Best Food for Cardinal Tetras: Top 5 | Aquascape Addiction

Best Food for Cardinal Tetras: Top 5

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A helpful feeding guide for Cardinal Tetras, we cover the 5 best foods for them, feeding schedule and answer some commonly asked questions.

Best Food for Cardinal Tetras: Top 5

Cardinal Tetras are not know for being picky eaters generally, however it’s important to provide them a well balanced diet to ensure they remain healthy, and happy.

Today we want to talk about the best foods for Cardinal Tetras, some general information about their diet and also answer some commonly asking feeding questions.

Freeze Dried Bloodworms Our Top Pick 9.4 / 10
New Life Spectrum Flakes Loaded with color enhancing pigments 9.2 / 10
Freeze Dried Brine Shrimp Good occasional snack 8.9 / 10

Cardinal Tetra Diet

The cardinal tetra is an omnivorous fish which eat a wide variety of foods in the wild. In the wild, they will eat a variety of insect larvae and very small insects, brine shrimp and other small crustaceans, some plant matter, as well as algae too.

Cardinal tetras are pretty opportunistic eaters and they aren’t picky either. They will eat mostly whatever they can catch, as long as it fits in their mouths.

In captivity, these fish will benefit from eating a variety of foods, but that said, about 75% of their diet should consist of high quality flake fish food.

Keep in mind that cardinal tetras have very high vitamin requirements, plus they need a good deal of protein too. You can also throw in a mix of live, frozen, and freeze dried foods for the other 25% of their dietary requirements.

5 Best Foods For Cardinal Tetras

Here are some of best foods that you can be feeding to your cardinal tetras, each of which is ideal in its own way.

1. Freeze Dried Bloodworms

Bloodworms always make for a good snack for cardinal tetras and for all sorts of fish alike. Now, cardinal tetras do need a lot of flake food, so these bloodworms should be used as an occasional snack.

That being said, bloodworms are packed to the brim with protein and fiber, with the fiber being especially good for the digestive system.

These bloodworms in particular are freeze dried, which means that they are safe and free of parasites.

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2. New Life Spectrum Flakes

One of the things that really stands out about these particular fish flakes is that they are loaded with color enhancing pigments.

In other words, this is the kind of food that will help make your cardinal tetras even brighter and more colorful.

These are all purpose fish food flakes made in the USA, and they are of a very high quality. They are made with quality ingredients designed to provide your fish with a mix of vitamins, minerals, and protein too.

This stuff is also ideal to help increase digestive efficiency, plus it’s great for the immune system too. The main ingredients here include fish meal and krill meal, but there are others too.

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3. Freeze Dried Brine Shrimp

Just like with the bloodworms, these brine shrimp have been freeze dried, which means that they are parasite free and much safer for fish to consume than live foods.

Keep in mind that these are compacted brine shrimp cubes which you can break apart.

It is nice that these brine shrimp do not contain additives, chemicals, or preservatives. This stuff has an insane protein content, plus some other vitamins and minerals too.

Keep in mind that brine shrimp should be used as an occasional snack, but not the main source of nourishment.

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4. New Life Spectrum Sinking Pellets

Here we have some very high quality sinking pellets for your tetras. Don’t worry, because they sink slowly and are definitely small enough for cardinal tetras to eat.

We do like how these pellets are made in the USA and are made with high quality ingredients. This is a high protein formula that will provide your fish with tons of energy.

These pellets will meet the nutritional requirements of your cardinal tetras. The ingredients are designed to help ease the digestion process, to strengthen the immune system, and to make the colors on your neon tetra really pop.

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5. Freeze Dried Daphnia

This is another food which can be given to your cardinal tetras on an occasional basis. Now, unlike the brine shrimp or blood worms, these daphnia are enriched with tons of vitamins, minerals, and extra protein too.

So, this means that you can feed these to your tetras more often than the other snacks, as they do help to provide quite a nutritionally balanced diet.

These freeze dried daphnia, thanks to being freeze dried, are also parasite free and perfectly safe to eat.

At the end of the day, this is a fairly well balanced choice that can help reduce stress and increase immune function too.

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Commonly Asked Questions

How Often Should I Feed Cardinal Tetras?

Cardinal tetras should be fed twice per day and no more than they can eat in about 2 minutes. Be careful to not overfeed them, as this is quite easy to do.

How Long Can Cardinal Tetras Go Without Food?

Most fish can go for about 2 weeks without food, but cardinal tetras are very small. They cannot eat or hold a lot of food in their systems at once. The most cardinal tetras can go without being fed is around 5 to 8 days.

What’s The Ideal Feeding Schedule for Cardinal Tetras?

The best feeding schedule for cardinal tetras is once in the early morning and once later at night. Fish in the wild usually eat at dusk and dawn, so this is about when you want to feed them.

Will Cardinal Tetras Eat Cherry Shrimp?

Cardinal tetras may eat some very young and small shrimp. However, that said, for the most part these cherry shrimp, at least fully grown ones, are too large for cardinal tetras to eat.

Do Cardinal Tetras Eat Algae?

Yes, cardinal tetras will eat a bit of algae when they feel like it, but it’s not their favorite food. Although they may nibble on algae from time to time, they are not really considered to be algae eating fish.


There you have it folks, everything you need to know about feeding your cardinal tetras. Some basic fish flakes or pellets along with some meaty snacks should do the trick. Just remember that these fish require a lot of vitamins!