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FAQs on the Black Phantom Tetras

Related Articles: Cardinal Tetras; A School of Beauty, Part II,  by Alesia Benedict, Characid Fishes

Related FAQs:  Cardinal Tetras, Characid/Tetra Fishes,


Unhappy Tetras?        2/11/16
Hello! I am hoping you can offer some advice!
<Let's see.>
I like to think I am a new, but fairly well researched newbie hobbyist. I finally convinced the husband to let me add an aquarium to our zoo and I love watching my fish!
I have a 20 gallon aquarium that I cycled with fish (4 black phantom tetras), doing daily small water changes etc and the whole time they seemed happy and healthy. *I *read as much as I could re: the nitrogen cycle and Once the water was testing well I began to add new fish (after about a month), a few per week at a time. I am finally at full stock, with now a
total of 6 black phantom tetras (3 males, 3 females), 2 cories and 4 guppies (3 females, 1 male). We are soon setting up a fry tank for the inevitable guppy babies (if any survive) so as not to overwhelm this tank.
I do not have live plants as I was told my lights could not support them but I have lots of fake plants and have tried to recreate as natural looking environment as possible. I have a MarineLand Penguin filter 150 with BioWheel, the water temp is 78.
<All sounds fine, except I'd personally have opted for more of the Tetras and Corydoras... I think your tank can handle a couple more of each, at least.>
The cories were the last addition as I read they could be a bit sensitive and should be the last fish to add.
<Not really. They're unhappy kept in small groups, and don't work with bullying or nippy fish, which perhaps gives rise to the idea they're nervous. But otherwise they're pretty robust animals.>
The guppies are doing their usual curious exploring (they really are quite fearless!) and the cories have added a really fun element to the tank, swimming all over, snuggling up together. I am considering adding a 3rd as I know 3 would be a better number for them but I am not wanting to overstock. They don't seem shy, they have lots of hiding places but are usually out and about and being generally silly.
<Indeed. With a soft sandy substrate they're a while lot funner, but meantime, make sure the gravel is smooth as silk. Rough or sharp gravel can/will cause erosion of the barbels.>
My problem is ever since I added the cories a few days ago my tetras have been acting totally freaked out - spending all their time together in a bunch hiding behind a clump of (fake) plants. They only come out when it's feeding time. (I feed a combination of flakes, Micropellets and sinking shrimp pellets (the last ones mostly for the cories but everyone seems to
enjoy sharing them as well). I have recently cut down on feeding for a bit as I have experienced a bit of a slight algae bloom I am getting under control - I think I might have been over feeding a bit.)
<Easily done.>
I am stumped as they had no issue at all with the guppies who often bulldoze right through their school but the cories seem to fit in very well personality wise with everyone else I am not sure what's going on! The cories like I mentioned are a bit silly but certainly no sillier than the guppies so I didn't think the tetras would mind.
<They shouldn't.>
Is this normal?
How long should I wait before I decide they just aren't going to adjust (it's been 4 days). I have a friend with a very healthy and long (2 years) established 100 gallon community tank who I might be able to rehome them to (his school of neons among other fish seem quite happy so I am sure mine would do well) but I would like to avoid it if possible as I am quite attached to these little guys as they've been with me from the beginning and I worked so hard to make sure I didn't lose a single one in the early days.
Any ideas? I would really appreciate any advice you can give :) Thanks so much!
<I would add more Phantom Tetras... yes, they'll be nervous in small groups, and this species is so much better kept in groups of 8 or more. Be aggressive at rehoming surplus Guppy fry and your tank won't be overpopulated. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Unhappy Tetras?      2/12/16

Thank you so much!
<Most welcome. Neale.>
Re: Unhappy Tetras?      2/16/16

Hi Neale (or whoever gets this), I'm afraid I have another question for you! You're site is absolutely wonderful but I'll admit to getting a bit lost in all the information at times!
My tetras have finally come out of hiding, I guess they were just adjusting to the rather boisterous newcomers (2 agassizii Corydoras - soon to be 4 - truly unique and wonderful little creatures). But today I noticed the bottom fin on one of my female black phantoms is looking a bit ragged, almost as though a small piece has been torn off. No sign of the white edge
of fin rot but it's not a clean "bite" either.
<Like a tear of some sort...>
It was my understanding and so far my experience with black phantoms that they aren't known to be nippy and they other than the males displaying at each other they are very peaceful.
<True, but no schooling fish behaves properly if you don't keep enough. How many do you have? Keep at least six, and whenever tetras and other schooling fish misbehave, add more. I'd be keeping 8-10 specimens, at least, in 20 gallons. Try and outnumber males with females.>
Just in case I did about a 30% water change (20 gallon tank, to refresh your memory). I don't have a test kit (I know), but I get my water tested weekly at my lfs. After the first cycling month my water parameters have been stable. Should I be worried about this tetra? Should I be doing anything more than upping the water changes? I'm hesitant to treat if it's not actually rot and disrupt my tanks bacteria balance. All other fish are fine (so far).
<Provided the wound is clean it should heal without the use of medications.>
You're expert advice would be greatly appreciated. I want to provide well for these sweet little fish. (Also: are black phantoms big enough to eat guppy fry? I've 4 guppies along with them - 1 male, 3 females and 2 of them look ready to drop any day. I'm hoping for some "natural" population control lol). Again, thank you for your time and patience! One day I hope
to be an expert but I'm no where near yet.
<Be sure to buy a good aquarium book... many out there, but the Baensch Aquarium Atlas no. 1 was my bible.>
Many thanks,
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Unhappy Tetras?       2/18/16
Thank you again for the speedy reply! I very much appreciate it. I do have 6 of the tetras, although they are an equal ratio males/females, so perhaps I need another couple of females!
<Never a bad idea.>
And thank you for the book recommendation!
<Glad to help. Neale.>

Plea for help/advice concerning Black Phantom Tetras with kinked spines (RMF, any ideas?) <Agree w/ your sugg. of poss. causes... B>     10/23/13
Hello and thank you for reading my email.
My name is Rachel and I have a 45 gallon planted freshwater aquarium. I treat the water with Prime and nothing else.
My ammonia and nitrIte levels read 0 and nitrAte reads between 10 and 20 before each 25% weekly water change/partial gravel siphoning. The pH is 6.8
and the temp is maintained at 78F.
<All sounds fine.>
The GH and KH are both around 120 due to the source water being very hard.
<But likely not a problem with most community fish. Avoid the really fussy species like Cardinals and you shouldn't have a problem.>
The tank has been running about 6 months without obvious issue until about 1 month ago. All current inhabitants have been there for at least 5 months.
I've written earlier regarding the deaths of my 7 Corydoras paleatus and now I just please specifically need advice about my remaining Hyphessobrycon megalopterus, now 5 female and 3 male.
<Hyphessobrycon megalopterus is not a fussy species, and can do well in even fairly hard water, 2-20 degrees dH, pH 6-8.>
Roughly a week ago I noticed one female Black Phantom Tetra being harassed by a male and the next day I noticed the beginnings of "z" shaped kinks in her caudal spine area that appeared to get worse over the next few days.
<I see. Now, sometimes farmed fish come with bent spines already because of genetics, and there's nothing you can do about that. Often the fish are fine, but wouldn't make good breeding stock for obvious reasons! But as pets, there's nothing wrong with keeping them, and some might say they add character to the tank! On the other hand, if the fish had normal spines when you bought them, but months later their spines started going crooked, that's less likely to be genes. The reasons for spine damage or deformity are multiple, with possibilities including poor diet/lack of vitamins; exposure to certain toxins; physical damage (typically when big or active fish are kept in too-small tanks); and certain infections including Mycobacteria. Telling which of these is the cause is difficult, so the best approach is to consider them all, and act accordingly.>
She was still feeding, swimming normally, schooling and whatnot. A male, not the dominant male, then came down with the same symptom of a kinked spine. I euthanized both after spending hours reading about TB, Neon Tetra Disease and False Neon Tetra Disease., I now wish I had just quarantined them.
<Possibly, but if you suspect Mycobacteria infections, then cure isn't likely, and you may as well minimise the risk of further infection of your healthy fish.>
A few days ago another male developed a kink in his spine but was otherwise acting normally, he's now in my 10 gallon quarantine, and today I came home to a previously seemingly asymptomatic female dead on the filter. The kinks in my isolated male and the two previous fish are/were only obvious when the fish is/was viewed from above. At first I thought that the kinked areas of the fish were also paler but it really just seems to look different because the body is now bent and not smooth like the others. The only other tank inhabitants are 9 ghost shrimp and a handful of freshwater snails that came in with the live plants. I'm perplexed about what I'm facing with these fish.
<So am I. Normally, when a bunch of different fish become sick and die, you suspect the aquarium is wrong, and check things like water quality, water chemistry, circulation, etc. But if only one species becomes sick, then you have the added possibility of a species-specific  pathogen or problem. That said, if Black Phantoms are more sensitive to environmental (aquarium) problems than the other fish, then the fact it's only them getting sick isn't a surprise. Confused? I am! That's the problem here. My gut feeling is that you're dealing with a combination of low-quality livestock and an opportunistic Mycobacterial infection, so I'd tend to do nothing more than optimising living conditions (see above re: diet, water circulation, etc.) and seeing what happens. There are some species (Neons, Guppies, Dwarf Gouramis and Ram Cichlids) that are so unreliable nowadays I simply don't recommend them. While Black Phantoms are usually considered good fish, quality may be less good than in the past, so if they all die off, then just don't buy them again (or at least, not from the same retailer).>
Some source of stress must be bringing this on but the water parameters haven't changed. I know it must seem blatantly obvious to some but I've just become confused because, honestly, the only symptom I see are the kinked spines and I've read info about so many diseases, none of which fit their symptoms exactly. I've successfully kept Harlequin Rasboras, Peppered
Corydoras, Otocinclus and Lemon Tetras in the same tank for years back when I had tanks in my early 20's.
<Black Phantoms are comparable to Lemon Tetras and Otocinclus in terms of demands and if anything a little less fussy re: water chemistry and quality; so if you could keep those species, then Black Phantoms should be fine.>
I'd hate to think that I'm not seeing something else that's out of the ordinary with these Black Phantoms. I do feed mostly TertraMin Tropical Crisps (it had the highest protein content from what was currently available),
<Not necessarily a plus. I do recommend a mix of foods. A good quality flake is a fine staple, but try adding some micro pellets (the Hikari ones are great) or if you can't get those, try smashing up larger cichlids pellets, especially quality brands like Hikari Cichlid Gold (a very economical approach this!). Raid the kitchen periodically, for things like cooked peas, seafood, even hard boiled egg yolks. The more variety, the less risk of vitamin deficiency.>
small meals twice a day, occasional thawed out frozen bloodworms and on rare occasion thawed out brine shrimp.
<Some folks are leery of bloodworms given their source, but brine shrimps should be 100% safe because of they way they're reared.>
I fast them one day a week and have fed peas once when the Corydoras were acting abnormally after a bloodworm feeding and water change. I would really like to get additional fish at some point since this is a larger tank but not if I can't get to the bottom of what's ailing the tetras and if it is TB or Neon Tetra Disease I don't know what I'll do. To be fair, the Black Phantom Tetras and their previous Peppered Corydoras tank mates did come from a big box fish store so that may be my whole problem.
<Quite so. I'd probably avoid buying from any store that didn't specialise in tropical fish or at least exotic pets.>
I'm now willing to drive hours to buy from a reputable live fish store if my tank is salvageable or suitable for whatever type of fish that wouldn't be adversely effected by the current contaminants.
<Local/city aquarium clubs can be extremely good places to start your search, so perhaps a trip in such a direction would help.>
I also promise to stock it with hardwater loving fish this time.
<Hmm... less of an issue than you'd think. Penguin, X-Ray and Emperor Tetras will all do perfectly well in hard water, as will Cherry Barbs, even though all would "prefer" soft/acid water. Relatively few fish are harmed by hard water, even if they won't breed in it. But yes, there are some species to avoid, like Cardinals. But basically, the aim is to get good quality, healthy livestock and ensure optimal water quality rather than to worry about water chemistry too much.>
If I do have to tear down the tank to sanitize, will I be able to reintroduce the Ghost Shrimp after they've lived in the quarantine tank for the time being or would that be a bad idea?
<I don't think sterilising the tank will achieve anything at all.>
Is there any way to sterilize plants and driftwood?
<Not really, no. Mycobacteria, Aeromonas, Pseudomonas and other "problem" bacteria are latent in most/all aquaria, so sterilising an aquarium isn't going to prevent them coming back the moment you add new livestock and plants. Just as with bacteria in our human world, healthy people don't have anything to worry about -- it's when the fish are stressed or damaged that these latent bacteria cause problems. It's no coincidence that these genera of bacteria *also* cause many human health problems where people have been injured, weakened, starved, etc.>
Have I missed articles about such things here? I'll look again. Either way, I'll do what's best, I just hate to get the tank somewhat established only to have to start from scratch again. I truly admire the work out into this site and appreciate the time your team dedicates to helping helpless and seemingly hapless tank enthusiasts like myself. Thank you for your time,
<And thanks for the kind words. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Plea for help/advice concerning Black Phantom Tetras with kinked spines (RMF, any ideas?)<<>>     10/27/13

Thank you so much for your advice and support.
<Most welcome.>
There haven't been anymore sudden casualties since I wrote but I did euthanize the one male in quarantine and I'm warily watching a couple of the female Black Phantoms that just seem a little off, slightly discolored, not as rowdy and robust. I'm more and more convinced that I probably have a collection of genetically "weaker" fish that are possibly succumbing to opportunistic bacteria like you suggested, but I have begun varying up the diet a bit more simply because I can and should. I did find Hikari micro pellets (yay!), discarded the bloodworms, added more cooked peas to the rotation and even tried egg yolk from a boiled egg yesterday. Some, maybe most, of it ended up for the shrimp but the several tetras that were brave enough to try it seemed to enjoy it.
<Great. And do remember that some shrimps (especially Cherry Shrimps) will breed like mad in the right tanks, and their offspring can be useful live food for many fish, so in the right sort of aquarium you can have an ecological balance of sorts where uneaten food goes into shrimps and then (via baby shrimps) into those fussy fish that missed the food first time round!>
Maybe the trick to feeding new foods is to get them good and hungry first.
<Quite so.>
I hate that there are so many horror stories about Mycobacterium marinum.
<Yes, but since 99% of the time it's not confirmed merely suspected, it's hard to know which mystery fish deaths are down to Mycobacteria, some other pathogen, poor genes, and most likely of all, poor maintenance. I'd put money on a combination of factors being to blame, even where Mycobacteria are proven -- in other words, had the fish been kept better/differently, the Mycobacteria wouldn't have caused any problems.><<Well-stated>>
It's tricky, the dimensions of my 45 gallon are 36" long (91.5 cm), 24" tall (61cm), and 12" wide (31cm) which means my arm is pretty well submerged when I'm vacuuming the gravel but as a fortunately healthy human I suppose a good hand and arm washing should suffice.
<Ah, yes; and do understand that the "Fish TB" stories are very, very rare, and when they do happen, the bacteria seem to get into open wounds and sores rather than healthy skin. It's not something I worry about, I have to confess. Consult with a doctor if you are worried though; I'm not a doctor (well, not a medical doctor anyway).>
I don't know where I'd find those whole arm gloves, I'll look online. I'm okay with euthanizing the Black Phantom Tetras with obvious symptoms for the greater good of the tank. I'm nervous about adding anything else while they're still around, even if the tetras seem healthy,
<Wise; I would wait 4-6 weeks, at least, after the last fish death before adding anything new.>
but I also don't want my tank to be so under stocked that my cycle stalls since I don't think the shrimp and snails put out enough waste to keep it up. Am I wrong to think it would stall?
<I would not worry about this. Provided you have at least a few fish in the tank, the filter will tick over nicely. But if all the fish die, then you can keep the filter healthy by adding quantities of flake or pellets proportional to a small group of fish every 1-2 days. For sure there's no fish to eat that food, just the shrimps and snails, but the filter bacteria don't care whether the food rots directly, passes through the gut of snail, or is eaten by a fish and excreted as ammonia. It's all waste to the bacteria!>
I have located a reputable, well-established live fish store that's been around for decades and has many followers. Even with all the stress and upset I can't help but get excited about what to get next. I plan on visiting a few times first to get a feel for what they have and what might work. I might return with a couple stocking questions if that's okay.
<Feel free.>
Now, I have a different sort of question about adding iodine to the tank for the shrimp. I've seen the reef fish foods with iodine content and I've seen the Kent Marine Iodine as a water additive. Would either be safe or recommended for a freshwater tank with Ghost Shrimp?
<Safe, yes; necessary, not really. While iodine supplement seems to be essential for the larger freshwater crustaceans like crayfish, it isn't so important for little shrimps. Occasional strips of Sushi Nori and bits of frozen seafood will probably supply more than enough.>
Is the amount of iodine in cooked egg yolk sufficient?
<Could well be.>
I obtained the Ghost Shrimp from a friend that has them breeding nonstop in his tank so they were all adorably tiny and very young when I got them.
Four of them became opaque white within the "tail portion" of the body, I lost two of those but the other two are still around and are indistinguishable from the other except that they are not clear. I know they're not old so I can rule out old age as a reason. I haven't yet been able to locate an answer online as to why this happens but I see many questions about it and recommendations that iodine is vital for successful molting. Any advice would be appreciated. I don't even want to think about parasites or worms but I'll listen if you mention it, haha...ugh.
<For sure try it out, but I have a gazillion Cherry Shrimps breeding away in my kitchen aquarium, and they don't get anything beyond algae and bits of fish food.>
Thank you again and again for your time and advice. I've begun recommending Wet Web Media to anyone that will listen. Your help is much appreciated.
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Hyphessobrycon megalopterus (Black Phantom Tetra) physical injury 12/27/12
Hi Crew
Sorry to bother you at this time of the year and season's greetings to you all, I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and Santa was good to you!
<I finally met Bob Fenner in person over the holidays.>
I tried to have a search around before I sent this but couldn't find anything specific on what course of action, if any, to take. I have a male Black Phantom Tetra (Hyphessobrycon megalopterus) that got itself into a spot of bother today. I found it upside down between the Fluval U2 filter and the glass. When I got it freed it had a clear "mashed" grey patch on its side, which I took to be scales ripped free during its struggles. I've never experienced a fish with a physical injury so I am unsure what steps to take.
<Well, long term you need to take steps to make sure there is no repeat. 
Immediately, if you think this is a serious injury then the fish needs to be isolated and treated with an antibiotic. If there is no indication of infection, my own inclination would be to use something mild like erythromycin.>
It swam out when I pulled the filter back and seemed OK at first. That was about three hours ago. It is now hiding in the plants at the surface, breathing rapidly and definitely not behaving as it should.
<In a world of hurt, no doubt.>
I've put the lights out to calm everyone else down and prevent the fish from being disturbed. I also bunged in some Stress Coat, for all the good I think it will do, but I didn't think it would do any harm anyway.
<Not likely harm. Lights out was a good idea.>
Is there anything I can/should do here to help him? I have a cycled QT available but I'm not sure if netting would just add to the stress and achieve nothing.  He certainly doesn't want to be part of the shoal at the moment, so I'm not worried about isolation. In fact, the rest of the shoal seem to chase him if he is disturbed by a heterospecific and flushed out of hiding.
<I'd try to grab him with a Dip'n'pour if you have one available (plastic box like they use at the fish store before bagging.) Not always easy but better than netting if you can manage it. Short term it will add stress of course, but treating in a more controlled environment is a big enough positive to justify moving the fish away from the others until healed.>
The medicine cabinet has eSHa 2000 only. I'm not going to rush to medicate unless told to, I mention it just so you know I have it, in case prophylactic medication against infection might be necessary.
<Might as well use it if it's already on hand.>
The aquarium was given a 50% water change three days ago (fertilizer-driven algae problem but that is another story) and is mature. Should I increase the standard 20-25% per week water changes to improve conditions? I'm worried about kicking fecal matter etc. up into the water column and causing infection.
<Again, I'd be inclined to isolate the injured fish and leave the main tank as a separate matter.>
Parameters are:
NH3/NH4+: 0ppm,
NO2: 0ppm,
NO3: <5ppm,
pH 7.
Since I had a female of the same species trapped in the same place a couple of weeks ago that, thankfully, was freed unharmed, I'm going to stuff filter wool behind the offending article to prevent anything like this happening again.
<Have to do something if this is a repeat incident. It's bound to happen again.>
I *think* my best course of action is "wait-and-see" but since I'm not 100% sure I thought I'd better ask.
<For a minor injury, sure. Sounds like this might be a bit more severe than minor, in which case I think you want to be proactive or risk something you can't reverse.>
Again, I'm really sorry to bother you at this time of the year and would appreciate any advice you can give.
<Oh, we get bored without questions!>
<Good luck - Rick>
Re: Hyphessobrycon megalopterus (Black Phantom Tetra) physical injury 12/27/12     1/3/13

Hi Rick
Hope you had a great Christmas and New Year. Sorry for the late reply, I was back home to see my folks for the holidays.
<Was nice, yes. Spent much of it in San Diego with the family and had pizza with Bob Fenner.>
I had forgotten one significant detail - I "borrowed" my QT tank heater for another aquarium some time ago, so I couldn't move him the day I wrote to you. On inspection the next day, the wound didn't look anywhere near as bad as it did when I first seen it and the fish seemed to be behaving normally, so I decided to leave him in place, feeling it was more of a minor than a major injury.
<Easier to tell for the person on site,>
It's strange, because I know I saw something there. Can fish scales sort of "ruck up", like a back-comb, without becoming detached and return to normal later? 
<I suppose it's possible, but probably painful like bending back a fingernail. I've never witnessed it, nor have I experimented with this for obvious ethical reasons.>
On my return from holiday, I can't even pick out the fish that was stuck from the rest of the males. I think I might have panicked a bit, sorry.
<This is good news.>
Thanks for your help, all the same.  I'll keep hold of your email, since I have a feeling that a more serious physical injury is eventually going to happen to at least one of my aquatic menagerie and I'll replace that heater on the QT tank ASAP!
<Great. Best wishes.>

Black Phantom Tetra - Help Needed   8/22/09
Hoping someone can shed some light on a problem I'm having with one of my Black Phantom Tetras. I'm afraid I'm losing him.
Here's my set-up:
20 gallon aquarium, live plants
1 Farlowella
3 swords
7 Corys
3 black phantom tetras
6 red phantom tetras
<Does prefer fairly cool conditions... not really a very good community fish above 23 degrees C.>
I just tested my water levels:
Ammonia - 0
Nitrites - 0
Nitrates - 8
Temperature 78 degrees
I noticed a few days ago he was hiding underneath a plant and wouldn't come out when I was feeding them. He seems to be resting at first glance, but his black markings are fading and his top fin is a little more limp than the other fish. I haven't seen him eat in a few days. He seems to be able to swim fine if he is swimming along the bottom, though I've only seen him swim a few inches at a time, and not frequently.
About an hour ago I was watching him. He had emerged out from hiding and was at the bottom, in the middle of the tank. He suddenly took off like a shot upwards - I thought he was going after some food. But instead of swimming in a straight line, his body was rolling and tumbling at top speed as he swam upwards. It happened so fast that I couldn't really tell quite what his body was doing. He is now back at his resting spot under the plant.
<Variety of possibilities, but bullying is the one I'd think about...
should be in groups of 6+, and in smaller groups, bullying will lead to stress, and stress can cause the symptoms you're seeing.>
When he is resting his body appears normal, no "u' shape, bloating, or moving in circles or going upside down.
<Stress, starvation, secondary infections all possibilities.>
Any idea what could be wrong? I was concerned about whirling but I've never fed live food, and his back half is not darker, in fact it is lighter since he's lost much of his black markings. I see no lesions or anything else odd about him.
All other fish appear fine.
I do have a 10 gallon quarantine tank though it is not set up...should I transfer some water from the larger tank so it will be cycled, and then transfer him into that tank? Is there anything I can do to help him?
<Maybe add a bunch more, and see what happens.>
Thanks so much for your time.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Black Phantom Tetra -Additional Info  8/22/09
Hi again,
I've been reading up on Whirling, and I saw that it can be caused by eating a dead fish (?). Just wanted to mention that I lost a fish last week, and suspect that it had been dead a couple of days before I found it (I usually do a daily head count but didn't for a couple of days). It looked like the fins had been nibbled.
This was one of my red phantom tetras. Approx. 8 months ago it developed a tiny black dot inside it's body and over the last many months this growth has slowly spread. Right up until the end he was schooling and eating and energetic, but I guess the growth/disease took its toll. He did not show any symptoms that the black phantom is showing.
Just thought I would mention that, in case it was relevant.
Also, in doing further reading, I came across Neon Tetra Disease, and  False Neon Tetra Disease. Does the black phantom's condition sound like either of these, and if so, can you explain the difference?
<Not likely Pleistophora... but quite likely a Sporozoan/Microsporidean manifestation... common in wild-collected Characoids of S. America... as small, discrete, black shiny dots, raised against sides... Not usually fatal, unless other stressors are at play>
I also read that one of the first symptoms is whitish patches, which I don't see in my fish.
Thanks again!
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Black Phantom Tetra -Additional Info   8/22/09

Thanks, Bob.
<Welcome Chris>
This morning I saw a new symptom...periodically the fish is in a vertical position, with nose to the gravel and tail skyward. He is not doing well at all.
Could you please expand on your note below - if it is Sporozoan/Microsporidean as you suggest it could be below, what do I do? I assume he should be quarantined. Is there any medication that can help?
Note that I haven't seen any black shiny dots on him at all, he is very pale and his formerly black markings are now very light grey.
<There are no known medications for such...>
Is Sporozoan/Microsporidean the same as Neon Tetra disease?
<"All newts are salamanders... not vice versa"... NTD is in the same organismal class...>
Should I be concerned for my other tetras?
<Only if they ingest the present afflicted one (i.e. if it dies)>
If you could provide more info, or direct me to a link, that would be most helpful.
Thank you so much for your time.

Sick Phantom - 10/21/2006 Hello, <Hi, Camille.  First, I apologize for the delay of this reply.  It was not easily accessible by our mail system, unfortunately.> I have a sick Black Phantom tetra and I'm not sure how to help her.  She has a rapid respiration rate, and is having difficulty keeping herself upright; she tends to flop over on to her side, or her head points down towards the gravel and her tail points up towards the water surface. She's still eating, and I don't see other visible signs of disease (no discolorations, bumps, fungus, parasites, ragged fins, etc'¦).  She displayed similar symptoms a few months ago and I was not sure what to do for her, so I moved her to a quarantine tank with a little aquarium salt added, <This was an excellent move - though I would have used Epsom salt (Magnesium Sulfate) instead or in addition to the aquarium salt.> included a little bit of Aquari-sol (although I admittedly had no idea if this was the best idea or not'¦), <I would not have recommended this.> and fed her sparingly for a week.  Her condition improved greatly and I put her back in the main tank.   <Great!> A few weeks ago, I noticed she was starting to list to the side a bit again.  Her condition has gradually worsened, and I now have her back in the quarantine tank.  I have not started any kind of treatment yet, and would surely welcome some good, expert advice!   <I'd add Epsom salt (Magnesium Sulfate) at a rate of 1-2 tablespoons per ten gallons.  Aquarium salt certainly won't hurt, and may help.  I'd recommend strongly that you look very closely for any other symptoms - gray/filmy skin, any other abnormalities....  And perhaps also try giving her some foods of high roughage content - shelled peas or adult brine shrimp, perhaps.  These along with the Epsom salt will help to pass any gut blockage that may be affecting her swimming.  Withhold all other foods for a time.> My main tank is 55 gallons, planted with low-light plants (no CO2 added).  The tank has been set up for about one year.  Water conditions have been stable for a long time: pH 7.3 Nitrate 20 Ammonia 0 Nitrite 0 Temp 80 I do a 10 to 15% water change every one to two weeks.  I use AquaSafe to remove Chlorine/Chloramines.  I add Seachem's Flourish once a week and Excel 2 or 3 times weekly for the plants.   <Sounds great, though you may want to do larger water changes; the Nitrate's just at the edge of "okay".> Tank inhabitants: 4 Black Phantom tetras (2 males, 2 females) 5 Pristella tetras 6 Neon tetras 6 Panda Corys 3 Otocinclus All other fish seem to be fine.  What course of action would you recommend I follow to help my tetra?   <Just as above.> Any advice or suggestions will be greatly appreciated!  Thank you for your time.  Best regards,  Camille <All the best to you,  -Sabrina>

Black Phantom Tetra, Webmail Issues - 12/19/2005 Hello crew, <Hello, Camille!> I sent an email to you on December 1st regarding my Black Phantom tetra that had not eaten much at all for a few weeks (since being moved into a new tank).  There was apparently an issue with replying to my mail, but Don was kind enough to track me down in the 911 forum where I had also posted a message.   <Our apologies - our Webmail system does occasionally lose (don't know how) the "tray" for responding to a message.  I'm not sure what the combination of settings is, but my laptop seems to be the only system that doesn't lose this "tray"....  So, fortunately, I have the ability to reply to you.> At that time, the fish was showing no outward signs of illness; his color was good, no clamped fins or weird scale discolorations, etc'¦.  All water parameters were fine, and all other fish in the tank were doing very well. He has continued to ignore food.  I did get him to take a few nibbles at some live brine shrimp last week, but he certainly wasn't showing the same interest as the rest of the fish.   <Disturbing.> I generally feed a combination of flake and frozen foods and I never see him show interest in any of that (although he used to eat well in the old 20 gallon tank'¦).  I added 2 additional Black Phantoms to the tank yesterday hoping that more of his own kind would help him feel more secure (bringing the number of Black Phantoms from 2 to 4 in the tank).  This morning, the fish in question is hanging out at the top of the tank and seems to be breathing more rapidly than normal.  He may also have a light patch of scales under his chin (in the gill area), but its been hard to get a real good look at him; whenever I closely approach the tank he turns and swims away from me, but I've caught several glimpses of what may be a light skin patch'¦.  All other fish in the tank continue to do well; everyone eats and displays a normal activity level.  The Black Phantom is the only one at the top of the tank with an increased respiration rate.   <So frustrating!!  There really are quite a number of possibilities at this point; I would be more likely to think he may have an internal bacterial infection than anything....> Tank specs are as follows: 55 gallon Live plants (Anubias, crypts, java fern, Ludwigia) Eco-complete substrate No Co2 or fertilizers used Inhabitants: 6 Neons 4 Black Phantoms 3 Pristellas 6 Panda Corys miscellaneous snails that hitched in on the plants Water parameters as of this morning: Temp 79 F Ammonia 0 Nitrite 0 Nitrate 5 ppm Hardness 5 deg KH, 10 deg GH pH 7.4 A small water change (~10%) was performed last night. <All sounds great....  nothing at all that catches my eye here.> Is there anything I can do for this fish?  I do have a quarantine tank I can move him to if needed.   <I would, most certainly - if not to help the sick fish, then to protect your other livestock from contracting what he's got (if anything).  I would consider feeding him an antibacterial flake food, but if he's not eating, this is obviously going to be difficult at best.  Food medicated with Oxytetracycline would be my choice, if you can get him to eat anything.> Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!!  If this email can't be replied to (which was the issue with my original query), can someone post a reply in the 911 forum??  My post there is entitled 'Black Phantom tetra won't eat (a little long'¦)' and was originally posted on December 2nd under the name CMERRELL.  Thanks for reading and I hope someone can help.   <I'll take a look there, as well, and see if there's anything else that catches my eye.> I really hate to see the little guy in distress!   <I do very much understand....  My sympathies to you, and to him - I hope he can pull through for you.> Best regards,  -Camille Merrell <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>
Black Phantom Tetra, Webmail Issues - II - 12/25/2005
Hi Sabrina, <Camille, my apologies for the delay in this reply.> Thanks so much for responding to my email!   <Of course.> I really appreciate the service you and your colleagues provide.   <Thank you for these kind words - we are glad to be of service.> Unfortunately, my little Black Phantom did not pull through.  He died on Sunday night.   <I am so sorry to hear this!> I sent a follow-up email after this initial message that you responded to <I fear I/we did not see this follow-up - blast this webmail!> which mentioned he had started to excrete what looked like a thick whitish string of fecal material.   <A possible indication of internal parasites....  other possibilities.> This was trailing from him for several hours and his anal vent area looked a bit red and irritated to me.  Eventually, the string apparently had exited his body and he actually appeared to be breathing easier.  I was hoping against hope that maybe he still had a fighting chance, but when I checked on him an hour later he had died.   <So sorry....> I really hope he didn't have anything going on that has put my other fish at risk, but I suppose only time will tell.   <Agreed.  Be keeping a close eye on your livestock.> Thanks again for the response.  I am new to fish keeping and the information on your website has been very helpful to me.   <I really am glad to hear this....  It's comments like these that really keep us going.  Thank you.> Best regards and holiday wishes, <And happy holidays to you!> Camille Merrell <All the best,  -Sabrina>

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