Do Cardinal Tetras Jump: A Guide To Their Behaviour

Cardinal tetras have beautiful red bodies with black fins. They also sport three distinct “stripes” across their face (called “face-stripes” by Cardinal Tetra enthusiasts). They are not difficult to breed in home freshwater aquariums. So, many hobbyists will keep several generations of these fish together. But some owners also complain that Cardinal tetras jump from their aquariums. Is it true?

Yes, Cardinal tetras do jump, but they are not likely to jump out of your aquarium. Cardinal tetras are famous for their eagerness to explore new surroundings. So, they will often swim up toward the water surface in most captive environments. Cardinal tetras have an extraordinary jumping ability. This stems from Cardinal Tetra fry starts out life in an egg-shaped structure above the waterline.

This post will be about Cardinal Tetras and whether they jump or not.

Do Cardinal Tetras Jump?

Cardinal tetras are one of the most popular types of pet fish, and they’re easy to care for. However, there is some debate on whether or not this species actually jumps out of tanks (or an argument about how often it does). Although Cardinal tetras can jump, they are less likely to do so than other species, and they don’t do it with the frequency or regularity of betta fish.

Cardinal tetras are native to South America in places like Brazil, Venezuela, and Columbia. Their natural habitat consists of slow-moving rivers where they swim up and down over sandy substrates. Cardinal tetras are also present in the aquarium trade, but they have become less common lately due to the depletion of wild populations.

When Do Cardinal Tetras Jump?

Jumping is a natural behavior that Cardinal Tetras often exhibit in the wild and an aquarium setting. However, Cardinal tetras typically only jump out of the water for short periods of time (one to two seconds), after which they reenter the water column headfirst without suffering any adverse effects. 

They usually jump out of an aquarium to escape it. Thus, you should cover the top of your tank with a lid if Cardinal Tetras are part of your fish family. Besides this, there are many reasons why Cardinal tetras jump. Those are as follows:

Cardinal Tetras Jump When Startled By Predators

Cardinal Tetras often jump out of the water when they face a predator in their natural environment. This behavior can persist even if an actual predator is not challenging Cardinal tetras. In captivity, Cardinal Tetras may choose to jump from the surface of your aquarium whenever they feel threatened for any reason.

In addition to feeling threatened, Cardinal Tetras may also jump whenever something startles them. Such as an object falling into the tank or a sudden change in lighting.

Cardinal Tetras Jump For Food

You can train Cardinal tetras to recognize food just before it is about to fall into their tank. These fish will often swim to the top of your tank as a result. In addition, Cardinal Tetras may choose to jump out of your aquarium to eat any food that fell into it from above. They can also learn to anticipate when you are going to drop their food into the water so they will have time to swim up towards the surface for easier access.

Cardinal Tetras Jump When They Are Excited

Cardinal tetra fish are very active and energetic, so they will often jump out of an aquarium whenever they feel excited or agitated. They are more likely to jump when many activities occur in their tank environment, such as during tank cleaning.

Cardinal Tetras Jump When The Tank Lacks Oxygen

Cardinal tetras are native to areas of South America that have warm, slow-moving waters. They will often swim towards the surface of your aquarium whenever they feel like there is not enough oxygen in their environment, which can also cause them to jump out of an aquarium.

Cardinal Tetra Fish Jump For Fun

Cardinal tetras may jump out of your aquarium because they want to. These fish are very active and social, so it is not uncommon for them to engage in various behaviors just for fun or entertainment purposes. They may also choose to jump out of an aquarium whenever their tank water needs replacement, which can be a play activity that they enjoy engaging in.

How To Stop Cardinal Tetras From Jumping?

Cardinal Tetras are a trendy fish. Cardinal tetras can be an exciting and engaging pet to watch. But there is one problem for new owners Cardinal such as they jump and are aggressive sometimes.

However, you can manage the jumping habit of Cardinal tetras by following ways:

Cover The Tank With Lid

Cardinal Tetras are natural jumpers. Therefore lids are necessary to keep Cardinal tetras from jumping. Cover the tank with a cover made of mesh or other suitable materials where Cardinal Tetra cannot get out.

Use Other Fish To Keep Cardinal Tetras Entertained

Cardinal Tetras can be a very active and playful fish in nature. If you fail to keep Cardinal tetras busy, they can quickly turn their attention towards jumping out of the tank.

Cardinal Tetra might jump when trying to catch another fish they cannot compete for food or space. However, they also jump to grab your attention. So if you have more than one Cardinal tetra in the tank, try to add other large fish with a good temperament.

Do Not Use Heater

Cardinal Tetras come from a tropical climate where there is no need for a heater in their habitat. However, sometimes, heater will make Cardinal Tetra very uncomfortable.

A tank with water of about 72 degrees Fahrenheit or 22 degrees Celsius is best for Cardinal tetras. Therefore, they can live more comfortably in the tank at room temperature. So, it is best to use the heaters only when you want to breed Cardinal tetras.

Regularly Filter The Tank

Cardinal tetras will jump when they feel disturbed. Regularly change the water of the tank and filter the water can keep Cardinal Tetras from jumping out.

Filter helps in maintaining cleanliness which is necessary for your Cardinal tetra’s health. A sound filtration system will also help you remove any waste that might cause Cardinal Tetras stress.

Use Cardinal tetra Safe Plants.

Cardinal Tetras are natural jumpers. Therefore, they might find an escape route if nothing is interesting in Cardinal Tetra’s tank. Consequently, it would be best if you kept them safe by using plants that have smooth edges which do not hurt the fish when it lands on them after the jump.

You can also use some plants to keep Cardinal tetras safe. Just remember that the plants have soft leaves without sharp edges, which might injure your pet.

Some FAQs

How Long Will Cardinal Tetras Live?

Cardinal Tetras can live for about three to five years. They are native to South America, so they prefer warmer waters of around 78 degrees Fahrenheit (25 Celsius) and up. They need a heater if the water is below 70 F, which will increase their lifespan significantly.

Can Cardinal Tetras Swim Through The Filter?

Cardinal Tetras can swim through the filter, but it is not suitable for their health. There are higher chances that a filtration system or pump impeller can capture these tiny fishes and stick them. The best way to avoid this issue is to have an oversized filter that will allow the Cardinal Tetra plenty of room to swim without the filter sucking them.

What Size Aquarium Do Cardinal Tetras Need?

Cardinal tetras need at least ten parts of water per one part of Cardinal tetra, but this is only a minimum. Cardinal tetras like to swim and school in large groups, so the bigger the aquarium you can put them in, the better. Usually, the aquarium that holds about 20-30 gallons of water is best for them.

What Type of Food Do Cardinal Tetras Eat?

Cardinal tetra fish love small insects such as fruit flies or mosquito larvae. You can also give your fish flakes, which will sink quickly to the bottom of your aquarium. Cardinal Tetras are not fussy eaters, and they’ll accept food from the top, middle, or bottom of their tank.

Do Cardinal Tetras Bite?

Cardinal tetra is not as aggressive as other types of fish, but they will bite if their tank mates are sick or dying. Make sure all your fish have fully healed from any injuries before adding them into the same tank together.


Cardinal Tetra is a beautiful fish that looks even more stunning because of its swimming pattern and jumping abilities. However, it is important to take care of Cardinal Tetra to ensure it stays healthy and does not jump out of the tank.

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post. It was about Cardinal tetras jumping. I wish I answered your question on do Cardinal tetras jump.

Is there is still some confusion regarding Cardinal tetras jumping? Then please discuss in the comments section below or contact us. Have a nice day.


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