Do Cardinal Tetras Jump: A Guide To Their Behavior - Tetra Fish Care (2023)

Cardinal tetras have beautiful red bodies with black fins. They also have three different "stripes" across their faces (referred to as "facial stripes" by Cardinal Tetra enthusiasts). They are not difficult to breed in home freshwater aquariums. So many hobbyists will keep several generations of these fish together. But some owners also complain that cardinal tetras jump out of their tank. Is it true?

Yes, cardinal tetras do jump, but they are unlikely to jump out of your tank. Cardinal tetras are known for their eagerness to explore new environments. So in most captive environments they will often swim to the surface of the water. Cardinal tetras have an extraordinary jumping ability. This stems from Cardinal Tetra fry starting its life in an egg-shaped structure above the waterline.

This post is about cardinal tetras and whether they jump or not.

Do cardinal tetras jump?

Cardinal tetras are one of the most popular types of pet fish and they are easy to care for. However, there is some debate about whether this species actually jumps out of tanks (or an argument about how often it does). While cardinal tetras can jump, they are less likely to do so than other species, and they don't do it with the frequency or regularity of betta fish.

Cardinal tetras are native to South America in places like Brazil, Venezuela, and Colombia. Their natural habitat consists of slow-flowing rivers where they swim up and down over sandy substrates. Cardinal tetras are also present in the aquarium trade, but they have become less common in recent times due to the depletion of wild populations.

When do cardinal tetras jump?

Jumping is a natural behavior cardinal tetras often exhibit in the wild and in an aquarium. However, cardinal tetras usually only jump out of the water for a short time (one to two seconds), after which they re-enter the water column headfirst without suffering any ill effects.

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They usually jump out of an aquarium to escape it. Therefore, you should cover the top of your tank with a lid if cardinal tetras are part of your fish family. Besides, there aremany reasons cardinal tetras jump. Those are the following:

Cardinal tetras jump when startled by predators

Cardinal tetras often jump out of the water when they encounter a predator in their natural environment. This behavior can persist even if a true predator does not challenge the cardinal tetras. In captivity, cardinal tetras may choose to jump off the surface of your tank when they feel threatened for any reason.

In addition to feeling threatened, Cardinal Tetras can also jump if they are startled by something. Such as an object falling into the tank or a sudden change in lighting.

Cardinal Tetras Leap For Food

You can train cardinal tetras to recognize food just before it is about to drop into their tank. These fish will often swim to the top of your aquarium because of this. In addition, cardinal tetras may choose to jump out of your tank to eat food dropped in from above. They can also learn to anticipate when you'll drop their food in the water, giving them time to swim to the surface for easier access.

Cardinal tetras jump when excited

Cardinal tetrafish are very active and energetic, so they often jump out of a tank when they feel excited or agitated. They are more likely to jump when there is a lot of activity going on in their tank environment, such as during tank cleaning.

Cardinal Tetras will jump when the tank runs out of oxygen

Cardinal tetras are native to areas of South America with warm, slow-moving water. They often swim to the surface of your tank when they feel there isn't enough oxygen in their environment, which can also cause them to jump out of an tank.

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Cardinal Tetra Fish jumps for fun

Cardinal tetras can jump out of your tank because they want to. These fish are very active and social, so it is not uncommon for them to engage in various behaviors just for fun or entertainment purposes. They may also choose to jump out of an aquarium when their tank water needs to be changed, which can be a play activity they enjoy doing.

How do you prevent cardinal tetras from jumping?

Cardinal tetras are a trendy fish. Cardinal tetras can be an exciting and captivating pet to watch. But there is one problem for new owners, Cardinal, as they jump and can be aggressive at times.

However, you can control the jumping habit of cardinal tetras in the following ways:

Cover the tank with a lid

Cardinal tetras are natural jumpers. Therefore, covers are necessary to prevent cardinal tetras from jumping. Cover the tank with a mesh lid or other suitable material that Cardinal Tetra cannot come out of.

Use other fish to keep cardinal tetras busy

Cardinal Tetras can be a very active and playful fish in nature. If you don't keep Cardinal tetras busy, they can quickly turn their attention to jumping out of the tank.

Cardinal Tetra can jump when trying to catch another fish, they cannot compete for food or space. However, they also jump to get your attention. So if you have more than one cardinal tetra in the tank, try adding other large fish with good character.

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Do not use heating

Cardinal tetras come from a tropical climate where no heating is required in their habitat. However, sometimes the heating will make Cardinal Tetra very uncomfortable.

A tank with water at about 72 degrees Fahrenheit or 22 degrees Celsius is best for cardinal tetras. Therefore, they can live more comfortably in the aquarium at room temperature.So it is best to only use the heaters if you want to breed cardinal tetras.

Filter the tank regularly

Cardinal tetras will jump if they feel disturbed. Change the tank's water regularly and filter the water to prevent Cardinal Tetras from jumping out.

Filter helps maintain cleanliness necessary for the health of your Cardinal Tetra. A noise filtration system will also help you remove any debris that can cause cardinal tetra stress.

Gebruik Cardinal tetra Safe Plants.

Cardinal tetras are natural jumpers. Therefore, if there is nothing interesting in Cardinal Tetra's tank, they can find an escape route. It is therefore best to keep them safe by using plants with smooth edges that will not hurt the fish if it lands on them after the jump.

You can also use some plants to keep cardinal tetras safe. Remember that the plants have soft leaves with no sharp edges, which could injure your pet.

(Video) The Fish Are Jumping out of aquarium | How to Stop Fish Jumping | fish jumped out of tank and died

Some frequently asked questions

How long will Cardinal Tetras live?

Cardinal Tetras can live about three to five years. They are native to South America, so they prefer warmer waters around 25 degrees Celsius and above. They need a heater when the water is below 70 F, which will greatly extend their life.

Can cardinal tetras swim through the filter?

Cardinal tetras can swim through the filter, but it is not suitable for their health. There is a higher chance that a filtration system or pump impeller can catch and trap these small fish. The best way to avoid this problem is to have an oversized filter that will allow the Cardinal Tetra plenty of room to swim without the filter sucking them up.

What Size Aquarium Do Cardinal Tetras Need?

Cardinal tetras need a minimum of 10 parts water per part cardinal tetra, but this is only a minimum. Cardinal tetras like to swim and school in large groups, so the larger the tank you can put them in, the better. Usually the aquarium with about 20-30 liters of water is best for them.

What kind of food do cardinal tetras eat?

Cardinal tetrafish like small insects such as fruit flies or mosquito larvae. You can also give your fish flakes, which quickly sink to the bottom of your aquarium. Cardinal tetras are not picky eaters and will accept food from the top, middle or bottom of their tank.

Do cardinal tetras bite?

Cardinal tetras are not as aggressive as other fish species, but they will bite if their tank mates are sick or dying. Make sure all your fish are completely healed from any injuries before placing them together in the same tank.


Cardinal Tetra is a beautiful fish made even more beautiful by its swimming pattern and jumping ability. However, it is important to care for Cardinal Tetra to ensure it stays healthy and does not jump out of the tank.

(Video) Neon Tetra: Complete Care Guide For Beginners | Animal Beast

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post. It was about jumping cardinal tetras. I wish I answered your question about the cardinal tetra jump.

Is there still some confusion about cardinal tetra jumping? Then discuss it in the comments below or contact us. Have A Nice Day.


Do cardinal tetras jump out of tank? ›

Tetras jump out of the tank when they feel stressed or threatened. Besides, they jump due to low water quality, unfavorable water parameters, food shortage, bullying, overcrowding, lack of oxygen, or out of curiosity to explore the surroundings. They jump to escape the habitat when it's unsuitable.

What is the behavior of Cardinal Tetra? ›

Cardinal Tetras Behavior & Compatibility

Cardinal Tetras are very peaceful and mild creatures. They are very energetic and active during the day, where you'll see them swimming as a group, exploring the tank, and feeding together. However, when placed in a group of less than six, they become fearful and shy.

What conditions do cardinal tetras like? ›

Cardinal Tetra Habitat and Care

Much like the neon tetra, this species requires a mature tank that has soft, acidic water. More importantly, water chemistry should be stable. This is not a species that does well in a newly started aquarium. The ideal pH is below 6, and the hardness should not be above 4 dGH.

Are cardinal tetras schooling fish? ›

Both the Cardinal and Neon Tetra are schooling fish. Schooling fish need more than just a handful of buddies by their side. To feel safe and live happily, you'll need to invest in the proper number of fish for your tank.

How do you know if tetras are stressed? ›

Strange Swimming: When fish are stressed, they often develop odd swimming patterns. If your fish is swimming frantically without going anywhere, crashing at the bottom of his tank, rubbing himself on gravel or rocks, or locking his fins at his side, he may be experiencing significant stress.

Why are my tetras swimming into the glass? ›

Your fish may also feel physically crowded in an overstocked tank, which can result in them pacing the glass. Fish need space to swim, and when a tank is crammed with other fish or decorations it can be stressful for them. Unlike in the wild, there is nowhere for them to go if they don't like their current location.

Are Cardinal Tetras sensitive? ›

Cardinal tetras have a reputation of being a sensitive fish. In reality, they are just as hardy as other tetras providing some very basic rules are followed.

How often should I feed Cardinal Tetras? ›

Just make sure that the food is small enough to fit into the Cardinal Tetra's mouth. It's best to feed these fish several times a day if your schedule allows for it. Provide only enough food that they can eat in about three minutes (anything more will result in overfeeding).

What is normal tetra behavior? ›

Most tetras are peaceful and get along well with similarly sized community fish, but there are a few exceptions. Serpae tetras, for example, can sometimes be nippy, especially when kept in insufficient numbers.

Can Cardinal Tetras be aggressive? ›

Cardinal tetra is peaceful by natures but it may show aggression sometimes under specific circumstances like when it is feeding or mating. If your aquarium is small in size with more numbers of tetras, they might start showing aggressive behavior.

Can I keep 4 Cardinal Tetras? ›

In the aquarium, it's best to keep at least 10 cardinal tetras. In smaller groups, they can begin to feel stressed, which may affect their coloring, behavior, and even their lifespan.

How many tetras can you put in a 10 gallon tank? ›

The neon tetra is some of the most striking and popular tropical freshwater aquarium fish. As a general rule, you can keep 6 or 7 of them in a 10-gallon fish tank. Keeping any more than this is known as 'overcrowding' and is full of potential problems.

How can you tell if a Cardinal Tetra is male or female? ›

Males and females look the same, except females have a rounder belly. Cardinal tetras, as with other characids have an adipose fin (soft fleshy fin on the back located between dorsal and caudal fins). Size: In the wild, these fish reach a total length of about 1.25 inches (3 cm) and weigh 0.004 ounce (0.13 gr).

Can I mix neon and cardinal tetras? ›

Cardinal tetras are very similar to neon tetras in their care, and they can be kept together in an aquarium. They often even school together! Like neon tetras, they are peaceful community fish and need to be kept with other schooling fish to feel secure.

What is the best food for cardinal tetras? ›

When choosing live foods, the best choices are daphnia, mosquito larvae (illegal to cultivate in some areas), and adult brine shrimp. Many other commonly available live foods tend to be too large for cardinal tetras to consume, though you could also try blackworms or bloodworms to see if your fish will accept them.

How do you relax a stressed fish? ›

Ways to Reduce Fish Stress

Change water frequently to keep nitrate and ammonia levels low. Try adding water conditioners like API Stress Coat Aquarium Water Conditioner, which is formulated to reduce fish stress by 40% by removing dangerous toxins.

Why do tetras jump out tank? ›

Neon tetras jump ship when they are threatened or stressed out. There are numerous reasons as to why they they might attempt to jump out of the tank: unacceptable water quality. lack of food.

Do water changes stress fish out? ›

Large water changes that include more than 60% water change, rinsing gravel, cleaning filter media lead to a complete, massive change in the water chemistry. Fishes when put in these new conditions, lead to temperature shock, stress, loss of appetite, and then death.

Is tap water okay for tetras? ›

Ordinary tap water is fine for filling up the aquarium as long as you let it sit for several days before adding fish (the chlorine in the tap water will kill the fish).

Can tetras survive in tap water? ›

More information. Tetra AquaSafe is ideal for using during water changes and when setting up a new aquarium as it makes tap water safe for fish within a matter of seconds: it removes any harmful substances in the water, such as chlorine, chloramine, copper zinc and lead, immediately and thoroughly.

Why is my fish kissing the heater? ›

Why does he hug the heater? This is because he's a tropical fish and is feeling cold, needing to be near the heater to feel the warmth. It is likely that the heater is not performing efficiently to warm the entire aquarium evenly.

Do Cardinal Tetras glow in the dark? ›

They are small fish with characteristic luminous stripes stretching along their body. Have you ever wondered how it is possible that these little ones glow in the dark? Well, to be honest... they do not, and the effect of seemingly emitting light is only an optical illusion.

How long do Cardinal Tetras live in captivity? ›

In conclusion, the Cardinal Tetra is a beautiful and hardy species that makes a great addition to any aquarium. With proper care, they can live for up to 5 years, but there are some reports of them reaching up to 10 years in captivity. They will provide a stunning display of colors in your home aquarium.

Do cardinal tetras need live plants? ›

In their natural habitat, the cardinal tetras come from warm, slow-moving water with densely vegetated areas. Therefore, the sunlight is usually filtered by plants. Thus, I recommend setting up your aquarium lighting to low or moderate levels and adding lots of floating or rooted plants to filter the light.

What is the ideal number of tetras? ›

Tetras are schooling fish and therefore they live happily in groups. Therefore, in the case of tetras, the classic rule of THE MORE, THE MERRIER applies literally. However, if you are the kind of person who believes in numbers, then a minimum of 6 tetra fish is recommended.

What is the most aggressive tetra? ›

The bucktooth tetra may not look like a piranha, but in the author's experience, it is more aggressive than one! Learn how to care for these beautiful but vicious animals for a truly fascinating tank in your own home.

How do I know if my tetras are healthy? ›

Some common symptoms of disease in your tetra include:

Loss of color in your fish's eyes or fins. Tetras that have a large belly due to bloating. Hemorrhaging around the head. Red-colored feces.

Are tetras intelligent? ›

Not only are Neon tetras beautiful freshwater fish, but they are also intelligent. Like humans, tetras have developed a need for private space and can become territorial to protect it. In the ocean they establish territories, but living in a community tank often doesn't give them much room to move.

Do Cardinal Tetras need light? ›

The cardinal tetras need lights over their tanks for around 12 to 14 hours like any other tropical fish. It will eventually help them maintain the circadian rhythm. You can prefer to get lights that you can set a schedule on.

How many tetras can you put in a 20 gallon tank? ›

Generally, neon tetras grow to be 1.5 inches (4 cm) long, but for the purposes of this equation, we will assume they are 1.75 inches (4.45 cm). Therefore, a 20-gallon tank could comfortably hold 11.42 (20/1.75) tetras. You can either round that number up to 12 or 11 when stocking your aquarium.

How many cardinal tetras can I put in a 55 gallon tank? ›

Hence, in a 90 gallon tank, 75+ cardinals is fine; 55 gallon tanks can house 30 or so.

Do cardinal tetras sleep? ›

Believe it or not, Neon Tetras do sleep. The small, silvery fish – with their characteristic red tails and blue stripes – are known to change their behavior in the nighttime hours, greatly reducing their movement, swimming only in certain areas, and even changing colors.

How many tetras can I put in a 2.5-gallon tank? ›

Tetras. Small tetras are designed for small tanks, but you can only keep one or two in a 2.5-gallon tank.

How many tetras can I put with a betta? ›

Generally speaking, you can keep neon tetras and betta fish together, given that a few conditions are met. For one, the aquarium should be no less than 20 gallons in size. Also, you should have no fewer than ten neon tetras, as they're schooling fish.

How long do tetras live? ›

In natural conditions, Neon Tetras live up to ten years. In a home aquarium, the average lifespan is five years. How long your Neon Tetras live depends on how well you care for them and how well you can prevent the spread of diseases that can lead to their early demise.

Do cardinal fish jump? ›

Cardinal fish rarely jump, especially pajama and bangaii. They are not very aero-dynamic.

How sensitive are Cardinal Tetras? ›

Cardinal tetras have a reputation of being a sensitive fish. In reality, they are just as hardy as other tetras providing some very basic rules are followed.

How much room do Cardinal Tetras need? ›

It's not uncommon to see a couple of Cardinal Tetras living in a small 10-gallon tank. These fish can do well in tanks of that size. However, we always recommend using an aquarium that can hold at least 20 gallons. If you can go with a larger tank size, that's even better!

Are Cardinal Tetras bottom dwellers? ›

These fish will not venture to the bottom of your aquarium often. If you choose to have bottom-dwellers in your tank, a sandy substrate is best, so Cardinal Tetras will be less likely to scratch themselves on it. Plants are ideal for providing shelter but scattering some decorations will also work.

Why is my fish jumping? ›

Several things might prompt a fish to exhibit this type of behavior. If the water quality in the tank is poor, the fish might jump out to seek a more appropriate environment. Other factors such as lack of hiding places, low oxygen levels and improper pH balance can also lead to fish jumping out of the tank.

Why do tetras jump? ›

Neon tetras jump ship when they are threatened or stressed out. There are numerous reasons as to why they they might attempt to jump out of the tank: unacceptable water quality. lack of food.

Is it normal for fish to jump? ›

Fish tend to jump for several reasons, the most common being because the fish is hunting or is being hunted. Jumping makes for a good defense mechanism as the fish being hunted can temporarily escape the fish that is doing the hunting.

Can I have 4 Cardinal Tetras? ›

A schooling fish by nature, the Cardinal Tetras are best kept in groups of at least six or more. They make an excellent community fish however they sometimes known to nip the fins of slower-moving fish, particularly those with long, flowing fins such as Bettas or Angelfish.

Can cardinal tetras be aggressive? ›

Cardinal tetra is peaceful by natures but it may show aggression sometimes under specific circumstances like when it is feeding or mating. If your aquarium is small in size with more numbers of tetras, they might start showing aggressive behavior.

How big does a cardinal tetra get? ›

Size: In the wild, these fish reach a total length of about 1.25 inches (3 cm) and weigh 0.004 ounce (0.13 gr). Females are slightly larger and wider than males. Behavior: They are a schooling fish that can number into the thousands. Cardinal tetras are active during the day.

Why are cardinal tetras so expensive? ›

Cardinal tetras are more expensive as they are the more popular of the two, and many hobbyists prefer the them because of their more vivid coloration.

How long do cardinal tetras live in an aquarium? ›

Keep in mind that the lifespan of cardinal tetras is longer in captivity. While they may live for a year in the wild, they can survive for 5 or more years in a fish tank. So, be sure you can commit these many years to the care and protection of your pet fish.


1. The Bright and Beautiful Neon Tetra (Paracheirodon innesi)
(Aqua World Info)
2. Bleeding Heart Tetra Care Guide
(Palmer Aquatics)
3. BREEDING Neon Tetras in Tubs - Over 100 Fry!
4. Neon Tetra Care Guide
(Tropical Fish Guy)
5. The Good, The Bad, And The Truth About GloFish | GloFish Care Guide Series Ep.1
(The Nerdy Fish Girl)
6. Aggressive Killi Fish eating a Neon Tetra (then gets eaten by a Bicher)
(Sam's Fish Tank)


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