Hi, all of you voters,
my name is Heiko Bleher and I just want to make some comment in regards to neon, cardinals & co.
First of all I wanted to say something which some you might not know: that there are 4 neons (genus Paracheirodon), now simply because I found a 4th one in 2006 and again collected it in 2007 and I think it will be published soon in TFH and elsewhere.
Secondly: neons are to 99%, those in the hobby, breed worldwide and unfortunately like you said in the beginning, there is a lot of inbreeding around which has weakened the stock and those you buy are very sensitive, their immune system is not to be compared anymore to the wlld. I suggest one of two things for those who love neons (alternative blue neons: P. simulans):
1. Ask at the source for wild neons (they are still imported from Peru) and if they do not have them,
2. try to get German breed neons, as those are much more resistant and than the ones breed in China (Hong Kong region and Guanzghou).
Thirdly: for the cardinal lovers, I just wanted to say, that they must be more expensive, as about 90% of those you find are from the wild (only about 10% comes from breeders in the Czech republic, from Russia and very few from Asia). So normally they are more resistant (but also should have lower pH to drive well, as I just collected cardinals again last November and those were living in pH 3.4 ). Cardinals are brighter in color, might also grow larger (a friend of mine had them for 10 years and changed water once), but I think for along time will still be more expensive (although I think $7 is really unreal...).
You all should consider the blue neon, it is the smallest and least read, but a beauty as well, because its neon-stripe gos all the way across into its tail (not with the other two). Or you wait for neon number 4 (I guess it should be called the green neon, as its neon-stripe is very bright, almost green, but brightest of all and goes to the adipose fin, also its red it is the strongest of all four).
So look out for the latter, only I think it will take a few years time, such as it took with the neon-rainbowfish (Melanotaenia preacox), which I introduced and now is one of the most sold aquarium fishes worldwide - big competitor to neons, cardinals & co....
Heiko Bleher www.aquapress-bleher.com
(have a look) www.aqua-aquapress.com