The hypothesis that outcomes of phosphorus and light competition between Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii and Microcystis aeruginosa are strain dependent was tested experimentally. Critical requirements of phosphorus (P*) and of light (I*) of two strains of each species were determined through monoculture experiments, which indicated a trade-off between species and also between Microcystis strains. Competition experiments between species were performed using the weakest predicted competitors (with the highest values of P* and of I*) and with the strongest predicted competitors (with the lowest values of P* and of I*). Under light limitation, competition between the weakest competitors led C. raciborskii to dominate. Between the strongest competitors, the opposite was observed, M. aeruginosa displaced C. raciborskii, but both strains co-existed in equilibrium. Under phosphate limitation, competition between the weakest competitors led C. raciborskii to exclude M. aeruginosa, and between the strongest competitors, the opposite was observed, M. aeruginosa displaced C. raciborskii, but the system did not reach an equilibrium and both strains were washed out. Hence, outcomes of the competition depended on the pair of competing strains and not only on species or on type of limitation. We concluded that existence of different trade-offs among strains and between species underlie our results showing that C. raciborskii can either dominate or be displaced by M. aeruginosa when exposed to different conditions of light or phosphate limitation.