Freshwater Fish

The Red Phantom Tetra (Hyphessobrycon Sweglesi) Care Guide 101

Have you been wondering which fish species is the best for your aquarium? Well, the red phantom tetra is the best option you should consider.

In this article, I will focus on size, appearance, care, tank mates, lifespan, tank conditions, breeding and feeding.

This fish species has a red colour that is attractive and appealing to the eye. They are active and entertaining to watch.

Let us look at an overview of the species’ profile as we start.

Species Overview

Common Names: Bloodfin Tetra, Cayenne Tetra, Chili Tetra, Flame Tetra, Red Minor Tetra, Red Nano Tetra, Rummy-Nose Tetra, Scarlet Tetra, Ghost Tetra.

Scientific Name: Hyphessobrycon Sweglesi

Adult Size: 1.5 inches

Life Expectancy: 5 years


Family: Characidae

Origin:  South America

Color: Bronze

Social: Peaceful

Minimum Tank Size: More than 14 gallons

Tank Level: Top to medium dwellers

Diet: Omnivore

Care Level: Moderate

Hardness: 4-8 GH

Temperature: 72-78 °F


This Phantom Tetra is a tiny-sized fish with a body length of about 1.5 inches. It has a body shape like a bullet.

It has a clear bronze body with a red line that starts from its body’s lower part until it reaches its tail. It also has a red line on its head, from its mouth until its eyes.

This red line is very noticeable and gives this fish a very attractive appearance. The Red Phantom fish is also very colourful, with bright red scales on its body and a black line running through its eyes, making it easy to identify, even in the dark.

The male version of this species is bigger than the female Red Phantom. The fish species has a contrasting colouration where the male is brighter than the female.

The dorsal fins of the males are also long, with their bodies being more streamlined than the females’. 

Under stress or during unfavourable conditions, this fish loses its colour, and in the same condition, the juveniles become stunted. For instance, if the water pH lowers or rises, they turn its colour to dull grey or black.

The fish species vary in size and shape and look like serape tetras.


The fish swims around the top and the middle of the tank in groups. They hide in the dark areas of the tank, such as rocks and plant leaves, when playing or when threatened.

The males swim by puffing to show off to the females. This behaviour becomes more dominant during the mating season.

Fin nipping is their way of preventing other fish from disturbing them during breeding.


These tetras are common in fish markets, both wildly or commercially bred. They are sold at $3 each in groups of six to promote shoaling behaviour.

The markets typically sell them live or dried. The need for this fish species is based on supply and demand.

When there is a high demand for fish, the prices will be increased. When there is a low demand for fish, the costs will be low.

When the fish is typically sold live, it must be transported in cool, fresh water. It is commonly marketed as a novelty pet or as an ornamental fish.

Some retailers also sell Red Phantom fish food.


Red Phantom fish can be seen in the rivers of the Amazon, the Congo and the Rio Negro. They are also found in some of the larger rivers in Africa.

Most of the time, they are found in areas with a good water flow and plenty of vegetation.

They prefer slow-moving water with plenty of hiding spots. The fish species is a hardy fish that can tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions.

This fish can also adapt well to changing conditions and is not as sensitive as some other species to changes in water quality or temperature. They are a good choice for those who want an affordable, easy-to-keep fish that is not too picky about its environment.

Adult Size And Lifespan

The Red Phantom Tetra is a small schooling fish that grows to a maximum size of about 1.5 inches (3.8 cm). However, the juveniles are 1-inch, and their growth depends on how healthy they are fed. This species can live for up to 5 years with proper care.

But the average lifespan in captivity is usually much shorter, at only 2-3 years.

This is due to a variety of factors, including poor diet, stress from other fish, and tank size. Red Phantoms are also known for their highly variable lifespans – some individuals can live up to 10 years or more while others only have a lifespan of 2-3 years.

Therefore, it is important to provide a well-maintained aquarium with plenty of suitable foods and proper care to ensure your red phantom species lives a long and happy life.

Tank Requirements


The hardness level of the water should be 4-8 dGH, and the pH level should be 5.5-7.5. The tank should have enough space with temperatures of 72 to 78 °F.

Unfavorable acidic levels make the fish change its colour and its beautiful nature. However, too high temperatures make the fish inactive and can cause diseases. 

Light Conditions

The light in the aquarium of this fish should be at least a 15-watt bulb, and preferably more.

If the light is too low, the fish may become inactive and stop eating. If the light is too high, it can cause stress to the fish.

Make sure to adjust the light according to your aquarium’s size and how many fish are in it. The fish also rests during the night, and therefore dim lighting is encouraged to make the tank peaceful.

Lighting is only recommended for 12 to 14 hours per day.

Plants And Decorations

Aquarium decoration is an essential part of aquarium keeping. They can help create an environment that resembles the natural habitat of this fish species.

Aquarium decoration includes the placement of artificial or natural vegetation, rocks, and driftwood in the aquarium. It not only enhances the beauty of the aquarium but also provides shelter to the fish.

Artificial plants are the best type for aquarium decoration for the Red Phantom fish. They are easy to care for and provide the fish with plenty of hiding places.

Artificial plants also create a natural look and feel in the aquarium.

Rocks can be used as part of the aquarium decoration or to give the tank stability. Driftwood is an essential part of any aquarium and adds dimension and texture to the tank.

Driftwood can be placed in different parts of the aquarium to create different looks.


The fish tanks require substrates that help to give the fish plenty of oxygen and to filter out harmful toxins. Some suitable substrates include Aquarium gravel (if using live plants), Flower pots or artificial plants, Ceriaceous flakes, Coarse sand, and Small pieces of driftwood.

Some other things you may want to consider adding to your tank as substrates are live mosses and algae, which can provide hiding places and green areas for your fish. Also, a layer of the substrate to help with water circulation and hold moisture, and a plant or two that can provide cover for your fish.

If you want to create an exciting habitat for your Red Phantom pet, some other ideas include:

  • Adding rocks, corals or a cave formation;
  • Placing plants in small water gardens or hanging basket setups;
  • Making a bubbling stream out of tap water using something like a plastic container with a small hole in the bottom;
  • Add a layer of plastic wrap to one or both sides of an aquarium.

Diet And Feeding

Red Phantoms are omnivorous. Their diet is mainly composed of small insects, larvae, and other small invertebrates.

They will also consume algae and other plant matter. It is important to provide a varied diet to keep them healthy and to provide them with the nutrients they need.

Good quality flake food or pellet food can be used as a base diet and then supplemented with live or frozen foods. Bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia are all excellent choices.

The adults can also be fed with granules.

Feeding them once during the day is recommended. The food should not be less or extra since food in the tank starts rotting, which attracts bacteria, fungi or viruses that cause diseases to the fish.

Providing a healthy environment is also important, so a good quality tank and filter are essential. Regular water changes are also recommended to keep the fish clean and healthy.


This schooling fish is kept in groups of six. Their aquarium should have decorations in the form of plants and other materials to make the areas shady for the fish.

Caring for a Red Phantom fish is easy. The water requirements should be optimum, and the aquarium should mimic its natural environment.

Keep in mind that Red Phantoms are generally peaceful so if it becomes aggressive, then something must have triggered it and caused it stress. The fish become aggressive when other fish are crossing their boundaries and should be separated from them when such occurs.

As for keeping the aquarium habitable, you can place a sponge filter in the tank to keep the water clean.

Tank Mates

As mentioned before, Red Phantoms are peaceful and they can live with others without much trouble. However, the others kept with it should be just as peaceful for them to be put in the same aquarium.

Small fishes are recommended since Red Phantoms tend to be the prey of large ones.

In the aquarium, the female fish should be less than the males to allow the males to compete for them during mating.

Below is a list of potential tank mates that are great for this fish species;

  • Gasteropelecidae
  • Harlequin rasboras
  • Characids
  • black phantom tetras
  • Loricariid catfish
  • Lebiasinids
  • Smaller callichthyidae
  • Small cichlids


Breeding of this species of fish is simple. Once you have the fish, place the male in a tank with a compatible female and let them breed.

The light should be dim, and when artificially producing them, you should provide a safe surface where the eggs will fall.

In the wild, the fish tend to breed in the rain. However, in captivity, they breed when the conditions are favourable.

The acidity of the water should be slightly low, and the temperatures should be maintained, as mentioned above. Oxygen should be enough in the tank, facilitated with a filter.

Naturally, males start showing their mating signs by bouncing onto females. The females respond by releasing the eggs, and they are fertilized.

They deposit their eggs in the tanks, especially on the plants. They lay at least 300 eggs per season.

Once the fish has spawned, they are removed from the mating tank since the male end up eating the fry. Their parental care is low and sometimes zero.

The hatchlings are fed by a yolk sac, dried food graded into small pieces, micro worm, and infusoria. They are moved into a community tank where they can feed themselves.

Shrimps and egg yolk are put in the tank to help them grow rapidly.


A few parasites can affect this fish species, including Ich, Velvet, and Flukes. Ich is the most common and can be controlled with medication.

Velvet and Flukes are less common but can be controlled with medication as well.

It is essential to treat all fish in the tank, even if they don’t show signs of illness, to prevent the spread of disease. Quarantine new fish for at least two weeks before adding them to your tank.


Ich is a parasite that affects fish and can be controlled with medication. Treatment will kill the parasites, but it can be fatal to your fish if not treated correctly.

It is essential to keep your tank clean and treat your fish regularly for Ich, so they do not become infected.

If you notice any changes in behaviour or body proportions in your fish, such as swollen fins or scales, it is likely they have Ich and should be treated immediately.


Velvet is a parasite that affects fish and can be controlled with medication. Just like with Ich, treatment for this can kill the parasite but can prove dangerous to your fish if not done correctly.

It is essential to keep your tank clean and treat your fish regularly for Velvet, so they do not become infected.

If there are any noticeable changes in the behavior of your fish or their physical appearance, it’s likely that they have Velvet and should be taken to the vet for treatment immediately.


Flukes are less common parasites. The Fluke is a parasitic flatworm that lives off of the blood and organs of the fish. It is most commonly found in freshwater aquariums but also in saltwater aquariums.

It is a very small worm and is often hard to see with the naked eye. Flukes can cause various problems for your fish, including reduced appetite, lethargy, and even death.

If you see any of these symptoms in your fish, it is best to take them to a veterinarian immediately. Flukes can be easily removed from your fish using a special parasite treatment kit, but if left untreated, they can be very harmful to your fish.


Many diseases can affect Red Phantom fish, including bacterial and fungal infections, parasites, and viral infections. Treatment for these diseases will vary depending on the specific condition but may include antibiotics, antifungals, and anti-parasitic medications.

In some cases, surgery may also be necessary. It is important to work with a qualified veterinarian to ensure that your fish species receive the proper diagnosis and treatment.

Prevention is also important, and you can keep your fish healthy by regularly cleaning their tanks and providing plenty of fresh water and food. If you notice any signs of illness, be sure to consult a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Some common diseases that can affect Red Phantom fish include:

  1. Bacterial infections, including tank-bacterial overgrowth (TB), pink water disease, and Flavobacterium columnare
  2. Fungal infections, including fungal overgrowth (FO), white spot syndrome, and Aspergillus fumigatus
  3. Viral infections, including Erythrovirus and Giardia spp.

If you notice any of these diseases affecting your fish, be sure to consult a veterinarian. Treatment options may vary depending on the condition but usually include antibiotics or antifungals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should You Get A Red Phantom Tetra For Your Aquarium?

If you are considering adding a red phantom species to your aquarium, there are a few things to consider first.

The most important thing to remember is that this fish is a schooling fish and will require a community tank with other similar-sized fish.

Additionally, Red Phantoms are generally very active swimmers and require plenty of swimming space. If you don’t have room for one in your aquarium, it may not be the best option.

Overall, a red phantom fish species is an exciting and colourful addition to any aquarium. If you can accommodate its needs, this type of fish is worth considering!

Where Are Red Phantom Tetras From?

Red phantom fish species are from the Amazon River basin in South America. They are found in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela.

Phantom tetras are a relatively new species first described in the 1990s. They are currently considered to be a subspecies of the common tetra.

How Many Red Phantom Species Should Be Kept Together?

A group of 5 or 6 is ideal. Any less and they may be bullied by other fish; any more leads to aggression potentially occurring within the group.

They are generally peaceful fish and can get along well with other fish in their environment. However, they will not thrive if kept with other species of tetras as they can also be competitive and territorial.

They also require a lot of swimming space, so they should not be kept in a crowded aquarium.

Is A Red Phantom Fish Aggressive?

No, this fish species is not an aggressive fish. It is a peaceful community fish that does well with other peaceful fish of a similar size.

It is not recommended to keep them with aggressive fish, as they may get into fights. However, they are generally peaceful and will not harm other tank mates.

If you have other aggressive fish in your tank, it is best to separate them instead.

How Long Does The Red Phantom Fish Species Live?

Red Phantom fish has a lifespan of up to 5 years. However, in captivity, their lifespan is often shorter due to poor water quality and lack of proper nutrition.

It is essential to provide your Red Phantom pet with a healthy diet and clean water to ensure they live a long, happy life.

What Does The Red Phantom Fish Eat?

These fish species are omnivores so they will eat a variety of foods. They eat small insects, crustaceans, and plant matter in the wild.

In captivity, they will eat flakes, pellets, and vegetables. Some of their favourite foods include live bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia.

They should be fed a varied diet to ensure they get the nutrients they need. Some good foods to feed them include live and frozen flakes, pellets, and vegetables.

Some of their favorites include peas, black beans, sweet potatoes, apple sauce, and yogurt.


The Red Phantom fish is a beautiful freshwater fish that is popular among aquarists. They are bought in pet stores and mostly bred in captivity.

Being a fish species that is relatively easy to care for, it makes a great addition to any community aquarium. Not to mention, these fish are peaceful and do well in groups.

They are omnivorous and can eat different kinds of foods. The fish species is a hardy fish and is a good choice for beginner aquarists.

With proper care, these fish can live for several years. If you are looking for a beautiful and easy-to-care-for freshwater fish, the Red Phantom Tetra is a great choice.


Passionate fishkeeper. Nature lover. Creative thinker. Music junkie. Adventurer.

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