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.


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.

Stendker Discus Now

So it’s May. I’ve had the discus since January when I got them at a little over two and a half inches each, except for the larger single fish I’d already had for a couple months. My fish are a domestic strain of discus bred by Hahnz Stendker out of Germany.  They are getting bigger and starting to show some color. They’re fun to watch but it’s easy to see that this isn’t what most expect in a fish tank. Not everyone can overcome the bare tank.

It may also be a little surprising but discus enthusiasts exist around the world obsessing, breeding, and showing these fish. Just like dog shows, they groom their specimens and pioneer new breeds.

Now the goal of many a serious discus keeper is to help their very sensitive fish grow out to the fish’s full potential. A nice adult discus should be nearly completely round as opposed to spade shaped. The face shouldn’t come to a point and the distance from the top of the head through the eye to the bottom of the head should equal seven and a half times the height of the eye itself. If the eye appears too big or small in proportion to the fish, it is again subpar.

This is nerve racking in slow motion. Discus don’t round out for a year and a half to two years. In the meantime your worried you’ll have an ace of spades and not a frisbee. I’m in the middle of month four which make them over six months old and a potential year and a half to go to see if I end up with nice shaped, colored, and well proportioned discus.

So far I’m pretty happy. They are growing. Fast. And although it is supposed to take them up to two years to get their full adult coloring, they are beginning to color up pretty nice also. The reds are still a little orange in the red turquoise discus and the blue is still a little orange in the blue snakeskin but they are coming along. They are about four and a half inches now. Three and a half or four more to go. If I’m lucky.

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.