Author(s): Ilse WALKER
The cardinal tetra (Paracheirodon axelrodi) is the most intensively commercialized ornamental fish from the Rio Negro Basin (Amazonas State, Brasil). Analysis of the stomach and gut contents of fish caught in their natural habitats show conclusively that the cardinal is essentially a predator, feeding on the mesofauna that adheres to submerged litter, roots and waterplants. Microcrustacea and chironomid larvae (Diptera) were the most frequently ingested prey, while algae intake was relatively infrequent. It is argued that the relatively small size of the cardinals captured in their natural habitat is due to the annual migrations imposed by the inundation cycles, rather than to resource limitation, because it is known from earlier investigations of similar habitats, that these plant substrates are densely colonized by the aquatic mesofauna. Cardinals raised in captivity are larger and have higher rates of growth.