(Bloch & Schneider, 1801)
he 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",
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.
Phractocephalus hemioliopterus occurs in the main river
systems of South America in the Amazon region including the
Rio Negro and other large river pools.
This striking 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 in the Blue
Planet Public Aquarium in Chester.
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 being ample.
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.
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 spine.
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.
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.
© Allan James @
barbels : Pertaining
to the upper jaw. (maxillary barbels)
: 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
|Sands, David: Catfishes
of the World Vol.3 Auchenipteridae & Pimelodidae
Baensch, H.A. and R. Riehl, 1985. Aquarien atlas. Bd.
2.. Melle: Mergus, Verlag für Natur- und Heimtierkunde,
Burgess, W.E., 1989. An atlas of freshwater and
marine catfishes: a preliminary survey of the Siluriformes..
T.F.H. Publications, Neptune City, New Jersey.
Amazon and Orinoco River basins
| 100cm. (36ins)
|up to 10° dGH
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