Max Size: 4cm

Red Phantom Tetra (Hyphessobrycon sweglesi)

Red Phantom Tetras are a peaceful community fish that will thrive in shoals of 8 or more individuals. However, it would be better if you brought a mixed-sex group as these species form temporary dominance hierarchies. The males will compete for female attention, display more exciting behaviours, and show better colouration when kept in more significant numbers.

It is essential that you take care when choosing tankmates as these Tetras prefer a comparatively lower tropical water temperature. In addition, this species is not as hardy as the Black Phantom Tetra, so it would be better if you only added them to a well-established aquarium.

Ideal tankmates for Red Phantom Tetras would be similarly-sized Characids, Hatchet fish, Pencilfish and smaller Catfish. You can also house them with Loaches and non-predatory, small-to-medium-sized Cichlids.

Red Phantom Tetras prefer a shady, well-planted aquarium containing floating plants, such as water lettuce, duckweed or Salvinia. The aquarium would look better with a sandy substrate and some driftwood branches and roots. Adding dried leaf litter would further emphasise the natural feel and will also offer extra cover for the fish.

Red Phantom Tetras have a silvery transparent body and possess a circular black spot behind their gill plate. The females of this fish also have a black band present on their dorsal fin edged above and below by creamy-white. All their other fins are red, as is the upper rim of their eyes.

Quick Facts
Scientific NameHyphessobrycon sweglesi
Other NamesNone
OriginsColombia, Venezuela
Aquarium LevelMiddle - Top
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asGroups 8+
Lifespan3 - 5 years
Water Parameters
Water TypeFreshwater
PH4.5 - 7.5
GH5 - 18
TDS18 - 215
68 - 73℉
20 - 22.8℃


Red Phantom Tetra
Red Phantom Tetra
Red Phantom Tetra
Red Phantom Tetra
Red Phantom Tetra
Red Phantom Tetra
Red Phantom Tetra School

Natural Habitat

Red Phantom Tetras are endemic to the upper and middle Rio Orinoco watershed in Colombia and Venezuela in the states of Amazonas, Apure, Guarico, and Bolivar in South America. These fish have also been found in several major tributaries including the Guaviare, Inirida, Capanaparo, Ventauri as well as Meta, Cinaruco, Rios Atabapo, Arauca, Apure, and Caura.

These Tetras inhabit smaller rivers, minor tributaries, flooded forests and oxbows, rather than main river channels. These habitats contain clear water and sandy substrates, usually with a dense growth of riparian vegetation or aquatic plants, where the fish take shelter.

However, they have been collected from flowing blackwater habitats and still floodplain lakes in other parts of their area. In contrast, most rivers and wetlands across its range are subject to extreme flooding during the yearly rainy season.



In the wild, Red Phantom Tetras feed on small invertebrates, crustaceans, filamentous algae, fallen fruit and suchlike. In the aquarium, these Tetras will survive on good quality dried foods; however, like most fish, they do best when offered a varied diet. Therefore, you should also provide your fish with live, frozen or freeze-dried foods such as bloodworm, mosquito larvae, Daphnia and Moina.

Sexual Dimorphism

It is relatively straightforward to differentiate between the male and female Red Phantom Tetra. The males will appear slightly larger than females, will develop extended anal and dorsal fins but lack the black band on their dorsal fin. In contrast, females appear smaller, are deeper bodied than males and have a black bar on their dorsal fin.


It would be better if you set up a separate breeding tank with plenty of floating plants and dim lighting for the best results.

Before spawning takes place, you should condition the mating pair with frozen or small live foods, as this will encourage them to spawn. After this, you should then place the pair in the breeding tank. It would be best to continue feeding them but keep it to a minimum as this will maintain cleanliness.

You can trigger spawning by lowering the pH level and dropping the hardness of the water. Using peat filtration is the best method to achieve the required water parameters.

The males will then participate in elaborate courtship fin displays that will end with the female releasing around 300 eggs. After all the eggs have been laid, it is advisable to remove the breeding pair from the tank; otherwise, they will consume the eggs if given a chance.

The fry is very sensitive to light, so you must either leave the light off or cover the sides of the tank with something dark. Pristine water quality is essential as this will prevent fungal growth on the eggs of this species.

It would be best to feed the fry every few hours with tiny, crushed dried flake food, microworms or baby brine shrimp. After ten days, you can then provide the fry with finely crushed flake foods. At this point, it is essential to perform a water change at least once a week.

Other Tetras of interest

African Moon Tetra(Bathyaethiops caudomaculatus)
African Red Eyed Tetra(Arnoldichthys spilopterus)
Black Darter Tetra(Poecilocharax weitzmani)
Black Line Tetra(Hyphessobrycon scholzei)
Black Neon Tetra(Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi)
Black Phantom Tetra(Hyphessobrycon megalopterus)
View all Tetras
Date Added: 01/10/2021 12:36:59 - Updated: 02/12/2021 17:37:16