Black Phantom Tetra - Hyphessobrycon megalopterus

Updated August 5, 2019
Author: Mike - FishLore Admin
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The Black Phantom Tetra is a full bodied tetra with a black diamond patch with a green or silver outline on the sides of its body. The male can take on a darker color when ready to breed or when defending it's territory in the aquarium against other black phantom tetras.

Hyphessobrycon megalopterus in plants Hyphessobrycon megalopterus


Just like other tetras, this one is no exception when it comes to wanting to school. Plan on keeping them in groups of 6 or more. They will develop a pecking order amongst the group. Males may spar with each other but this activity should not cause any significant amounts of damage to them. They should do fine in a community setup with smaller less aggressive species. They like to occupy the middle and bottom levels of the aquarium.

Hyphessobrycon megalopterus Hyphessobrycon megalopterus

They should only be added to a fully cycled aquarium. I know that is common knowledge for veteran fish keepers but for new fish keepers they may not know about the aquarium nitrogen cycle.

The Black Phantom Tetras are fairly good eaters and feeding them should be easy. The key is to provide a high quality fish food and varied diet to bring out the wonderful colors of this fish. The photo with this fish profile doesn't do it justice. If you're planning on breeding them, your food selection becomes even more critical. High quality flake food with occasional live foods or frozen foods will fit the bill here.

Black Phantom Tetra school Great view of Hyphessobrycon megalopterus

Black Phantom Tetra Care

Scientific Name : Hyphessobrycon megalopterus

Common Names : Phantom Tetra

Care Level : Easy

Size : Up to 2 inches (5 cm)

pH : 6 - 7.5

Temperature : 72°F - 80°F (22°C - 27°C)

Lifespan : 3 - 5 years, perhaps longer

Origin / Habitat : South America, various river basin areas

Temperament / Behavior : This is a generally peaceful fish and does well when kept in a small school of 6 or more. However, they males may become aggressive with other male black phantom tetras around spawning time.

Breeding : Can be difficult. They will need a tank all to themselves with no substrate since they are egg scatterers. Condition with high quality foods, lower the light levels and drop the pH slightly. More information on breeding this fish.

Aquarium Size : 10 gallon minimum

Tank Mates : Similar or smaller sized species (tetras, rasboras) that are comparable in temperament. Does well with other tetras.

Diet / Foods : This fish is an omnivore, meaning that they will accept all sorts of foods. In the wild they are thought to feed on small insects but this can be difficult to reproduce for the average hobbyist. Give them a varied diet but provide a high quality flake food as the main portion. Treat them periodically to foods higher in protein such as blood worms and brine shrimp.

Tank Region : Middle to bottom

Gender : Females look more full bodied (eggs) and the male may become darker colored when ready to breed. Males may sport black fins whereas female fins may be more red in color.

Photo Credit : Photos copyright

Site References :

Fish Lore Forum : Tetra Forum

Black Phantom Tetra Comments and Tips

From: Sally
For some reason, I'm drawn to this fish. I really like the fluorescent glow around the dark patches on the sides of my black phantoms. They are very easy going fish with their tank mates and only sometimes bicker with others in their school. The fluorescent colors really "pop" under lower lighting conditions with darker substrates.

From: Fishu-kun
I however don't really agree that it is a peaceful fish. I had only 4 black pantoms, however, 2 pairs of different gender. My female black phantom is generally peaceful but my male black phantom is a different case. They always nail and nibble other fish like my other rosy tetras and female black phantom. They even bite on the tail of my short-tailed betta. They swim aggressively all day, all fins wide open and shiny black body and swim like torpedos shows that they are truly the fishes of the tank.

From: Franciscus - Food Problem
Hi Guys. I installed 6 Black phantoms in my 7 gallon tank. They are the only fish in the tank, swim about 10 cm above the bottom. They are not sick. However, I have feeding problems. I feed them on a good quality tropical food flakes. They will only eat if I crush the food into small particles. If I drop in a flake about 10 mm in the tank, they will not touch it, it stays on the bottom of the tank until the cows come home. Most of the crushed particles will get lost in the gravel of the tank. Help please, do I need to spoon feed them. I do not know what to do.
With kind regards,
Hi Franciscus - check your water parameters with your aquarium test kit and if any parameters are out of whack do a water change to improve the water quality. If you've just introduced them to the tank, don't worry, they will soon settle down and should start eating. They could just be taking their time getting used to their new surroundings.

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