Do Not Buy Redtail Catfish: Shocking Truth!

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It is quite clear that you should not own a redtail catfish. I repeat YOU SHOULD NOT. They are ruthless creatures. If you think I am going to persuade you to buy these fish till the end of this article then I am sorry, I am not going to do anything like that. Disclaimer!! No reverse psychology is used here. Should you buy retail catfish? No, do not buy redtail catfish. Here is your answer.

Redtail catfish are aggressive and grow very large. You will need to spend approximately $900 per month for its food and maintenance. They do not spare other fish even if they are half of the size of redtail catfish. They can even swallow small dogs and cats, imagine how dangerous they are! The fish requires expert-level care. So if you are a beginner, do not even think about it. If you are an expert, still I will not suggest you keep it.

Redtail Catfish Overview

Redtail Catfish are very large freshwater fish. The average size and weight of a redtail catfish are 4.5 feet and 80 kgs respectively. They have a combination of white and black/ grey color on their body. As the name suggests, they have a red tail.

Redtail catfish are those massive fish that you observe in the public aquariums.

Pirarara, Banana catfish, flat-nosed catfish, and antenna catfish are some of the pet names of the redtail catfish (RTC).

The largest redtail catfish ever found was in 2010 at the Amazon river, Brazil. Its weight was 56 kg(123lbs 7oz). The length of its body was 4.62ft (1.408 m).

Redtail Catfish Origin

Redtail Catfish are natives of the Amazon Basin, South America, and Rio Orinoco Basins. You can find redtail catfish abundantly in Brazil, Columbia, Peru, and other South American countries.

In the wild, they are opportunistic feeders. They devour small fish, but if they are not available, they eat fallen fruits as well.

Redtail catfish are lower and medium level swimmers.

It is difficult to replicate the Amazon environment in our home aquarium. So, breeding is barely possible domestically. Redtail catfish are bred on large farms instead.

Why Should You Not Buy A Redtail Catfish?

Well, if you look more intensely, you will only find a handful of reasons to keep a redtail catfish. But, there are plenty of reasons why you should not buy a redtail catfish. These are few to be precise:

Large Tank Size

The minimum tank size for the redtail catfish is 2000 gallons tank. Yes, you read it right, it is a two thousand gallons tank.

When you purchase it first, the redtail catfish will only be about 5cm in length. Gradually, it grows 1 inch in a week. It can grow up to 4 feet in captivity. As a result, large tanks are required for the redtail catfish. When they are juvenile, a small tank is enough but as they grow, the 2000 gallon tank just becomes a minimum.

All of the fish keepers may not have such a large aquarium at their home. Or, even if they want to keep they may not have enough space in their house.

You may also have heard that the fish grows just as the size of the aquarium. This is a false assumption. Actually, due to poor care and smaller tank size, the health of the fish deteriorates and it stunts the growth of fish.

Similarly, if you are planning to buy a 1000 gallon tank and stunt the growth of redtail catfish, then it is still not possible. And not ethical as well. They grow very large in a short period.

Hence, it is not feasible for most of the tanks and houses.

Requires Expert Care

Redtail catfish requires expert-level care. It is like having your baby, you will need to take care of it no matter what, without taking a day’s leave.

Feeding Redtail Catfish

While the redtail catfish are small, you need to feed them daily. But when they grow up, you just need to feed a large diet a week. They prefer meaty food, but they can not be fed the mammal meat that we eat.

Can Fish Eat Human Food: What Are They And How To Prepare Them? Find out here.

Difficulty In Water Changes

As they consume much, they also similarly produce waste.

The redtail catfish are messy eaters. You must change the 30% of tank water each week to keep them healthy. Just calculate, 30% water change of 2000 gallon tank (minimum) and that too EVERY WEEK.

Difficult To Maintain

Since a large tank is used, the filter and heater should be used accordingly. You can’t just adjust with the normal filters and heaters.

You can also get information about Beginners Guide To Installing Freshwater Sump Filter And Media To Add-In from our other article. Besides, many people also have the query of whether they should Turn off the Aquarium Filter at Night. So, I have also written a separate about that.

Requires A Lot Of Space

Visualize how much space a tank takes in a house! If you build a pool, it also takes a huge amount of space. So, think wisely.

These species of catfish can jump out of the pool! Incidents have also been recorded that they broke the tank cover and jumped out of it. So, if you have a pet dog or cat, you will have to place them far away from each other.

Not only your own but neighbors’ pets too!

Who takes this trouble?

High Cost

The maintenance cost of the redtail catfish is high. You need to spend almost $900 each month for its maintenance.

You will need to spend a large amount on their heavy diet. Live foods like prawns, earthworms, shrimps, etc are quite expensive compared to normal fish food.

For the large tank, the expenses on maintaining water parameters, filters, heaters, and lighting are quite huge.

If you ask me, I would take up a course and pay my education loan from that $900 or enjoy a variety of food every week.

Not Compatible With Small And Half Sized Fishes

The redtail catfish are not compatible with small and even half of the size of itself. They devour any smaller fish than them.

So, if you like to keep a variety of small and large-sized fish in a single aquarium, then it is not quite possible.

Even if the redtail catfish choke, they will even eat the fish that are half-sized of them.

They can be kept with stingrays, deltoids, arapaima, and similar large-sized fish.

Do you just want large fish in your aquarium? Don’t you want a combination of small and large fish in the tank? If so, avoid redtail catfish


The redtail catfish are not peaceful, rather they are aggressive in manner. They are territorial aggressive with their species and the Pimelodidae fish family. So, many aquarists even suggest keeping them alone.

They are also responsible for harming other pets as well in many cases.

You may find that they are kept with many other fish at the public aquariums. But view carefully, how large those aquariums are! And we are talking about keeping them at home.

You can learn about the Easiest Fish to Breed in Home Aquarium | Make Profit from my next article too.

Are you sure you want to keep these ruthless, aggressive predators?

Not Feasible If You Are Planning To Move

If you are planning to buy a redtail catfish, make sure that you will not move to another area or the other house for at least 20 years more. I will tell you why.

As you shift to a new place, you will also have to shift all your belongings including your redtail catfish. Imagine transporting a huge 2000 gallon tank!

Also if you are raising your redtail catfish in the pond, it is similarly difficult to transfer.

While you are shifting this is going to be the biggest trouble.

Long Caring Period

The lifespan of redtail catfish is 20 years, if not 15 years minimum. This is pretty good and bad at the same time.

Let me elaborate on this. In captivity, the redtail catfish live up to 15 years. It means you need to take care of the fish physically and financially for 15 more years.

It is not a matter of 2 or 5 years. Moreover, it is a matter of 15 years to be precise. You will not even be able to shift your house for the next 15 years.

It is a long term commitment and responsibility from water changes to maintaining safety for other animals.

Least Options When You Want To Abandon It

Many redtail catfish keepers have this issue. They impulsively buy the fish and as the fish grow, they cannot take care of it properly. Or, some pet shop owners lie that the redtail catfish will only grow up to 12 inches.

So, what next? What shall you do? Imagine you do not have such a huge space at your house, how are you going to take care of it?

If it was a 10 to 20 gallons tank with small, peaceful fish then there would be no issue. Your kins would happily accept that. But who would want to take responsibility for such a massive giant!!

The only option you have left is to send it to the public aquarium. Hopefully, they will accept the giants. But what if the public aquariums do not accept them too? You will have to rear it.

And what if everyone starts to purchase redtail catfish for fun and abandon them when they turn large? The public aquariums will be full.

Should Redtail Catfish Be Haphazardly Sold?

Redtail catfish are easily found in local pet shops and fish shops. But the large and hard to care fish like such should not be abundantly sold as such in my opinion.

Only a fraction of people can keep the redtail catfish properly. It is obvious because it requires a high level of care and maintenance.

Many people do an impulse buy. Whereas some shop owners just lie that the fish grows up to 12 inches only. As a result, the redtail catfish owners are not able to provide them good care.

Which results in their early demise and poor quality of life of the redtail catfish.

Well, so don’t you think there should be certain conditions imposed for people before they buy this giant? I would not say strict laws but certain parameters should be met by the buyers before the pet shops hand it over to them.

Final Words

The redtail catfish are not that easy to keep. They require high care and supervision. Think before you buy as they can be a headache as they grow old. It is better not to donate it to the community tank or leave it carelessly. Rather do not buy redtail catfish!

You also need to have a stable income before your hobby to keep the banana catfish. If you are a huge monster fan and have the expertise and required conditions then only we suggest you keep them home.

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