Black Phantom Tetra Care and Breeding Guide

Hyphessobrycon megalopterus also commonly referred to as Black Phantom Tetra is a fresh water fish that is popular amongst aquarists. The fish belongs to the Characidae family and they are usually distinguished with their unique tiny adipose fin that is located in between their dorsal fins and caudal fins. Black Phantom Tetra are easy to keep in home aquaria because they easily adapt to habitat change without much of a hustle. It has got a total of four fins that are unpaired reason for their name tetra. The four fins that the fish has are the anal fin, caudal, adipose, and the dorsal fin.

Appearance of Black Phantom Tetra

Black Phantom Tetra

Just like most other species of tetra, the black phantom tetra has a rather flat body with a longer dorsal fin. The tail of the fish is somewhat forked at the end allowing for its easy identification. The male phantom tetra has a shape that is almost tetragonal but the coloring of the male is not as bright as that of the female. You will easily distinguish a male from the female by taking a look at its coloring which is more grayish. The male also has got a dark patch that is located behind the gills.

The female of the fish have got a pelvic fin that exhibits a natural reddish hue. This is also evident in their caudal and anal fins. The male black phantom tetras don’t have any reddish coloration on them. Again a keen look at the fins of the females and you will realize that they have fins that are shorter and smaller compared to those of the males. Another striking feature of the females is their dorsal fins which are blacker than those of the males. During breeding you will see that the females tend to have bodies that are plump.


Black Phantom Tetras have their origins in the South American region specifically between the Bolivian and Brazilian border. They were originally found in the river basins of Rio Mamore and Rio Beni. In Bolivia they were originally found in the Rio Guapore. The fish have a rather large distribution in the wild and currently there is no cause for alarm to their continued existence. They are easily available and thus you will find them affordably in pet stores without much of a hustle.

In the wild the fish is known to like living in densely vegetated areas and therefore when it is to be kept in an aquarium setting the tank need to be furnished with sufficient freshwater plants.

Tank setup for Black Phantom Tetra

The Black Phantom Tetra is highly hardy and this is one thing that makes it a popular favorite of many aquarium enthusiasts. The fact that the fish is very resilient makes them also a great option for beginner aquarists. The fish is known to perfectly adapt to abrupt water changes will readily survive even in community tanks. One thing to note though is not to mistake the high resilience of the fish with ignorant care. Just like most other fish kept in the aquarium ensure that the tank is kept clean at all times. You can ensure this by removing food debris that is left by the fish in the tank. Performing frequent water changes is also advisable as this will reduce the possibility of causing infection in the tank.

Tank Requirement

Here below are some basic care tips that you can follow when setting up a tank for the Black Phantom Tetra:

  • The fish are highly active swimmers and therefore need a tank that is longer in length. Ensure that the tank is at least 20 inches.
  • The tank should also be big enough for the fish because they are a schooling kind of fish. A tank with a water capacity of at least 29 gallon is good to go.
  • Ensure that the tank water is soft and have peat-filtering installed on the aquarium.
  • Due to the swimming nature of the fish ensure that the center of the tank is open enough. You can have plants to the sides and back of the tank. The fish are quite choosy and will be dull in a tank that is no properly arranged.
  • As for the substrate to be placed on the bottom of the tank it is best to use dark-colored substrate such as Carib Sea Eco-Complete.
  • Ensure that it is dimly lit so that the fishes’ attractive coloration can be highlighted.
  • Have a lid tightly placed on top of the tank because the fish are notorious jumpers and will easily jump out of the tank.
  • The pH range for the tank water should be at least 6.5 with a hardness range of 10dGH.
  • Ensure that that the water movement is moderate. Perform a thirty percent water change each week for heavily populated tanks.


The fish is an omnivorous fish that essentially feeds on both plants as well as tiny animals. In the wild, the fish is known to feed on tiny insects, crustaceans, and worms. When you are going to keep them in a captive environment, feed them food they eat in the wild. Fortunately, they can also be fed fish flake food as well as micro pellet feeds. These are some of the most easy to feed fishes you will find in the aquarium hobby today.


The Black Phantom Tetra is prolific breeder with the female capable of producing up to three hundred eggs. With optimum aquarium conditions the fish will breed easily. You can facilitate the breeding process of the fish by manipulating the pH of the tank water to about 5.5 or 6. You will also need to make the hardiness of the water to be dH4. For stress free breeding, it is best to have a single male with a group of females in the same tank. A single male should be able to fertilize the eggs of the many females it will be placed with on the same tank.

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