Redtail Catfish
Scientific name:
Phractocephalus hemioliopterus
Scientific family:
Brazil, Rio Negro, Venezuela, and southeast United States
Bottom dweller in temperatures of 68-79 F [20-26 C]
Location in the zoo:
Aquarium (closed, not on exhibit)

Aquarium set-up : rocks,plants,and driftwood in a extremly large tank

Adult size : up to 24inches

Weight : world record of 97lb 7oz , reguarly in wild 110 lbs and 3ft to 5ft

Breeding : egglayer

Where Redtail catfish are located today in the united states:



General information::

Redtail Catfish Photo from Robert Boyer

Catfish travel alone hunting for prey by themselves in the wild. They are most common in lakes and rivers of natural temperatures.

NEAT FACT: The Phractocephalus hemioliopterus was first described by Bloch and Schneider in 1801 under the name Silurus hemiliopterus. In 1829 Agassiz described a fish that he named Phractocephalus bicolor. In fact they were all talking about the same fish.   In 1840 the fish was renamed Phractocephalus hemiliopterus.

Special anatomical, physiological
or behavioral adaptations:

In theory catfish are unable to use visual clues to track prey in their dark habitats so they follow recent chemical trails left behind by smaller fish like for instance guppies.  The catfish use electrical field sensors to find the prey.  These are called chemoreceptors. The chemoreceptors abound across the catfish's skin and act like big tongues as the catfish swim in the water.

Source Materials and Related Links:

Page author: Lisa Arneson

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