Maximum size : 4 cm

Red Phantom Tetra - Hyphessobrycon sweglesi : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

Table of contents


Red Phantom Tetras are the epitome of peaceful community fish. These captivating creatures thrive in the company of their shoalmates, preferring to be part of a vibrant group consisting of eight or more individuals. For an optimal experience, consider bringing a mixed-sex group, as Red Phantom Tetras engage in captivating temporary dominance hierarchies. Witness the awe-inspiring spectacle as the males compete for the attention of the females, displaying mesmerizing behaviours and showcasing their finest colours when kept in more significant numbers.

When selecting tankmates for these remarkable tetras, exercise caution, taking into account their preference for comparatively lower tropical water temperatures. Red Phantom Tetras, while enchanting, are not as hardy as their Black Phantom counterparts, making them best suited for introduction into a well-established aquarium. As for their ideal companions, similarly-sized Characids, Hatchet fish, Pencilfish, and smaller Catfish offer harmonious cohabitation. Additionally, you can consider housing them alongside Loaches and non-predatory, small-to-medium-sized Cichlids, further enhancing the diversity of your aquatic community.

To create an idyllic habitat for Red Phantom Tetras, ensure your aquarium features a lush, shaded environment adorned with abundant plant life. Floating plants, such as water lettuce, duckweed, or Salvinia, add a touch of ethereal beauty, while a sandy substrate and carefully arranged driftwood branches and roots enhance the natural aesthetic. Dried leaf litter accentuates the authentic ambience and provides essential cover for the fish, evoking a sense of security in their underwater haven.

Prepare to be mesmerized by the graceful allure of Red Phantom Tetras as they glide through the water, their silvery transparent bodies exuding a beautiful radiance. Notice the distinctive circular black spot behind their gill plate, a testament to their unique identity. The females of this species possess an additional touch of elegance with a black band gracing their dorsal fin, elegantly bordered above and below by creamy white. In addition, all their fins and the upper rim of their eyes are adorned with the captivating hue of red, further accentuating their beauty.

Red Phantom Tetra Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

Distinguishing between male and female Red Phantom Tetras is a relatively straightforward task. Males exhibit slightly larger body sizes compared to females, accompanied by the development of extended anal and dorsal fins. Notably, males lack the distinctive black band that adorns the dorsal fin of their female counterparts. In contrast, females appear smaller in size and possess a deeper body structure than males. In addition, they showcase a prominent black bar gracefully gracing their dorsal fin, setting them apart in visual distinction.

Featured Male
Featured Female
Female Male

Quick Facts

Scientific NameHyphessobrycon sweglesi
Year Described1961
Other NamesNone
OriginsColombia , Venezuela
Max Size4 cm
Aquarium LevelMiddle - Top
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asGroups 8+
Diet & FeedingOmnivore
LifespanUp to 5 Years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
pH 4.5 - 7.5
GH 5 - 18
TDS 18 - 215
Ideal Temperature
68 - 73
20 - 22

Natural Habitat

Red Phantom Tetras are native to South America's upper and middle Rio Orinoco watershed. These remarkable fish have established their presence in the picturesque regions of Colombia and Venezuela, specifically within the states of Amazonas, Apure, Guarico, and Bolivar. Journey further and explore the intricate network of major tributaries, where Red Phantom Tetras have graced the waters with their presence. These tributaries include the Guaviare, Inirida, Capanaparo, Ventauri, as well as the Meta, Cinaruco, Rios Atabapo, Arauca, Apure, and Caura.

Delve into the mesmerizing landscapes that Red Phantom Tetras call home, discovering their preference for smaller rivers, minor tributaries, flooded forests, and oxbows rather than the main channels of the mighty rivers. These captivating habitats boast crystal-clear waters and sandy substrates, often adorned with dense growths of riparian vegetation and aquatic plants. Amidst this verdant tapestry, Red Phantom Tetras seek refuge and shelter, showcasing their affinity for the intricate interplay of nature's embrace. Notably, these versatile creatures have also been documented in flowing blackwater habitats and serene floodplain lakes within their range, revealing their ability to adapt to various environments.

As you delve deeper into the ecological tapestry of their habitat, embrace the ebb and flow of the seasons. Across their range, the rivers and wetlands experience dramatic fluctuations during the yearly rainy season, subjecting the landscape to extreme flooding. Yet, witness the resilience of these extraordinary tetras as they navigate the ever-changing currents and adapt to the cyclical rhythms of their watery realm.

Prepare to be enchanted by the breathtaking beauty and the intricate interplay of habitat and adaptation as Red Phantom Tetras gracefully inhabit the waters of the upper and middle Rio Orinoco watershed, forever leaving their mark in the annals of aquatic wonder.

 Orinoco - Venezuela
Venezuela Flag


Achieving successful breeding outcomes with Red Phantom Tetras requires the establishment of a dedicated breeding tank carefully designed to meet their specific requirements. Optimal results can be obtained by providing an abundance of floating plants and implementing subdued lighting within this separate environment. Prior to spawning, it is crucial to condition the chosen mating pair with a diet consisting of frozen or small live foods, stimulating their reproductive instincts and encouraging the onset of spawning behaviour.

Once the pair is adequately conditioned, they should be introduced into the breeding tank. While it is important to continue providing minimal feeding to ensure cleanliness, carefully monitoring food quantities is advised. Adjusting the pH level and lowering water hardness is recommended to trigger the spawning process. Employing peat filtration proves to be the most effective method for achieving the desired water parameters.

Once the environmental conditions are optimized, the male Red Phantom Tetras will engage in elaborate courtship fin displays, culminating in the female releasing approximately 300 eggs. Once the egg-laying process is complete, it is advisable to promptly remove the breeding pair from the tank, as they may consume the eggs if given the opportunity.

Given the fry's sensitivity to light, it is crucial to either keep the light off or shield the sides of the tank with dark coverings. Maintaining pristine water quality is of utmost importance to prevent fungal growth on the eggs, ensuring their viability. Feeding the fry regularly with finely crushed dried flake food, microworms, or baby brine shrimp is essential for their nourishment during the initial stages. After ten days, transitioning to finely crushed flake foods becomes appropriate. Regular water changes, performed at least once a week, are crucial to maintaining optimal water conditions for the growing fry.

By adhering to these meticulous breeding practices and providing the necessary care, aquarists can increase their chances of successfully breeding Red Phantom Tetras and marvel at the remarkable process of life unfolding within their aquarium sanctuary.

Diet & feeding

In their natural habitat, Red Phantom Tetras display a diverse feeding repertoire, encompassing small invertebrates, crustaceans, filamentous algae, and fallen fruit, among other food sources. In the aquarium setting, these tetras can sustain themselves on high-quality dried foods, although, like many fish species, they thrive when offered a varied diet. Enhancing their nutritional intake, it is advisable to supplement their meals with a selection of live, frozen, or freeze-dried options, such as bloodworms, mosquito larvae, Daphnia, and Moina. By incorporating this diverse range of food sources, aquarists can support the well-being and vitality of their Red Phantom Tetras, ensuring their optimal health and vibrant colouration.

Other Tetras of interest