Black Phantom Tetra 101: Breeding Guide, Care, & Disease

Just the name alone makes you expect some kind of dark fish shrouded in mystery. The Hyphessobrycon Megalopterus, or the Black Phantom Tetra, is a freshwater fish popular amongst aquarists. The fish belongs to the Characidae family, their unique tiny adipose fin located between their dorsal and caudal fins is frequently used to identify them.

Black Phantom Tetra is easy to keep in home aquariums because they easily adapt to habitat change without any issues. It has got four unpaired fins, which is the reason for its name. The four fins that the fish have are the anal fin, caudal, adipose, and dorsal fin. What else can we tell you about these amazing subtropical fish?

Black Phantom Tetra: Overview 

Black Phantom Tetra is a beautiful freshwater fish that can become a unique addition to any tank.

Interestingly, they are easy to care for, making them so popular. Also, this fish species is compatible with most fish species. 

Hyphessobrycon Megalopterus Porte Doree

If you are ready to keep Black Phantom Tetra in your tank, read the below information. 

Information chart Black Phantom Tetra
Scientific name Hyphessobrycon megalopterus
Family Characidae
Care level Easy
Temperament Peaceful and calm
Color Black
Lifespan 5 years
Size 1.4 to 1.75 inches
Diet Omnivores
Minimum tank size 20 gallons
Temperature 72-82 °F
Water conditions 6.0–7.5 pH
Tank mate compatibility Peaceful fish species like Danios, Dwarf gourami, and more

This guide covers almost all the information related to Black Phantom Tetra that you can use to offer better care to your fish. 

Black Phantom Tetra: Appearance

Just like most other species of tetra, the black phantom tetra has a flat body with a longer dorsal fin. The fish’s tail is somewhat forked at the end, allowing for its easy identification. The male phantom tetra has a tetragonal shape, but the male coloring is not as bright as the females.

Lifespan of Black Phantom Tetra

The average lifespan of Black Phantom Tetra is 5 years. Their lifespan can be increased to 6 years if given proper care.

Black Phantom Tetra: Size 

Talking about the average size, Black Phantom Tetra can grow up to 1.4 to 1.74 inches. Some specimens can grow up to 2 inches, but that’s very rare.

Black Phantom Tetra in a tank

Black Phantom Tetra Natural Habitat and Origin 

Black Phantom Tetras have their origins in the South American region, specifically between the Bolivian and Brazilian borders. At first, they were discovered in the Rio Mamore and Rio Beni River basins and originally found in Rio Guapore, Bolivia.

The fish have a rather large distribution in the wild, and currently, there is no cause for alarm about their continued existence. They are easily available, and thus you will find them in pet stores at affordable prices.

The fish is known to live in densely vegetated areas in the wild, and thus, when kept in an aquarium setting, the tank needs to be furnished with sufficient freshwater plants.

Black Phantom Tetra Care and Tank Set-Up 

The Black Phantom Tetra is a resilient fish, and this is one thing that makes it a popular choice among many aquarium enthusiasts. The fact that the fish is very tough makes them a great option for beginner aquarists. The fish is known to adapt perfectly to abrupt water changes and can survive in community tanks.

One thing to note is not to be too relaxed with maintenance and care because these are tough little creatures. Like most other fish kept in the aquarium, ensure that you keep the tank clean. You can do this by removing food debris left by the fish in the tank. You can perform frequent water changes to reduce the possibility of causing infection in the tank.

Black Phantom Tetra Care and Tank Set-Up

Tank Conditions

Below are some basic care tips for setting up a tank for the Black Phantom Tetra:

  • The fish are highly active swimmers and therefore need a longer tank. Ensure that the tank is at least 20 inches.
  • The tank should also be big enough for the fish because they are schooling species. A tank with a water capacity of at least 29 gallons is good.
  • Ensure that the tank water is soft and have peat filters installed on the aquarium.
  • Due to their natural love of swimming, ensure that the center of the tank has enough open space. You can have plants on the sides and back of the tank. The fish are quite demanding and will be bored and unhappy in a poorly arranged tank.
  • The best place for the substrate is at the bottom. Use dark-colored substrates such as Carib Sea Eco-Complete.
  • Ensure it’s dimly lit to bring out its attractive coloration.
  • 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 the water movement is moderate. Perform a thirty percent water change each week for heavily populated tanks.

Maintenance and Care

These little animals are a great option for beginners because they are so strong and not as sensitive to water changes. A few things to remember to do daily or weekly include.

  • Remove debris and leftover food from the tank. Do this as often as possible.
  • Every week or two, change at least a quarter or a half of the tank water to make sure everything is fresh, and the environment is ideal for your little fish.
  • Although they can withstand fluctuations in the water condition, it’s best to test them sometimes to ensure the water isn’t too acidic.
  • Make sure you introduce other fish slowly, even though the Black Phantom Tetra is friendly and inviting, despite their scary name.

Black Phantom Tetra Tank Size and Specifications 

This section talks about the ideal tank size, shape, filter type, and substrate for the Black Phantom Tetra tank. 

Black Phantom Tetra Tank Size and Specifications

Optimum Tank Size for Black Phantom Tetra 

The ideal tank size for housing Black Phantom Tetra is 20 gallons. 

Tank Shape for Black Phantom Tetra 

Black Phantom Tetra is known to grow better in a rectangular tank. 

Filter Type 

The best filter type that you can use for Black Phantom Tetra tanks is a peat filter. 


To create a natural habitat, you can add dark river sand in the Black Phantom Tetra tank. 

How Many Black Phantom Tetra in 20 Gallons Water 

Black Phantom Tetra is known to do well when they live in a group. So, you can consider keeping 4-6 of them together. 

Water Parameter for Black Phantom Tetra 

In this section, you can find water temperature, pH level, and water hardness information. 

Water Temperature 

The ideal water temperature for Black Phantom Tetra is 72-82 °F. 

pH Level 

The perfect water pH level for Black Phantom Tetra is 6.0 to 7.5 

Water Hardness 

The water hardness required for the Black Phantom Tetra tank is 18 dGH (around 10 dGH is best). 

Black Phantom Tetra Tank Landscape 

You should keep a well-planted tank if you plan to keep Black Phantom Tetra. Then add dark substrate, like river sand subdued lighting.

Black Phantom Tetra Tank Landscape

Best Plants for Black Phantom Tetra Tanks 

You can add a variety of plants to the Black Phantom Tetra tank as they like to live in well-planted aquariums. 

You can use floating plants and long stem plant roots as they protect from light. 

Worst Plants for Black Phantom Tetra Tanks 

Avoid adding any plant to the Black Phantom Tetra tank that can harm them. 

Decorations for Black Phantom Tetra Tanks 

For the decoration, add large pieces of driftwood and rocks. You can also add dried leaves. But avoid adding plastic plant decorations. 

Lighting for Black Phantom Tetra Tanks 

Black Phantom Tetra is not a fan of bright tanks. So, you can try to keep subdued lighting. 

Feeding Black Phantom Tetra 

The fish is an omnivorous species that feed on plants and tiny animals. 

Best Diet for Black Phantom Tetra 

The fish is known to feed on tiny insects, crustaceans, and worms in the wild. When you keep them in a captive environment, feed them food they eat in the wild.

Replicate their natural eating habits. Fortunately, they can also be fed fish flake food, and micro pellet feeds. These are some of the easiest fish to feed in the fishkeeping hobby.

How Often Should You Feed Black Phantom Tetra? 

Black Phantom Tetra is advised to feed two times a day. Ensure that you do not overfeed the fish.

Black Phantom Tetra Behavior and Temperament 

Black Phantom Tetras are pretty cool because they are jumpers. These fish like to jump right out of the water, so keeping the tank lid closed is imperative. They are also peaceful species and do well in larger schools (6 or more). It can be difficult during breeding time as the males could get aggressive.

Black Phantom Tetra Behavior and Temperament

They also do well in community tanks, making them great tank mates for many other species due to their peaceful nature. They are adorable, playful, and curious. They are generally not aggressive and are the easiest to keep of all the Tetras.

Are Black Phantom Tetra Lone or Societal in Nature? 

In the right circumstances, Black Phantom Tetras are a peaceful community fish. They do well in community tanks and pairs or larger schools. They may exhibit some aggressive playing, but that’s all-good fun.

One situation that can bring out aggression is spawning time. You might see males getting a bit mean when females are around.

Black Phantom Tetra Tank Mates 

The best thing about Black Phantom Tetra is that they are compatible with almost all kinds of fish. But this does not mean you should be keeping them with everyone. Aggressive and large fish can harm them. 

Black Phantom Tetra Tank Mates

Check out the list to know which fish you should house Black Phantom Tetra and which fish to avoid.  

Ideal Tank Mates for Black Phantom Tetra 

The Black Phantom Tetra is a welcoming and friendly fish that plays very well with others. They are schooling fish, so make sure they have half a dozen or more in their little pack. They are so easy-going that they wouldn’t even mind if it was just a pair of them among other species.

You can freely pair them for aesthetic purposes with other Tetras. For example, the Black and Red Phantoms look amazing together. Other similar-sized fish such as Rasboras would do well too.

Bad Tank Mates for Black Phantom Tetra 

Black Phantom Tetra can easily get threatened by aggressive fish species. So, avoid adding fish to the tank that is aggressive or large. 

Breeding Black Phantom Tetra 

The Black Phantom Tetra is a prolific breeder with a female capable of producing three hundred eggs. With optimum aquarium conditions, the fish will breed easily. You can facilitate the breeding process by changing the pH of the tank water to about 5.5 or 6.

How do Black Phantom Tetras breed?

You need to make the hardness of the water be about 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 many females. You can place them within the same tank. Come the breeding season, and the females also round out a bit.

Floating plants and dim lighting will also get them in the mood. If you install peat filters, this will help the water achieve the ideal parameters for easy breeding. Remember to remove the mom and dad from the tank once the eggs have been laid.

How do Black Phantom Tetras breed? Other than making the environment as suitable as possible, these little creatures are egg scatterers, which means the eggs are fertilized externally, and the female produces about 300 eggs.

Black Phantom Tetra Breeding Level

Breeding Black Phantom Tetra is intermediate. 

Black Phantom Tetra Sexual Dimorphism

You need both females and males to ensure proper breeding.

You will easily distinguish a male from a female by looking at its coloring, which is more grayish.

The male also has a dark patch behind the gills. The females sport a pelvic fin that exhibits a natural reddish hue. It is also evident in their caudal and anal fins. The male black phantom tetras don’t have any reddish coloration on them.

Taking a closer look at the fins of the females, 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 a darker black than those of the males. During breeding, you will see that the females tend to have plumper bodies.

Black Phantom Tetra Common Disease and Treatment 

Black Phantom Tetra is also known to develop certain health conditions like other fish. Commonly, they can develop parasites, bacterial infections, ich, and flukes. The good news is that one can avoid these diseases by offering proper care to the fish. 

Red Phantom Tetra

First, you should perform a weekly water change of 25% to keep the ammonia level down. Doing this will also keep the water in optimal conditions. 

Keep the aquarium well-cycled whenever you introduce a new Black Phantom Tetra to the tank. Also, keep the new fish quarantined for a couple of days to keep them safe. 

Whenever you are introducing anything new to the tank, clean it properly. It will minimize the chances of fish getting sick. 

Facts About Black Phantom Tetra 

  • Black Phantom Tetra comes from the region of Paraguay and central Brazil. 
  • This fish species gets its name from the eye patch behind the gills. 
  • Black Phantom Tetra will eat anything that they can get their mouths around. 

Is Black Phantom Tetra Right for You? 

Black Phantom Tetra should be your choice if you are interested in keeping attractive and calm fish species. Also, this fish does not require much care and maintenance. 


How to know if my Black Phantom Tetra is pregnant? 

If a Black Phantom Tetra is pregnant, you will notice that the fish’s abdomen grows before its spawn. Also, there will be a dark spot near the tail. 

Black Phantom Tetra in a tank with blurry tank plant background

Do Black Phantom Tetra nip fins? 

Certain reports show Black Phantom Tetra nip fin. But if you keep them happy, you would never have to encounter such an issue. 


We’ve talked about many fish and crustaceans that aquarists or hobbyists strive to breed. Almost nothing is easier to keep than the Black Phantom Tetra. If you want a fish that is easy to breed, easy to keep, and plays well with others, look no further than these deceptively sweet little fish.

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