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Red Phantom Tetra Care & Breeding Guide for Beginners

Tetras are unique tank mates for any aquarist looking to pet a lovely, easy-to-care fish in a home aquarium. And the red phantom tetra is one of the most captivating variants of the tetra species that live freely in a tank and roams around with much fun.

Red phantom tetra is a very tank-friendly fish with its reddish appearance and unique characteristics. They are calm and easy to care for in a 54-liter tank with slightly alkaline water. They usually grow to 2-inches and live for 5-10 years, which makes them best for beginners.

Species Overview

Level of careVery easy
AppearanceA round black spot behind their gill-plate with a reddish hue all over
TemperamentVery peaceful
Life Expectancy5-10 years
Tank Size54-liter
Tank EnvironmentHard alkaline water with any dark substrate and plenty of plants and rocks
Tank MatesVery peaceful and small

Red phantom tetra or Hyphessobrycon Sweglesi originally belong to the Orinoco River drainage basin of South America.



It is a unique fish species having a bright reddish hue all over the body, along with a round black spot behind its gill plate.

These small-sized fish also possess a black band in their dorsal fin area, which comes with a white border above. Their opposite fins are also red. Thus, the vibrant red color, along with a few touch-ups in black, makes red phantom tetras a great buddy to beautify your tank.

Besides, do you know another interesting trait of these tetras? They are a toothed kind of fish that features a unique shape. Sounds great, right!

Well, the appearance of the red phantom tetra is somewhat similar to the black phantom tetra, but with prominent differences, the former fish appears to be one of the most charming tank mates for your small tank.


This fish is usually known as the smaller tetra variants. Usually, these tetras will grow up to a maximum of 2-inches with proper care.

Also, the female tetras of this species are quite smaller than their male counterparts.

Behavior & Temperament

Tiny red phantom tetras are very peaceful, which makes them ideal for a community tank. They can thrive well with other small friendly fish.

Also, as these tetras are schooling fish, they are best kept with at least 5 individuals in the tank. If they do not feel confident or happy, their color seems to get washed out. However, they gain confidence very soon.

Besides, these fish exhibit a unique way to showcase their dominating nature without hurting anyone. The male tetras usually spread their fins to impress the female fish and overshadow dominance over other male fish.


Well, the lifespan of tetras differs within an average range of 5-10 years. The smaller the tetra, the shorter its lifespan will be.

Do you know another interesting fact about red phantom tetras? If this fish species lay eggs, it strives to live much longer than the other tetras who do not lay eggs.

Flock of red phantom tetras

Tank Requirements

Do you know red phantom tetras are highly energetic swimmers? Thus, while taking care of these fish, you need to ensure that the tank has enough capacity for them to swim freely. The aquarium needs to have a good volume for keeping the tetras in a group.

You need to create an almost similar aquatic environment as their natural habitat. So, it would be better to maintain a moderate water temperature for the aquarium. Also, make sure the tank water is slightly alkaline to be suitable for your tetras’ well-being.

So, red phantom tetras are very easy to keep in a slightly soft or hard water condition, provided the tank water is alkaline.

These tetras feel much cozy in casual aquarium décor. Thus, add dense vegetation to the backside of the tank so that your aqua pets can enjoy a shady tank environment while having enough room to swim about freely.

Also, it is good to add some rocks and driftwoods to mimic their natural habitat and supply them with a proper place to hide.

Tank Setup

Now, to facilitate proper care of your red phantom tetras, you need to ensure an appropriate setup of the aquarium, which will keep them healthy and make them feel safe.

So, are you wondering how to setup the tank properly for your tetras? Well, check out the tips enlisted below.

Tank Size

The aquarium needs to have a large enough volume to offer adequate free-swimming space to your fish. So, the tank capacity must be a minimum of 54 liters.

Water Parameters

To create a very appropriate ambiance for your red phantom tetras, it is better to maintain the water temperature between 22-24℃. Adding too cool or too hot water is not suitable for these fish.

Make sure the tank water is slightly alkaline. So, it is better to maintain the pH level between 6.5-8.5.

This species of tetra usually prefers to dwell in moderately hard water, not too soft. So, a hardness level of 8-15° dH should be maintained. But they can also be housed in slightly softer water; it won’t harm them much.


You can facilitate a moderate level of LED lighting to the tank.


Add dense vegetation to the tank. But make sure to leave sufficient space for your tetras to roam around freely in the middle to the higher area of the aquarium.

For décorating the tank, you can use appropriate aquarium woods like bogwood. Also, consider adding various live plants, rocks, and driftwood to mimic tetras’ natural habitat.

Longfin red phantom tetra in an aquarium

Tank Mates

Red phantom tetras are undoubtedly very peaceful by nature. So, you can keep them with other peaceful fish. However, it is better to keep them with other small fish, which are not at all harmful.

As they are con-specific, they are very peaceful towards their own species and love to stay in a school. While housingthese tetras, try to buy a mixed-sex group with at least 8-10 specimens. It will help the male fish show their best color with their interesting behavior of competing for female attention.

So, below are a few suitable tank mates that you can consider keeping:

  • Characids
  • Lebiasinids
  • Gasteropelecidae
  • Smaller callichthyidae
  • Loricariid catfish
  • Small cichlids

Food & Diet

Feeding red phantom tetras is relatively easy. They will quickly gobble up fine-grained meals like Tetra Micro pellets, TetraMin, etc.

If you want to enhance their vibrancy of color, you can offer them, Tetra Rubin. The enhancement in their color will be visible in just two weeks.

In the wild, these prefer to eat worms, tiny bugs, and also crustaceans. Due to their diversity in food habits, they do not offer any issues with their diet when kept in an aquarium. These tetras can easily settle on flake meals and frozen meals. You can also provide them cyclops or daphnia.

Nevertheless, you can feed them a very nice mixture of packed, frozen, and live foods to ensure a healthy diet. They will grow amazingly if you offer variation in their diet with flakes, granules, etc. You can even feed them live or frozen blood worms; they’ll love to have them.

These tetras usually prefer to live in the middle of the tank. So, they easily catch their food from the water’s surface and ignore all other foods settled at the tank’s bottom area.

So, are you now thinking, how often you should feed your red phantom tetras? It is better to feed them often with smaller amounts of food, which they can quickly finish within 3 minutes.

Do not offer them large meals as they won’t be able to finish the entire food at once. And then, the leftover fish food will decompose and affect the quality of the tank water.


Red phantom tetras are pretty easy to care for. It is better to store them in a shoal of 6 or more fish for their better growth and happy mood.

Besides, you need to ensure optimum water parameters for taking proper care of your fish. You can even make the aquarium well planted with floating and rooted vegetation to give them enough shady areas for taking rest and hiding.

But do you know that this fish is not as hardy as other fish species? Yes, and that is why you need to offer them a proper tank-setup with suitable parameters.

Besides, they are moderately messy. So, you can equip a small sponge filter in the aquarium to keep the water clean.

Though these fish are peaceful, if two males show aggression and quarrel too much while exhibiting dominance, separate them immediately.

Breeding & Reproduction

In the wild, red phantom tetra usually tend to breed in the rainy season. Yes, you got that right! They love to breed when the weather is wet and there is constant rainfall. How romantic!

However, in captivity, they can easily breed throughout the year, along with a very controlled temperature and proper moisture condition.

So, to promote healthy and successful breeding, you need to keep your tetras in a separate breeding tank that is properly arranged with floating vegetation and subdued lighting.

The male red phantom tetras will show the females their best colors to attract them. Once attracted, the female fishwill lay at least 300 eggs.

After laying the eggs, separate the parent fish immediately as they tend to eat their eggs. And for doing so, you need to know what do tetra eggs look like.

Soon after the eggs hatch and cute little fries come out for free swimming, they will consume newly hatched brine shrimps. You can also offer them crushed flakes for feeding.

You can use a separate tank filled with slightly acidic water, along with a small air-powered sponge filter for nurturing fries.

However, to promote healthy breeding, keep the tank away from direct sunlight. Make sure to introduce a nicely conditioned tetra pair at night, and they will spawn during the daybreak.

Red Phantom Tetra Interesting Facts

Just like any other type of tetras, red phantom tetra is also packed with some interesting facts. Knowing about those facts can make you more excited to house these fish species in your home aquarium.

So, are you ready to learn the fun facts? Here we go!

These tetras can be easily differentiated between the male and female counterparts from their dorsal fin. The male red phantom tetra comes with a taller and more pointed dorsal fin than the females.

Female tetras come with dark spots with a white tip at the top of their fin.

The male fish of this species of tetra are slimmer than the females.

They are usually egg scatterers. Thus, while breeding, the female tetras tend to scatter their eggs on the vegetation.

Though red phantom tetra likes to live in slightly hard and alkaline water, they prefer soft and acidic water for laying eggs. Absurd but true!

They are not much tolerant to frequent water changes.

You might often think, what do tetra eggs look like? Well, it seems like transparent, white, tiny globules bundled together.

Where to Buy?

Well, red phantom tetras are quite easy to find at any aquarist shop. You can easily get them from your nearby shops where they tend to sell a variety of tetras. Also, you can find this species of tetra at any hobbyist’s shop or online store.


When it comes to tank suitability, red phantom tetra is a great buddy! These tetras easily live in a properly setup tank without giving you much trouble. Thus, they are quite a friendly fish for beginners, who are thinking of bringing some easy schooling fish to care for in their home aquariums.

So, are you one of those newbie aquarists? Then, trust us, getting these will be a perfect choice for you!