Fish, Tanks and Ponds

Fish, Tanks and Ponds
A comprehensive guide to fish

Hyphessobrycon megalopterus

Black phantom tetra

Kissing gourami, Helostoma temminckiiKissing gourami, Helostoma temminckii
Photos by Andy Rapson


Hyphessobrycon: Greek, hyphesson, -on, -on = a little smaller + Greek, bryko = to bite.

General Notes:

Black phantom tetras are very undemanding and peaceful. They should be kept in a group of at least five individuals in soft acidic water. Once settled they will each take up an individual territory and constantly interact and display with each other on the edges of their individual territories, this can't fail to attract the viewers attention. Don't pack them in to tightly, Hyphessobrycon megalopterus doesn't need to be in a large shoal like some other tetras, they need to have enough individual space to accommodate their own territory in order to see them behave in a natural way. Black phantom tetras look their best under fairly subdued lighting.


Wild black phantom tetras feed on plankton, crustaceans, insect larva, insects and worms. In captivity they are bold feeders and will accept flake food, granular food, suitably sized live or frozen food and freeze dried food.


The two sexes of Hyphessobrycon megalopterus are vey easy to tell apart when adult. Males have a large dorsal fin when compared with that of the female. The males pelvic fins are black but the females fins are orangey red and the females are more rounded. Juveniles resemble females until becoming sexually mature.


Black phantom tetras are egg scatterers, healthy adults will spawn in a community aquarium but the brood wouldn't survive in such a situation.  A well conditioned pair should be placed in their own aquarium filled with soft, acidic water pH 6, dGH 4 and with lots of fine leaved plants. The male will chase the female through the plants and they will spawn as they go. The parents will need to be removed after spawning or they will prey on their own eggs. They can be spawned as a group or as a pair, Each pair could produce up to 300 eggs. The eggs and young fry are light sensitive and if exposed to strong light they will die. This doesn't apply to the adults though

Wild status

Wild populations of Hyphessobrycon megalopterus are very healthy and under no immediate threat. Almost all Hyphessobrycon megalopterus in the hobby are now bred in captivity and so the aquarium trade has no impact on the wild population.

Information at a glance

pH: 6 - 7.5
dGH: 4 - 18
Temperature: 22 - 28°C (72 - 82°F)
Diet: Omnivore
Size: 3.5cm (1.5in)
Min tank size: 60 litres
Difficulty level: Easy
Aquarium type: Community
Swimming level: Middle

Distribution and habitat

distribution map for Helostoma temminckii

Origin: South America: Upper Paraguay and Guaporé River basins.

Habitat: Lives in slow flowing waters, associated flood plain areas. Gathers around submerged vegetation.


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Characiformes
Family: Characidae
Genus: Hyphessobrycon
Species: H. megalopterus, (Eigenmann, 1915)

Common name:
Black phantom tetra

Synonyms: Megalamphodus megalopterus, Megalamphodus rogoaguae.