readily available at pet stores, and hardy. However, if you plan to keep these fish, you should know about the lifespan of Cardinal tetra.

So, how long do Cardinal tetras live? The lifespan of Cardinal tetras varies, depending on how well you care for these little guys. But on average, a Cardinal tetra can live from two to five years. Of course, this is an average lifespan, and some will survive longer or die sooner than this range.

Some of the factors that affect the lifespan of these fish include tank size; water chemistry; how often you clean your tank (the more frequently you wash it, the less time your fish will live); how often you feed it; the quality of food that you are providing it.

In this post, we will explore Cardinal Tetra Lifespan and find out what you need to know about their lifespan!

What Type Of Fish Are Cardinal Tetras?

Cardinal Tetras are freshwater fish that originates in South America. They belong to the characin family and have a dorsal fin with red, yellow, and black colors. This is what makes them distinct from other tetra species. There are also cardinal tetra variants such as powder blue, albino, lowlight, gold, and green.

You can keep these fish in a tank of 20 gallons and can grow up to three inches. They make great pets because they are hardy, easy to feed, and friendly. Cardinal tetras do well with other fish species as long as it is not too small or the same size.

Cardinal Tetra Lifespan: How Long Do Cardinal Tetras Live?

As for their lifespan, many people would like to know how long do cardinal tetras live. But the answer depends on several factors such as your fish tank conditions, water quality, food rations, and so on.

Generally speaking, the lifespan of cardinal tetras is about five years or more if you have taken excellent care of them. But there are exceptions to every rule. For example, if your water quality is not up to par with what it should be, then expect that they will only live for two years at most – especially in the case of poor water conditions.

You should also feed your cardinal tetras well to be strong enough to fight off diseases. Finally, pay attention to their behavior, and you will know if they are healthy or not. All these things are what you should do to get more years out of your cardinal tetras.

What Is The Average Cardinal Tetra Lifespan?  

On average, most cardinal tetras will live for between five and seven years when kept in a healthy condition. However, if you fail to care for them properly or their water conditions are poor, these time frames reduce dramatically. Thus, the average life expectancy of cardinal tetras is between five and seven years.

How Can I Increase The Lifespan Of Cardinal Tetra?

The care and maintenance of your cardinal tetra is the most important factor in ensuring that it has a long, healthy life. So, some of the ways to increase the lifespan of Cardinal tetra are:

Provide Cardinal Tetra With A Healthy Diet

It would be best if you fed your cardinal tetras with a variety of fresh greens and vegetables, such as spinach and zucchini. The dark leafy veggies provide the fish with an energy boost that mimics their natural food source in nature. You can feed them once or twice each week to ensure that they get the required amount of nutrients.

Water Quality

The quality of the water is important to ensure that your cardinal tetra can live a long life. You should always check on the pH level, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels in the tank before adding new fish. It’s also vital to keep up with regular maintenance by changing about 25 percent of their water each week.

Tank Conditions

Cardinal tetras need a temperature range of 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. They thrive best in soft water with an alkaline pH, so it’s important to be mindful of the tank conditions when you have them. It would be best if you also made sure that there is enough space for your fish to swim around and get exercise. If they don’t have enough room to swim around, they can develop a curvature of the spine.

Avoid Overcrowding

Most aquarists recommend having one type of cardinal tetra in an aquarium. You can house them with other kinds of fish, but it is best to avoid keeping two male cardinals together because they are likely to fight and injure each other. Also, ensure that the environment you keep them in has enough space for them to swim around.

In addition to this, you must think when you choose tankmates for your cardinal tetras because they can be aggressive towards other fish, especially those of a smaller size. Therefore, it’s best to only house them with more significant and non-aggressive tank mates that will not nip at or eat their fins.

Are There Any Health Problems That Cardinal Tetra Experience?  

Cardinal Tetra can suffer from several health issues, including swim bladder disease, ich, fin rot, and hole-in-the-head disease. They are also susceptible to ulcers on the skin that can become infected if you leave them unattended.

These illnesses also tend to occur due to poor care or environmental conditions rather than genetic disorders. Therefore, it’s important to keep the tank clean and well-maintained to reduce stress for the Cardinal Tetra and prevent diseases.

You should always have a backup plan in place because if you don’t, then it’s almost impossible for your fish to recover from these illnesses. In addition, this can be very stressful for them, so having medication on hand is vital, and knowing how to care for the tank properly.

What Are The Factors That Affects The Lifespan Of Cardinal Tetra?

The lifespan of Cardinal tetra depends on some of the factors. If you succeed in managing these things, they will live a longer and happier life. So, such things are:

  • The temperature of the water. If the temperature is too low, this will affect Cardinal tetras’ metabolism and lifespan and how fast they grow.
  • Quality of food has a significant impact on your fish’s life span since it affects growth and immunity to diseases, which can aid them in living long, healthy lives. Always use high-quality food.
  • Water parameters and cleanliness of the tank is also an important thing to consider. The fish will live longer if you keep the water clean.
  • The compatibility of Cardinal tetra with other fish species is also essential to know. They are compatible with community tanks. But this does not mean that you can house a lot of fish together. Cardinal tetras have long fins which may become damaged or nipped by tank mates such as guppies and angelfish.
  • Cardinal tetra lifespan also depends on the size of their tank. Therefore, it is better to provide them with a larger space for swimming and exploration, although they are not active fish.

So if you want your pet cardinal to survive a long time, make sure you manage all the things mentioned above during all stages of life.

What Are The Signs That Cardinal Tetra Is Sick?

Cardinal tetras show some peculiar signs when they are ill. When you are attentive and care for them enough while showing these signs, you can help your fish improve their health and life.

Such signs are:

  • Swimming too slowly than usual or not at all. This can be due to age, making Cardinal tetras weak and tired quickly, but they should swim at least a little bit.
  • Loss of appetite and coloration changes such as paleness, lack of liveliness, or depression might also occur. These can be due to stress due to poor water quality. In this case, the fish might be sick and die slowly within days up to weeks and even months.
  • Swollen belly; this is the sign of constipation. If you see this, it can be due to a lack of fiber in Cardinal tetras’ diet, which is essential for them, just like other fish species.
  • Tiny white spots on its fins or body; are parasites that feed off your Cardinal Tetra’s living tissue and blood. They need immediate removal with proper treatment not to be fatal.
  • Lethargy is just simply sleeping too much than usual or not showing its liveliness at all. This can be due to stress, parasites, and poor water conditions that are lethal for these fish species if left untreated for a long time.


In conclusion, Cardinal Tetras have a long lifespan, especially if you take good care of them. They can live for up to ten years in the right conditions!

It would be best if you took care when adding this fish to your aquarium. They are compassionate and will not do well in an environment with poor water quality or too much of other tank mates. If you give them what they need, though, then expect many years of happiness from these beautiful little fish!

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