Black Phantom Tetras are one of the best beginner fish out there. They are hardy, can tolerate a wide range of temperatures and water parameters, are easy to feed and get along with most other fish.
Can you keep them with live plants? Why would you want to keep live plants in your Phantom Tetra tank, and what types of plants are suitable for Black Phantom Tetras?
Do Black Phantom Tetras like real plants in their tank?
Black Phantom Tetras love to have live plants in the aquarium as it stimulates natural behaviours such as grazing, and provides them with natural hiding spaces like they would have in their natural habitat.
Black Phantoms also like to spawn within live plants as they make ideal nurseries for young fry to develop.
Plants also bring several other benefits, as they consume and absorb harmful toxins from the water such as nitrates, helping you to maintain clean water and reducing the amount of maintenance you have to perform on your tank.
How do you know which plants are suitable for Black Phantom Tetras?
Black Phantom Tetras are suitable with most live aquatic plants; even some of the more cool water, temperate pond plants are safe picks.
Black Phantoms are able to be kept in slightly lower temperatures than most tropical fish, able to drop down to around 22C / 72F quite comfortably, allowing you to keep some of the more “coldwater” plant species like Milfoil and Coontail and have much more success with them.
Black Phantoms can go up to 28C / 82F meaning some of the much warmer, tropical species can also be kept with them comfortably.
In short, you aren’t limited in choice of plant species when it comes to Black Phantom Tetras, so experiment. Just be sure you obtain your plants from the correct place, either your local fish store, garden centre or from someone else’s aquarium.
Avoid taking plants from the wild as this comes with a host of issues, unless of course, you know what you are doing.
What plants do Black Phantom Tetras eat?
Black Phantoms don’t eat live plants – they may pick at rotting leaves or dying/dead plant matter, but they will not eat and fully destroy a healthy live plant.
They will also show little interest in pulling on leaves or shredding soft foliage, although they may occasionally nip along the edges of plants.
Black Phantoms do not possess the tools to effectively rip up, burrow under or easily destroy plants, so you do not need to worry about your live plants going missing once they are added to your Black Phantom Tetra tank.
How to choose plants for a Black Phantom Tetra tank
Choosing plants for your Black Phantom Tetra tank is fairly easy, as most plants suited for an aquarium are likely to grow successfully with them, providing you have the right equipment in terms of lighting and fertiliser.
You may also be able to grow some pond plants in your Black Phantom tank, as they can be kept in cooler waters which temperate plants can tolerate better, although not all of them will work.
While you can use some pond plants, you are better off sticking to aquarium plants as they are more suitable for the size and environment of a small aquarium.
The best plants for Black Phantom Tetras
When selecting plants for your Tetra tank, it is best to look for species that grow tall as Tetras like to swim around the middle and upper sections of the tank.
In the wild, these fish live amongst reeds and overhanging tree roots that dip into the river banks, so finding something which can provide that sort of cover is ideal.
Pearl weed is a pleasant little plant that is used a lot in nano aquariums. It has small leaves and grows upwards on stems, growing into tiny forests that small fish can hide within.
It is fragile, but very easy to grow, able to survive at different temperatures and hardness levels. Pearl weed makes a great addition to a Black Phantom Tetra tank, and will be used often by the fish who want to get out of sight.
A very commonly kept aquarium plant that goes well in Tetra tanks, the plant has very soft, thin leaves but grows up into a dense tall bush that fish can use to hide and spawn within.
It can sometimes be picked at by fish, but in a Tetra tank, if fed with fertiliser and sat under a good light, it will quickly grow into a large, heavily foliated bush with lots of hiding spaces.
It will also do a good job of keeping the tank clean, absorbing nitrates through its leaves and roots.
This plant grows like grass and will carpet the bottom of the aquarium and grow up into the mid-level of the tank with its tall thin leaves.
Lilaeopsis grows in chains along the substrate and so can be used to create walls which Tetras can hide behind.
Its foliage also makes a good spawning site for Tetras if you intend to breed them.
It is an easy to grow plant, which spreads fast and provides good cover.
What plants should you avoid putting in a Black Phantom Tetra tank?
Since Tetras go so well with live plants, it is hard to find species that do not work; however, plants that you find in the wild can be problematic as they can carry disease, parasites and chemicals that are harmful to fish.
If you do take plants from the wild, you should be properly educated in how to identify aquatic plant species, be able to accurately identify what the plant is and have knowledge on its conservation status.
Wild plants are sometimes protected, so do your research.
You also need to treat wild plants by keeping them in a clean container of water for several weeks, consistently changing the water to remove any pathogens or chemicals long before adding it to your tank.
For these reasons, it is best to avoid taking wild plants. Instead, it is better to acquire domestic, cultivated aquarium plants from a fish store or another hobbyist.
Do Black Phantom Tetras need live plants?
Black Phantom Tetras will greatly benefit from live plants, as like most Tetra species, in the wild, most of their time is spent living amongst tall reeds and bushes which grow along river banks and otherwise open waterways.
Fish can tell the difference between live and fake plants, always preferring to take shelter in living foliage; not to mention the other benefits plants bring, such as maintaining water quality and clarity, producing oxygen and creating an ecosystem for infusoria to grow.
Black Phantom Tetras don’t need live plants to be able to survive, but you should definitely try them if you want the best for your fish.