When we think of the most popular fish sold in an aquarium trade, only one breed comes to mind-the black phantom tetra- your amicable friend. 

When the other tropical tetras are sitting with an injured fin due to their vigorous nature, this phantom will recover and thrive in the calm current. 

If you are looking into emboldening your tank with a hint of class, their gorgeous color will make it a perfect match. 

Black phantom tetra’s composure and temperament are the primary reason why fish parents love this collected creature so much. 

Hence, let us learn about this untroubled creature looking extremely elegant in the shoal.

An Overview

Quick Species Facts
Scientific Name Hyphessobryconmegalopterus
Other Common Names Black Phantom Tetra, Shadow Phantom Tetra
Family Characidae
Origin South America (Borders of Brazil and Bolivia)
Lifespan Five years (approx)
Size 3-5 cm
Type Freshwater Fish
Auditory system Otoliths
Hearing threshold 70 dB
Genus Hyphessobrycon
Base color Iridescent silver
Pattern Black mark on either side near the fin

History, Origination & Distribution

The Black Phantom Tetra is a newly discovered freshwater species from the twentieth century. Hence, in order to reproduce their habitat in your tank, you must have a thorough grasp of it.

One will find this phantom tetra fish swimming through the sluggish tributaries and backwaters such as rivers, ponds, and lagoons.

Their lifestyle and habitat lean towards aquatic vegetation, so it is common for them to belong to the Neotropical and Paraguay vegetation.

Since they are endemic in South America’s inland water, their home resides in the upper Paraguay and Guapore river basins. 

How Big Does this Fish Get?

The average size of black phantom tetra is about 3.5 cm, but it can grow up to 5 cm.

Moreover, the size of the phantoms in the wild can be taller.

Their dimensions make them very comfortable integration for any community tank or aquarium.

Good to Know: The black phantom tetra gets its nickname ‘dwarf tetra’ because of its size.

Colour and Appearance

Black Phantom Tetra – Care Guide

Contrary to popular belief, their dark and easeful color is a heartthrob that adds immense class to the tank.

To differentiate the black phantom tetra from the other breeds, look for a black mark on either side of the fins, and it would be hard to miss.

The black phantom tetra has a tetragonal and rhomboid structure that construes their bodice. Moreover, their long-tailed fin and red or gray dorsal fins are defining characters.

While giving attention to detail, look for the black vertical line that separates their upper and lower bodice.

Maximum Life Expectancy

Emphasizing this is highly crucial – the better environment you render, the longer your tetra lives. Introduce living plants with a lower density to simulate the ecological landscape.

See also  Eastern Box Turtle Care Manual: Habitat, Diet, Tank Setup and More

The longevity of the black phantom tetra is 3 to 5 years in captivity. Their lifespan can increase up to 1 year more by correct maintenance.

Adding a single tetra or a school of at least 6 + black phantom tetras is strongly suggested (with one male and more females). If you want to keep your fish alive for a considerable time, avoid brackish water.

Male or Female – How Do we Tell them Apart?

Some key characteristics assist in differentiating the gender of phantom fishes as they show a relatively higher sexual dimorphism.

The proportion of the genders plays a crucial role in the breeding procedure and in avoiding any form of discrepancy while purchasing.

Below are the attributes that give an insight into identifying the gender:

  • Shape: Female black phantom tetras are notably plumper than the male phantoms.
  • Color: The color will be the most prominent feature that helps you know the difference. The female tetras have a red fin, while the male breed has a gray color.
  • Fin: Look out for the length. The male black phantom tetras tend to have longer fins than the female.
  • Dorsal Fin: The concentration of the color of the dorsal fin is a credible differentiating factor. The female phantom’s dorsal fin is blacker compared to the male.
  • Adipose fin: The adipose fin is behind the dorsal fin. The female fish adipose fin is more noticeable than that of the male.
  • Behavior: Surprisingly, one can conclude their gender even though their behavior. The male phantoms are more territorial as compared to the female black ghost tetras.

 Availability and Price

The most head-picking solution is to find a credible resource for purchasing the black phantom tetra. With the integration of the technological boom, the fish forums and online aquariums are the perfect places to get them.

The price of purchasing black phantom tetra online can range anything between $4 – $27, depending on the location and availability.

Although, leaning towards specialist shops and aquarium clubs is a wiser choice because you land up getting some valuable information.

The authentic aquariums near their native region’s radar are based in France, Vancouver, and the UK.

Other than that, the latter resources should work just fine.

Care Sheet Table

Care Points
Care-level Easy to Moderate
Socializing Social and harmonious
Temperament Calm
Food Habit Carnivoreand insectivore
Breeding Process Moderate (Egg Scattering Species)

What to Feed your Phantom Friend?

The food you serve them is their fuel. So be sure to give them the correct nutrients they need.

Black Phantom tetras are carnivores and insectivores (frozen and fresh), so there is a big room for options available for them.

Before getting into the meaty part of the food suggestions, keep the following tips in mind-

  • Keep mixing the type of food to maintain the necessary nutrients.
  • Avoid over-feeding at all costs. Feeding them once or twice a day is sufficient.
  • While feeding, be sure to avoid pollution.

Feel free to feed your black phantom tetra the following:

  • Crustaceans
  • Worms and insects
  • Invertebrates
  • Mugwort
  • Bryne Shrimp
  • Crab and lobsters
  • Water fleas
  • Flake (frozen)
  • Bloodworms (Fresh and frozen)

These shall keep your phantoms happily swimming in the tank.

Interesting Fact: Since the black phantom tetras are carnivores and insectivores, their food consumption level is low.

Behavioral Traits

The lively nature is a treat to the eyes of the fish parents. It is only natural to worry about their temperament when accommodating them with the other breeds.

See also  Marimo Moss Ball Plant for Aquarium: Complete Care Instructions

Black Phantom tetras aren’t a troublesome breed because their nature is harmonious and social.

Although, there are some factors that the fish parent must be sure to consider.

These fishes are prone to attacking the fins by exchanging blows. Be sure to notice their dorsal and anal fins, as it is how they express themselves.

They might get discreet and require a credible hiding place in the presence of a larger neighbor. Hence, they are usually found swimming in the mid-depth of the water.

Word of Advice: If you already have bigger fishes in your tank, opt for more female black phantom tetras as they aren’t so territorial.

Reproduction: How does it occur in the black phantom tetras?

Given below is an intricate guide on how the ghost tetra reproduces.

Mating and Breeding

The breeding difficulty in the black phantom tetra is hard. Hence, many fish keepers use conditioning to their power. Although, the phantoms can breed in captivity.

Tweaking the external environment and rendering a mating-friendly tank can spike their possibility to mate.

Keep the following tips in mind for a successful mating procedure:

  • Blood worms are used as a conditioning food. Hence, be sure to feed them with it once a day.
  • Make the tank more acidic. Decrease the Ph of the tank to 5-5.5
  • Lower temperature, higher breeding chances. Reduce the temperature by 4 degrees than the ideal one.

This must lead to a successful mating procedure.


As spawning is induced, it is necessary to learn the procedure.

The black phantom tetras are oviparous and spawn in the open water. Given that they are an egg scattering species, the female releases more than 300 eggs.

Within 48 hours, the egg hatches.

After the spawning procedure is complete, separate the fry from the tank as the parent fishes tend to feed on it.

Ensure that you feed the fry a sufficient amount of infusoria. Their development speed is relatively high, and they are hardy, so the fry will be matured within five days.

Author Note: Separate the phantoms in pairs to maximize the breeding procedure.

Can They Fall Ill?

In a nutshell, the black phantom tetras can fall ill. Having a clear insight into the symptoms and diseases can mitigate the probability of it being fatal

Look out for the following symptoms in ghost tetra fish species’ activity to detect if they are sick –

  • Decrease in coloration (sick phantoms have a lesser concentration of black)
  • Reduced mobility and activity.
  • White spots and coloration around their fins, mouth, and other body parts.
  • Malnourishment (The tetra appears to be more slender than usual)

The phantom black tetra can be prone to the following diseases –

  • Fungal infections are most common
  • Bacterial infections such as columnaris
  • SBD
  • Dropsy
  • Ick

The external environment plays a crucial role in their health. Sometimes when their living conditions aren’t optimal, they fall sick.

Keeping a suitable diet, temperature, and water current are vital.

Key Factors While Setting Up the Tank

Quick Tank Facts
Minimum Size 100 liters
Water Temperature 22-28 degrees C
Water Hardness 10-18 Gh
Water Ph Level 6.5 PH
Water Current Slow-moving
Min. Population Atleast6

Tank Size

The golden rule of tropical fishes is – “more movement equals increased space.”

See also  Full Grown Tiger Shovelnose Catfish - How to Care in Captivity?

The tank size that complies with black phantom tetra’s living standards and environment is anything above a 20-gallon tank with a dimension higher than 60 cm.

If you want to keep a shoal of six fish, you’ll need at least 15 liters of tank space per fish.

This tank size will render ample movement and space for the black phantom tetras.

Setting Up the Tank – What All to Include?

Plants and decorations

When it comes to the black phantom tetras, you can mindlessly go big on the decoration. What better way to add to the tropical aesthetic?

This breed strongly prefers dense and strong vegetation, so the best plant mates for them are any form of floating plants. Some credible suggestions are Salvinia and Pistia.

To impersonate their lifestyle, ensure they have a sufficient amount of driftwood, caves, and plants when they want to hide out or breed.


The tropical vegetation suggests that they are accustomed to a lot of sand.

Hence the safest substrate that will keep the phantom tetra happy is dark and sandy soil with a high concentration of hummus.

Filtration and Oxygenation

The black phantom tetras originate from a place that has a very slow water current. This needs to be kept in mind while picking out the filter for the tank. 

Any filter that generates a minimal water movement is the correct choice, or else it can be hazardous for their health.

Peat filter is a credible suggestion. 

Pro Tip: Chlorine is a very hazardous chemical for any kind of fish. Hence, be sure to make use of anti-chlorine in each change. 

Water Parameters

The water parameters make or break the sustainability of a fish in the tank. Hence, for the black phantom tetra, keep the following water levels in mind- 

  • They prefer acidic-neutral water ranging from 6-7.5 PH. 
  • The tropical fish is comfortable and happy with a temperature between 22-28 degrees C. 
  • The phantoms have an endurance of hard water. Hence, the hardness of the water must range between 10-18 GH. 
  • The nitrate concentration mustn’t be more than 50 mg/l 
  • Change 20-30 percent of the water every month. 

Tankmates – Who Make a Good Fit?

Choosing the correct tank-mates is probably a significant decision you take while setting up your tank. Hence, keep all the factors such as eating habits and temperament in mind. 

Listed below are some tank mates the black phantom tetra can have- 

  • Tropical fishes of the same genus, such as red phantom tetra and yellow phantom tetra.
  • Dwarf cichlids 
  • Group of tiger barbs 
  • Rasboras 

It is advisable to keep at least a school of five when it comes to the black phantom tetras, as they might get a little feisty if isolated.  

Expert Tip: Avoid gregarious and large fishes to mitigate the chances of hazards. Keep fishes of a similar or smaller size.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there any breed that mustn’t be placed with the Black Phantom Tetra?

It is highly recommended to avoid gregarious species in the same tank as the black phantom as they are prone to attack.

Should I feed the black phantom tetras fresh vegetables or vegetarian food?

While they may readily accept the fresh veggies, their lifestyle and habitat suggest that it is best to stick to an insectivorous and carnivorous diet.

Is there a constraint on the temperature?

Even though the black phantoms are tropical fishes, ensure the water temperature doesn’t cross 31 degrees.

Black Ghost Tetras – Are They a Good Addition?

Who wouldn’t want a fish pet which is so serene and easy to care for?

The black phantom tetra is suitable for any fish keeper regardless of the expertise level. All it takes is a few know-hows of this amiable friend.

Make your tank stand out with grace with the simple integration of this sooty companion.

Related Fish Care Guide :

Bleeding Heart Tetra
Black Skirt Tetra
Glowlight Tetra
Silver Tip Tetra
Ember Tetra

About the Author

Shelby Crosby

Shelby is a passionate fishkeeper who has been writing about fish for over 5 years. She is a pro aquarist and holds a BSc Honors Degree in Wildlife and Fisheries. She creates her own beautiful aquarium layouts and loves to share her knowledge of tropical fish with other hobbyists.

Career Highlights:

  • Has worked with several aquarium manufacturers as a consultant
  • Organized and hosted workshops on freshwater fish keeping at retail stores, educational facilities, and libraries
  • Released content for the amphibian community through her writings

Educational Highlights:

  • BSc Honors in Wildlife and Fisheries in 2011 (University of Northern British Columbia)
  • Completed her undergraduate thesis on the effects of zoochlorella supplementation on the growth and health of fish.

Writing Experience

Miss Crosby is a Freelance blogger; many of her articles are posted online on various blogs. She has also written a few short articles for "Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine" in the past. She is a regular contributor to FishParenting.com. Her education, first-hand experience with fishkeeping, and in-depth knowledge in aquaculture make her one of the most competent writers in the industry.

View All Articles