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appycowgirl34 07-04-2007 06:52 AM

Is there a trick to Cardinals??????
Hi all,

I am new here, but not new to fish. I have had all different kinds of fish, but ever since I saw this beautiful tank at a pet store which had cardinal tetras, rummynose, and angels, I wanted one like it! So I was living at Mom's at the time and only had room for a 20 gal. The tank was already established for a couple years and I found some cardinals and added them. They immediately died. I tried this over and over, I did research on them, I tried making the water more to their liking, I tried getting more at a time so they'd be comfortable in a school, EVERY single time, I'd be lucky if a couple lived more than 24 hours. When I got a house, I bought a 75 gal. tank. I had gotten the hang of fishkeeping I thought, nothing else really died on me. This tank I had set up for a YEAR before I got up the guts to try cardinals again. Unlike before, I started finding healthy looking ones at pet stores now. They were the picture of health when I got them, I floated the bag for about 45 mins., adding tank water a little at a time, once again, they would not live. I had one that did, but I could never get any others to. I had rummynose and some other mild tempered fish in there, and they all did fine. So now this is really pissing me off, I tried adding black water extract, doing more water changes. Finally, realizing I have really hard water and they like soft, I bought an RO filter! Slowly, through water changes, I changed the hardness of the tank by always doing water changes with half RO/half tap water. Finally, all the other tetras (rummynose and glolights) seemed happier, hadn't had one die in a long I can get cardinals again right???? No....I just bought 6 (7 with the old one who lived). They lived for 5 days (my current record!).....and then all of a sudden, within two days, they disappeared, including the old one!!!!!! No sign of sickness, just there one day, gone the next (I think my gourami eats the dead bodies, but he doesn't pick on them when they're alive).

Why am I having this problem? All my other fish are fine, I have 4 tanks, I rarely have other fish die. But I WANT CARDINALS!! :( :( :( I don't want to breakdown and give up and get neons....can someone tell me what the trick is to these fish???? I have bought at least 30 or so of the damn things at $2 each and I still have NONE :(


Lupin 07-04-2007 07:36 AM

Welcome to, Becky.:wave:

I'm sorry to hear your loss. It seems though that the cardinal tetras you get may be extremely sensitive to the water conditions. A majority available in the aquarium trade, apparently, are wild-caught. May I know your water parameters? This might help.

appycowgirl34 07-04-2007 08:13 AM

I know, but I don't understand why they are fine in the pet store then???

Water right now is 0 amonia, 0 nitrite, 7.5 pH, and 71.6 ppm KH (the tap water is WAY off the charts hard....that's why I got the RO filter). I don't use any chemicals at all, I just cycle the tank until it is ok (learned this from a discus breeder). Only thing I ever put in it is AmQuel during water changes.

I know the pH is not ideal for them at the moment, but I have tried using chemicals to get it that way and it didn't help :( I suppose if that's usually the big problem with them, I could try it again.


Lupin 07-04-2007 08:16 AM

Becky, can you please test your lfs' tank water? Their water conditions may be far from yours.

leifthebunny 07-04-2007 01:42 PM


Originally Posted by Lupin
I'm sorry to hear your loss. It seems though that the cardinal tetras you get may be extremely sensitive to the water conditions. A majority available in the aquarium trade, apparently, are wild-caught. May I know your water parameters? This might help.

My LFS refers to Cardinals as the canaries of the aquarium business. Shortly after I bought mine from them (all are doing fine :)), they lost their entire school of almost 60 due to fluctuations of water conditions.

Becky, welcome to the forums. For my cardinals, I have mine in 0 Ammonia, 0 Nitritres, 15 Nitrates in a planted tank with 7.0 pH and clear water. I would hold off on doing cardinals until you get more ideal water conditions. I had similar problems with angelfish in my cichlid tank, I just had to wait for the conditions until I could get things right for them.

NeonJulie 07-04-2007 02:05 PM

There's nothing else in the tank that might be getting to them / chasing them / stressing them etc?

Firebellyy girrl 07-04-2007 07:42 PM

After researching cardinals, ive seen they say, if you want 8 of them, buy 12 and expect enough to die to get to 8. I have no idea why they die so fast, wether its stress or water conditions.

herefishy 07-04-2007 09:33 PM

Cardinals, indeed, are very touchy when it comes to water conditions. Regular water changes are a must when it comes to caring for these beauties. My cardinals seem to do better when I use aged water when carrying out these "routine" water changes. I also use a softer water. pH of 6.4 or so. The tank also has plenty of plants, including elodea, which helps to filter out the hardness.

sean117Ply 11-01-2007 04:31 AM

interesting I find cardinals very hardy none of mine have ever died, but I quess it all comes down to the supplier :(

MegK 11-01-2007 06:09 AM

i thought that cardinals were ten times hardier than neons

but it does come down to where u get them - crappy fish store, or good fish store.

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