common name of the "Red Tailed Catfish"
is probably better known than its scientifiic name
as this is one of the few freshwater tropical fish
that has its common name known wordwide along with
the humble community fish of the Poecilidae family,
the "Guppy", "Molly", and "Platy".
This is where
the similarity ends as this is an out and out predator
that grows over three feet and is definitely not recommended
to your average aquarist and can only be recommended
to the more experienced hobbyist who would be willing
to dedicate, him or herself, to rearing this Amazon
cat through the many tank changes from the juvenile
stage to the the 3ft plus that it will attain throughout
its long lifetime.
hemioliopterus occurs in the main river systems
of South America in the Amazon region including the
Rio Negro and other large river pools.
looking cat is definitely a loner in a home aquarium
setup and would quickly kill any tank mates including
any larger fish that was housed with it. You may think
that so far this factsheet is very negative but I
am just pointing out the pitfalls if you were not
familiar with this wonderful looking South American
beauty. You would be better to visit the establishments
that can keep this Pim on view and if you live in
the U.K. I would recommend visiting North Lakes Aquatics
in Penrith to see one fine looking specimen (pic below).
There is also a specimen on view (2003) in the Blue
Planet Public Aquarium in
They will grow
quite rapidly and you would need to be prepared to
upgrade to larger tanks as they grow. The problem
with this of course is the moving and the stress involved
in transporting a large fish to another tank and of
course you would need to make sure that the water
parameters are the same and the nitrogen cycle completed
before the move. You would need to use at least 50%
of water from the old tank to the new and seed the
external power filter with material from the older
one, if you are upgrading the filtration system.
The larger the
"Red Tailed Cat" gets the less clutter you
need in the aquarium with probably a few large branches
for decor and gravel if so desired, but you will probably
find that they will move the gravel from one end of
the tank to the other anyway. The problem you have
in the latter stages of development is the size of
your tank as you would need at least an 8ft tank with
a width of about 36ins so that it can turn comfortly.
The height is not so much a concern, with 18-24inch
If this hasn't
put you off you must be keen!. On the plus side (is
there a plus side I hear you ask!) they make good
pets and will eat out of your hand and can quickly
become a member of the family where most other fish
can't even reach this exalted status.
Amazon and Orinoco River basins
Up to 10dGH
Dorsal fin 1:7; 3 pairs of
barbels, the maxillary barbels do not extend much
beyond the dorsal fin. Broad emarginate caudal fin.
The pectoral fin spine is as thick as the dorsal ray
Orange to red caudal fin. Orange/yellow
tips to the dorsal and ventral fins. Underside white
with a broad white band starting from behind the gills
to the caudal peduncle. Body colour brown with black
spotting to head area.
Care & Compatibility
Here is a guide to keeping
Phractocephalus hemioliopterus, the "Red
Tailed Catfish", if bought as a one to two inch
juvenile, can be housed in a smaller aquarium such
as a 24" x 12" x 12" to start of with,
and again you will only be able to keep one to a tank,
as when even young they can be aggressive. Provide
shelter in the tank to give them a bit of confidence
and watch the water quality as they can be susceptible
to ammonia and nitrite levels which will quickly erode
their barbels, and also fit a cover to your heater
to stop them resting against it and burning themselves.
The choice of substrate is not important and you can
dispense with this if you wish. External filters are
best for this system and the bigger the better. Don't
have too much bright lighting as they do prefer a
more subdued light and alongside caves or branches
they will feel more comfortable.
No instances have
been recorded as yet owing to their adult size and
the swmming area that would be needed. If there was
to be a breeding project a Public Aqaurium would be
the place intended or ponds in warmer climates.
Can be fed on small feeder
goldfish but it would be better to guide them of live
food and feed them frozen bloodworm and earthworms
when young. Adults and juveniles do like earthworms
and other meaty foods such as prawns and crabs. Tablet
and large pellet food is also greedily taken. Feed
twice daily to young Redtails and then down to one
feeding a day, 6 days a week, when they reach the
juvenile stage. Adult Redtails can be fed a large
meal once or twice a week only and the rest of the
days to digest their meal.
barbels:Pertaining to the upper jaw. (maxillary barbels). Ammonia:
A compound of nitrogen and hydrogen with the formula
NH3. Nitrite: Nitrite (NO2-) is formed when
Nitrosomonas sp. bacteria oxidise ammonia produced by
fish and decomposing organic matter. Nitrogen cycle:The
biological process that converts ammonia into other,
relatively harmless nitrogen compounds.
Sands, David:Catfishes of the WorldVol.3 Auchenipteridae
Baensch, H.A. and R. Riehl, 1985. Aquarien atlas.
Bd. 2.. Melle: Mergus, Verlag für Natur- und
Heimtierkunde, Germany. Burgess, W.E., 1989. An atlas of freshwater
and marine catfishes: a preliminary survey of the
Siluriformes.. T.F.H. Publications, Neptune City,