Asian Redtail Catfish (Hemibagrus wyckioides )
Hemibagrus wyckioides is a giant among catfish. Many newcomers to the hobby are unaware of just how big and heavy these cute ‘little’ red-tailed bottom-dwellers are capable of growing: they really are only suitable for the most substantial home aquarium installations and public aquaria. This predatory species can live for several decades and occurs in large, highly-oxygenated upland rivers of irregular depth and rocky substrates. If it is to be housed in an aquarium, this must be of vast proportions with powerful, oversized filtration to match.
Substrate choice is important, as coarse gravel can cause irritation, with the fish spending a great deal of time on the bottom. A sand substrate is better, but this will be rearranged somewhat as the fish wallows. It may be best to opt for a bare-bottomed arrangement, which is easy to keep clean.
There should be at least one large shelter for the fish to take refuge in during daylight hours, and this can be fashioned from sizeable pieces of bogwood, large slates, wide bore PVC tubing etc. Provision should also be made for a roomy swimming space along the front of the aquarium for the fish to use into the night. Lighting should be fairly dim.
Some aquarists like to add a blue moonlight timed to come on just before the main lights switch off. This way you can observe your catfish into the evening under its preferred subdued/moonlit conditions. Asian Redtail Catfish are voracious eaters that produce a lot of waste and require continuous excellent water conditions. To this end, filtration must be powerful and the water well-oxygenated.
A frequent partial water change regime is absolutely essential as this riverine fish will not tolerate an elevated nitrate level. Several huge canister filters can be employed, but sump filtration may be more prudent as then equipment such as heaters can be kept in the sump and out of the main tank where they would be very easily damaged.
Asian Redtail Catfish are territorially aggressive towards other fish (including their own kind), and as such should be kept singly. This is an extremely belligerent fish with a capacious mouth that will think nothing of taking chunks out of even the largest of tankmates.
It is also undaunted by humans, so much care should be taken when carrying out maintenance on a tank containing a large specimen - be aware of its location at all times. To sum up: this 'pet' fish is a huge commitment in terms of housing, equipment, maintenance, and longevity. Much consideration needs to be given prior to purchase to ensure its needs can be met.
Offer a varied selection of meaty foods. Smaller specimens will take bloodworm, Mysis shrimp, chopped seafood, small pieces of meat etc. Larger specimens will enjoy earthworms, prawns, cockles, mussels, crab, crayfish etc. Some will also take tablet food, but this is very much trial and error. Be sure not to overfeed as these fish can become real gluttons. Adults should only be fed two or three times per week.
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