Will Cardinal Tetras School With Neon Tetras? Will They?

Cardinal Tetras and Neon Tetras are two prevalent species of aquarium fish. Cardinal tetra is the most common freshwater tropical fish, which you can see in many home aquaria. They originate from South America and prefer a warmer water temperature (around 22 degrees Celsius). Neon tetras originated from the Amazon River and preferred cooler water temperatures (about 20 degrees Celsius). Besides the differences between Cardinal tetras, there are some similarities. So, aquarists often wonder: will Cardinal Tetras School With Neon Tetras?

Cardinal tetras and neon tetras are peaceful fish and prefer to be in schools. Cardinal tetras are tiny fish (around 50 mm long), while neon tetra is slightly larger (about 60mm). If you have a large aquarium, then the number of Cardinal Tetras doesn’t matter, but if your tank isn’t massive, it’s best not to put too many Cardinal Tetras.

Keeping Cardinal tetras in groups of at least six fish is best. Thus, it would be a good idea to have an aquarium that is around 500 liters (110 gallons) if you want to mix Cardinal Tetras and Neon Tetra.

If you decide that the two types of tetra can coexist peacefully in your aquarium environment, here are some tips for keeping them happy and healthy. And in this blog post, I will discuss Cardinal Tetras School With Neon Tetras.

Are Cardinal Tetras And Neon Tetras Alike?

Get ready to be amazed because there’s a fish that’s often mistaken for its less colorful cousin! Meet the Cardinal Tetra – a fish that’s bursting with life and vibrancy. Its body is a fiery red, shimmering with iridescence, and adorned with slender blue stripes that run from head to tail.

But that’s not all. Its back and tail are covered in glistening silver scales, making it one of the most attractive fish you’ll ever see. In comparison, the Neon Tetra pales in comparison, with its subtle iridescent blue body and unremarkable white, red, or black spots.

While both are schooling fish, the Cardinal Tetra takes it to the next level by banding together to fend off larger predators. So don’t be fooled by their similarities; the Cardinal Tetra is a true showstopper!

Will Cardinal Tetras School With Neon Tetras?

Yes, Cardinal Tetras will school with Neon Tetras.

Discover a fascinating fish that’s both tranquil and captivating. The Cardinal Tetra – a peaceful species that can grow up to two inches or longer without bothering its tank mates, including the Neon Tetra.

These beautiful fish are naturally social creatures that prefer to swim and school together in groups of six or more, reducing stress levels and ensuring their safety from potential predators and environmental hazards. Plus, their striking appearance makes them a welcome addition to any aquarium, with their iridescent red bodies and delicate blue stripes that run the length of their frame.

As part of the tetra family, Cardinal Tetras share many similarities with their Neon Tetra counterparts, making them a great match for cohabitation. So, if you want to add life and color to your tank, consider these stunning fish as your new companions. The Cardinal Tetra is truly an aquatic gem with its peaceful temperament and captivating beauty.

Cardinal tetra fish occasionally act aggressively towards other cardinal tetras. However, they can live peacefully with Neon Tetra fish if you keep them in groups of six or more individuals. 

What Are The Similarities Between Cardinal Tetras And Neon Tetras?

Cardinal tetras are very similar to neon tetras. Cardinal Tetra fish is a species of tropical freshwater fish that belongs to the Characidae family, which consists of about 42 different types of small and colorful fishes.

Similarly, Neon tetras are a tropical freshwater fish species in the Characidae family. In addition, Cardinal Tetras and Neon Tetra share a lot of similarities, such as:

Both Cardinal Tetras And Neon Tetras Are Smaller In Size

Cardinal tetra fish and Neon Tetra are both smaller in size. Cardinal Tetras can grow to be about three inches long, whereas neon tetras only grow up to an average of three-fourths of an inch.

Both Of Them Are Peaceful

The cardinal and neon tetras are two of the most peaceful and friendly fish that you can add to your aquarium! The Cardinal Tetra and Neon Tetra are species that won’t harm any small fish, plants, or other pets that you may have in your tank.

These stunning fish are naturally gentle and serene, making them perfect additions to any community aquarium. And the best part? They’re peaceful towards each other, too, thanks to their relatively similar size.

Both Cardinal And Neon Tetras Are Active During The Day

Cardinal tetras and neon tetra species prefer being active during the day rather than at night. Cardinal tetras and neon tetra enjoy swimming around the aquarium in the early morning or late afternoon but prefer to rest at night.

Both Of Them Are Non-Aggressive

Cardinal Tetra and Neons are non-aggressive fish that do not have many natural predators in their native environments.

Usually, Cardinal tetras are present in the Amazon river and neon tetras in the Orinoco River. Since their habitats are somewhat similar, they can co-exist without feeling the stress of differences in the water condition. Furthermore, they are both non-aggressive species that do not threaten other animals living near their habitats.

You Can School Them Together

These aquatic creatures are known for their social nature, and two of the most popular species that love to swim and school together are the Cardinal Tetra and the Neon Tetra.

These fish may be small in size, but they make up for it with their vibrant colors and playful personalities. As they swim and dart around in unison, they create a mesmerizing spectacle that’s both thrilling and awe-inspiring to watch.

But there’s more to it than just their dazzling display – swimming together in a school also helps them stay safe from potential predators while giving them easier access to food sources. It’s like having a personal bodyguard and a 24/7 buffet at the same time!

Have A Similar Water Temperature Requirement

Cardinal Tetra fish prefer water temperatures that fall between 73-81 degrees Fahrenheit. Neon tetra fish also prefer water temperatures that fall between 72-78 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cardinal tetra and neon tetra have similar water temperature requirements. Thus, most owners will often find them swimming together in the same aquarium space during early morning or late afternoon hours.

What is the Difference Between Cardinal Tetras And Neon Tetras?

There are a few critical differences between Cardinal Tetras and Neon Tetras. Some of them are:

Cardinal Tetras Are Aggressive When It Comes To Food

Cardinal Tetras can become very aggressive when it comes to food. It means Cardinal Tetra tank mates may not be able to get any of the food as they will eat all of their food before the other fish in the tank can get anything.

But you can efficiently train neo tetras to eat from your hand, which is a benefit.

I have written a detailed article on what cardinal tetras eat. Read more about it.

Cardinal Tetras Are Reclusive

Cardinal tetra fish are reclusive and like having their own space in an aquarium tank. So it is better not to keep them with other types of fish.

These fish usually spend most of their time alone unless they have enough room to have space. But Neon Tetras are more social and are okay being in a school of five or six fish. So Cardinal tetra tank mates need to be aware that they will not get the same amount of attention as if kept alone.

Cardinal Tetras Are More Likely To Get Ill

Cardinal tetra fish are more prone to getting sick than Neon Tetras. It will help if you keep Cardinal tetras in the hospital tank. Ensure they have no signs of illness before introducing them to the main aquarium.

Neon Tetras are less likely to get ill and can usually handle any stress that may come with it. However, as Cardinal Tetras can be very sensitive to changes in water parameters, they will stress easily. Thus, Cardinal tetras are more likely to get sick than Neon Tetras, which are a bit harder.

Are cardinal tetras hardy? Find out more here!

Cardinal Tetras Are More Attentive To Their Surroundings

Usually, Cardinal tetra fish tend to be less active and more attentive to their surroundings than Neon Tetras. As a result, Cardinal tetra fish will spend more time at the bottom of their aquarium tank and take regular breaks from swimming around to sit down and rest.

Neon Tetras are not as easily stressed out by lots of activity in their environment as Cardinal tetra fish tend to be. These fish are more active and like to swim around all day long.

Cardinal Tetras Are Bigger Than Neon Tetras

Cardinal tetra fish are more extensive than Neon Tetras. So, their mates need to know this size difference between Cardinal tetra and Neon Tetra. Most people often mistake Cardinal tetras with other types of fish because they are not as easy to distinguish from the others.

Usually, Cardinal Tetras can get up to three inches long, while Neon Tetras only grow to about one inch. However, these fish can grow longer than their usual size with the required diet and proper care.

Cardinal Tetras Are More Expensive

Cardinal tetra fish tend to be more expensive than Neon Tetras.

Cardinal tetra fish can cost up to $25 or more, whereas Neon Tetra may only be a few dollars or even less. Therefore, there is not much demand for Neo tetra fish as they are challenging fish and need a lot of attention when you keep them. In addition, they have some requirements for a healthy lifespan. How much do neon tetras cost? Learn more here!

But many people like the look of Cardinal Tetras, so they buy them anyway despite their high. However, with the increase in demand and popularity, the cost of Cardinal tetras also accelerates. Thus, Cardinal tetras are much more costly than neon tetras.

What Are Other Types Of Fish That School With Cardinal Tetras?

Mostly Cardinal tetras are friendly and social. So, they can school with different types of fish. You can find a better-detailed article on this here! Such as:

  • Black Neon Tetras
  • Zebra Cardinal Tetra Fish
  • Angelfish
  • Guppies
  • Platys
  • Corydoras Catfish
  • Danios (Zebra Danios, Gold Tuxedo)


In conclusion, Cardinal Tetras enjoy living in schools of six or more, while Neon tetra prefers smaller groups. Cardinal tetra also tends to be aggressive towards other fish that resemble them in coloration, such as neon tetra and glowlight tetra. However, the cardinal is much less likely to be aggressive toward other Cardinal Tetras.

We hope you are well aware that Cardinal and neon tetras can live happily together. For more information, please feel free to contact us or leave your questions in the comments.

Thank you for giving us your precious time.

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