Red Phantom Tetra (Megalamphodus sweglesi)

red phantom tetra (Megalamphodus sweglesi)
© Carlos J Sanchez

Red phantom tetras (Megalamphodus sweglesi) are beautifully colored fish from the family Characidae. They are sometimes referred to as Hyphessobrycon sweglesi.

Red phantom tetras are peaceful, shoaling, freshwater fish from South America. They should be kept in a small group of at least 6-8 fish. If you have a large aquarium a large group of red phantoms look striking.

Like most South American fish, red phantom tetras do best with with soft, slightly acidic water. Keep their water temperature between 72-77 °F (22-25°C).

Red phantom tetras are small fish reaching a maximum size of only about 1.5 inches (4 cm). Don't keep them with aggressive or large fish species.

Their tank should be heavily planted. They generally swim among the middle layer of the aquarium.

They are omnivores and will eat most aquarium fare, however, feeding them a varied diet that includes live foods and frozen fish foods will keep them in the best condition and in the best color.

You can tell males from females by the dorsal fin. The dorsal fin of the male is taller and more pointed than the females. Also, his dorsal fin is generally solid red, but the female usually has a dark spot with a white tip at the top of her fin (see photo above - the top fish is a female and the bottom fish is a male). The male's body is generally slimmer than the females as well.

They are egg scatterers - scattering their eggs among the vegetation. If you are lucky enough to have your red phantom tetras lay eggs, you will need to remove the parents from the breeding tank because they will eat their eggs. They are more likely to breed in soft, slightly, acidic water.

If possible, it is best to keep a ratio of more females than males in your aquarium. Watch the You Tube video below to see three male red phantom tetras trying to court a female.

As you can see from the video, at some point the female seems to get a little tired of the males' antics. Red phantom tetras often chase each other, but usually don't harm one another.

The tank in the above video shows the proper amount and placement of the vegetation needed for this species.

This species also does best with frequent partial water changes (as do all captive fish).