Do Cardinal Tetra Like Current? Everything You Must Know About It!

Cardinal tetra is a freshwater fish from South America that has been popular for many years. They are stunning with red or blue bodies, black tails and fins, and thin white vertical stripes (called pinstripes) running down the sides of their bodies. These fish do not have any special tank requirements. But most aquarists do believe that Cardinal tetras like water with current.

So, do Cardinal tetras like current? Cardinal tetras, like most other fish, love current. It would be best to keep these fish in a school of five or more for the best results for liking current. Cardinal Tetras are the hardiest species that can live almost anywhere provided they have good water quality. They will often school in the mid-level of a tank, near current.

In this article, we will talk about whether or not Cardinal tetras is like a current. We’ll also include some tips on how to best care for your tetra so that you can have healthy, happy fishies.

What Is the Natural Habitat Of Cardinal Tetra?

Cardinal Tetras are from South America. They originate in the Amazon River and other surrounding rivers and tributaries with a pH of around 4.6 to 6.2. Cardinal tetras need this acidic environment for their coloration because they’re familiar to from birth.

If you keep your cardinal tetra in a tank without proper water parameters, they will not survive very long. This is because Cardinal tetras do not like fluctuation in their surrounding. They usually like to have a home similar to their natural habitat with plenty of places for them to hide from predators and other fish. 

In the wild, Cardinal Tetras are present in swamps where rivers flow into clearwater lakes or fast-flowing streams rich in oxygen. Cardinal tetras are part of the characin family. They are popular because of their high tolerance to salt and other water conditions.

Cardinal Tetras like current because it provides them with an easy way to grab food off the top of a river or lake in the wild without having to waste energy fighting against a strong flow.

Do Cardinal Tetra Like Current?

Cardinal Tetras like current, but only to some extent. They are very active fish that move around constantly and appreciate a little moving water in their tank. However, they do not enjoy the same currents as discus. Therefore, Cardinal Tetras will need an area of still water to rest while other regions have more movement.

Cardinal Tetras do not require currents that are strong enough to affect the rest of the aquarium. They like current, but you should not place them in an area where water flow will constantly disturb them. Instead, it would help if you kept them in the areas where they could get enough hiding spaces from predators.

Cardinal tetras are very active fish that move around constantly. But like other species, they may become stressed by currents that make it hard for them to rest or close enough to the surface to get air.

How Much Current Do Cardinal Tetra Like?

Cardinal tetras prefer water with moderate current. These fish can tolerate up to .25 inches of surface movement per second but prefers a range between .02 and .05 ips (inches per second).

Cardinal Tetras live in rivers and streams that flow at roughly this speed without exposed riverbeds. So they do not typically face strong currents.

Do Cardinal Tetra Like Stagnant Water?

Cardinal Tetras can thrive in both stagnant and moving water. A tank with enough current will provide these fish with the oxygen they need for survival. However, they usually live in very slow-moving water. But without sufficient dissolved oxygen from the currents around them, they may die.

Cardinal Tetras are very sensitive to changes in their environment, so it is best not to mess with your tank’s current if you have Cardinal tetra fish. If there isn’t enough movement, your fish can become stressed or sick since they cannot get sufficient oxygen from the water around them.

What Will Happen If There Is Too Much Current In Cardinal Tetra Tank?

Cardinal Tetras benefit from having current in the tank. If there isn’t enough current, they will find it challenging to get the food they need. On the other hand, Cardinal Tetras may suffer from injuries and ripped fins if there is too much current.

Some of the consequences of having too much current in Cardinal tetras tank are:

  • Ripped off fins of Cardinal tetras
  • Their mortality rate increases significantly.
  • They will not eat and can starve to death due to not getting food in the tank.
  • Cardinal Tetras will hide in the tank instead of swimming around.
  • Cardinals’ hiding reduces their immune system, and they become more susceptible to diseases like ick, fin rot, or even starvation due to not eating.

How To Maintain Water Current In Tank Of Cardinal Tetra?

Water current is crucial for the health of Cardinal tetras because they are freshwater fish and enjoys living in slowly moving water. Thus, some ways to maintain water current in the tank of Cardinal tetras are:

Use A Canister Filter

Cardinal tetras are the kind of fish that will swim against the current. So, to prevent Cardinal tetras from swimming into the filter’s flow, it is best to install a canister filter with its output facing down or sideways.

Use A Power Filter

Cardinal Tetra Fish loves living in water with slow-moving currents, so use a power filter if you want them to be happy. On the other hand, Cardinal Tetras may stick to the tank’s surface if they feel scared by the current. So place both your intake and outlet nozzles on opposite sides of the aquarium, or at least keep one side open without any nozzle attachment.

Use An Air Stone

Cardinal tetras are native to South America, where their natural habitat is slow-moving, black water rivers. They enjoy living in the same kind of environment that they are familiar with within their natural habitat. So an air stone can provide a similar type of current to their natural habitat and is best for keeping these types of fish.

Use A Submersible Water Pump

Cardinal Tetras like to swim, and they find it easier if there is a current. Therefore, using a submersible air pump will be beneficial as the Cardinal tetras can stay in one place and still exercise.

What Are The Required Water Conditions For Cardinal Tetras Tank?

There must be constant and optimum water conditions in the tank for Cardinal tetras to stay healthy and live longer. The water conditions are:

  • Temperature: 21 °C–27 °C
  • pH: pH levels range from pH six to eight.
  • Ammonia: The ammonia level must be zero.
  • Nitrite: 0 ppm
  • Nitrate: 20–50 ppm
  • Water Hardness: Cardinal tetras require soft water, but this can vary depending on the individual fish’s preference.


Cardinal tetras like current, but they prefer much fewer currents than other fish. So they are not much of a risk in comparison to many other species. Instead, they should thrive in the planted tank with some plants and driftwood, creating water circulation around them.

Cardinal Tetras is an excellent aquarium fish. They can do well in most water conditions as long as you provide the right environment, including temperature, pH level, etc. So, it would be best if you tried to keep Cardinal Tetras to know how happy they can be.

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