Deep Red Cardinals

Messy Freshwater Planted Aquarium 14 Gallons Cardinal Tetras

So my aquarium does not look the best compositionally. I’m missing a certain harmony in the heights and arrangements of plants to achieve an overall balance. I haven’t been fond of my free-range algae, but as of late its beginning to grow on me.

My plants and my cardinals, however, are doing well. The cardinal tetras are deep red and have reached a nice size, over an inch in length. Their size and brilliance remind me of piranhas or little great white sharks.

Cardinal Tetras And Thats a Post Planted Tank Aquarium

These guys are my favorite little tropical fish. One day I hope to have a big school of them in a public place like a library or coffee shop for a lot of people to enjoy. Take it easy and enjoy.


My Dream Tank: Cardinal Tetras, Rummynose, & Altum Angels

So I often dream of my ideal fish tank. I imagine a tank that attempts to forge a beautiful little window into the natural world. Cardinal tetras and rummynose tetras are spectacular tropical fish. The former for their electric red and blue and the latter for their tight schooling and fire engine red snouts.

Native to the black water tributaries of the Amazon, these fish are at home in low ph water tinted with the natural dark tannins of decaying leaves. I must state, however, that I don’t know how so many fish can safely live in this small of an aquarium, but I speculate that it must be through the daily or bi-daily changing of large amounts of water.

The large fish are Altum angelfish, the largest freshwater angelfish. As breeding occurs in the Amazon or Rio Negro the populations of tropical fish swell into the tens of millions during the wet-season, they are sustainably captured by native fishermen sold to aquarium hobbyists around the world. Since these fish experience incredibly high natural mortality rates in the wild, large quantities can be harvested without damaging the various species’ long term viability. (I must note, however, the fish in the video are a captive bred F1 generation).

Angelfish are hunters so I caution not to set up this aquarium at home unless you are prepared for the possibility of having your Angels pick off your cardinals and rummynose. I wouldn’t be comfortable with the possibility of my prized cardinals getting eaten, but perhaps there’s a trick to keep it from happening. If so, let me know, and I will keep dreaming of such a setup as this.

And the Cardinals Now, But Mostly My Big One

Radon Turned Me Back To Planted Tanks

So I’m consciously redirecting my current obsession from discus to planted tanks. A planted tank is a aquarium set up with all live plants and live fish. They’re amazing. Beautiful, peaceful, entertaining, and relaxing. And while I’d like to say I’m going back to planted tanks simply because my wife thinks they’re so pretty, the truth is, I found the prospect of not inhaling radioactive gas quite appealing.

Before I bought more discus, I agreed to test the basement for radon, since it’s known to be high in this part of the country and I’d be spending a considerable amount of time in the basement with my future discus fish. [My discus tank is in the basement because they need frequent water changes. For now, that can only happen there next to a drain and the stored clean water from the R.O. filter.] The results came back indicating we have we have 7.7 pCi/L in the basement, a level well above the recommended max. of 4 pCi/L. So, before more discus, I need to install a radon mitigation system.

Radon was the kicker. Discus are out and planted tanks are in. I drove out to Chicago a couple weekends back to look at some discus someone had for sale and also checked out a craigslist ad for a slightly used 14 gallon biocube. I bought the aquarium at a great price, brought it back, and cleaned it out.

The tank being in great shape, I started looking for plants. I had a hard time finding some nice plants, but between the Quad Cities and Madison, I found a few to get me started. I already had a glass CO2 diffuser to add carbon dioxide to the water to help the plants grow. I special ordered a dozen deep red Florida-raised cardinal tetras but only one survived. I was left to cobble together a small group of eight cardinals from local fish stores. Unfortunately, they are the more pale tank-raised cardinals. The good news is they made it a healthy ten days in quarantine. I don’t know whether they’ll get the deep red color this fish is known for. I imagine they will, but we shall see.

So we have a start. Eight cardinal tetras, four rummy nose tetras, two siamese algae eaters, and one otocinclus catfish. Plants include narrow leaf and lace java fern, corkscrew jungle vallisneria, green cryptocoryne wendtii, cryptocoryne balansae, and two somewhat unknown swords. The maroon one might be a rubin sword and the smaller one might be a rosette sword. We’re enjoying the tank. I can’t wait to see how my planted aquarium tinkering evolves.

Louvre-Ready Neon Tetra Snapshot

So yesterday, while we were out running errands and eating decent Baton Rouge Lebanese I couldn’t help but stop to take a look at fish. The danger is impulse and control. Thank god for my wife. Alone I would have worked myself into deciding it would have been a good idea to buy the whole school of 50+ for a $1 each and worked out the logistics of another tank later.

In the past I haven’t had good luck with neon tetras but I think I might could manage now, but cooler and more pragmatic heads prevailed. Enjoy the pic.

Cardinal Tetras in Hiding

So yesterday afternoon while I couldn’t help myself but not be the perfect husband, I was acclimating my 30 cardinal tetras I got in from Houston a couple of weeks ago. The cardinals scattered to the four corners of the earth and the discus frighteningly pursued them like angels of death. As it was near dark, I quickly wrapped a blanked around the tank to make the fish go to sleep and hoped for the best.

This morning I added a plastic egg crate divider to give the cardinals a place of reprieve. They’ve ventured out as a school once but are for now quite content to anxiously school in their corner of the tank. Occasionally, a discus will venture over to lick their chops and menacingly peck at the grate.

Hopefully in a few days the disus won’t pay the cardinals any mind and I will have an awesome kick-ass minimalist tank.

Cardinal Tetras USPS and into Quarantine

My New Cardinal Tetras in Quarantine

So I am a Cardinal Tetraphile. I love these little fish. So beautiful, regal, sacred. Though you wouldn’t know from the above picture. These are about as good as it gets in the world of fish.

Three years ago we moved to Louisiana, and to orient myself my new locale I checked-out every pet and fish store, zoo, and aquarium in the area. The pinnacle was a little reef store operated by a salt-water enthusiast who also had angels and cardinals as a testament to his origins in the hobby. I’d never seen cardinals before. I was hooked, fascinated and in love. They are said to be a very sensitive fish but I read up on them–even finding an early book published on their breeding and husbandry–and have since found them quite easy to keep.

My $.99 Copy of Cardinal Tetras

For the past three years I’ve keep and groomed an incredible herd of cardinals, until I tragically started loosing them to local fracking contaminating our ground (my aquarium) water. We hauled ass to move over a weekend to get to cleaner air and water.  Now a few months out I am working to rebuild my cardinals.

I ordered a dozen Florida-raised larges from my little reef store but they came in smaller and paler than the beauties I’d received though them before. Hopefully I will grow them out and they will color up. They are in my 24 home cardiff aquarium.

Full-Grown Cardinal Tetras

I then impatiently ordered 30 wild cardinals from the Houston Aquarium Warehouse. They shipped two-day USPS for $12. I’ve bought them before in person from them and they worked out wonderfully, plus the owners are more than accommodating and eager to please.

These cardinals are in quarantine and are shortly headed for the discus tank. Though it may be ideal to grow out discus by themselves, I want them to be used to cardinals so I can safely house them together when the discus are full grown without worrying about the discus eating the cardinals. They came in pale but should color up over the next couple days. I’ll baby them until they are strong and vibrant and then add them to the discus tank. Keep checkin’ in.

Current Obsession: Discus

So my current obsession is the King of the Aquarium: Discus Fish. I am obsessed with these fish. I don’t exactly know why. I never got them before. They were barely on my radar. But a couple of years ago I came across the Aquarium Design Group (ADG) online portfolio of aquariums. I was surprised by the number of aquariums that had Discus in them.Fast forward to last spring. I decided my cardinal obsession was growing and it was time to move up from a 25 gallon tank to a 50 gallon tank where I would be able to have 30+ cardinal tetras schooling. In order for them to school, I needed to have some bigger fish in the tank, and got to thinking Discus might just work for what I needed.

I craigslisted for an aesthetic tank, found a nice Aluminum trimmed contemporary tank 8 hours  away. Made the drive and got my new tank. I knew nothing about discus, ordered some books on amazon and started googling. This past fall I picked up a pair of discus from a local guy looking to sell his.

The funny thing about discus is that they are round like a discus and super thin. When happy they kind of just hang out suspended in the tank almost like a piece of art work. They are a schooling fish so they like to be in groups of 6 or more. Less than that and they fight. So my pair didn’t work out too well. The big one constantly harassed the little one, biting sores into his side. I sold them to a local hobbyist who had a school of discus and I am about to start my own school. This weekend I will be picking up 7, 2.5″ baby discus and with care and a little luck, will raise them to be 7″.

Intro my Greatest Strength and Possible Character Flaw: I am a Serial Obsessior

I am a serial obsessor. I get an idea in my head for a project and it consumes me. Sometimes I am able to investigate the topic and then quickly move onto another, setback only days or hours. Other times I pursue them insofar as I am able and then save them for another day. Others I work to realize ahora.

When I become obsessed with an idea I heve to learn more about it. I get to the computer stat, and start researching. I google and google and sometimes EBSCO. As  I become more informed my research turns to scheming. I go detail by detail, identifying what needs to be done and how to do it. The project is usually eccentric. The obstacles, numerous. Therein lies the fun and the challenge. The end result can vary anywhere on the spectrum from disaster to aesthetic masterpiece.

Last year I found the holy grail of the the aquarium world on craigslist for $200. As soon as I saw it, I swung into action. I made a call, garnered the blessing of my wife, drove the two hours to pick up the tank, and returned with it riding shotgun.

Above is the ensuing Michelangelo-like creation of beauty contained in 6,000 some-odd square inches of freshwater masterpiece. The obsessing and scheming paid off. And so the next obsession begins: The King of the Aquarium.

The tank photo includes: 13 Cardinal Tetras, 6 Rummynose Tetras, 2 Siamese Algae Eaters, Philipine Java Fern, Narrowleaf Java Fern, Anubias Congensis, 2 Anubias Haistfolia, Anumias Lanceolota, Anubias Pygmy Nana, Narrow Leaf Chain Sword, & Jungle Vallisneria.