7 Best Places to Buy Cardinal Tetras Online

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Are you thinking of adding some color and life to your freshwater tank? Consider purchasing cardinal tetras!

Energetic, playful, and vibrant, cardinal tetras make wonderful additions to communal freshwater. Their peaceful nature means that they’ll get along with like-minded fish with zero issues, while their straightforward dietary needs make them easy to care for.

While these fish can be difficult to find in most local fish stores, many online fish stores sell these unique, elusive fish. If you’ve been thinking of adding cardinal tetras to your tank, read on!

Buying Cardinal Tetras Online: A Quick Overview

Cardinal Tetras are native to Brazil and Venezuela, and were first discovered in 1956 by Schultz. They look similar to the ever-popular neon tetras, but are slightly bigger with red stripes that span the entire length of their bodies, as opposed to neon tetras, whose strips end midway through.

The vast majority of cardinal tetras sold on the market are wild-caught and not farmed, because these fish are notoriously difficult to raise in captivity. This means that cardinal tetras are more resilient against illnesses because they are less likely to be interbred within the same genetic lines. 

When buying cardinal tetras online, it is important to learn as much about the seller and their livestock as possible. This way, you’ll maximize your odds of purchasing healthy, good-quality fish!

7 Online Sources for Healthy, Vibrant Cardinal Tetras

1. Jack Wattley Discus

Jack Wattley Discus logo

Cardinal tetras are notoriously difficult to raise, but the people behind the Jack Wattley fish store were more than prepared to take on the challenge, with decades of discus-raising experience to their name. The Posada-Wattley partnership combines scientific expertise and a passion for fish to bring its customers some of the finest fish available on the market.

The store takes the safety and well-being of its fish seriously, and will gladly refund fish that arrive dead on arrival or unhealthy. To put customers at ease, the site also features a detailed video explanation of the bagging and shipping process, as well as a detailed guide on acclimatizing your fish to its new home.

The store hopes to establish long-term relationships with its customers, and will do its best to provide its customers with a great fish-buying experience.

2. Aqua Imports


The fact that Aqua Imports sells their cardinal tetras in groups of 10 proves just how much they know their stuff. Cardinal tetras, despite being slightly larger than their similar-looking counterparts, neon tetras, are still rather diminutive in size and can find comfort in numbers. Purchasing these fish from the same source can quickly put them at ease in their new home.

In addition, the site makes sure to provide prospective buyers with the info they need to take good care of their new pets – information such as dietary preferences, water parameters, and even country of origin are all listed on the site in an honest, transparent manner.

3. Amazon

Amazon building in Santa Clara, California

Amazon has made a name for itself as a one-shop-stop for virtually anything you can think of, which means that you can absolutely find cardinal tetra for sale on the site. With thousands of fish sellers on the site, you will have lots of options to choose from, which is especially handy if you have specific preferences for the country of origin and/or size of your fish.

Because Amazon doesn’t do any vetting on behalf of its buyers, we would highly recommend doing some research on the sellers before you make a purchase. Reputable sellers are likely to provide a live-arrival guarantee and refund policy, while others may be less willing to do so. With tons of options available at your fingertips, the onus is on you to find a seller that best suits your needs!

4. Petco

PASADENA, CA/USA - SEPTEMBER 5, 2016: Petco retail store sign and logo. Petco Animal Supplies is a privately held pet retailer in the United States.

For customers who prefer getting their questions answered online, Petco offers a “Ask a Question” option for customers on each product listing. No matter where you are in the US, you can get your questions on recommended tank size, dietary preferences, and other care instructions to give your cardinal tetras a comfortable home!

Petco has size and scale on its side, allowing it to bring cardinal tetras to its customers AND guarantee their survival for 30 days after its arrival. The fact that it is a big box store with multiple locations also means that customers are able to walk into their local outlet and consult a customer service representative for advice on raising their fish, should they prefer in-person assistance.

5. World Wide Fish and Pets

World Wide Fish and Pets logo

World Wide Fish and Pets describes the cardinal tetra as a “serene yet gregarious” fish, and we couldn’t agree more! Though the site provides the option of purchasing these fish as individuals, they recommend keeping them in schools, which is advice that we can stand behind. To accommodate different tank sizes, the site also sells these fish in packs of 6, 12 and 25.

Customers who have concerns about caring for cardinal tetras rest assured knowing that the hobbyists behind the site will do their utmost to set you up for success. Not only does the fish’s product listing contain detailed care instructions, their support team is also prepared to assist you with any concerns you may have on tank setups!

6. Flip Aquatics

Flip Aquatics logo

Flip Aquatics has an earnest approach to doing business – their goal is to grow the popularity of fishkeeping as a hobby, and they aim to do so by setting their customers up for success. Every single one of their imported livestock goes through a 30-day quarantine period, which gives the team ample time to diagnose and treat their fish for illnesses before they are shipped.

What does this mean for their customers? This means that only the most resilient, healthy cardinal tetras end up with their customers. And if this isn’t reassuring enough, they also offer a 100% guarantee on all fish shipped via overnight shipping. Is it any wonder that Flip Aquatics has so many satisfied customers?

7. Aquarium Fish

Aquariumfish.net logo

The folks behind Aquarium Fish describe the hardy Cardinal Tetra as a premium tetra, and we couldn’t agree more. The SoCal-based online fish store has over 20 years of experience in bringing the very best tropical fish to their customers, and it shows in the quality of fish they raise and sell.

One of the best parts of navigating their site is how informative it is. The product page on cardinal tetras contains virtually everything you need to care for your fish effectively, written in a friendly, to-the-point style. The site also carries fish food and tank accessories, making this a convenient one-stop-shop for their customers. 


What Is The Price Of Cardinal Tetra?

Cardinal Tetras cost between $1.99 and $4.99 per fish, with some sites offering discounts if you purchase these fish in groups. However, we strongly recommend basing your decision on factors beyond just price. Factors like the general health of the fish and reliability of the seller matter just as much, if not more.

Here are some other guidelines on how to purchase fish for your aquarium.

Which Is Better – Neon or Cardinal Tetra?

It can be easy to get Neon Tetras and Cardinal Tetras confused because they look similar, but there are actually several key differences between the two.

In general, neon tetras are seen as more beginner-friendly fish because they can tolerate a wider range of water conditions. This means that they are better able to adapt to the water fluctuations that are part and parcel of every learning curve for newbies to the hobby. To learn more about some common mistakes beginners make and how to avoid them, check out this article.

However, cardinal tetras tend to be larger and brighter, which can make them slightly more visually striking compared to neon tetras. Their red stripes extend throughout the length of their bodies, whereas the red stripes on neons stop midway through their abdomen.

Another factor to consider is the fact that neon tetras are typically cheaper and easier to find because they are easily bred in captivity. However, this means the quality of fish will vary dramatically depending on your source. Breeders who have subjected their neon tetras (And If you want to know the difference between a male and female Neon tetra, You can check it out here.) to multiple generations of selective breeding will produce fish that are more susceptible to illnesses. In contrast, cardinal tetras are usually wild-caught – which makes them more expensive, but also more hardy.

How Many Cardinal Tetras Should Be Kept Together?

Although cardinal tetras are larger than the closely related neon tetras, they remain rather tiny fish that can only grow up to two inches long. For this reason, cardinals should absolutely be kept in groups to make them feel at ease. We recommend a group size of at least 6 cardinal tetras, though 10 or more fish is ideal.


Buying cardinal tetras online can feel like a stressful experience, but there’s absolutely no reason why this should be the case.

Reputable sellers will do everything they can to put their customers at ease – whether it’s by providing top-notch customer service, or by guaranteeing live arrivals. When you buy from online fish stores that care about the customer experience, there’s no reason to feel stressed out by the uncertainty.

Have you ever purchased cardinal tetras online? We’d love to hear from you! What were some of your favorite sources, and do you have any tips for first-time buyers? Let us know in the comments section below!

Wanda is a second-generation aquarist from the sunny tropics of Malaysia. She has been helping her father with his freshwater tanks since she was a toddler, and has fallen in love with the hobby ever since. A perpetual nomad, Wanda does her best to integrate fish-keeping with her lifestyle, and has taken care of fish in three different continents. She loves how it provides a nice break from the hustle and bustle of life.

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