Will Cardinal Tetra Eat Human Food? Find Out Here

With the increasing popularity of Cardinal tetras, many fish keeper wants to keep these fish in their aquarium. Usually, these fish are perfect beginners due to their ease of care and need for lesser equipment. Besides this, these fish eat mostly everything. So, will it be a good idea to give Cardinal tetra to eat human food? Do they eat it?

Most people have questions about whether Cardinal tetras eat human food or not. The answer is that they will eat some human food, but not all of it. It really depends on what you are feeding them and how often you feed them. However, some of the human food can be quite toxic to these fishes. Thus, you must be careful.

If you wonder what types of foods Cardinal tetras like to eat, we’ll answer all your questions in this article. So stay tuned to know about the likes and dislikes of these fish.

Will Cardinal Tetra Eat Human Food?

Basically, this is quite a controversial question. Being omnivorous, Cardinal tetras will eat both plants and meat. Thus, these fish will eat some of the human foods that you may offer them. But since the digestion and metabolism of these fish differs a lot from humans, it is not good to give your fish all kinds of different food you like to eat.

Cardinal tetras do not like spicy or greasy food, so you should avoid these kinds of foods. All fish are different and have their own preferences in life. If the cardinal tetra has no other choice than to eat human food due to lack of nutrients in its natural environment, it will probably not damage the fish.

However, you must really care about the food you give your fish. Always opt for human food that is healthy and that you would eat yourself. There are many different food options for your fish, but some human foods can be dangerous to them if they have too much salt or sugar in them.

Always check the food ingredients before feeding them to your cardinal tetras because not all human foods are safe for fish. If possible, cook the human food for your fish.

What Are The Human Food That Cardinal Tetras Can Eat?

Despite the various conflicts among aquarists about not feeding human food to Cardinal tetras. Some foods will be just as beneficial for these fish as humans. Some of such human foods are:

Lean Beef

Red meat is a good source of protein and vitamins, which also helps them to maintain their bright color. In addition, it is an excellent source of protein, vitamins B12 & D, and iron to help them stay healthy.


The fish will greatly benefit from getting vitamin A, D, E & K found in beef or lamb liver. The natural oils that are present in this human food help Cardinal tetra’s growth.

Wheat Germ Oil

It is a great source of Omega fatty acids that are vital for development and growth. In addition, this human food helps keep their skin, eyes & fins healthy, which will keep your Cardinal tetras happy.

Cooked Egg White And Yolk

The protein in the egg is necessary for their growth, and it also helps keep them healthy.


Tuna is full of Omega-fatty acids, vitamin B12, and protein. They are a great source of energy and keep your fish active.


They contain zinc which helps the development of their fins and scales, while proteins in this food keep them strong and lively. They are highly rich in protein, vitamins B12 which will keep your Cardinal Tetras healthy and happy for months to come. Vitamin B12 helps them to have a healthy metabolism.


Not only are they rich in protein, but also vitamin B complex. In addition, they have Vitamin A & C that helps keep the fish’s immune system healthy and strong.


It is a great source of iron that plays an important role for Cardinal Tetras to breathe properly with their gills due to its high iron content.

White Fish Flesh

It comprises protein, Omega fatty acids, and Vitamin B12, which are vital for maintaining their bright color & immune system. It also strengthens the heart muscles of Cardinal Tetras so that they can swim fast during hunting times in the wild.

Unsweetened Cereal Flakes & Whole-Wheat Flour

They are a great source of carbohydrates that provide the necessary energy. In addition, these human foods have high Vitamin K contents that help maintain their bones and overall health condition.

What Are The Human Food That Cardinal Tetras Cannot Eat?

Cardinal tetras will eat most human food. Even though they will eat most human food, there are some foods that cardinal tetra cannot eat, such as:


This is because the skin and pit in avocado can cause impaction, which will kill cardinal tetra.


Even small raisins can cause blockage in cardinal tetra, and the fish will die.


This is because chocolate contains caffeine which will poison your fish.

Garlic or Onions

These food have sulfides that are not safe for any fish to eat. For example, even though it’s from a human food source, garlic has too many sulfides and will destroy your fish’s red blood cells.


Even though humans can drink alcohol, it has a chemical that is not good for any fish to eat; do not give this food ever to cardinal tetra or other tropical freshwater fish species.


Mushrooms are so dangerous since they have carcinogenic toxins.


Even though it’s for cooking, salt is not safe to feed any fish. It has chemicals that will poison your fish and kill them slowly.

Xylitol or Sugar Alcohols

Xylitol is sugarless gum. It will make your cardinal tetra sick since they contain alcohol which is not safe for your fish.

Coffee or Tea

Coffee will make your cardinal tetra sick since they Will get caffeine that Will poison them slowly and kill them. Also, tea contains tannins which are bad for fish’s kidneys.

What Is The Best Diet For Cardinal Tetras?

It would help if you tried to get various food for your fish and not give them the same type daily. This will ensure that they are getting all the nutrients they need from their diet. You can even go as far and feed foods like bloodworms or daphnia once in a while if you wish, but make sure that it is not every day or even every other day.

Cardinal tetras are not picky eaters, but they do like variety in the food you offer them. If you want your cardinal tetra fish to be healthy and happy, then you should consider giving them both plant and animal-based foods for their diets. It will ensure that you are successful in meeting all of their dietary requirements.

Some of the foods that you should include in the Cardinal tetras diet are:

  • Algae pellets or wafers (for plant matter)
  • Brine shrimp, bloodworms, and daphnia (animal proteins)
  • Live foods like mosquito larvae and worms. These are great for getting your fish familiar with live food.

You should also try adding some leafy greens or other vegetables into their diet if they eat them.

How Often Should You Feed Cardinal Tetras?

Most aquarists recommend feeding Cardinal Tetras twice a day. However, if you’re a beginner aquarist, it’s important to note that they can get sick from being overfed.

In fact, most fish owners have been guilty of feeding their pets too much at least once in the past, so don’t feel bad about making this mistake. But, unfortunately, overfeeding is one of the common mistakes new fish keepers make.

It isn’t hard to avoid either, so don’t worry. All you need to do is get in the habit of feeding your Cardinal tetras less food than they can consume during a two-minute period. That means if you feed them enough that it takes longer than two minutes for them all to finish, you’re feeding too much. On the other hand, if your fish are hungry after two minutes, you should feed them more.


In conclusion, many people have said that cardinal tetras will not eat human food at all, but in my experience, this is definitely false. Instead, I believe it is a mix of the species and individual personalities which determines if a fish will or won’t take to human foods provided.

I hope you have learned a little about cardinal tetras and their diets in this post. If you would like to learn more, check out the other posts on our blog.

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