Betta Trading

Red Phantom Tetra

The "Red Phantom Tetra", "Hyphessobrycon sweglesi”, (Géry, 1961), comes from Colombia in South America.  They are native to Orinoco River basin, mainly to the upper parts of this river system.

This fish is also referred to as Magalamphodus sweglesi, (Géry, 1961).  In the United States, it is sometime referred to as the "Stegles tetra".


The Red Phantom Tetra can reach to nearly 5 cm (2 inches) long.

Water Conditions

Although the Red Phantom Tetra comes from the tropics, much of its range is well above sea level and its water often includes some melted snow off the Andes so it can tolerate cooler conditions than many of its relatives. The ideal temperature is between 20 and 25 degrees C (between 68 and 77 degrees F).  It will survive higher temperatures for a while.

The hardness is not too critical and between 4 and 20 degrees Gh is all right for maintaining the adults.  A pH of between 5.5 and 7.5 is suitable for maintaining the adults.


The Red Phantom Tetra is an easily fed omnivore.  Its preferred food is small live food like aquatic insects, especially mosquito larvae and bloodworms, small crustaceans like Daphnia, and tiny aquatic worms.  In an aquarium it will eat normal dry fish food readily.   It is a good idea to add variety to this diet and include the occasional feeding of frozen bloodworms or brine shrimp, and some live food.


The Red Phantom Tetra is a schooling fish and I suggest that a minimum of 6, and preferably more, be kept together. In my own experience, this is a very peaceful fish, but other people have observed some aggression with this species.

It is suitable for keeping with all the smaller and more peaceful tetras and rasboras as well as other similar sized fish without long fins.  I have kept them with Guppies without any trouble, but I suggest caution if this is tried.

It will tolerate the conditions in a well-maintained community tank with a temperature of 24 degrees C (75 degrees F) and a neutral pH. 

It is also suitable for a more specialized community tank with a lower pH for small acid loving fish.


The dorsal fin of the males is higher and slightly more pointed.  The males’ dorsal fins are almost completely red while the females’ dorsal fins have red with black above the red and a white tip.


The Red Phantom Tetra is an egg scattering species.  It is normally spawned in a small school.  The breeding tank should have soft acid water and should be darkened so there is very little light.  The fish will spawn over fine leaved plants.

The eggs hatch in 24-36 hours, and the fry will be free swimming in 3-4 days.

Raising the Fry

Baby Red Phantom Tetras are small and will eat infusoria (protozoa) for a few days before they are big enough to go onto eating larger things like finely screened Daphnia or newly hatched Brine Shrimp.  These things can be supplemented with suitable sized commercial fry foods.

Conservation Status

The Red Phantom Tetra is one of the many organisms whose threat of extinction has not been evaluated. Indirect evidence suggests that currently they are under no particular threat. However, conditions in the world are changing so quickly that there is always concern, especially for a species with a restricted range.



The Age of Aquariums :


Steve Challis