The redtail catfish is a beautiful varieties of freshwater catfish. The grey black-spotted body and vibrant red tail inevitably attract the attention of fish lovers.

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Redtail catfish (Phractocephalus hemioliopterus) is an ancient genus believed to be over 13 million year old. It’s in the family Pimelodidae, which has whiskered catfish.

It is frequently nicknamed the banana catfish because of a yellowish stripe on its side.

Unfortunately, this is a species that take away a most time and commitment come own and also properly take treatment of.

Beginner aquarium owners need to stay far from owning this fish, and even veteran fishkeepers need to reconsider. It’s a really controversial catfish in the aquarium hobbyist world.


At a glance

treatment Level: challenging Tank Size: 1500 to 2000 gallons minimum. Lifespan: 15 years on typical Size: 3 to 4 feet in length Temperature: 68 come 80°F Ph: 6 come 7.5 Feeding Habits: omnivore, opportunistic predator


Natural Habitat

The organic habitat that the redtail catfish is initially rivers and lakes in the north regions the South America.It deserve to be found in countries such together Brazil, Venezuela, Peru, and also Colombia.

It frequently lives in Amazonian river basins. This environments range from fast-moving water come still lakes, as long as the atmosphere has the food resource to accommodate its enormous size and diet.

Under no circumstances have to you recording this fish in any kind of river or lake.

It will eat anything small enough to fit within its mouth, which provides it incredibly harmful to any type of environment you ar it into.

It is likewise illegal and will result in hefty fines native your neighborhood department that game and wildlife.



This fish is huge, and it needs a large amount of room to store it healthy for its whole life.

While many pet stores will market juveniles that begin at 2 inch (5 cm), they prosper at a price of one customs per week.

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The redtail catfish can prosper to 3 come 4 feet in length in captivity.In the wild, lock can grow up to six feet long, easily weighing 80 pounds.

Do not loss prey come the myth the fish will only grow to the dimension of your environment.



Redtail catfish are some of the most beautiful varieties of catfish. They have white or grey bodies covered in black color spots.

There is a strip going down the body on every side that the fish that is white or yellow, which leader to the common nickname banana catfish.

The tail the this fish deserve to be orange or glowing red, i m sorry is why the is called the redtail catfish.

They additionally have set of long whiskers, or barbels, on each side of their face.



There room no outside ways to tell a male or a female redtail catfish apart. Females will thrive to a bigger size 보다 males.


If you want to store a redtail catfish, be all set for a commitment. The typical lifespan the this fish in bondage is 15 years.

In the wild, they have been well-known to live for around 30 years.

Since they can prosper to together a big size and live for this reason long, it deserve to make moving this fish expensive, if no impossible.

Food and Diet

If over there is one point the redtails love to do is eat. They will certainly eat anything the is thrown right into its tank.

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Even though it will certainly eat anything, the doesn’t average it should, though. Her catfish still needs a nutritious and varied diet.

In the wild, castle eat tiny fish, crustaceans, insects, and vegetation that falls into your environment. Redtails are omnivorous, like the meaty next of the menu.

Good food choices for her redtail room live worms, shrimp. You will likewise need to feeding it large amounts of cut-up fish meat. This will aid keep her catfish healthy and will mimic what it would eat in the wild.

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You can additionally feed lock a variety of pellet or frozen foods, however make sure they sink come the bottom the the tank. Catfish are normally bottom feeders.

Stay far from feeding her fish red meats, as this have the right to lead to load issues.

Setting Up her Tank


You will need a pretty substantial home aquarium to residence this huge fish comfortably.They require a 1500 come 2000 gallon tank in ~ a minimum. Even that is ~ above the tiny side because that this catfish.

If you room serious around owning a redtail catfish, make sure you have a tank this size before purchasing the fish.

Don’t start tiny with the intention of upgrading to a bigger tank as it grows. It grows at such a rapid rate that you will have actually a two-foot catfish prior to knowing what to perform with it.

The redtail catfish will also eat anything tiny enough come fit into its mouth, alive or not. This way you can’t have any kind of live plants, decorations, or loosened fish tank components in that is environment.


When they are young, they have tendency to be timid and also prefer a cave to hide in however make certain it’s big enough no to it is in eaten.

You could have a ceiling bottom tank or usage a class of gravel or sand substrate.

Due to the redtail catfish living in the mid to bottom an ar of the tank, the sand will certainly be moved approximately a lot and may result in a murky tank.

These fish don’t require a lot of light come thrive, so the a conventional lamp will be enough.

You will have actually to get a canister filter capable of turn around the water in a tank this size. It will likewise have to it is in enclosed as lot as possible to save the fish indigenous attempting to eat it.

They are also an extremely messy eaters, so her filter will need to take care of that together well.

Water Conditions


The redtails are considered hardy fish, however they still need water temperatures between 68 come 80°F.

You have to make certain your tank is heated properly, and with the big amounts that water come heat, you will require a beefy one.

As far as water conditions, you will should watch the nitrate levels in your tank.

Redtail catfish are sensitive to high nitrate levels due to their barbels and can hinder them indigenous navigating around the tank properly. Your nitrate levels in your tank should not be above 20 ppm.

Pond Care

If girlfriend are set on owning a redtail catfish yet don’t want a huge aquarium, the best thing for them is a huge indoor pond set up.

This can gain expensive, but it will offer your fish the room it requirements to live comfortably.A good-sized pond for a redtail catfish have to be approximately 2000 gallons or larger.

Care Tips

Maintaining her tank is crucial to your fish’s health and also safety.

Due come its messy eat habits, this fish’s tank will call for frequent water changes. Due to the size of the tank, this can be a chore.

The filter will must be preserved as well. Certain the tank is extended or in a position that nothing can loss in and also be eaten by your redtail catfish.

Redtails space usually not aggressive in the direction of anything lock don’t think about to it is in prey.

Certain conditions can do it display aggression toward a tank mate, such as a cramped tank environment. This will manifest in chasing and nipping at the fin of various other fish.

This fish will certainly rarely screen aggression towards humans, but bites can take place if you space not careful. Come a hungry catfish, your hand and fingers wiggling approximately in its tank will show up as one appetizing snack.

If her catfish bites you, shot to continue to be as patience as possible and treat it like any kind of other bite through proper an initial aid.

If you should reach right into the tank for any type of reason, it’s finest to wear a thick protective glove.

Tank Mates

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Redtail catfish room opportunistic predators. This renders them seem quite aggressive due to their herbal predator instinct. They will certainly attempt come eat anything little enough come fit into its mouth.

They likewise get territorial roughly other redtails, so never ever have more than one in a tank.

Compatible types are:

large gouramis huge gar or datnoids Fish larger than your redtail catfish.

Do not home this fish with any kind of smaller fish. They will gain eaten, and you don’t want that.

Keeping other fish v your redtail catfish is complicated since it currently requires so lot room top top its own. If you include another fish as a companion, that will boost the size of the tank girlfriend need.


Breeding the redtail catfish is thought about to be impossible in captivity.

These fish are regularly bred on farms in extremely big ponds and also holding locations on lakes. The fried food is large, and breeding need to not be done uneven it’s in the right conditions.

Closing Thoughts

This is absolutely not a fish because that the faint of heart. It requires rather a lot of of space and sources to dedicate to just one fish.

This is a fish the is unfortunately regularly purchased by starting person aquarists that don’t know what they are getting into.

This leader to the fish gift rehomed in a regional aquarium, at best, or dumped right into the neighborhood water environment.

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If you are considering elevating a redtail catfish, think long and also hard prior to buying one.