neon/cardinal new setup advice
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neon/cardinal new setup advice

This is a discussion on neon/cardinal new setup advice within the Characins forums, part of the Freshwater and Tropical Fish category; --> Ok so i am looking into getting some neon or cardinal tetra's, i have started cycling my tank today and am wondering about the ...

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neon/cardinal new setup advice
Old 01-03-2010, 03:45 PM   #1
neon/cardinal new setup advice

Ok so i am looking into getting some neon or cardinal tetra's, i have started cycling my tank today and am wondering about the light, fact sheets say they like a subdued light, whilst the bulb in my set up is only a low wattage, 5 watts i think? how can i make it appear more subdued and suitable for neons? i dont want to make them unhappy or unhealthy simply through just having a too bright light. or is it simply an appearance thing?

as you will see in the pic it is rather bright, i do also intend to add a hiding place and maybe one other small plant. i just dont want to go mad with plants and create more problems as i think getting the tank balanced and suitable for tetra's seems complicated enough!

the tank is 20 litres btw and is running a interpet pf1 pump and is currenly heating upto 26 degree's.
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Old 01-03-2010, 03:56 PM   #2
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My honest opinion on this tank vs Neon's or Cardinals and their natural habitat (And that's really only my opinion its your tank so you do what ever you find fits best!!)...
The reason yours looks bright thou you have low wattage on it is the white gravel. I'd pers set this up with black sand or black fine gravel, that's more towards their natural habitat.
Then add some driftwood to it and a bunch more plants, they do not only like heavy planted tank, but its also gonna help you have their colors stick out much more too.
If you go to the left here under my name on the tap 'Aquarium' you'll find one named "New 45g" the pictures are several weeks old when I first planted it, but that's the set up I chosen for the same fish (will house various different Tetras in it).
Personally I just try to imitate whatever their natural habitat would be, like dingy leaf littered forest streams with branches of wood (DW) and leaf's and dark substrate and bunch plants...
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Old 01-03-2010, 04:57 PM   #3
thanks for the tips, i guess darker gravel will look a lot better with their colour too, and i will look into getting some driftwood also.

this is proving hard work if i dont change the gravel is it purely a visual thing or will the fish be happier if a darker substrate?
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Old 01-03-2010, 06:09 PM   #4
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Oh it ain't bad changing it, you have a small tank and your big plus its NOT stocked right now, so that would be a perfect timing to still do it Try doing a fully stocked and heavy planted 55g...that wasn't cool at all lol

Happy or not, I wouldn't wanna have to say yes or no to this question, I personally never spoke to a Tetra and asked about their happiness - Is dark more natural to them where they come from absolutely, that said it makes them feel more secure in darker tank with lots plants to go into, personally if I feel secure I feel more happy yes, but as I said, I never spoken to a fish and asked about their happiness
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Old 01-04-2010, 01:55 PM   #5
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Although I also can't talk with my fish...yet, anyway...I can say with some degree of certainty that a darker substrate will be beneficial to any SA characin with very few exceptions. I have personal experience.

I have a group of wild-caught Hyphessobrycon metae in my 90g flooded Amazon forest setup. These fish (and all the other fish and plants in this tank) were previously in my 70g (photos of that tank are still under my "Aquariums" for reference as "Former 70g") which had a natural buff coloured gravel. Lots of plants and wood as the photos indicate. The H. metae were rarely out swimming, spending most of their time among the plants at the sides and back. In July I moved my 90g and reset it as the new home for these fish and plants, and used the darker gravel in the 90g. Within a couple days of being moved, the H. metae were out swimming as a group, and now I rarely see them among the plants which are still there for them. The fish also darkened a bit, due to the darker substrate. I've had other characins and corydoras who have displayed much the same behaviour and colouration change over darker gravel.

The reason is obvious; these fish occur in dimly-lit forest streams that are overhung with vegetation. The direct sun rarely penetrates the water. Cardinals in particular are known to inhabit very dark waters; photographs taken by underwater photographers show these fish appearing as the blue neon line in the murky water; the fish body cannot even be seen, only the bright neon line moving around like sticks of blue/green light. Nature has obviously designed these fish for such an environment. And while we do not want murky aquaria in which nothing is visible, we can provide less bright lighting and dark substrates, plus lots of plants, to provide something closer to their natural environment. And neons require much the same.

Quickly on the light, provide the minimum necessary for plant growth, and have floating plants. Plants do not require the high light level frequently advocated, as my 20 years of successful planted aquaria along with many other aquarists' experiences clearly proves. And by the way, simplicity works better--lots of plants stabilizes the water and provides a suitable habitat for tetras. And on the water, cardinals are much less tolerant of differing water parameters than are neons. The latter can adapt fairly well to slightly basic (alkaline) water, but cardinals for long-term health must have soft acidic water. They occur in streams with a pH of 4-5 and no hardness whatsoever; in aquaria they tend to live best in a pH in the low 6's maximum, but still require very soft water. Harder water causes calcium blockage of the kidney tubes. Most find cardinals live 2-3 years, but Dr. Jacques Gery had cardinals that lived beyond ten years in his aquaria, solely because they had the necessary water parameters.

One comment on temperature; cardinals prefer warmer aquaria, anything around the usual community temperature of 78-79F or higher if the other fish require it (when kept with discus or Mikrogeophagus ramirezi for instance). Neons on the other hand come from streams that are slightly cooler, low to mid-70's F suits them better. A couple degrees may not seem like much to us, but to a fish forced to live in this temperature constantly and unable to regulate its body heat, a couple degrees can mean the difference between a long stress-free life or a shorter stress-filled one. Temperature requirement is only one of the water parameters that should be considered when selecting fish for a "community" aquarium. Fish having similar requirements respecting water and environment (wood, rock, plants...) will be more relaxed because they will be "in their element" as we say, and that means less stress which leads to improved health and life.

Last edited by Byron; 01-04-2010 at 02:03 PM..
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Old 01-06-2010, 12:10 PM   #6
thanks for the info! im still torn between neons or a betta, but also thinking of maybe glowlight tetras now aswell are glowlights easier to keep than neons? well i dont mean easier as such,,, more hardier fish?
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Old 01-06-2010, 01:26 PM   #7
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On the technical side, turn your heater so that it sits at a 45ish degree angle in the tank. It'll function better.

In my own opinion I treat all small fish the same. They are going to be very intolerant of upsets in their environment. The smaller they are or the smaller their tank is the less then can deal with deviations from the norm. With good maintenance practices neons are not difficult to keep.
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Old 01-18-2010, 07:18 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by robbo87 View Post
thanks for the info! im still torn between neons or a betta, but also thinking of maybe glowlight tetras now aswell are glowlights easier to keep than neons? well i dont mean easier as such,,, more hardier fish?
Why do you have to choose between the two?
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Old 01-22-2010, 09:12 AM   #9
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A 20L tank is only about 5 gallons.
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Old 02-08-2010, 08:11 PM   #10
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not to high jack the thread but what makes a heater work better at a 45 degree angle
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