Cardinal Tetras, or “You want to see a grown man cry?”

31 Jan

If you really don’t know or care about tropical fish stop reading now. Go away, please, while I talk to the  fish lovers of the world.

All  species of fish are special. Some are…unique….singular.


Chocolate Gouramis.

Altum Angelfish.

I’ve never kept Cardinal Tetras. Damn, over 30 years of keeping fish and NEVER had Cardinals.

I bought 4 of them tonight. Would have bought more, but they were the last 4 in the tank. They look like hell, pale and sick, but I am hoping only stressed.

Paracheirodon axelrodi, I say it over and over, Paracheirodon axelrodi

I bring them home, I take an hour to acclimatize them to their 10 gallon tank.  After releasing them I watch them scatter, then eventually group together.

I stare in wonder. Where have you been? Brazil? And if not, your ancestors certainly were from the tannin stained waters of the Amazon tributaries. I’ve never looked at any fish and felt such a direct connection to the beginnings of the Tropical Fishkeeping hobby. Thank you, William Iness, thank you, Herbert Axelrod.  I will stop writing now so I can go look at them again. The colors, the genetics, the lineage, direct from the Amazon, here they are…the Cardinal Tetras.

They are still pale in this video, and the reflection in the glass makes it appear that there are more than four tetras, but there are only four.

2 Responses to “Cardinal Tetras, or “You want to see a grown man cry?””

  1. itjustencouragesme February 11, 2012 at 11:46 pm #

    Nicely worded. Touching. I love these fish. I am completely obsessed with them. How big can I get them to safely grow and how colorful can I get them. It seems like this year has been a terrible year for getting good cardinals. I don’t know about the whole US but they haven’t been coming in at our good fish stores. I’m so glad you discovered them and are sharing!!!

  2. fishtanx2011 February 12, 2012 at 12:11 am #

    Thank you. Even though one of the Cardinals died by the following morning the other three are doing great but are still not in full color. I noticed today that the tank temp was in the low 70’s so I adjusted that, also I will give them brine shrimp more often.
    They are one of those fish that makes me wonder what possible advantage it can be to be so colorful, especially since males and females are equally beautiful.

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