The Red Tail Catfish

Scienfic Name:- Phractocephalus hemioliopterus

The red tail catfish is a type of long whiskered fresh water catfish with an orange-red tail fin.   In the wild they originate from South America,   and are commonly found in the Amazon,   Orinoco and Essequibo river basins.

Habitat :- They can grow rapidly up to 5 feet in length, and would require at least a 1000 gallon tank,   but ideally larger. a Aquarium is not recommended due to the adult size.   They are commonly sold when they are very young (around 3-6 inches in length),   and many people just do not realise how large their new pet will grow and how quickly.   These fish can easily reach 2 feet in length within their first year.

They are also very sensitive to water quality,   and would need a highly efficient filtration system due to the large amount of waste they produce.   Care needs to be taken when housing them with other fish,   as they are likely to try and eat them if they are small enough.   They tend to try and eat stones etc,   therefore aquarium substrates such as gravel would not be a good idea.   They require a water temperature of 70-80oF,   and a pH of around 7.

Diet :- They can be fed on catfish pellets,   a variety of prawns,   worms,   and fish meats (they should not be fed mammal based meats as they cannot be properly digested).   Juvenile red tail catfish should be fed every other day,   but adults should only be fed once a week in order to prevent obesity and health problems.   The reason we do not recommend these fish as pets is due to their incredibly large size.

Life expectancy :- 15 years.

In spite of these difficulties,   red tail catfish are surprisingly quite popular as pets until they begin to rapidly outgrow their home aquariums.   The Big Fish Campaign is led by the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums,   and aims to raise awareness about the problems of keeping large species of fish such as the red tail catfish in home aquariums,   and to promote responsible buying and selling of such species.

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