Redtail Catfish

Phractocephalus hemioliopterus

About This Animal

SIZE: They can grow over 4 feet

RANGE: The redtail catfish is native to the Amazon, Orinoco, and Essequibo river basins of South America

HABITAT: These freshwater fish can be found in rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds throughout the Amazon and Orinoco River Basins in South America

DIET: Quite an opportunistic feeder in nature, feeding on fish, invertebrates and fallen fruits

ON EXHIBIT:  River Giants exhibit in River Journey

The Redtail Catfish is a pimelodid (long-whiskered) catfish named for its red or orange caudal fin. The barbels along their snout are extremely sensitive and loaded with chemical reception cells, acting as another sense of smell for the fish. Due to their large size, the indigenous people in South America utilize these fish as a food source. They have been introduced into Florida, but have not established a sustainable population. It is a slow-moving, bottom-dwelling fish that is thought to attack prey by probing and ambush.