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Phractocephalus hemioliopterus
Redtailed Catfish

 Age of Aquariums > Freshwater Fish > Redtailed Catfish - Phractocephalus hemioliopterus

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Phractocephalus_hemioliopterus_4.jpg (42kb)
Photo Credit: Marcos Hortellani

Name: Phractocephalus hemioliopterus
Size TankpHTemp
Origin: South America
100 cm 1000 L 7.0 24C


There is only one reason for mentioning the redtail catfish on this site, which is to prevent people from buying it! THIS IS NOT AN AQUARIUM FISH! Due to its large size, aggressive behaviour and constant hunger, this fish is NOT suited to anything other than LARGE ponds in a warm climate or public aquaria. They are usually sold at about 15 cm long for a fairly inexpensive price, but beware this attractive looking fish. It will eventually reach 90 cm or longer, and will attempt to eat everything in your tank, including other fish, plants, rocks, plastic filter bits, the aquarium heater and even your hand! Also don't expect to keep this fish until it outgrows your tank and then sell it to the local public aquarium; most aquariums have several of these fish, also bought from hobbyists who thought they could provide for it. Requires at minimum a 750 liter tank, and a plentiful source of live, meaty foods.

Contributed by Lyn Fincham

Red Tailed Catfish are perhaps the absulute most beautiful fish on earth. OK, this is my opinion. These fish typically grow to around 90 cm in the aquarium, but can reach nearly 120 cm in HUGE tanks and in the wild. I got Lil'Boy (RTC) a little over a year ago, he was about 13 cm then and is nearly 65 cm now. Apparently my feeding, filtration and tank size must be to his liking. He lives in a 2300 liter tank (270x90x90 cm). He may even outgrow this tank (hopefully not!). The only other inhabitant is a 63 cm Arowana. Filtration is 2 pond filters, each rated for 6,000 liter ponds that supply some incredible biofiltration, and 3 AquaMaster 600's that are filled with mechanical media (must be changed daily). I feed these 2 fish anything and everything: chunks of fish, beef, chicken, frozen chunks of beefheart, large pellets, live feeders. Both are quite tame, basically underwater pets. A 750 L water change is done weekly. Is this a fish for everyone? No, but they are wonderful pets and quite attractive fish to watch grow and mature into the king catfish it is.

Contributed by Lynn Smith

Yes they do eat everything. Even fish a bit bigger than them. I have had mine about three years. He has grown from 8 to 16 cm. I only fed him gold fish. Moved him from a 100 L to a 200 liter tank. Got tired of the tropicals and used him to clean it out. Funny thing he has left two of four bottom feeder cats alone. They are maybe 5 cm long.

Contributed by Richard Allen

In spite of their ravenous appetites and large size, they are very interesting in both actions and appearance. These fish seem to do quite well in outdoor ponds in the warmer climates. I have owned several and currently have one in a large tank with a silver arowana. The cat stays on bottom and the arowana on top, which works out well for the both of them. They are both predators and as long as they are well maintained, I can't forsee a problem.

Contributed by (no name given)

I have had my red tail cat for 5 years. He was purchased as a 10 cm juvenile and is now approximately 70 cm and my fisherman friends say he should weigh about 7 kg by looks alone. He is extremely mellow and eats beef heart right out of your hand. I keep him in a 750 L aquarium by himself, there used to be a 90 cm arowana with him but he met an untimely demise by the hand of Bubba. When I vacuum his tank he will go to either end of his tank and mind his own business and not attempt to bother me. By no means is this a fish for everyone but if you have the time, CASH, and space for one I would thoroughly recommend them.

Contributed by Jason Olathe

Take care not to overfeed the Cats. They will regurgitate, and leave a mess.

Contributed by Kenny Lee

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