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RED TAIL CATFISH (Phractocephalus hemioliopterus)

RED TAIL CATFISH (Phractocephalus hemioliopterus)

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The redtail catfish is a massive freshwater fish that only the most experienced aquarists should attempt to keep.

Despite that, there are a lot of people who think that these fish are much more manageable to keep in captivity than they are.

The redtail catfish (scientific name: phractocephalus hemioliopterus) is native to north-most South American countries. The countries it can commonly be found in are Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador, Guyana, and Bolivia.


The average lifespan of a redtail catfish is around 15 years in captivity. In the wild they have been known to live longer, but there isn’t a significant amount of data on that.


The redtail catfish has a very classic “catfish” look to it. The barbels (long whiskers) it has are quite large and impossible to miss. They tend to stick straight outward no matter if the fish is swimming fast or not.

The main color of their body is dark grey with a smattering of faint dots stretching over this part of their body. 

The average size of a redtail catfish in captivity is around 3-4 feet in length. In the wild, this can be closer to 5 feet.

It’s important to understand just how massive this is, and what that means for anyone who wants to keep one in a home aquarium. This means that the minimum tank size is going to be astronomical just to make them relatively comfortable.


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