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The red tail catfish (RTC) is a fast-growing freshwater fish, the only extant species of the genus Phractocephalus. The genus dates back to the Miocene period, 13.5 million years ago. The South American redtail catfish and the Asian redtail catfish are two species under the redtail catfish. They are found in the watersheds of the Amazon, Escudo, and Orinoco rivers. Their diet in the wild includes shrimp, worms, plant matter, and fruit.

It is characterized by an elongated body that tapers down to a red tail. Its body color is gray or black with a white abdomen. This freshwater fish is widespread as a predatory ornamental fish and is caught as a favorite game fish.

What kind of animal is the redtail catfish?

A freshwater fish in the catfish family, the redtail catfish is a fashionable aquarium fish because of its large size. It is a popular game fish, making it a prime target for anglers.

There are two species of this catfish: the Asian redtail catfish and the South American redtail catfish. The difference lies in the place of origin where they are obtained in nature. Other names include banana catfish, RTC catfish, and antenna catfish.

To what animal does the redtail catfish belong?

Fracticephalus hemiolipterus belongs to the subphylum Vertebrata. The pteropods are the dominant vertebrates, which are said to comprise 99% of all fish species. Characteristics of photo tail catfishes include photo tail fins, a rigid skeleton, and peptoids (scales).

How many redtail catfish are there in the world?

There have been no studies specifically aimed at assessing the global population of this catfish. However, an independent study conducted in Brazil in 2007 found that this fish species is harvested annually in the Amazon region at a rate of 900 tons. This suggests that the catfish is geographically widely distributed and thus has a healthy global population.

Getting the Best Fish.

Where do redtail catfish live?

Phractocephalus hemiolioliopterus lives in the Amazon, Orinoco, and Escuevo River basins; South American redtail catfish populations are spread throughout South American countries such as Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Venezuela, Guyana, and Brazil. Asian redtail catfish are found in Thailand, the Malay Peninsula, Java, and Sumatra.

Where does the redtail catfish live?

Originating from South America, the fish is accustomed to tropical environments. The water temperature should be between 20 and 26 degrees Celsius and the pH between 6 and 7.5. The fish is found only in freshwater and is a benthic organism in rivers, estuaries, and lagoons.

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With whom does the redtail catfish live?

In their natural environment, they act alone and are territorial with each other. They are aggressive and prefer to defend their territory.

How long does the redtail catfish live?

The average lifespan of this catfish is 20 years. Their long survival period makes them a difficult choice for aquarists to be aware of. They require special care and attention for a very long period of time. High nitrate levels in the aquarium water can cause bladder infections, affecting navigation and feeding habits. These fish are sensitive to medications, so disease prevention is the best way to treat these active catfish and ensure their long, healthy lives.

How does reproduction work?

Reproduction of these fish is done by external fertilization. Females provide a burrow among vegetation and rocks for safe incubation. Water temperatures of 23-26°C are suitable for reproduction. The female lays up to 21,000 eggs at a time, at which time the male scatters sperm. The eggs hatch in about 10 days. Catfish fry becomes independent after 30 days or about 42 mm.

What is its conservation status?

The IUCN Red List classification places this catfish in the Not Evaluated category. This indicates that the IUCN is not currently evaluating this fish. The Not Evaluated status does not determine that the listed animal is not threatened with extinction. However, it only indicates that no in-depth research has been conducted to explore this animal.

What does a redtail catfish look like?

This type of catfish is characterized by a large, elongated body and a very large mouth. The long whiskers on the upper jaw are very prominent, and there are two small whiskers on the lower jaw. The eyes are prominent on both sides of the head. The dorsal side is generally gray and the ventral side is white or yellow. The caudal and dorsal fins are red or orange. The red tail gives this fish its unique name.

How do they communicate?

These wild fishes have a unique way of communicating with other species. They avoid threats by making clicking sounds and sounding alarms to catfish of their own species. Chemical receptor cells in their antennae and whiskers help them to smell. These barbel cells detect chemoreceptors left by other catfish in search of food.

How big is the redtail catfish?

Red Tail Catfish
Red Tail Catfish

Redtail catfish can reach sizes of up to 1.3m. It is one of the largest predatory ornamental fish.

How fast can the redtail catfish swim?

No comprehensive study has been conducted to ascertain the swimming speed of this fish species. This catfish is observed to be a slow swimmer. As a large fish, it is often found at the bottom of aquarium tanks, ponds and rivers. It is an ambush hunter, jumping onto its prey as it reaches it. As ambush hunters, they do not need to be fast swimmers.

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How much does a redtail catfish weigh?

This large fish species can weigh up to 81 kg, making it one of the heaviest aquarium species. Compared to the blue catfish, which weighs about 37 kg, this catfish is huge.

What does it eat?

The redtail catfish prefers to eat shrimp, worms, plant material, and fruit. This giant fish prefers a diet of live fish and will gobble up anything it can get into its mouth. Redtail catfish like to feed in the evening and at night, and during the day they prefer to stay in aquarium tanks or in wild riverbeds.


The best fish available.
Fractocephalus haemiolipterus is an aquarium fish with an aggressive personality and is known to push small fishes into its territory or aquarium. They are also considered invasive fish that, when artificially introduced into a new environment, can damage the ecosystem of that environment.

Many aquarists tend to release these fish irresponsibly into surrounding lakes and ponds without a proper understanding of the impact these catfish have on the ecological food chain. In the absence of suitable predators, these catfish can mutate small fish populations.

Do catfish make good pets?

Catfish grow very large and are not suitable for small aquariums. They prefer to live in large aquariums or ponds. As predators, they have a messy diet and tend to regurgitate what they eat. Due to their sensitivity to ammonia and nitrate levels in the water, frequent water changes are required to keep Redtail Catfish. All aquarium mates must be in agreement to ensure peaceful coexistence. They also have a long lifespan and Redtail Catfish care should be dedicated to 20 years.

The ideal water temperature is 20-26°C and the pH is around 5.5-7.2. Since it is a benthic fish, low lighting in the tank is ideal.

Did you know?

Redtail catfish grow at a rate of up to 2.5 cm per week.

The Redtail Shovelnose Catfish is a hybrid between the Redtail Catfish and the Tiger Shovelnose Catfish, specifically designed for aquarium ornamental fish.

According to the International Game Fish Association (IFGA), the current world record is a 56 kg Redtail catfish caught by Gilberto Fernandes.

Can redtail catfish be eaten?

This species of fish, Phractocephalus hemioliopterus, is large and thick-fleshed, but locals do not eat it. Due to the dark color of its meat, it is avoided by locals. The hybrid Tiger Redtail Catfish was developed for white meat and is edible.

However, it should be noted that the Asian redtail catfish is preferred by the locals. It is considered highly nutritious and its meat is tender and delicious. Redtail catfish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

Nooru Ariyoushi

Nooru Ariyoushi

Nooruariyoushi has been a fish hobbyist for 20 years and is now a blog writer sharing information about fish and how to care for them.

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