Will Angelfish Eat Cardinal Tetras: An Insider’s Perspective

Angelfish and Cardinal Tetras are beautiful to look at. You can keep them with different fish in the community tank. The only thing you must care for is that their tank mates must be non-aggressive fishes like Danios, Rasboras, etc. If you decide to keep these fish with cardinal tetras, the problem is: will Angelfish eat Cardinals?

The answer is that angelfish will not usually eat your tetras. Some people think that Angelfish like to eat tetras, but this is not true. Instead, angelfish will chase and nip at Cardinals as a way of playing with them; it’s the same behavior you find in other fishes that live together (such as Oscars and Plecos).

This post can help shed some light on Angelfish and Cardinal Tetras, so keep on reading.

Will Angelfish Eat Cardinal Tetras?

No, Angelfish will not eat Cardinal Tetras. Although angelfish are territorial, they do not attack other fish if you keep them in the right environment. Moreover, angelfish are omnivores and much more significant than Cardinal tetras. So they wouldn’t have any interest in hunting down a fish. Angelfish feed on small invertebrates found at the bottom of the tank or in between rocks and plants.

Strangely enough, some Angelfish might nip the fins of your Cardinal Tetras, but this is entirely different from hunting them down. Angelfish are very territorial and will nip the fins of any fish that comes into their space for defense purposes only. So it’s a warning to stay away, and it doesn’t mean Angelfish want to eat your cardinal tetra or anything like that.

What Are The Similarities Between Cardinal Tetras And Angelfish?

Cardinal tetras and Angelfish are two different species with different personalities. But they still have some similarities. Such as:

Both Of Them Are Freshwater Fishes

Angelfish species are freshwater fishes. Cardinal tetras species are also freshwater fishes. Both of these fish love to swim and move in freshwater with slow water currents. Moreover, these fish are less likely to feel uncomfortable when keeping them in water with proper filtration, air pumps, regular water changes, and perfect water parameters.

Both Of Them Are Beautiful

Both Angelfish and cardinal tetras have beautiful colors to make your tank look more lively and colorful. Their bright red or orange stripes are beautiful to look at. Angelfish is also one of the most beautiful freshwater fish species globally, alongside betta and discuss fish species.

Both Of Them Like To Play

Angelfish species are one of those fishes that loves playing. Thus, you will see them swimming around or even hanging out on plants or caves. They will play around with their owners; you can see them swimming back and forth. Angelfish also like to play in a small group with other Angelfish species.

In contrast, cardinal tetras are not as playful as Angelfish fishes, but they still want some action from their owners too. They love playing around with live plants and big rocks, especially when you provide them hiding spots where they can take shelter until the time they want to come out of hiding.

Both Angelfish And Cardinal Tetras Are Friendly Fish Species

Angelfish species are famous for their kind personalities. So, they make a great community fish. These fish can live in a tank with other peaceful fishes such as cardinal tetra or smaller-sized characins. They will not attack any fish nor have aggressive behavior towards other tank mates.

Angelfish species also have active swimming behaviors. They like to play around and be in the center of attention. Thus, they can handle living with smaller fishy friends that love to swim all over your aquarium.

What Are The Differences Between Angelfish And Cardinal Tetras?

There are many differences between Angelfish and Cardinal Tetras.

Cardinal Tetras Are Smaller Than Angelfish

Angelfish grow much more prominent than Cardinal Tetras.  Usually, angelfish can reach up to 14 inches in length, while a fully grown cardinal tetra usually only reaches about two inches in size.

Angelfish Have Bigger Teeth

Angelfish have more extensive and more substantial teeth than Cardinal Tetras. These fish use their teeth to eat crustaceans, insects, and smaller fish like cardinal tetra fry. While Cardinal Tetras feed on invertebrates such as worms and insect larvae, they will also occasionally feed on zooplankton (tiny aquatic crustaceans).

Angelfish Are More Territorial Than Cardinal Tetras

Angelfish are more territorial than the cardinal tetra. They will claim an area and chase away another fish encroach on their territory, including smaller fish like cardinal tetras.

Angelfish will not attack cardinal tetras, but they might nip at their fins or chase them away to protect their territory. These fish are more likely to be aggressive towards fish of a similar size and shape as themselves.

Angelfish Are More Aggressive Than Cardinal Tetras

Angelfish can get highly aggressive with other species that swim into their territory, especially if the Angelfish has been in that area for a long time. These fish will attack and eat any fish they think is weaker than them or trespassing on their waters. But, Angelfish are very territorial and aggressive towards other types of fish. 

Angelfish are more likely to feel threatened by fish of similar size. Thus, they will start chasing and nipping the fins of those fishes in defense.

Cardinal Tetras Are More Active Than Angelfish

Angelfish are highly inactive swimmers and don’t move around their tank much at all, which is why they enjoy living in larger tanks. On the other hand, Cardinal tetras are very active swimmers and prefer to swim around their tank constantly. Unfortunately, Angelfish also tend to be more aggressive than cardinal tetras, which can cause problems for smaller types of tropical fish such as cardinal tetra.

Cardinal Tetras Do Not Have Stripes

Angelfish have a unique pattern of stripes and markings on their scales. Angelfish also has a black patch near their dorsal fin, whereas cardinal tetra does not possess this feature.

Some Angelfish have a dark blue stripe running vertically down their tail fin, while the cardinal tetra does not. Angelfish also has black spots on its anal and pelvic fins, whereas this is not true for the cardinal tetras.

Cardinal Tetras Can Be More Expensive Than Angelfish

Cardinal tetras are usually more expensive than Angelfish as they are more popular among aquarists, and Angelfish tends to be easier to find. Angelfish is also more common than cardinal tetras as it’s present in many aquariums and pet stores. This means Angelfish is usually easier to purchase, which makes them less expensive.

Some Tips To Keep Angelfish And Cardinal Tetras Together:

Angelfish and Cardinal Tetras can live together in the same tank. Angelfish are beautiful, but there is no need to keep them with cardinal tetra because they will not see each other well.

However, if you still want to keep them together, here are some tips you can follow:

Cardinal Tetras And Angelfish Should Be Of The Same Size

They will not be able to fight if they are of the same size. Angelfish will not attack Cardinal Tetras that are bigger than them and vice versa.

However, if you want both species in a tank of different sizes, it is best to keep cardinal tetras that are very small. Angelfish won’t feel threatened by these fish. They will not have an interest in eating cardinal tetras because of their smaller size.

Cardinal Tetras And Angelfish Should Have Plenty Of Covers

It is important to provide both species with plenty of hiding places because Angelfish are territorial, claiming their territory as theirs, including plants, rocks, or driftwood. Cardinal tetra needs this type of shelter, too, because Angelfish are predators.

Both species will coexist peacefully if you provide them with these hiding places, but make sure that the Angelfish’s shelter is more significant than it needs so Cardinal Tetras can also fit in there.

Cardinal Tetra And Angelfish Should Have A Lot Of Food

Both Angelfish and Cardinal Tetras are omnivores, which means that they eat both plants and animals. Angelfish will probably not try to hunt down cardinal tetra if there is plenty of food for them, like algae or seaweed in the tank.

It is important to provide Angelfish with vegetables since they are herbivores to feed them boiled lettuce or spinach.

Cardinal Tetra And Angelfish Should Have Separate Feeding Times

One of the ways to keep both species together in a tank is by feeding them at different times because Angelfish are very territorial. Angelfish will not be happy if they see Cardinal Tetras eating before them, so separate feedings times are the key to keeping both species together.

However, you should also provide Angelfish with enough food so that later on, when cardinal tetra has already finished eating, Angelfish can eat too without feeling provoked and threatened by their presence.

Ensure There In Enough Space

It is important to ensure that Angelfish and cardinal tetra have enough space in the tank to coexist. If you fail to provide them with this, there will be a high chance of fights breaking out between both species because Angelfish are territorial fish. Therefore, keep them in a tank of 100 gallons or more and add cardinal tetra only if Angelfish is at least two times bigger than them.

If you follow these tips, Angelfish and Cardinal Tetras can live in the same tank without problems.


Do Cardinal Tetras Eat Angelfish?

Cardinal Tetras are not Angelfish’s natural prey, so they will probably not eat Angelfish. However, putting a small cardinal tetra in the same tank as an adult Angelfish might become its victim because Angelfish are predators.

How Big Does An Angelfish Grow?

An average angelfish can reach up to 12 inches, but they can grow even more prominent in the wild. Angelfish require a tank of size 100 gallons or more because Angelfish can become very large if left unchecked.

Our Angelfish Aggressive?

Yes, Angelfish are aggressive fish that will fight with other fish species for territory and food all day long unless an adult Angelfish is bigger than the other species in question. Angelfish are predators that will not hesitate to eat cardinal tetra or any small fish if they feel threatened by them.


In conclusion, Angelfish can eat cardinal tetra, but it isn’t very confident because there are some things you need to take care of when keeping both species together, such as size or feeding times. It all depends on how you care for your Angelfish and Cardinal Tetra. If you are careful enough, Angelfish, do not eat your tetras.

However, sometimes it seems impossible to find the problem with your aquarium fishes. So it is best to keep them separated unless you know what you’re doing.

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