The fluorescence spectra of the tropical fish, Cardinal Tetra (Paracheirodon axelrodi), originating in the Amazon region of Brazil, were determined. These spectra were then treated using factor analysis, generating two contributing spectra and separating out the noise. Time-resolved fluorescence results indicated that the fluorescent system in the epidermis undergoes excited state reaction. Excited state proton transfer is suggested as being present. Both intentionally stressed and nonstressed individuals were used and some small differences were noted in the contributions of the two calculated contributing spectra to the experimental spectra, presumably as a function of stress. The results are compared with those obtained by the standard determination of cortisol level using the whole body extraction method and it is suggested that the method could be tested as an improved, nondestructive way to determine stress in this species, which is a necessary step in the development of "best management practices" of methods for storage and transport of the fish.