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Phractocephalus hemioliopterus
Redtailed Catfish

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

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phracto2.jpg (23kb)
Photo Credit: Steve & Sharon

I've had my Redtail for seven years, I was always fascinated with this breed and always wanted one but did not have a large enough tank. After building my own tank of 1300 liters I introduced Buddy, (named after Buddy Hackett) along with several other types of large cichlids and other Catfish. Eventually he disposed of all the cichlids, and I now keep him by himself. I would not suggest anyone who is not willing to devote much time and effort to introduce a Redtail into their tank, Redtails require clean water and a strong filter system. The only time I have had a problem with him regurgitating was when a water change was not done on a timely basis. Buddy has become part of the family over the years, all our cats play with him through the glass, we hand feed him large boneless chicken breasts about every four days.

Contributed by (no name given)

My experience is slightly different, so I felt it worthy of submittal. I currently own two, one in a 75 liter tank, while the other has 'matriculated' to the 265 liter tank. In all honesty, he has outgrown this tank (current age ~2 years, size ~30 cm), however I have no other place to put 'Tiny'. This fish doesn't seem to show adverse signs (darting, banging the tank top, etc) to his cramped dwelling. I keep him with my other 'oddball' fish (Ropefish, Polypterus, Raphael) and they appear to coexist in peace. The only form of aggression I have observed is of the space intrusion variety; this takes on the form of either nudging the offender out of the area, or in extreme cases 'Tiny' will open that gaping mouth and partially swallow the offender (It looks very interesting when the offender is a Ropefish). Needless to say the offender gets the message and 'moves on'.

The diet that works for me (as provider) and seems to be agreeable to 'Tiny' is cooked chicken. I strip off the skin and bone (health conscious person that I am), microwave it for thirty seconds, let it cool, and throw in 1 cm chunks into the tank. Obviously, adjust the food chunks according to fish size; something that they can swallow easily in one gulp.

An interesting sidebar: My second Redtail Cat (purchased at about 3 cm) who inherited the 75 liter tank from 'the big guy' has been in my keep approximately the same time, but has remained 'dwarfed' at about 10 cm. Same diet, same conditions. The only difference (that comes to mind) is the fact that I had two of the same species in this tank. This was a big mistake, in retrospect, as the constant feuding for food (even in generous portions) caused the smaller guy to eventually succumb to disease.

'Tiny' has had a few bouts with disease (red marks on fins and body, as well as white slime across portions of the rear section) but has proven resilient with proper medication.

Regarding tank maintenance, I prefer the pro-active approach. I realize the potential for parasites, given the food I am placing in the tank, so I employ a UV sterilizer, reasonable filtration (~2000 L/h) and routine water changes (40 L/week).

Contributed by Andre Blanchard

My Redtail Cats are named Petee and Pedro. Petee is over 90 cm now and Pedro is just under 60 cm. They live together with a 60 cm Girrafe Cat, a 75 cm Silver Arrowana, a 60 cm Tiger Shovelnose, a just under 90 cm Clown Knife (named Mac, go figure), and a 60 cm Banded Shovelnose (Brachyplatystoma jurunese). Also in the tank are 3 35 cm Bala Sharks and 5 30 cm Tin Foils. They all get along with each other just fine, with one exception: the Clown Knife sometimes gets things stirred up. He sometimes appears with bite marks on his head and back that fit the size of both the Red Tails, and/or the Arrowana. This is his fault, not the Red Tails. Both of my Red Tails are hand fed and eat raw fish filets and gold fish. The Arrawonna also is hand fed. I clean my tank by SCUBA diving in it, and these fish all know me and sometimes play with me while I am cleaning the tank. The Red Tails are the most gentle and least agressive fish in the tank (not to say that they won't eat what they can fit into their mouths). These fish all reside in my 15,000 liter fresh water tank. They are as dear to me as my dogs.

Contributed by Marcus Christy

I have a sixth month old redtail and I think he has alot of personality. Even more than oscars who are the so called puppies of the fish world. I don't have a lot of problems wih regurgitation. Actually I don't have any. One problem is that if any male that is the same size or smaller than him is introduced he is soon eaten. But he is tolerant of females. He probably has prospects of future mates. Over a six month period he has grown about triple his size. They can be fed every other day but it depends on your filtration. I keep the largest Emperor filter out and a diatom running. This keeps my tanks clean. and allows him to be fed on an every other day basis.

Contributed by (no name given)

I have had mine for approximately 1 year now in a 150 cm tank, along with a silver arrowana, two tiger oscars, two jaguars, two convicts and a number of other cats. This is the most calm and placid fish in my aggressive tank. I feed mine goldfish so long as the arrowana and others have just eaten, or else the cat doesn't get a chance. I'd recommend this catfish to anyone with a large tank.

Contributed by Nolan Sandham

I have 3 red tails I purchased a year ago, and until now, they have grown to a suprising 30 cm in length. I used to keep them in a 240x60x45 cm tank, but now I'm building a 210x210x45 cm tank for them to swim around freely. They will be housed a few weeks later! I feed them fishes I buy from the market, they are capable of eating 15 palm size fish a time. But I only feed them twice per week, to be more precisely when they ask for food by dancing on the surface of the tank when I approach them. I like to touch them often, even once my finger was sucked by one of the red tails as if it was food! Lastly to all, red tails are ideal pets if you do have the space, the time and the interest. To me, I don't mind sitting beside the tank and watching them the whole day. I'm looking foward for my red tails to grow larger and larger.

Contributed by Lee Seng Hui

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