Black Phantom Tetra: Care, Feeding and Breeding

Megalamphodus megalopterus

Black phantom tetra
Citron/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA-3.0

The Black Phantom Tetra comes from Central Brazil. It is a peaceful, schooling fish and a great choice for a community aquarium. The Black Phantom Tetra gets its name from its black translucent appearance, and the males display brilliant colors.

Black Phantom Tetra: Overview

  • Scientific Name: Megalamphodus megalopterus
  • Family: Characidae
  • Origin: Brazil
  • Adult Size: 1.75 inches (4.5 cm)
  • Social: Peaceful schooling fish
  • Lifespan: 5 years
  • Tank Level: Mid dweller
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore, eats most foods
  • Breeding: Egglayer
  • Care: Intermediate
  • pH: 6.0 - 7.5
  • Hardness: to 18 dGH
  • Temperature: 72-82 F (22-28 C)


Black Phantoms make a stunning contrast fish to their red-hued cousins such as the Red Phantom, Jewel, or Serpae tetras. They are an attractive and peaceful member of the tetra family, and their flat oval body is silvery gray with a distinctive splash of black edged in white just behind the gills. The fins of the male are edged in black, while the fins of females have a reddish hue which sometimes causes them to be confused with other species of tetras.


Phantoms prefer a well-planted tank (particularly with floating plants), subdued lighting, and a dark substrate. Water parameters are not critical and may be soft to hard, acidic to slightly alkaline. Keep them in schools, preferably of a half dozen or more.

It is not unusual for males to claim small territories and quarrel with other males over their turf; however, the battles are minor without injury.

Black Phantoms will school with other similarly sized and shaped tetras, and they look particularly attractive with their counterparts the Red Phantom Tetra (Megalamphodus sweglesi).


Black Phantoms are easy to please, and they will accept most foods. Give them a well-varied diet of fine flake and freeze dried foods, as well as small live foods such as brine shrimp, to keep them in optimum health.


Set up a breeding tank with abundant floating plants and dim lighting. Setting the tank up without substrate will make the tank easier to keep clean while raising the fry. Males can be identified by their longer fins and lack of red color. Females will have a definite red tint to the fins and even the body, which is fuller than the males. Prior to spawning, the mating pair should be conditioned with small live foods, such as mosquito larvae. Once placed in the breeding tank, keep feeding to a minimum.

Trigger spawning by lowering the pH to 5.5 and dropping the hardness of the water to 4 dGH. Peat filtration is the best method to achieve the desired water parameters. Males will engage in an elaborate courtship display that ends with the female releasing up to 300 eggs.

Once the eggs have been laid, remove the breeding pair from the tank. Feed fry every few hours with very small commercially prepared fry food or freshly hatched brine shrimp. After 10 days, you can feed them finely crushed flake foods.

Perform water changes at least once a week.