Lighting For Cardinal Tetras: Importance Of Lighting

Cardinal tetras usually do not need aquarium equipment to survive in tanks. But still, some aquarium equipment can enhance the look of these tetras. Lighting is one thing that can significantly affect how your Cardinal tetra tank looks like. Do you know the importance of lighting for Cardinal tetras?

Lighting is crucial for all living creatures, and cardinal tetras are no exception. If you want your fish to thrive in your aquarium, there are a few things that you need to consider. Lighting is one of those things; it can make or break an aquarium setup.

In this post, we will discuss everything related to lighting for Cardinal tetras. For example, they should turn on and off, how many hours per day they should be on, and more.

Do Cardinal Tetras Need Lighting?

You surely cannot call lightning a compulsion for cardinal tetras to live healthy lives, but you could say lighting is crucial for them. Lighting can help create a more natural environment in your tank, which would be beneficial for the well-being of the fish. Hence, making it easier for you to care for them.

Furthermore, Cardinal tetras are nocturnal. Therefore, they need a dimly lit environment to move around and feed. Lighting is also essential for the plants in your aquarium. It helps them grow properly, leading to better oxygen output that might affect the overall quality of life for fish inhabiting such an environment.

On the other hand, if you plan to keep cardinal tetras in a freshwater tank setup at your home, ensure that you get them their required lighting. Lighting is essential for fish, no matter how much or less they depend on it.

What Are The Importance Of Lighting In Cardinal Tetras Tank?

Lighting is crucial for cardinal tetras, especially at the night. As with all fish, you should properly set up the lighting within their tank to meet their needs and requirements to bring out their full potential.

Talking about the importance of lighting, some of the reasons why they are essential are:

  • Lighting promotes the growth of aquarium plants and ensures Cardinal tetras’ longevity.
  • They enhance the natural color and beauty of Cardinal tetras. Lighting also helps in making the tank environment more natural and comfortable for them.
  • The cardinal tetras thus have a happy, healthy life with proper lighting. It is because lighting keeps the water warm and clean and creates a natural environment for them to live in.
  • Lighting helps the aquarium owner check on their general health and see any abnormalities or warning signs that might affect their well-being.
  • For cardinal tetras, lighting is essential because they come from South American rivers’ naturally dimly lit waters. They also like to be able to hide and rest during the day. Lighting helps them feel safe and secure within their tank.

However, if you fail to set up adequately or there are no lights at all, this could lead to various diseases within Cardinal tetras such as fin rot, cloudy eyesight, etc.

What Type of Lighting Does Cardinal Tetras Need?

You can use various types of light sources for the lighting in your tank. Some of them include:

Incandescent Lighting

These are primarily present in saltwater aquariums. They provide a warmer glow than the LED lights and come in different colors like red, blue, or white to give off other effects on the water surface of your tank. However, these lamps tend to heat the environment, which is not suitable for fish inhabiting it as it can result in temperature fluctuations that might be harmful to them.

LED Lighting

These are a more recent addition to the aquarium world and provide a more astonishing glow than incandescent lights, making it easier on your eyes when you look at the water surface of your tank from far away. They also last longer but might be pricey in comparison to other lighting options available out there. In turn, they do not heat the water and help reduce electricity consumption.

Fluorescent Lighting

Lighting up your tank with fluorescent lighting is the cheapest of all options available out there. However, they might not create profound water effects as you would want them to look. The lights also cause algae growth in freshwater tanks because of their warm glow that encourages photosynthesis.

Metal Halide Lighting

Lighting up your tank with metal halide lighting provides the best possible water surface effects. They help make colors on fish more vibrant and offer you a better view of them from far away. They also help reduce algae growth and create a more natural environment for your fish to live healthy lives.

What Lighting Type Should You Use?

As you can see, there are different lighting options available out there that come with their pros and cons. However, if we were to go by the consensus among all kinds of expert and beginner aquarium owners and experts, you should use LED lighting for your fish tank. It is because they are efficient in power usage and help create a more natural environment within the water surface of your fish tank that is beneficial for their health.

LED is a preferable choice as it emits less heat than other light sources, which can harm fish inhabiting such an environment. For instance, if you have a low-quality bulb running continuously over time on higher wattage, the heat can be potentially dangerous for fish. In addition, you should avoid temperature fluctuations as they might lead to diseases and other health issues in your fish tank inhabitants.

However, LED lighting is more expensive than other light sources available, making it difficult to buy them upfront if you do not have high disposable income levels.

How Much Of Lighting Do Cardinal Tetras Need?

It is a question that comes up again and again when it comes to lighting for cardinal tetras. Lighting can be crucial in the long-term health of your fish. But you do not need an excessive amount of light to keep them happy and healthy.

Lighting should mimic the natural environment as much as possible. For example, if Cardinal tetras live deep within a South American river, you should not be lighting too much of the tank. Lighting For Cardinal tetras is crucial because they are freshwater fish and need to live in water with some sunlight penetration.

For most home aquariums, this means providing solid artificial light for 12 hours per day. An hour before dawn and an hour after dusk each day is enough to give them the kind of light they need. It would be best if you did the lighting for cardinal tetras with standard fluorescent lamps.

When Can You Turn On Or Off The Lightings In Cardinal Tetras Tank?

When you first bring home your cardinal tetras, it is best to leave the lights off for a few days. It will give them time to get familiar with their new surroundings. Let them relax without feeling as if you always watch something above them.

The next step would be figuring out what time of day you want the lighting to come on. Many people will set the lights up so that they turn on when their fish usually wake up and then turn off before the fish go to sleep for the night.

Some owners like having their lightings on all day long. But it is best if you don’t keep lights constantly burning.

If you have a lot of plants in your tank, then the chances are that you can turn off the lights whenever. If, on the other hand, there is not much plant life. It’s just beige gravel with one or two artificial pieces from time to time, perhaps daylighting would work better for you. But, the easiest way is to keep the light on for 12 hours every day and off for another 12.


Summing up, lighting is an essential part of the tank. Without it, you’ll have an empty-looking aquarium that won’t look appealing at all. But, of course, it’s up to you what type of lighting will be best for your situation and budget.

You should now know how beneficial good lighting can be in creating a beautiful cardinal tetra setup! If not, please feel free to contact us at any time!

We hope you enjoyed this worthwhile read, and we’ll see you next time on the blog!

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