Cat-eLog Right Arrow Pimelodidae Right Arrow Phractocephalus

Jump to next section Cat-eLog Data Sheet
Scientific NamePhractocephalus hemioliopterus  (Bloch & Schneider, 1801)
Common NamesSouth American Red Tailed Catfish
Banana Catfish, Red-tailed Catfish, Redtail Catfish, Rotflossen-Antennenwels (Germany), Rtc (Abbreviation), Rødhalet Malle (Denmark)
Type LocalityRio Maranham, Brazil.
Synonym(s)Phractocephalus bicolor, Silurus hemioliopterus
Etymology(Greek)Phraktos=Fence + (Greek)kephale=head. 
Jump to next section Species Information
Size 1100mm or 43.3" SL. Find near, nearer or same sized spp.
IdentificationAn unmistakable species - the only identification woes come when examining young hybrids which appear in the hobby from time to time. The amelanistic form (absence of pigmentation but no albino pink eyes) is only found in young fish and only lasts for a few weeks. The fish revert to their normal colouration thereafter.
SexingUnknown, although the tail colour (which varies between red and orange / pink) and darkness of the top of the head (which varies from black to grey with black spots) vary from fish to fish. These are more likely to be due to diet and mood than sexual differences.
Jump to next section Habitat Information
DistributionThroughout the Amazon system; Brazil, Guyana, Venezuela, Peru.
Amazon (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Amazon, Lower Amazon, Nhamundá (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Orinoco, Middle Orinoco, Apure (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Amazon, Lower Amazon, Xingu (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Show it on a map (Click the map-icon to show/hide map of species distribution)
pH6.5 - 7.5
Temperature21.0-26.0°C or 69.8-78.8°F (Show species within this range)
Jump to next section Husbandry Information
FeedingThe important fact in feeding these fish isn't what it's when. Red tails should only be fed sporadically. Once fed they become sluggish and so the time to feed a red tail can be gauged by the activity of the fish. It will become permanently active when hungry. Over-feeding can be disastrous and is a common cause of death in these fish. In the wild the fish eat fallen fruit, crustaceans and fish.
FurnitureThe fish does not require cover although subdued lighting should be utilised. Aquarium decor and equipment should be selected and deployed for it's own care rather than that of the red-tail. Thus the required heavy external filtration and out-of-tank heating are recommended. Red tails are renowned for swallowing items within their tanks (I.E. heater clips, filter intakes etc.); gladly these are often regurgitated but can sometimes cause serious problems for the fish. The best policy is to have as much as possible outside the aquarium.
CompatibilityThis fish is territorial within confined spaces and is certainly capable of killing other tankmates. Best kept 'home alone' unless a very large aquarium is to be provided.
Suggested TankmatesGiven sufficient space (and we are talking small ponds here or public aquaria) the fish can be successfully mixed with other large Pimelodids, Doradids, Cichlids and Characins.
BreedingOne captive spawning report exists from American fishkeeper Richard DeLeonardis. He kept the fishes in 150 US gallon acrylic tank, 24”/60cm wide. Richard noted his female had brighter red colouration shown on the unpaired fins which were also larger, had a snow white belly. The female had more “personality” and was easy to hand feed since acquired at 3 inches in 1996. In contrast, the male had dull colouration and a black belly. Female was 38 inches long, male was 32 inches long. Females typically more active. Over 200 round copper coloured eggs were produced. They were ¼”/ 6mm around. Richard was prepared for a spawn; he had a sponge filter running in the tank which could go into a 30 gallon tank to siphon eggs in and he had a video camera at the ready. One morning he noticed all the round copper objects but was used to off white coloured eggs and did not do anything with them nor record them on video. On return from work all eggs were gone. Commercial breeding as food fish is practiced in South America, a spin off from which are the aforementioned imports of 'kittens'. Aquaculture has also given us hybrids of Red tails and Tiger Shovelnose (Pseudoplatystoma sp.) Also shown is the inappropriately named white red tail catfish (which is all white) and it is very uncommon indeed.
Jump to next section Further Information
ReferencesSystema Ichthyol. - pp385
Registered Keepers(1) arapaima, (2) Lornek8, (3) husky_jim, (4) roy.bryan, (5) bukster, (6) kntrygrl4lyfe (p: 2), (7) Rob Heydon, (8) RedTail Cat (p: 2), (9) Simonh1, (10) steelhead99, (11) Jeox, (12) SuperLaz, (13) Matt123, (14) necrocanis, (15) vyperboy, (16) blurock, who also notes: "Name: Cooter", (17) doesdavid, (18) pmbooper, who also notes: "10 inch red tail in 1000 gal.", (19) smegforbrains, (20) RedTailMike, (21) Arherp, (22) tezr, (23) dean30bb, (24) jprp, (25) ndcp18, (26) Redtailrob, (27) EVK5, (28) 0210Miyo, (29) Djthomas, (30) steve_ansell1, (31) miles3 (p: 2), (32) Bimmerboy12, (33) Mqktandy, (34) TheFishGuy (p: 2), (35) robb harriston, (36) highoctane500, (37) clarenas, (38) gdc7688, (39) Benjamin Goh, (40) arapaimag (k: 10), (41) kennethqc (p: 2), (42) Seagirt, who also notes: "Lives up to it's reputation as a big eater. Seems to get along well with everyone else in the pond and generally sits at the bottom after it's eaten.", (43) ROV1, who also notes: "Eats everything taking by hand now", (44) freshfishing, (45) agusmeteor (k: 2), (46) slimrs, (47) ruip, (48) SuzukaS2k (p: 2), (49) mosin nagant147, (50) Pcpolo111, (51) Divinehammer (k: 2), who also notes: "Temp housing in my 240, will be going into a 2000 indoor pond with the next few months once pond is fully cycled and fully running.", (52) BMLDN, (53) Igor Hotasi Simamora, (54) festaedan, who also notes: "Very hungry catfish.", (55) farmergijoe, (56) mr bulldog, (57) sammy09, (58) chewy922, (59) Chicxulub, (60) DRay, (61) monsterfishkeeper, (62) urcysk, (63) Brachyplatystoma, (64) CoryCatfish1212, (65) TheBobbyVee, (66) Cecibella, (67) faxling, (68) d3n2 (p: 2, k: 2), (69) Hrothgar Sørensen, (70) nigmax.

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Breeding ReportsNone.
Article - CotM 2000 January
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Last Update2014 May 12 14:31 (species record created: 2001 Apr 22 00:00)