How Many Black Phantom Tetras Can I Put in a 10 Gallon Tank?

Written By Lewis German  |  Tropical Fish  |  0 Comments

You may have a 10 gallon tank and are looking at stocking ideas, you may see Black Phantom Tetras and are invited by their odd shape, striking dark colours and active movements.

But are they an ideal fish for a 10 gallon tropical tank? What goes into selecting and housing Black Phantom Tetras? And what other aquarium inhabitants can you keep with them?

This and more we will answer in the article below:

How many Black Phantom Tetras should be kept together?

Tetras are highly social fish, and naturally live together in huge schools, hundreds strong.

They are used to living in close knit communities, and so need to be housed in big groups if they are to do well in your aquarium.

Generally, we would suggest a minimum group size of 6 Phantom Tetras, to make up a small school, but more will always be better.

You do, however, need to consider your tank size restrictions, and a 10 gallon tank will limit you as to how many Tetras you can keep.

What happens if you add too many Black Phantom Tetras to a 10 gallon tank?

Adding too many fish to a 10 gallon tank will result in a quick build up of waste.

Unless consistent water changes are performed to keep up with the extra bioload, this waste will become toxic ammonia, which will pollute the tank and can kill the fish when in high amounts.

It is better to lightly stock a 10 gallon tank, as the low volume of water becomes filthy very fast, and gives you less time to react if the waste build up is too much for the filter to handle.

How many Black Phantom Tetras can I put in a 10 gallon tank?

Black Phantoms are schooling fish, they are highly social and like to stick together in large groups.

Unfortunately a 10 gallon tank does not allow you to keep a huge school of Black Phantoms, so you are limited to just a small group.

Because of this, it can be difficult to get the appropriate schooling size in a smaller tank, which is the main reason that Tetras are typically recommended for larger tanks like 20 or 30 gallons.

However, it is still possible to keep a small group of around 6 Phantom Tetras in a 10 gallon tank.

5 – 6 Tetras is a good number, it isn’t too many that the tank becomes overloaded with fish waste and isn’t too little so that the fish become overly stressed.

In short, finding a balance is key, but for reference, we wouldn’t recommend keeping less than 4 Tetras in a tank, or keeping more than 8 in a 10 gallon.

How many male Black Phantom Tetras can I put in a 10 gallon tank?

Male Black Phantoms can be competitive over mating rights, and will often spar with each other for territory.

This means that in an ideal world, you would keep more females and less males, to create less competition and make for a more placid tank.

Black Phantom Tetras however, can be quite difficult to sex, so picking a school for a 10 gallon can be a gamble, as you could end up with mostly males.

While males do often spar, these battles are typically not very damaging, and are simple contests for dominance.

In some rare cases they can go a little over the top, causing stress and damage to both males involved, but as long as they have enough space and cover to avoid each other, all should be well in your Black Phantom Tetra tank.

How many female Black Phantom Tetras can I put in a 10 gallon tank?

Female Black Phantom Tetras usually don’t spar like the males, although it can occasionally happen, fin nipping and fighting is not completely alien to them, and they will sometimes pick on each other over food.

Again, a simple way around this is to provide lots of space and cover, so that they can avoid each other easier.

Another technique is to house larger schools, as the higher number of fish prevents one individual from being constantly targeted and bullied, although you may need a larger tank for this to work.

Black Phantoms are usually peaceful fish, and need to be housed in groups, if you see bullying in the tank, then it is likely that the fish are uncomfortable for whatever reason, or that they are preparing to breed and are sparring, which is a perfectly natural and healthy behaviour.

Being housed in too small of a group is usually what causes bullying among Black Phantoms, another reason why we suggest keeping larger schools in bigger tanks.

Can I breed Black Phantom Tetras in a 10 gallon tank?

Yes, you can breed Black Phantom Tetras in a 10 gallon, although it usually requires 2 separate tanks, as Tetras will eat their eggs and young the moment they lay them.

2 Tanks are to be set up, one is used as a “Bench tank” where the Tetras live the majority of their lives.

Here they are fed up on high quality food to help bring them into condition, and help the females to start producing eggs.

The second tank is the breeding tank, and should be set up with all the right conditions to induce spawning in the Phantoms, this usually means having low pH, tannic water and warm temperatures.

The adult Tetras are to be moved to the breeding tank and once they spawn, they are moved back to their bench tank.

The eggs and young are then raised in this breeding tank on their own, without the threat of being eaten by their parents. 

What is the best filter for a 10 gallon Black Phantom Tetra tank?

Any type of filter will work with Black Phantom Tetras, as they are powerful swimmers.

You usually do not need to worry about them being blown around the tank by a strong current, or sucked into the impeller.

What you should be looking at are filters which output a high level of water movement at the surface of the tank, such as air powered filters, or pumps with a high flow rate.

Black Phantom Tetras are fish of the river, and so they need high oxygen levels to be present in the water for them to do well. 

This is why we always recommend an airstone if your filter does not disturb the surface of the water enough.

Sponge filters and internal pumps aimed up top are best for Black Phantoms, you want to have as much water movement at the surface as you can, to maximise gaseous exchange between the water and surrounding atmosphere.

10 gallon Black Phantom Tetra tank maintenance

Black Phantom Tetras are fairly low maintenance and don’t require much specialised care aside from your typical tropical aquarium routine.

They are adaptable, will eat most aquarium foods, and are well adjusted to life in captivity.

Water changes, regular feedings and filter cleans will keep them healthy and thriving.

They are easy to set up, and will enjoy a standard planted aquarium very much.

Can I keep other fish with Black Phantom Tetras in a 10 gallon tank?

You can keep other fish with Black Phantoms, as they are staple peaceful community fish, although they can sometimes pick at long fins.

In a 10 gallon, having a small school of Black Phantoms is usually enough, and we wouldn’t really recommend housing many more than 10 fish in there.

It is possible to house different species with Black Phantoms in a 10 gallon, but we would really suggest you get a larger tank if you want to keep Black Phantoms in a community.

You want to choose fish that are quick moving and have short fins that are not an easy target for fin nipping:

  • Other Tetras
  • Kuhli Loach
  • Pygmy Corydoras
  • Panda Corydoras
  • Platies
  • Danios

Can I keep invertebrates with Black Phantom Tetras in a 10 gallon tank?

You can keep invertebrates with Black Phantoms, but not every species will work, and we advise certain setups for certain inverts.

Black Phantom Tetras are not highly predatory, and will typically leave most larger inverts alone.

However, they can and will occasionally prey on small shrimp species, so knowing what works and what does not is important.


Cherry Shrimps

Black Phantom Tetras will work with shrimp in most cases, however, they will absolutely eat young shrimplets if they see them and will sometimes kill and eat adult Cherry Shrimp.

However, if kept in a heavily planted tank, with lots of dense foliage, rockwork and plenty of spaces for the shrimp to hide, it is possible for Cherry Shrimp to coexist with Black Phantoms and maintain a stable population in the tank.

We would also suggest providing more food in this setup, to keep the Tetras happy and full and to keep the shrimp fed enough.

Amano Shrimp and Glass Shrimp go well with Phantom Tetras too as their large size prevents them from being eaten, but you need to make sure you are providing enough calcium in the water for their shells to stay healthy.



Snails work just fine with Tetras, and are great for any type of aquarium, planted or not, they will consume decomposing fish waste and leftover food, eat algae and assist in filtration.

Their armoured shells prevent them from being easily eaten, and their peaceful nature makes them ideal for fish tanks.

Any type of aquarium snail will work well with Black Phantoms, just be sure that you provide some level of calcium in the form of a buffer, like crushed coral or KH powder to keep the snails healthy.

Crabs and Crayfish

In a tank as small as 10 gallons, we would recommend against housing your Black Phantoms with these types of large predatory invertebrates, as the risk of your fish being grabbed and eaten is too high.

It may be possible in a larger tank with caution, but we would still suggest against housing these fish with any species of crustacean that is known to eat fish.

Dwarf Crayfish could work well, as long as there is enough cover and space for both species to avoid each other.

Larger crayfish and crab species would be a bad idea to add to your 10 gallon Black Phantom Tetra tank, unless you want your Tetras to be eaten.