Profile of the Black Phantom Tetra Fish

Black phantom tetra

Northern Paraguay and central Brazil are home to the black phantom tetra. It's a calm schooling fish that's ideal for a communal aquarium. The term "black phantom tetra" comes from the "eye patch" below the gills, which seems like a ghost looking back at you. The ladies have spectacular color, while the males are generally smokey-silver. If you keep these fish in your tank, you could even see "mock battle" displays between the males. There are no fish hurt, and the proceedings are entertaining to witness.

Species Overview

Common Names: Black phantom petra, phantom tetra

Scientific Name: Megalamphodus megalopterus

Adult Size: 1 3/4 inches (4 1/2 cm)

Life Expectancy: 5 years


Family Characidae
Origin Paraguay, Brazil
Social Peaceful, rival males, may fin nip
Tank Level Mid-dweller
Minimum Tank Size 10 gallons
Diet Omnivore, eats most foods
Breeding Egglayer
Care Intermediate
pH 6.0 to 7.5
Hardness to 18 dGH
Temperature 72 to 82 F (22 to 28 C)

Origin and Distribution

The black phantom tetra may be found in Bolivia and parts of western Brazil, such as the Guaporé River basin and Rio Sao Francisco. They may be found in clean rivers that run into the Pantanal wetlands in some regions, such as Guapore (Brazil) and Paraguay. They favor slow-moving, muddy waterways that are packed with vegetation in other locations. Shoaling fish, sometimes known as black phantom tetras, exist in big groups. They consume insects, worms, and crustaceans in the wild. The species is not endangered and has a large distribution.

Colors and Markings

When coupled with red-hued cousins like the red phantom, jewel, or serpae tetras, black phantoms provide a startling contrast. They have a flat, oval body that is silvery gray with a vertical splash of black on the front and back, as well as a bluish-white right below the gills. This splash somewhat matches the colour of a human eye, which is an unusual place for an eye-spot. The top and bottom edges of this fish's genuine eye are black.


In the natural, black phantom tetras swim in huge groups, thus in captivity, they perform best in groups of at least eight. They also get along nicely with other tetras, and look especially good with the red phantom tetra. Other calm species can coexist with black phantoms, but more aggressive fish can pose a concern. Other live-bearing fish, such as gouramis, danios, rasboras, or tiny, non-aggressive cichlids, are suitable tankmates. Bottom-dwellers who live in peace can also share their environment.

Black Phantom Tetra Habitat and Care

Phantoms enjoy a tank with plenty of plants (especially floating plants), dim illumination, and a dark substrate like river sand. In the tank, you could wish to add some dried leaves and driftwood. They are susceptible to low water quality, therefore change the water periodically.

Because black phantom tetras are such active fish, they require a tank that is at least 40 inches long. Because black phantom tetras may and do leap, it's a good idea to have a tight-fitting cover. The pH of the water is not crucial, and it can range from soft to hard, acidic to slightly alkaline.

Mildly hierarchical males frequently claim tiny areas and fight with other males on the outskirts of their turf. Tussles are fascinating to observe because their activity involves peculiar "mirroring," which can resemble tandem swimming. Although the skirmishes are brief and may not result in harm, regular confrontations contribute to a condition of chronic stress that shortens life spans. If your fish are always fighting, you should upgrade to a larger tank.

Black Phantom Tetra Diet and Feeding

Black phantoms are cheerful eaters who will devour almost anything. To keep them healthy, feed them a diversified diet of fine flake and freeze-dried meals, as well as tiny live items like brine shrimp.

Gender Differences

Longer fins and a complete lack of red pigment distinguish males. Adult males have black fins or fins with black edges, and their dorsal, ventral, and anal fins are larger than females'. Females have reddish pelvic, anal, and adipose fins and have a deeper body. If not completely red, they have a crimson tint to their fins and even their mid-body, which is also fuller than males. The females' reddish coloration might be mistaken for that of other tetra species.

Breeding the Black Phantom Tetra

Create a breeding tank with lots of floating plants and low illumination. It will be easier to maintain the tank clean while rearing the fry if it is set up without a substrate. Condition the mating couple with tiny live meals, such as mosquito larvae, before to spawning. Keep feeding to a minimum once in the breeding tank to maintain hygiene.

Lower the pH to 5.5 and the hardness of the water to 4 dGH to initiate spawning. The best way to attain the required water characteristics is by peat filtering. Males will perform elaborate courting fin displays, culminating in the discharge and spreading of up to 300 eggs by the female.

Remove the breeding couple from the aquarium once the eggs have been deposited. Because fry are light-sensitive, cover three sides of the aquarium with cardboard. To avoid fungal development on this species' eggs, perfect water quality is required. Feed very little or freshly born brine shrimp every several hours. Feed finely crushed flake meals after 10 days. Change the water at least once a week.

More Pet Fish Species and Further Research

Black phantom tetras get along well with other tetra species, and their black colour, in comparison to some of the more colorful species, makes them stand out. If you're looking for further information about related species, check out:

Check out additional fish species profiles for more information on other  fish.