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Red Phatom Tetra
(Megalamphodus sweglesi)

red phantom tetra, Megalamphodus sweglesi

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The red phantom tetra or Megalamphodus sweglesi is of the family Characidae more commonly known as characids. They are endemic to South America. There is also a commercially available black phantom tetra native to South America.

Red phantoms are docile creatures well suited for community tanks. They only grow to about 1.5 inches as adults so you’ll want to house them with other smaller variety fish. These top to mid-tank dwellers are right at home in a well planted aquarium.

If you are considering purchasing one or any other species of tetra, you should be aware that all tetras are shoaling fish. Shoaling fish are extremely social creatures. They are genetically programmed to function in a group comprised of other members of their own species. They do not adapt well to a life of isolation. It is advisable to purchase a minimum of four. Six to eight is considered ideal. Between their red body color and nearly transparent bodies a group of them looks absolutely amazing in any aquarium.

You should also realize that even though they are a peaceful fish, they do have a tendency to be fin nippers.  You will want to avoid keeping them with species that have long, flowing fins such as angelfish, bettas, and fancy guppies.  Strangely enough, this “nervous” habit becomes less prominent in larger groupings. This may be because these fish are more relaxed when surrounded by members of their own species.

Amazon River water is slightly acidic. Phantom Tetras are accustomed to a pH level of 6.8 with a water temperature range between 72-77 °F. Under optimum environmental conditions you can expect your tetras to live up to 5 years.

Red phantoms are omnivores. They can live off a diet comprised totally of common variety tropical fish flakes. A protein supplement diet, however, will help them maintain their vibrant colors. They are not picky eaters. Brine shrimp, tubifex, bloodworms, freeze dried or frozen protein supplements will work fine.

Males have leaner bodies than females. But the best way to distinguish between sexes is their dorsal fins. The male dorsal fin is longer and more sharply pointed than the females. Male fins are generally solid red. Female fins typically have a dark spot with a white tip.

Breeding Red Phantom Tetras

Red phantoms, like most tetras, are accomplished breeders in captivity. They have been given to breeding in community tanks with no encouragement from their keepers. In the wild it is not uncommon for a tetra population to double in a little over a year.

A breeding tank should be prepared with soft, slightly acidic water. You will also want subdued lighting and plenty of foliage. Subdued lighting is a key element. Not only will it help induce your tetras to breed, but it will insure healthy eggs. Tetra eggs are vulnerable to fungal growth. Fungus flourishes in well lit water.

All tetras are egg layers and will eat their own eggs. Their eggs sink naturally. A layer of marbles on the substrate will provide adequate shelter for the eggs. Adults should be removed from the breeding tank after spawning. Fry will hatch in about 24 hours. They will not need to be fed until they are free swimming. Young fry can be fed newly hatched shrimp brine, or liquid fry food formulated for egg laying fish.
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Fish Care & Breeding Guide
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