Phractocephalus Hemioliopterus Profile Fish

The Phractocephalus hemioliopterus, commonly known as the Redtail Catfish, is a freshwater species native to South America. This large, predatory fish can grow up to four feet in length.

Redtail Catfish captivate aquarists with their striking appearance and massive size. These bottom-dwellers feature a dark, sleek body contrasted by a vibrant red tail, earning them the name. Originating from the Amazon, Orinoco, and Essequibo river basins, Phractocephalus hemioliopterus thrive in large aquariums with plenty of space to accommodate their growth.

Known for their hearty appetites, they will eat almost anything they can fit into their sizeable mouths, including fish, invertebrates, and sometimes even fruits. Their impressive lifespan of up to 20 years makes them a long-term commitment for any fish keeper. Given their requirements and imposing size, Redtail Catfish are best suited for experienced aquarists who can provide adequate care and a suitable environment.

Habitat Phractocephalus Hemioliopterus

Exploring the Habitat of Phractocephalus hemioliopterus, also known as the Red Tail Catfish, transports us to the vibrant ecosystems of South America. This fascinating creature thrives in its natural surroundings and holds specific requirements in captivity to mimic its native home.

Natural Habitat

The native home of Phractocephalus hemioliopterus lies in the Amazon River basin. In these tropical waters, the fish swims in warm, slow-moving streams and floodplains. This area is rich in biodiversity, providing the perfect environment for this species to flourish.

  • Warm waters
  • Slow-moving rivers
  • Floodplains for breeding

Tank Requirements

Recreating the natural habitat of the Red Tail Catfish in an aquarium requires attention to detail. Here are the key requirements for a suitable tank:

A spacious tank mimics the vast waters of the Amazon. A powerful filtration system keeps the environment clean and healthy. The water parameters should be stable for the fish to thrive just like in its natural habitat.


Understanding the diet of Phractocephalus hemioliopterus, or the Redtail Catfish, is key for fish enthusiasts. This species requires specific nutritional care. Here’s what they eat in the wild and how to feed them in captivity.

Diet In The Wild

In their natural habitat, Redtail Catfish are apex predators. They consume a variety of foods.

These catfish are known for their opportunistic feeding habits. They often wait to ambush prey.

Feeding In Captivity

Feeding this species in a tank is different. Caretakers must replicate their natural diet.

Balanced nutrition is vital for captive Redtail Catfish.

It prevents obesity and other health issues.

Phractocephalus Hemioliopterus photo 2

Behavior Phractocephalus Hemioliopterus

Phractocephalus hemioliopterus, commonly known as the Redtail Catfish, displays fascinating behaviors. Understanding these behaviors is crucial for anyone interested in keeping these vibrant creatures.

Social Behavior

The Redtail Catfish is primarily a solitary species. It shows a territorial nature, especially in confined spaces. These fish often prefer their own company but can coexist with other large fish. Aggression towards smaller species is common due to their predatory instincts.

  • Lone swimmers in the wild
  • They develop territorial tendencies in aquariums
  • Possible to pair with similar-sized fish
  • Small tank mates are often seen as food

Activity Patterns

Redtail Catfish are nocturnal hunters, becoming more active as the light fades. During the day, they often seek shelter and remain relatively inactive. At night, they explore their environment and search for food. It’s crucial to mimic these conditions in captivity for their wellbeing.

Breeding Phractocephalus Hemioliopterus

The Redtail Catfish, known scientifically as Phractocephalus hemioliopterus, presents a unique challenge to aquarists aiming to breed this captivating species. These Amazon basin natives are not only striking in appearance but possess intriguing breeding behaviors. Let’s dive into their reproduction process and learn how to care for their fry.

Reproduction Process

Reproducing Phractocephalus hemioliopterus in captivity is rare and challenging. In the wild, these fish spawn during the rainy season. They need vast spaces and specific water conditions to replicate this process in an aquarium setting.

  • Large tanks with controlled water parameters are essential.
  • Seasonal changes in temperature help mimic their natural habitat.
  • Subtle water flow and proper filtration are crucial to simulate river environments.

Care For Fry

Once fry are present, their care becomes your top priority. These juvenile fish are delicate and require a stable environment to thrive.

Close monitoring and gradual dietary changes are vital as they grow. Regular water changes ensure optimal water quality, reducing stress and preventing disease.

Redtail Catfish photo


The majestic Phractocephalus hemioliopterus, known as the Redtail Catfish, is not just an aquarium favorite but also a species needing attention in the wild. Conservation plays a crucial role in the survival of this fascinating fish. Understanding the risks and protective measures is vital for ensuring its future. Let’s dive into what threatens this species and the efforts being made to protect it.


  • Habitat Destruction: The building of dams and deforestation affects their homes.
  • Overfishing: High demand for aquarium trade leads to overfishing.
  • Pollution: Water contamination poses a serious threat to their health.

Conservation Efforts

  1. Legal Protections: Some regions have laws to limit fishing.
  2. Breeding Programs: These programs help to increase their numbers.
  3. Public Awareness: Educating people about the fish aids conservation.


Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Phractocephalus Hemioliopterus?

Phractocephalus hemioliopterus, also known as the Redtail Catfish, is a freshwater fish native to South America. It’s known for its striking red tail and its large size, often growing over 4 feet long in the wild.

Can Phractocephalus Hemioliopterus Be Kept In Aquariums?

Yes, Redtail Catfish can be kept in large home aquariums. However, due to their potential size, they require a tank of at least 1000 gallons as adults. They are not suitable for a standard-sized aquarium.

What Does Phractocephalus Hemioliopterus Eat?

In the wild, Phractocephalus hemioliopterus is an omnivorous species, eating fish, crustaceans, and plant matter. In captivity, they can be fed a variety of foods including pellets, live fish, and shrimp, but a balanced diet is crucial for their health.

What Is The Lifespan Of Phractocephalus Hemioliopterus?

The Redtail Catfish has a lifespan of up to 15 years or more when given proper care. Their longevity is contingent upon a suitable habitat and diet.


Exploring the fascinating world of the Phractocephalus hemioliopterus has been a journey through nature’s aquatic artistry. This fish, with its unique attributes and care requirements, stands out in the freshwater realm. Aquarists seeking a challenge will find keeping this species a rewarding experience.

Remember, their size and temperament demand respect and the right environment. Embrace the commitment, and the ‘Redtail Catfish’ will be a majestic centerpiece in any large aquarium.

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