An Unsolved Mystery: Do Cardinal Tetras Eat Shrimp?

Cardinal Tetras are a trendy fish that can be present in almost every single freshwater aquarium. Cardinal Tetras have a unique look, especially when swimming around with their long red/black bodies and bright whitetails. People have been keeping Cardinal tetras for many years now, but there is one question that no aquarist has ever been able to answer: Do Cardinal Tetras Eat Shrimp?

Cardinal Tetras eat shrimp, but they only do so if their staple food source is not present in the aquarium. Cardinal Tetras are usually very peaceful fish and will eat almost anything that you give them. However, when it comes to eating shrimp Cardinal tetras can be a little picky at times.

Cardinal Tetras prefer to eat smaller prey over larger pieces of food. For example, Cardinal Tetras can eat different fish and shrimp species if their staple food source is not present in the aquarium. Still, they will never choose to eat shrimp over other foods because it takes too much effort and energy for them to find these small morsels hidden throughout the tank.

There have been many questions puzzling aquatic enthusiasts for years. This post will try to answer the age-old question and provide some tips on keeping Cardinal tetras healthy.

Do Cardinal Tetras Eat Shrimp?

Cardinal tetras do eat shrimp, but only on occasion and not as their primary food source. It is always best to feed live foods such as brine shrimp rather than frozen for the best Cardinal Tetra health. Cardinal tetras will enjoy shrimp as a treat but should not be fed regularly due to potential issues with fin nipping and the size of the Cardinal Tetra’s mouth compared to their body.

Cardinal Tetra fish prefer live foods, so it is best to only offer shrimp every once in a while rather than regularly. Feeding Cardinal Tetra shrimp is not the best idea because of fin nipping and the inability to eat small prey items. But you can do this once in a while when you want your Cardinal Tetras to have something special.

What Are The Benefits Of Eating Shrimp In Cardinal Tetras?

Cardinal tetras are not picky eaters. But many Cardinal tetras do prefer eating shrimp. However, if there is not much that appetizes your fish, you can use shrimp as an option. There are many benefits of including shrimp in Cardinal tetra’s diet. Such as:

Shrimp Is A Protein Source For Cardinal Tetras

Cardinal Tetras are omnivores, but Cardinal Tetra owners should be aware that Cardinal tetras primarily eat plants. So finding food to provide them with their protein requirements is important for Cardinal Tetra’s health.

Shrimp Provide Essential Nutrients For Cardinal Tetras

Shrimp provides essential nutrients such as omega fatty acids and protein, but shrimp also provides Cardinal Tetras with vitamin B-12 and other important minerals. Cardinal Tetras need many vitamins and minerals to stay healthy, so Cardinal tetra owners should be sure that their Cardinal Tetras are getting enough from the food they eat.

Shrimp Provides Cardinal Tetras With Omega Fatty Acids

Cardinal tetra owners should be aware that Cardinal tetras are omnivores, but they primarily eat plants. So finding food to provide them with their protein requirements is important for Cardinal Tetra’s health. One of the best sources of proteins in shrimp will come from omega-fatty acids. Cardinal Tetras can get omega-fatty acids from plants, but it is easier to absorb them when they come from an animal protein source such as shrimp or krill.

Shrimp Is A Great Choice For Aquarium Fish

Cardinal Tetra farmers have realized that shrimp is an excellent choice for aquarium fish as it provides the nutritional needs Cardinal Tetras need without too many fillers. Cardinal Tetra farmers know the importance of providing Cardinal Tetras with balanced nutrition but do not want to overfeed their fish with extra food that provides no nutritional value.

What Are The Drawbacks Of Eating Shrimp?

There are many benefits to eating shrimp, including its high protein and low-fat content. However, shrimp can contain dangerous pollutants such as mercury and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyl) that can cause cancer and other health problems. So, there will always be a risk of ingesting harmful chemicals when Cardinal tetras eat shrimp.

Besides this, some other disadvantages of including shrimp in Cardinal tetras diet are:

  • You cannot use shrimp as a staple diet because it does not fulfill all the nutritional requirements of Cardinal tetras.
  • Shrimp sometimes carry diseases that can be harmful to the fish.
  • One more thing, if you use shrimp in the diet of Cardinal tetras, they may become malnourished. This is because their stomach cannot digest many types of food items that shrimp eats.

What Is The Best Diet For Cardinal Tetras?

Cardinal tetras are omnivorous fish so that they can eat a variety of foods. This includes fish flakes and pellets made for omnivorous fish and bloodworms, brine shrimp, tubifex worms, and daphnia. In addition, Cardinal tetras prefer the smaller crustaceans in their natural habitat over larger prey items such as guppies or feeder fish. Hence, they will enjoy eating shrimp.

Cardinal tetras also eat live plants. But it is not good for the health of your pet. So, you can prevent this by adding a mesh cover over the aquarium or otherwise protecting your plants.

Moreover, the best diet for Cardinal tetras include:

  • Veggies: cucumber, zucchini, lettuce
  • Fruits: apples, oranges
  • Protein: bloodworms and brine shrimp
  • Floating Pellets/Tablets: NutriDiet® Color Enhancing Tropical Flakes & TetraColor™ tablets
  • Brine Shrimp: TetraMin® Tropical Flakes
  • Worms/Insect Larvae: NutriDiet® ColorFix™ Tubifex & Grindal worms
  • Live Plants: Java fern and Anubias

Some FAQs

Does Shrimp Eat Cardinal Tetras?

Shrimp are small in size, and Cardinal Tetras are big in size (when fully grown). So, shrimp do not eat Cardinal Tetras. But they do eat the eggs and fry of Cardinal Tetras. So, Cardinal tetra fry has a lot of nutritious value for the shrimp, especially when they are very young and small in size.

How Much Shrimp Should I Feed Cardinal Tetras?

The amount of shrimp that Cardinal Tetras should be fed will depend on their appetite level. You may also need to seek advice from your local pet store on how much Cardinal Tetras should be fed. Some pet stores may advise you to feed only once a day, while others may feed twice.

How Often Should I Feed My Cardinal Tetras?

It is best to feed Cardinal tetras twice a day in small quantities. However, Cardinal Tetras should not be overfed, as they may produce algae in the aquarium tank.

What Do Cardinal Tetras Eat?

Cardinal tetra fish eat small insects and other items such as mosquito larvae, brine shrimp (except for pregnant females), bloodworms, etc. You can also feed cardinal tetra fish with micro pellets or flake food.

What Are Cardinal Tetras?

Cardinal tetra fish are freshwater species. You can easily identify them by their bright red-orange color with a long fin and black stripe running from the mouth to tail. Cardinal tetra is also popular as Black Cardinal or Red Cardinal tetra due to its distinctive body shape and color patterning features.


In conclusion, Cardinal tetras prefer a diet of small fish and insects or feeder guppies if you want to get rid of them without killing the Cardinal Tetra. Alternatively, you can feed them pellets specially made for tropical freshwater aquarium fish instead.

In addition, Cardinal Tetras are peaceful fish. You should never keep them with aggressive or larger tank mates. Cardinal tetras can make a beautiful addition to your freshwater aquarium if you carefully consider this unique species’ needs before adding them to your home.

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