If you want a beautiful fish for your aquarium that’s also interesting to look at, consider getting a black phantom tetra fish. It’s a very popular freshwater fish amongst fishkeeping hobbyists, also known as phantom tetra.
Also, this particular fish species is relatively easy to care for, so it doesn’t matter if you’re a pro or a beginner in the amateur fishkeeping world. The black phantom tetra will suit you.
Plus, this fish species tend to have an interesting behavior, so they’re fun to watch. Black phantom tetra fish are also peaceful schooling fish, yet playful. So they’re ideal tankmates to other species or their own, but they can challenge other fish.
So if you’re considering getting a black phantom tetra, read this article first. It will tell you everything you need to know about this fish species. And, it also gives you a care guide, so you know how to best care for your fish.
This informational cheat sheet will let you in all the secrets of black phantom tetra. Well, almost. It’s what you need to know as a fishkeeping hobbyist, no matter if you’re an expert or a total beginner in this world.
The black phantom tetra gets its name from its distinctive appearance. The males look much more darker and ominous than females, hence the name.
This particular fish species comes from the tetra family. Its scientific name is Hyphessobrycon megalopterus. Quite a mouthful, I agree.
Originally, the black phantom tetra fish lives in South America in various river and basin areas. More specifically, this fish species is most often found in central and western Brazil, Bolivia, and northern Paraguay.
In Brazil, this fish species can be found in the Sao Fransico river and the Guaporé river basin. Black phantom tetra like clear waters that are fast-moving, as they’re freshwater fish. But, it’s not uncommon that they can live in murky waters, with slow-moving waters, filled with thick vegetation. So black phantom tetra are really a species of adaptable fish.
Colors And General Appearance
The black phantom tetra resembles its name. It has a kind of eye patch behind its gills, and it looks like a black phantom is staring at you. This fish breed can look dark and ominous. In fact, its body looks like black diamonds cover it. On the fish’s sides, there is a green or silver line as well.
Also, males can become an even darker color when it’s breeding time. It can also change colors when it’s fighting other males to defend territory, especially in an aquarium environment. But don’t worry. They’re usually peaceful fish if cared for properly. And when they get competitive, they aren’t harmful to each other. It’s more playful than anything.
As for the size of the black phantom tetra fish, it can reach up to two inches (around five centimeters). The body of these fish is flat yet oval-shaped.
You might wonder how long a black phantom tetra fish can live. Well, the better you take care of your fish, no matter what species, it can live for longer. Of course, there are sometimes cases that don’t live as long. That’s life.
But usually, a black phantom tetra fish can live anywhere from three to five years. And it can live even longer in some cases.
Usually, you can tell apart female black phantom tetra fish from the male ones. Females are usually plumper than male fish, which are less full-bodied. Also, near breeding season, males become a darker color.
Also, male fish from this breed can have black fins, and female fish don’t. However, female fish can have more red coloring than the male fish and usually have more sheen. Male fish can have a more silver coloring, along with a greyish-dark color covering their entire body.
If you want to breed your black phantom tetra fish in a tank, that might be difficult. It’s possible, but it will take more skill. Especially if you’re not an expert fish keeper.
You can feed your breeding fish more high-protein foods, like bloodworms or even mosquito larvae. But don’t feed them too much, so that you can keep the tank clean during this breeding period.
You’ll have to put the fish you want to mate in a separate tank, especially for breeding. That’s because black phantom tetra fish are egg scatterers, not livebearers. Don’t put any substrate in the breeding tank. That’s because it will make your life easier when you need to clean the tank when the fry (the baby fish) is there.
Feed your breeding fish high-quality food (which you should do regardless anyway), and lower the pH levels a bit, as well as dimming the lights. You can lower the pH level to 5.5m but not more as sudden changes can harm your fish. As for the water hardness, you can drop it to about four dGH.
If you have any doubts about how to breed this fish species, you can contact specialists of this particular breed, your seller, or even a specialized vet. Anyway, in the breeding tank, the male black phantom tetra will attempt to seduce the female fish with a display of its fins. After they breed, a female can scatter up to 300 eggs. You read that right.
There are few things you can do to ensure the fry stays healthy after it’s come out of its egg. First and foremost, it’s essential you remove the breeding pair as soon as the female is done scattering her eggs. That’s because sometimes adult fish can eat their fry. Better be safe than sorry. Keep the lights low, as the fry don’t like bright light. Also, make sure you keep the water and tank in perfect conditions so fungus doesn’t develop and grow in the tank. Change the water about once a week, or every time it’s not as clear anymore.
You can feed the fry premade fry food or even fresh brine shrimp. You can give the fry fine flaked food that’s crushed, after about 10 days, usually. You can place the fry in the tank with the black phantom tetra and other fish species without worrying when it can defend itself.
It might be hard to breed your black phantom tetra fish, but the result will be rewarding! You will have even more fish in your tank.
Here’s an extensive care guide so you know how to fill your black phantom tetra’s needs best for it to be happy and live long.
It’s essential you put your black phantom tetra fish in a completely cycled aquarium. Cycling an aquarium means to regulate the nitrogen levels in the tank. You can read all about it online. Otherwise, black phantom tetra are pretty easy to care for.
Also, it’s essential you get a tank that’s at least 10 gallons (approximately 38 liters). This fish also needs a well-planted tank. This means this fish species needs a lot of plants in its tank, in particular floating plants, to reproduce its natural environment.
As for the lightning in the tank, try to keep it dimmed and use dark substrate, such as river sand, for example. If you wanted to, you could also add driftwood and dried leaves to the aquarium.
It’s essential you know as well that black phantom tetra fish are shoal fish, which refers to freshwater fish that lay eggs and like to live in groups.
These fish usually like to swim in the same direction, even in a coordinated fashion sometimes. So it’s essential you don’t leave your black phantom tetra alone, as they might feel lonely and their health can deteriorate.
It’s important you respect your black phantom tetra’s water needs. You need to get the conditions as close to its natural habitat, so it can really thrive in the tank and live a full, long, happy life.
The pH level (the water acidity) of the tank’s water should be kept between 6 to 7.5. So the water isn’t acidic, as this breed is a freshwater fish. You should change the tank’s water frequently, like for any fish species. Keeping water fresh is essential, as black phantom tetra fish don’t do well with poor water quality.
As for the water temperature of the aquarium, it should be the same as the fish’s tropical environment. So it should be kept between 72 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. So that is approximately 22 to 27 degrees Celsius.
Black phantom tetra fish aren’t fussy about food. They are omnivores, meaning they can eat about anything. Just make sure to give them a varied diet, with high nutritional values, just like for any other fish. The better food they get, the brighter colors they will have.
In their natural habitat, black phantom tetra fish, experts believe they eat small insects, but that’s, of course, not ideal in a tank environment, as it’s hard to reproduce. But occasionally, you can feed your tank fish, brine shrimp, blood worms, or any live or frozen food that’s high in protein.
You don’t need to be so particular about this fish species’s diet, as long as it’s nutritional and varied food. But you’ll need to be more particular if you want to breed your black phantom tetra fish. Live foods or frozen foods can do the trick, as well as flake food.
When adding black phantom tetra fish to your aquarium, like any other tetra, be prepared for them to be a bit feisty. If you want to keep more than one black phantom tetra fish, you should keep at least fish, or they might fight each other.
They can fight for territorial or breeding reasons, to intimidate the competition, or even during spawning season. So keep your black phantom tetra in at least a group of six. When they fight, no fish are usually harmed, but it can be interesting to watch their playful fight.
Usually, this fish species develops a hierarchy, so be prepared for the males to be pecking each other from time to time. But other than that, they’re usually peaceful. Also, don’t worry. The fighting is usually harmless. But if the fights happen daily, you should worry and move some of your fish in a separate tank. If you’re really worried, you can talk to a specialist vet.
Too much stress, especially daily stress, can reduce your black phantom tetra fish’s lifespan. So fights are usually harmless, but you should watch over them, just in case. A bigger fish tank could be helpful and solve the issue, as this fish species usually claims small bits of their territory.
The last thing you should know about the black phantom tetra fish’s behavior is that it’s a very active fish species. You should cover up the top of your tank so your fish doesn’t jump out of it. You can never be too careful.
As explained previously, it’s important your black phantom tetra fish has tankmates and doesn’t stay alone in its aquarium. So you should keep them with at least six other fish that have a similar or more peaceful temperament, are the same size, or are even smaller.
If you do that and put them in a tank with smaller, more peaceful fish, there shouldn’t be a problem in terms of fighting. As for where they like to swim, black phantom tetra fish like to swim in the bottom and the middle of the tank. So they get on well with other fish that are also bottom dwellers.
Good tankmates include other tetras and rasboras, fish that are similar in temperament, in temperament, size, or are smaller/more peaceful. Here are other breeds that are compatible with your black phantom tetra fish: cichlids (as long as they’re non-aggressive and small), danios, and finally, gouramis. I swear, I’m not making these names up.