Will Cardinal Tetras Breed? – Know Exactly When They’ll Have Fry!

Cardinal tetras are a prevalent fish in the freshwater aquarium hobby. They are present worldwide where they live naturally, mostly thriving in small tributaries of major rivers and lakes. Cardinal tetras make excellent beginner fish because they are easy-going. But how easy is it to breed Cardinal tetras?

Yes, Cardinal tetras are easy-going fish, and they breed naturally without any special conditions. Cardinal tetras are egg scatterers. They will lay their eggs on tank décor or plants.

Cardinal tetras are generally easy to breed, provided a suitable breeding pair and the right water parameters in your aquarium.

This post will give you some pointers on finding out when your Cardinal Tetras might be ready for breeding and having fry.

What Type Of Fish Is Cardinal Tetras?

Cardinal Tetras are a type of freshwater fish that belong to the Characidae family. They make an excellent addition for most community tanks, as they get along with other peaceful species and aren’t very picky about water parameters.

Cardinal tetras are also stunning fish with their red bodies and a black line down the center of each fin. They grow around 70mm in length, which is why they’re a good option for most aquariums.

Will Cardinal Tetras Breed?

Cardinal tetras are one of the easiest fish to breed. Cardinal tetras are also among the most popular fish for beginning aquarium owners because they’re easy and fun to keep!

There is a straightforward answer, yes cardinal tetras will breed ( given you have them in breeding condition ). The problem is that it is not as easy as putting two male and two female Cardinal Tetras in a tank, closing your eyes, and expecting them to breed.

Cardinal tetra breeding isn’t tricky. But it will require you to provide some special conditions for the fish that are similar to their native environment while they live in South America.

If you want Cardinal Tetras to breed, make sure there is enough space for the Cardinal Tetras to have a safe place in your tank. Cardinal tetras need plants and rocks to shelter from bright light, which is very important because they’re schooling fish that will feel stressed if they don’t have their spot.

When Do Cardinal Tetras Breed?

Cardinal Tetras breed during the warmer months of the year. These fish are from South America and cannot handle cold weather very well, especially when reproducing. Cardinal tetras will also not have any babies if they do not feel comfortable in their surroundings.

When Cardinal Tetras feel stressed out or unhappy with their lives, they will stop eating and eventually die. Cardinal Tetras breed best in temperatures of about 77-82 degrees Fahrenheit, so you must be sure to provide your Cardinal tetras with an aquarium heater if they are not living in this temperature range already.

How Do Cardinal Tetras Breed?

Cardinal tetras are very easy to breed. In addition, Cardinal Tetras care is relatively simple, which makes them an excellent choice for beginner fish keepers. But you should know that they aren’t the easiest species to sex at first glance since both sexes look similar. In addition, you can divide Cardinal tetras’ breeding cycle into two distinct seasons: spring and fall.

Cardinal Tetras have a gestation period of about three weeks. After which, females usually lay several hundred eggs on various surfaces in your aquaria, such as leaves or roots. 

Cardinal Tetras are egg scatterers, which means releasing their eggs in the water column instead of keeping them attached to plants or other objects. Their fry hatch within one day and immediately start swimming by using a special organ called an “egg tooth.” These fish can spawn twice per year if kept with proper care conditions.

How Old Should Cardinal Tetras be to Breed?

Cardinal Tetras should be at least a year old to breed. Cardinal tetra fry can be as small as 0.75 inches, but they are still quite vulnerable and cannot compete with the larger fish in your tank for food or territory until they have grown significantly more extensive. If possible, set up a separate breeding aquarium where you keep only Cardinal Tetras and raise fry.

How Can I Breed Cardinal Tetras?

Cardinal Tetra breeding is one of many aspects that make this species popular in the aquarium hobby. Cardinal tetras are small, peaceful characins usually sold for freshwater community tanks by pet stores.

If you want to breed your fish, there are some points you must consider. Such as:

Choose Breeding Partner

You can breed Cardinal Tetras if you choose suitable partners. Cardinal tetra males are usually more colorful than females, male’s fins are longer, and they have a pointy nose. After spawning, each female will produce around 100-200 eggs that hatch after 24 hours of fertilization.

Provide Enough Space

Cardinal Tetras need a tank of at least 20 gallons. In addition, Cardinal tetra breeding requires large space and hiding places, so if you want to breed these fish in your aquarium, they must have the room they need.


Cardinal Tetras are very sensitive when it comes to water quality. Therefore, you must use an efficient filtration system for your Cardinal Tetras. Cardinal Tetras are so keen on lousy water quality that even a tiny change in the pH level can be deadly. In addition, Cardinal Tetra eggs, larvae, and fry require clean and clear water to survive and grow properly.

Time of the Year

Cardinal tetra breeding is not possible all year round. So, you must pay attention to what time of the year it is best to breed them.

Cardinal Tetras breed during springtime in their natural habitat. It means that this fish will only spawn around March through May. Therefore, if you want Cardinal Tetras to reproduce in your tank, it is best that have the proper conditions to produce successfully.


Cardinal Tetra fry requires a lot of protein and fat-rich food for them to grow properly. Therefore, you must provide high-quality foods rich in proteins such as baby brine shrimp or infusoria for Cardinal Tetra fry. Usually, most Cardinal Tetras are omnivores, so provide them with high-quality omnivore flake food.


Cardinal Tetra breeding is not possible if your aquarium water temperature falls below 70 degrees or above 80 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 27 Celsius). Cardinal tetra fry grows faster and develops better in slightly acidic waters between pH six point four and seven point two. However, their eggs are susceptible to pH changes, so you must provide them with the proper water conditions for successful breeding.

Water Changes

Cardinal Tetras are also more susceptible to infections when they have just laid their eggs. Or if they feel stressed out due to small water changes in your aquarium. You should make sure not to perform any water changes during Cardinal Tetra spawning and fry growth.

Cardinal tetras are susceptible fish that require a lot of attention to breed successfully. As a result, Cardinal Tetras can be difficult for beginners, but if you provide the right conditions, they will reproduce easily in your tank.

Some FAQs

When Will Cardinal Tetras Produce Fry?

Cardinal Tetras will produce fry after they breed. These fish can lay up to 100 eggs per spawn, and the timeframe for spawning is usually between six months and a year. Of course, they may not do it every time. But these little guys mostly lay several batches of eggs over their lifetime.

What Is The Best Breeding Time For Cardinal Tetras?

Cardinal Tetras will lay eggs when the water is warm. There are even reports of their fry in pet stores born with a bit of attached yolk sac.

After spawning, you need to care for baby Cardinal tetras until they shed their external gills and develop internal gill support around day 12-14.

What Type Of Habitat Do Cardinal Tetras Need?

Cardinal tetras can do well in various water types, from soft and acidic to slightly alkaline with medium hardness. The bottom line is they’ll be just fine as long as no extreme changes are occurring in their environment.

What Is A Cardinal Tetra Fish Tank Mates?

You can keep Cardinal tetras with a variety of other Cardinal Tetra fish. Cardinal tetra tank mates include Swordtails, Platies, and Guppies, to name a few.

Remember that Cardinal Tetras prefer soft acidic water, similar to their natural habitat, the Amazon River Basin in South America. Cardinal Tetras do well in groups of five or more. However, it is better to keep them with other Cardinal tetra similar to their own as they tend to school together.


In conclusion, Cardinal Tetras will not breed if their water is too cold and they feel stressed. Cardinal Tetras may sometimes lay eggs on plants, but they usually fail to hatch because the aquarium’s environment is unsuitable for them. Cardinal tetra fry can be born without any issues when Cardinal Tetra fish live together in a group that consists of at least six Cardinal Tetra fish.

Maintain these water temperatures, and they will breed for you. Also, ensure that your aquarium is large enough to accommodate the fry without causing any issues. On the other hand, Cardinal Tetras are relatively easy to breed, so why not give it a go?

Thank you. Best of luck for breeding Cardinal Tetras.

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