Information, Characiformes (Characins), Freshwater fish, Species, Tetras

Red Phantom Tetra: Complete Species & Care Overview

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by Jason Matthews



The Red Phantom Tetra is one of the most popular and beloved pet fish species. The Red Phantom Tetra, with its striking red color and peaceful nature, is an excellent addition to any fish tank. Whether a novice or an experienced pet fish owner, this article will teach you everything you need to know about this fascinating species. 

We will cover everything you need to know about the Red Phantom Tetra, from its origin and appearance to its behavior and tank conditions. In addition, we will discuss tankmates, diet, breeding, and diseases to help you keep your fish healthy and happy.

So, if you’re ready to learn more about this stunning and fascinating fish species, let’s get started!


Scientific Name: Hyphessobrycon sweglesi
Common Names: Red Phantom Tetra
Life Expectancy: 5-8 years
Adult Size: 1.5-3.8 cm (0.6-1.5 in)


HabitatOrinoco Basin and the Amazon Basin
OriginSouth America
Care LevelEasy
DietOmnivorous, accepts flakes, frozen, and live food
Tank LevelMiddle
Minimum Tank Size30 liters (8 gallons)
Water pH5.5-7.5
Water Temperature22-28°C (72-82°F)
Water Hardness2-15 dGH
Tank MatesPeaceful community fish

Fun Fact Corner

The Red Phantom Tetra is that it can change color depending on its surroundings and mood. They have a pale, almost translucent body in their natural habitat, with a reddish-orange tail and fins. Their coloration can become much more vibrant and striking when kept in a well-maintained tank with proper lighting and water conditions.

They can also change color depending on their mood or level of stress, becoming more or less vibrant depending on the situation. Because of their ability to change color, they are an exciting and dynamic addition to any tank.


The Red Phantom Tetra, also known as the Hyphessobrycon sweglesi, is native to South American rivers and streams. It is found in the Orinoco and Rio Negro basins of Venezuela and Brazil, respectively. 

The Red Phantom Tetra belongs to the Characidae family, which includes many freshwater fish species commonly kept as pets. This family is well-known for its wide variety of colors and patterns, making it a popular choice among fish hobbyists.

Eigenmann and Kennedy published the first scientific description of the Red Phantom Tetra in 1903. It has since become a popular aquarium fish due to its bright red color and peaceful nature. The Red Phantom Tetra can be found swimming in schools among the vegetation in the wild, often in clear, fast-flowing water.


The Red Phantom Tetra is distinguished by its vibrant red coloration, which is most prominent in males of the species. Males have a deep red coloration on their body, fins, and tail, whereas females have a more subdued, orange-red coloration. The fish’s body is long and streamlined, allowing it to move quickly and gracefully through the water. The dorsal fin is near the body’s center, and the anal fin is near the tail. The pectoral fins are close to the head, and the tail fin is forked, allowing for more precise movements.

The Red Phantom Tetra has a black lateral line that runs along the length of its body, which adds to its striking appearance. The black line not only gives the fish a distinct impression but also aids in its ability to blend in with its surroundings in the wild.

As the fish grows, its fins become more prolonged, and males develop a slight hump on the forehead. The fish’s fins and tail are transparent, lending it a delicate and elegant appearance. The fish has small, smooth scales that give it a sleek and shiny appearance.


Males are slightly larger than females, with males reaching up to 1.5 inches and females reaching around 1 inches. Because of its small size, the fish is appropriate for a wide range of tank sizes, from small desktop aquariums to larger community tanks.

It is important to note that the conditions in which the fish is kept can affect its size, so proper tank size and water quality are critical for the fish’s health and well-being. A tank that is too small or has poor water quality can cause stunted growth and a reduction in the fish’s lifespan.


Males and females of the Red Phantom Tetra have distinct physical characteristics that allow them to be distinguished from one another. Coloration is the most noticeable difference between the sexes, with males being more vibrantly colored than females. Males have a deep red body, fins, and tail, whereas females have a more subdued, orange-red coloration.

Males are slightly larger than females in size, which is another difference between the sexes. Males will also develop a small hump on their forehead as they mature.

When it comes to breeding, the males will display their bright red coloration and fins to court the females. The females will lay eggs, which the male will fertilize, and the eggs will hatch into fry in a few days.


The Red Phantom Tetra is a calm and active fish that thrives in a community tank. They are well-known for their dynamic and lively behavior, making them popular among fish hobbyists. They swim in groups and are frequently observed darting around the tank, exploring their surroundings, and interacting with their tankmates.

These fish live in fast-flowing rivers and streams and are accustomed to swimming in large groups. They should be kept in groups of at least six individuals in captivity to encourage natural behavior and make the fish more active and colorful.

The courtship ritual of the males, which involves displaying their bright red coloration and fins to attract females, is one of the most interesting behaviors of the Red Phantom Tetra. Observing this behavior can be fascinating and add a new dimension of interest to your home aquarium.

It is important to note that the conditions in which the fish is kept can affect its behavior, so proper tank size, water quality, and tankmates are critical for the fish’s health and well-being. A tank that is too small or has poor water quality can cause aggressive behavior and reduce the fish’s lifespan.


When selecting tankmates for the Red Phantom Tetra, it is important to select fish with similar water requirements and sizes. These peaceful fish thrive in a community tank with other small, peaceful fish. 

Here are some examples of Red Phantom Tetra tankmates:

Larger, aggressive fish should be avoided as tankmates for the Red Phantom Tetra because they may bully or harm the smaller tetras. 

Tank conditions

The Red Phantom Tetra is a tropical fish that thrives in certain tank conditions. They prefer water temperatures ranging from 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit and pH levels ranging from 6.0 to 7.5. It is also important to note that these fish are sensitive to changes in water parameters, so maintaining consistent water conditions is critical to ensuring the health and well-being of your fish.

A minimum tank size of 20 gallons is recommended for a group of six Red Phantom Tetras. However, providing as much tank space as possible is always best to allow for good swimming and exploration. A good filtration system should also be installed in the tank to keep the water clean and toxins-free.

The Red Phantom Tetra prefers a heavily planted tank with plenty of hiding places. They also like a dark substrate, which helps to highlight their bright red coloration. They also like dim lighting, which makes the fish feel more at ease and reduces stress.

It should be noted that the color of the fish can be affected by the conditions in which it is kept, so proper tank size and water quality are critical for the fish’s health and well-being. A 20-25% water change should be performed every two weeks to maintain the desired water parameters. And a tank that is too small or has poor water quality can cause the fish to lose color and live for a shorter period.


When it comes to the Red Phantom Tetra diet, they are relatively easy to feed and will accept a wide range of foods. They eat small crustaceans, worms, and insects in the wild. They will happily accept a variety of commercial flake or pellet foods and frozen or live foods like bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia in captivity.

To ensure that the Red Phantom Tetra receives all of the necessary nutrients for optimal health, it is critical to provide a varied diet. An excessively high protein diet can cause liver and kidney problems.

It’s also worth noting that Red Phantom Tetras should be fed in small amounts 2-3 times per day rather than one large meal. This will help to avoid overfeeding and the associated water quality issues.


It can be more challenging to breed Red Phantom Tetras than to produce other fish species. This is due, in part, to their small size and preference for dimly lit, densely planted tanks.

A separate breeding tank with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.0 and a water temperature between 72-78 degrees Fahrenheit is required to successfully breed Red Phantom Tetras. A dark substrate is also recommended, as well as plenty of cover in the form of plants or other hiding places.

You should also provide a varied diet and keep your fish in good condition to encourage breeding. When the fish are mature enough to breed, the male will court the female by flashing his fins and swimming around her. If the female is ready to lay her eggs, she will do so on the substrate or among the plants. 

The parents should be removed from the breeding tank after the eggs are laid to prevent them from eating them. The eggs will hatch in 24-48 hours, and the fry will need to be fed small live foods like brine shrimp or microworms.


Like all fish species, the Red Phantom Tetra is susceptible to various fish diseases. However, proper tank maintenance and a healthy diet can significantly reduce disease risk. Fin rot, ich, and parasitic infestations are all common diseases that can affect the Red Phantom Tetra. 

It is important to keep an eye out for signs of illness in your fish, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, or abnormal swimming behavior. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should seek the advice of a veterinarian specializing in fish health. Regular water changes, proper filtration, and healthy water chemistry can prevent disease. 

Furthermore, any new fish should be quarantined before being introduced to your tank to ensure they do not carry any conditions that could potentially infect your existing fish. Your Red Phantom Tetra can live a healthy and happy life in your tank with proper care and attention.


Jason Matthews

My name is Jason Matthews, and welcome to my website. When other kids were bragging about how their dog could sit and roll over, I was bragging about my latest Betta Fish and the cool sea castle I just added to his aquarium. 

Jason aquariume

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