Black Phantom Tetra Care: Tank Mates, Setup & Comprehensive Guide

The black phantom tetra is an enchanting freshwater fish that belongs to the tetra family, known for its captivating black markings and serene temperament, which make it a highly sought-after addition to community aquariums.

These mesmerizing fish boast silver-grey bodies adorned with a striking black patch behind their gills, evoking the image of a phantom’s mask, lending them an air of mystique.

Growing up to 1.5 inches long, black phantom tetras are renowned for their hardiness and adaptability, characteristics that endear them to both novice and experienced aquarists.

In addition to their striking appearance, these charming fish exhibit fascinating schooling and social behaviors, further contributing to their popularity within the aquarium hobby.

With a combination of distinct visual appeal, peaceful nature, and ease of care, black phantom tetras are truly a captivating choice for any aquarist seeking to add a touch of intrigue to their aquatic environment.

Black Phantom Tetra Appearance

The body of a black phantom tetra is elegantly shaped, with a somewhat compressed and oval profile.

The fish boasts a silver-grey base color that shimmers under the right lighting conditions, adding a touch of iridescence to their appearance.

A prominent black patch, resembling a phantom’s mask, is situated behind the gills, creating an eye-catching contrast against the lighter background.

Their fins are mostly translucent with a slight tint of black, except for the males’ dorsal fins, which display an alluring red hue.

Males are generally more slender and vibrant, with a more pronounced dorsal fin, while females tend to be slightly larger and rounder, particularly when gravid.

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Natural Habitat of Black Phantom Tetra

Black phantom tetras are found in the slow-moving waters of the Amazon River Basin, including countries like Brazil, Bolivia, and Peru.

Their natural environment consists of densely vegetated areas, where they inhabit clear or slightly tannin-stained waters with soft, acidic conditions.

In the wild, they often reside in shallow, shaded areas with overhanging vegetation, submerged tree roots, and leaf litter on the riverbed.

Black Phantom Tetra Behavior

Black phantom tetras are known for their peaceful and amicable demeanor, making them ideal for community tanks.

They exhibit an interesting array of social behaviors, often displaying a unique blend of schooling and shoaling tendencies.

While they mostly swim together as a group, they may also establish their territories within the aquarium, especially during breeding periods.

These fish are typically active swimmers, exploring all levels of the tank, though they primarily inhabit the middle and upper regions.

It is not uncommon to observe the males engaging in non-aggressive displays of dominance, where they spread their fins and swim alongside each other in a harmless dance.

This behavior, known as “mirroring,” is captivating to watch and provides a fascinating insight into the complex social structure of the black phantom tetra.

Due to their gentle nature, it is essential to choose appropriate tank mates that won’t bully or harass these delicate fish.

With a combination of alluring appearance, engaging behaviors, and peaceful temperament, the black phantom tetra is undoubtedly a captivating addition to any community aquarium.

Black Phantom Tetra Tank Setup

To replicate the black phantom tetra’s natural habitat, aim for a densely planted tank with plenty of hiding spots.

The ideal tank size for these fish is 20 gallons or larger, allowing them to form a comfortable shoal.

To recreate their natural habitat, the ideal tank setup for black phantom tetras should include:

  1. Tank Size: A minimum tank size of 20 gallons is recommended for a small group of black phantom tetras. This will provide them with enough swimming space and help maintain water quality.

  2. Water Parameters: Aim for soft, slightly acidic water with a pH of 6.0-7.5, a temperature between 72-82°F (22-28°C), and a hardness of 2-12 dGH.

  3. Substrate: Use a dark, fine-grained substrate, such as sand or smooth gravel, to mimic their natural riverbed environment.

  4. Plants: Include a variety of live plants like Amazon swords, Anubias, or Java ferns to create dense vegetation and hiding spots. Floating plants like duckweed or Salvinia can provide shade and a sense of security for the fish.

  5. Decorations: Incorporate natural decorations, such as driftwood, rocks, and caves, to provide additional hiding places and help the fish feel secure.

  6. Filtration: Install a gentle water flow with a reliable filter to ensure clean, well-oxygenated water.

  7. Lighting: Moderate lighting is sufficient for black phantom tetras. You can use LED or fluorescent lights, but ensure that they are not too bright to avoid stressing the fish.

Use a soft, sandy substrate to mimic their natural environment, and include rocks, driftwood, or caves for additional hiding places.

Floating plants can help provide shade and a sense of security for these fish.

Maintain a gentle water flow to mimic their natural habitat and ensure the water is well-filtered and clean.

Perform regular water changes of 25% every two weeks to maintain water quality.

Tank Decorations for Black Phantom Tetras

Creating a visually appealing and comfortable environment for black phantom tetras involves incorporating various decorations in the tank.

  1. Live Plants: Use a variety of live plants like Anubias, Java fern, and Amazon sword to provide shelter and mimic their natural habitat. Floating plants like duckweed or water lettuce create shaded areas and help diffuse light.

  2. Driftwood and Rocks: Incorporate driftwood, rocks, and caves to create hiding spots and additional shelter for the fish. Make sure all decorations are free from sharp edges to prevent injury.

  3. Substrate: Use a dark-colored, fine-grained substrate like sand or small gravel, as it creates a natural-looking environment and contrasts well with the fish’s colors.

  4. Open Swimming Space: Ensure there is enough open space for the fish to swim freely, as black phantom tetras are active swimmers and need room to explore.

Water Parameters and Monitoring

Maintaining ideal water conditions is vital for the health and well-being of black phantom tetras.

  1. Temperature: Black phantom tetras prefer temperatures between 72-82°F (22-28°C). Keep the water temperature stable using an aquarium heater and monitor it with a thermometer.

  2. pH and Hardness: The ideal pH range for black phantom tetras is 6.0-7.5, and they prefer soft to moderately hard water with a hardness of 5-15 dGH. Regularly test the water using a pH and hardness test kit to ensure it stays within the appropriate range.

  3. Filtration and Aeration: Use a high-quality aquarium filter to remove waste and maintain water quality. A gentle flow is preferable, as black phantom tetras come from slow-moving waters. Additionally, ensure proper aeration using an air pump and air stone to maintain adequate oxygen levels in the tank.

  4. Regular Water Changes: Perform weekly water changes of about 25-30% to help maintain water quality and remove any built-up waste.

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Black Phantom Tetra Care

Providing appropriate tank conditions, a balanced diet, and a stress-free environment will contribute to the health and well-being of these fish.

Caring for black phantom tetras involves providing a suitable environment, proper diet, and maintaining water quality.

Additionally, it is essential to monitor the fish for any signs of stress or illness to ensure their well-being.

  1. Water Quality: Black phantom tetras require clean water, with the ideal temperature range being 72-82°F (22-28°C) and a pH of 6.0-7.5. Perform regular water tests to ensure that ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels remain within safe limits. Conduct a 25-30% water change every two weeks to maintain optimal water quality.

  2. Filtration: A reliable filtration system is crucial for removing waste, excess food, and maintaining water clarity. Choose a filter with adjustable flow, as black phantom tetras prefer gentle water currents.

  3. Lighting: Moderate lighting is ideal for these fish, as it mimics their natural habitat. Adding live plants and floating plants can help diffuse light and create shaded areas in the tank.

Black Phantom Tetra Diet and Feeding

Black phantom tetras are omnivorous and require a varied diet to ensure optimal health.

Provide high-quality flake or pellet food as a staple, and supplement with live or frozen foods, such as: Black phantom tetras are omnivorous and require a balanced, varied diet for optimal health.

Follow these guidelines for feeding your fish:

  1. Staple Diet: Provide high-quality flake or pellet food as the main component of their diet. This should contain a mix of proteins, vitamins, and minerals to support overall health.

  2. Live Foods: Supplement their diet with live foods, such as brine shrimp, daphnia, bloodworms, and tubifex worms, to encourage natural foraging behavior and provide essential nutrients.

  3. Frozen Foods: Offer frozen or freeze-dried alternatives to live foods, such as frozen bloodworms, daphnia, or brine shrimp, to add variety to their diet and support their immune system.

  4. Vegetables: Occasionally, you can include blanched vegetables like spinach, zucchini, or cucumber to provide additional vitamins and minerals.

  5. Feeding Frequency: Feed your black phantom tetras 2-3 times a day, offering only as much food as they can consume in 2-3 minutes. Overfeeding can lead to water quality issues and obesity, which can negatively affect the health of your fish.

Black Phantom Tetra Tank Mates

Black phantom tetras are peaceful fish and thrive in a community tank with other similarly-sized, non-aggressive species. Suitable tank mates include:

Avoid housing them with large, aggressive fish, as they may harass or prey on the black phantom tetras.

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Signs of Stress in Black Phantom

Identifying signs of stress in black phantom tetras can help prevent health issues and ensure they thrive in your aquarium.

  1. Color Fading: If your black phantom tetras start to lose their vibrant color, it may indicate stress. Check water parameters, tank conditions, and potential bullying from other fish.

  2. Lethargy: A lethargic black phantom tetra that spends most of its time hiding or resting could be experiencing stress. Investigate any changes in the tank environment or potential health issues.

  3. Erratic Swimming: If your fish swims erratically, it may indicate stress or a health issue. Check for potential causes, such as poor water quality, temperature fluctuations, or disease.

By paying attention to these important aspects of black phantom tetra care, you can ensure your fish remain healthy and happy in your aquarium.

Regular monitoring and maintenance will help create a thriving environment where your fish can showcase their unique beauty and captivating behavior.

Growth & Lifespan of Black Phantom Tetra

Understanding the growth and lifespan of black phantom tetras can help you prepare for their long-term care.

  1. Growth: Black phantom tetras typically grow to a size of 1.5-2 inches (4-5 cm) in captivity. They may take several months to reach their full size, depending on factors like diet, water quality, and tank conditions.

  2. Lifespan: With proper care and a suitable environment, black phantom tetras can live up to 5 years, although some may live even longer.

Breeding Black Phantom Tetra

Breeding black phantom tetras is relatively simple with the right setup. Prepare a separate breeding tank with soft, slightly acidic water, and maintain a temperature around 80°F (26-27°C).

Condition the breeding pair with high-quality live foods and provide plenty of hiding spots for the eggs, such as fine-leaved plants or spawning mops.

After spawning, the female will lay her eggs, which will attach to the plants or spawning mop. Once the eggs are laid, remove the adult fish to prevent them from eating the eggs.

The eggs will hatch in approximately 24-36 hours, and the fry will become free-swimming after about five days. At this stage, feed them with infusoria or finely crushed flake food until they can accept larger foods.

Breeding Black Phantom Tetras Step By Step

  1. Breeding Tank: Set up a separate 10-gallon breeding tank with slightly softer water (pH 5.5-6.0) and a temperature of 80°F (26-27°C). Use a sponge filter and add fine-leaved plants or a spawning mop for the fish to lay their eggs on.

  2. Breeding Pair: Select a healthy, well-conditioned pair. The male will have more vivid colors, while the female will be rounder, especially when full of eggs.

  3. Conditioning: Feed the breeding pair high-quality live foods like brine shrimp, daphnia, or bloodworms to encourage spawning.

  4. Spawning: The male will court the female by displaying his fins and swimming around her. Once receptive, the female will lay eggs on the plants or spawning mop, which the male will fertilize.

  5. Egg Care: After spawning, remove the parents to prevent them from eating the eggs. The eggs will hatch in 2-3 days, and the fry will become free-swimming in 3-4 days.

  6. Fry Care: Feed the fry infusoria or commercially available fry food until they can accept crushed flake food or micro worms.

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Common Health issues and treatments for black phantom tetras

Keeping black phantom tetras healthy requires consistent monitoring of their environment and behavior.

A healthy environment is crucial for the well-being of these fish.

Here are some common health issues and preventive measures:

  1. Ich (White Spot Disease): Ich is a common parasitic infection that appears as tiny white spots on the fish’s body. Quarantine affected fish and treat the main tank with an appropriate ich medication.

  2. Fin Rot: This bacterial infection causes frayed, decaying fins. Maintain good water quality and use an antibacterial medication to treat affected fish.

  3. Swim Bladder Disease: This condition affects a fish’s buoyancy, causing them to swim abnormally or struggle to maintain balance. Ensure the diet is varied, and avoid overfeeding to prevent this issue.

  4. Stress: Stress can weaken a fish’s immune system, making them more susceptible to illness. Keep water parameters stable, avoid overcrowding, and provide plenty of hiding spots to minimize stress.


If your black phantom tetra shows signs of illness, follow these steps:

  1. Quarantine the affected fish in a separate tank to prevent the spread of disease.

  2. Identify the symptoms and determine the most likely cause.

  3. Consult a veterinarian or fishkeeping expert for advice on the appropriate treatment.

  4. Administer the recommended medication or treatment and closely monitor the fish’s condition.

  5. Ensure that water quality in the main tank is optimal before reintroducing the recovered fish.

Additional Tips for a Healthy Aquarium

  1. Acclimate new fish properly before adding them to the tank to reduce stress and avoid introducing diseases.

  2. Keep a close eye on fish behavior and appearance, as early detection of illness is crucial for successful treatment.

  3. Clean and maintain equipment regularly, such as filters, heaters, and air pumps, to ensure their proper function.

By following these guidelines and maintaining a healthy environment, your black phantom tetras can thrive and live a long, healthy life in your aquarium.

Should You Get a Black Phantom Tetra for Your Aquarium?

The black phantom tetra is an excellent choice for a peaceful community aquarium.

With their striking appearance, calm demeanor, and hardy nature, they are suitable for both beginner and experienced aquarists.

By providing the appropriate tank conditions, a balanced diet, and compatible tank mates, you can enjoy the beauty and tranquility of these fish in your home aquarium.

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Conservation Status

Black phantom tetras are not listed on the IUCN Red List and are not considered endangered.

However, responsible fishkeeping practices, including supporting sustainable and ethical sources for obtaining fish, are important for the conservation of all species.

When purchasing black phantom tetras, choose reputable breeders or suppliers who prioritize the well-being of the fish and their natural habitats.

Frequently Asked Questions About Black Phantom Tetras

Q: What is the ideal tank size for black phantom tetras?

A: A minimum tank size of 20 gallons is recommended for a group of black phantom tetras, with additional space for each fish added to the group.

Q: What are the best tank mates for black phantom tetras?

A: Suitable tank mates include other peaceful, similarly-sized fish such as neon tetras, cardinal tetras, rummy nose tetras, harlequin rasboras, corydoras catfish, and dwarf gouramis.

Q: What should I feed my black phantom tetras?

A: Provide a varied diet consisting of high-quality flake or pellet food, live foods like brine shrimp and daphnia, and frozen foods to ensure proper nutrition.

Q: What is the lifespan of black phantom tetras?

A: With proper care, black phantom tetras can live up to 5 years or longer.

Q: How can I tell if my black phantom tetra is stressed?

A: Signs of stress in black phantom tetras include color fading, lethargy, and erratic swimming. Investigate potential causes such as poor water quality, tank conditions, or health issues.

Q: What are the ideal water parameters for black phantom tetras?

A: Black phantom tetras prefer temperatures between 72-82°F (22-28°C), a pH range of 6.0-7.5, and water hardness of 5-15 dGH.

Q: How often should I perform water changes in my black phantom tetra tank?

A: Conduct weekly water changes of 25-30% to maintain water quality and remove built-up waste.

Q: How do I create a natural-looking environment for my black phantom tetras?

A: Decorate the tank with live plants, driftwood, and rocks to mimic their natural habitat and provide hiding spots.


Black phantom tetras are an excellent choice for both beginner and experienced aquarists due to their peaceful nature, striking appearance, and relatively easy care requirements.

By providing a well-maintained tank, a balanced diet, and compatible tank mates, these beautiful fish can thrive in your aquarium.

Paying attention to their health and the conditions of their environment will ensure a long, healthy life for your black phantom tetras. Don’t forget to support responsible fishkeeping practices to help protect the species and their natural habitats.