Red Tail Catfish & 11 Facts You Need To Know!

What is red tail catfish? This is the question you are probably looking for. Let’s find out with now!

Overview of Red Tail Catfish

Red Tail Catfish (Phractocephalus hemiliopterus) is a freshwater fish species native to South America, commonly found in the Amazon River basin and neighboring rivers.

It belongs to the family Pimelodidae and can grow up to 4 feet in length in the wild.

Red Tail Catfish are known for their distinctive red or orange-colored tail fins, which contrast with their dark brownish-gray body. They have a broad head, large mouth, and sharp teeth, making them powerful predators that primarily feed on other fish and crustaceans.

Due to their attractive appearance and large size, Red Tail Catfish are increasingly popular as aquarium pets. However, their aggressive nature, rapid growth, and potential to outgrow most home aquariums make them challenging to care for and unsuitable for inexperienced aquarists.

In the wild, Red Tail Catfish have become an invasive species in some areas due to their introduction by humans. Their predatory behavior can harm native fish populations and disrupt aquatic ecosystems. Therefore, it is essential to regulate their ownership and ensure responsible pet management practices to prevent negative impacts on the environment.

Physical Characteristics of Red Tail Catfish

The Red Tail Catfish , scientifically known as Phractocephalus hemioliopterus, is a freshwater fish species that can be found in South American river systems. They have a distinctive red tail fin, which sets them apart from other catfish.

Physically, Red Tail Catfish are large and robust, with an elongated body shape and a flat head. They can grow up to 5 feet (1.5 meters) long in the wild, although in captivity they tend to be smaller. Their scales are smooth and have an olive-green coloration on their back, fading into a lighter yellow or white color on their underside.

Red Tail Catfish also have long barbels (whisker-like appendages) around their mouth, which they use to locate food. Their dorsal fin is located towards their back and is followed by adipose and anal fins. As their name suggests, their distinguishing feature is their bright red tail fin, which can be up to half of their total body length.

Overall, the physical characteristics of the Red Tail Catfish make it a popular species both for aquarists and sport fishermen. However, due to their size and potential to outgrow their tanks, they should only be kept in large aquariums or ponds by experienced keepers.


Red tail catfish

Size and lifespan of red tail catfish

The red-tailed catfish is a large freshwater fish species native to South America, known for its distinctive red tail fin. They can grow up to 1.5 meters (5 feet) in length and weigh over 50 kilograms (110 pounds).

Red-tailed catfish have an average lifespan of around 10-15 years in captivity, although they may live longer or shorter depending on their environmental conditions and care. In the wild, their lifespan is likely to be shorter due to predation and other factors.

Overall, the red-tailed catfish is a large and long-lived fish species that requires proper care and a suitable environment to thrive in captivity.

Habitat and Distribution of Red Tail Catfish

Red Tail Catfish are freshwater fish native to the Amazon River basin in South America. They can also be found in other areas of South America, including Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, and Brazil.

Their natural habitat is in slow-moving rivers, streams, and flooded forests. They prefer to live in warm water with temperatures ranging from 75-86°F. Red Tail Catfish are also known to inhabit lakes and reservoirs.

In recent years, Red Tail Catfish have become popular in the aquarium trade and have been introduced to other parts of the world through aquaculture and accidental release. As a result, they can now be found in various regions outside of South America, including Florida, Southeast Asia, and Australia.

Overall, Red Tail Catfish are highly adaptable and can thrive in a range of aquatic environments, as long as their basic requirements for temperature, water quality, and suitable food sources are met.

Behavioral Traits of Red Tail Catfish

The Red Tail Catfish, also known as the South American Redtail Catfish, is a popular fish species among hobbyists and aquarists. As for its behavioral traits, it is an active and aggressive fish that requires ample space in its aquarium to swim around.

Red Tail Catfishes are predatory by nature and will feed on anything that fits into their mouth, including smaller fish and invertebrates. They are not suitable to be kept with smaller or more delicate fish species.

In terms of social behavior, they can be kept singly or in small groups, but they may become territorial and aggressive towards other Red Tail Catfishes in the same aquarium. They prefer hiding places and structures in their environments, such as caves, rocks, and plants, which can help reduce stress levels.

Overall, Red Tail Catfishes are fascinating fish to observe, but require proper care and attention due to their size and predatory nature.

Diet of Red tail catfish

The diet of Red tail catfish typically consists of live prey such as fish, crustaceans, and insects. They are opportunistic predators and will eat almost anything they can catch, including other fish species, small mammals, and birds. In captivity, they can be fed a variety of frozen or fresh foods such as shrimp, squid, and pellets specifically formulated for carnivorous fish. It is important to provide a varied diet to ensure proper nutrition and prevent illness.

How many types of fish are there RedTail Fish?

RedTail Fish is not a specific type of fish, but rather a common name used to describe many different species of fish that have a distinctive red tail. Therefore, the number of types of RedTail Fish can vary depending on which specific species are being referred to. Without specifying a particular type or species of RedTail Fish, it is not possible to determine the exact number of types.

Asian redtail catfish

The Asian redtail catfish, also known as the Iridescent shark, is a freshwater fish native to Southeast Asia. It is a large and fast-growing species that can reach up to 4 feet in length and weigh over 40 pounds. As its name suggests, it has a distinctive red tail and an iridescent sheen on its body.

The Asian redtail catfish is popular among fish enthusiasts but requires a large aquarium or pond due to its size. It is omnivorous and will eat a variety of food including insects, crustaceans, and smaller fish. However, it can be prone to overeating and should be fed only appropriate amounts.

It is important to note that the Asian redtail catfish is considered an invasive species in some parts of the world outside its native range, including the United States. Therefore, it is important to check local regulations before keeping this fish as a pet or introducing it into non-native waters.

Platinum red tail catfish

Platinum red tail catfish (Phractocephalus hemioliopterus) is a freshwater predatory fish species native to South America. It has a silver-white body with a bright red tail fin and can grow up to 4 feet in length. They are commonly kept as aquarium pets, but require large tanks and should only be owned by experienced aquarists due to their size and predatory behavior.

Albino red tail catfish

An albino red tail catfish is a type of freshwater fish that is white or pink in color due to a genetic mutation that affects its pigmentation. Despite its name, it has a distinct reddish-orange tail fin and can grow to be quite large, up to 5 feet long and over 100 pounds in weight.

Albino red tail catfish are popular among aquarium enthusiasts and also commercially farmed for food in some parts of the world. However, they can be invasive in non-native habitats and should be carefully managed to avoid disrupting local ecosystems.

Phantom redtail catfish

The phantom redtail catfish is a species of large freshwater fish native to South America, with a distinctive reddish-orange tail and a dark black or gray body. It can grow up to 4 feet in length and weigh over 50 pounds. Despite its striking appearance, the phantom redtail catfish is not commonly kept as a pet due to its size and aggressive behavior.

In the wild, it is an important predator and scavenger, feeding on a variety of smaller fish, insects, and other aquatic creatures.

Red tail shovelnose catfish

Red Tail Shovelnose Catfish, also known as the Red-Tailed Catfish or Pirarara in Portuguese, is a species of freshwater catfish found in South America’s Amazon and Orinoco basins. It has a distinctively shaped head with a broad, shovel-like snout and a bright red tail fin.

The body is dark brown or black with white spots, and it can grow up to 4 feet in length. The Red Tail Shovelnose Catfish is a popular game fish and commonly kept in large aquariums. It feeds on anything from insects to smaller fish and crustaceans.

South american redtail catfish

The South American redtail catfish is a species of large freshwater fish native to the Amazon River basin and other rivers in South America. It can grow up to 1.5 meters long and weigh over 50 kilograms in the wild.

This carnivorous fish has distinctive red coloring on its tail, hence the name “redtail” catfish. It’s a popular game fish for anglers and also kept as a pet in large aquariums. However, due to its size and aggressive nature, it requires specialized care and should not be kept by novice fishkeepers.

Albino asian redtail catfish

An albino Asian redtail catfish is a variety of the redtail catfish species that lacks melanin pigment, resulting in a predominantly white or cream-colored body and bright red fins. It is a freshwater fish native to Southeast Asia and is popular among aquarium enthusiasts due to its striking appearance but can grow quite large, up to 4 feet in length.

Amazon red tail catfish

Amazon red tail catfish is a large freshwater fish species native to the Amazon River basin in South America. It is known for its distinctive bright red tail fin, which contrasts with its dark gray or black body. The fish can grow up to 4 feet in length and weigh over 100 pounds in the wild.

Due to their size and predatory nature, Amazon red tail catfish are popular game fish among anglers and also kept in some aquariums. However, they are considered invasive in some regions outside of their native habitat because of their ability to outcompete native fish species.

Amazon red tail catfish are carnivorous and feed on a wide range of prey, including small fish, crustaceans, and insects. They have a lifespan of up to 15 years in the wild, and females can lay thousands of eggs at a time during spawning season.

Giant red tail catfish

The giant red tail catfish is a species of freshwater fish that can grow up to 5 feet long and weigh over 100 pounds. They are native to South America and are commonly found in the Amazon Basin. As their name suggests, they have a distinctive bright red tail that stands out against their dark gray or black body.

These fish are popular among anglers for their size and strength, but they are also considered invasive in some areas due to their ability to outcompete native species for resources.


Breeding and Reproduction of Red Tail Catfish

Red Tail Catfish are a species of freshwater fish popular among aquarists and anglers. Breeding and reproduction of Red Tail Catfish can be accomplished in captivity, although it requires some effort and specific conditions.

To begin with, it is important to ensure that the tank or breeding area is large enough to accommodate the fish and provide adequate space for courtship and spawning. The water should be clean and well-oxygenated, with a pH level between 6.5 and 7.5, and a temperature between 77°F and 82°F.

In terms of breeding behavior, male Red Tail Catfish will typically chase and nudge females during courtship. Once the female is ready to spawn, she will lay her eggs on a flat surface, such as a slate or rock, and both parents will guard the eggs until they hatch.

After hatching, the fry will feed on small live foods, such as brine shrimp or daphnia, and should be fed frequently throughout the day. It is recommended to separate the fry from adult fish to prevent predation and to ensure proper growth and development.

Overall, successful breeding and reproduction of Red Tail Catfish can be achieved with patience, attention to water quality and environmental conditions, and proper feeding and care of the fry.

Benefits and Risks of Keeping Red Tail Catfish as Pets

Benefits of keeping Red Tail Catfish as pets:

  • Red Tail Catfish are highly attractive due to their vibrant coloration and unique appearance.
  • They are active and playful, which can make them enjoyable to observe.
  • They have a hearty appetite and are easy to feed, making them relatively low-maintenance pets.
  • Red Tail Catfish grow quickly and can reach impressive sizes, which can be rewarding for some owners.

Risks of keeping Red Tail Catfish as pets:

  • Red Tail Catfish require large aquariums or ponds due to their size, which can be costly and challenging to maintain.
  • They are aggressive predators that can harm other fish in the same tank or pond.
  • They produce a lot of waste, which can lead to poor water quality if not managed properly.
  • Red Tail Catfish can pose a risk to native wildlife if released into the wild, as they are not native to many areas outside of South America.

Overall, while Red Tail Catfish can be beautiful and interesting pets, they require significant space and careful management to keep healthy and safe. Potential owners should carefully consider the risks and benefits before deciding to bring one into their home.

Tank requirements for keeping red tail catfish as pets

Red tail catfish are large and active predatory fish that require specific tank requirements to thrive in captivity as pets. Here are some key considerations:

  • Tank size: A single adult red tail catfish requires a tank of at least 500 gallons (1893 liters) for adequate swimming space.
  • Filtration: High-quality filtration is crucial to maintain water quality and reduce waste buildup. A canister or sump filter is recommended, with a turnover rate of at least 10 times the tank volume per hour.
  • Water parameters: Red tail catfish prefer slightly acidic to neutral water with a pH range of 6.5-7.5. The temperature should be kept between 74-82°F (23-28°C), and ammonia and nitrite levels should always be at zero.
  • Decorations: Provide ample hiding places and visual barriers with large rocks, driftwood, and caves to reduce stress and encourage natural behavior.
  • Diet: Red tail catfish are carnivorous and require a varied diet of live or frozen meaty foods such as shrimp, squid, and fish.
  • Tank mates: Due to their predatory nature, red tail catfish are best kept alone or with other large, aggressive fish that can hold their own against them.

Overall, keeping a red tail catfish as a pet requires a significant investment of time, money, and effort. It is important to research and understand their specific needs before committing to their care.

Compatibility of red tail catfish with other fish species in aquariums

The red tail catfish can be compatible with other fish species in an aquarium, but it depends on various factors such as the size of the tank, the size and temperament of the other fish, and the water parameters. Red tail catfish are large, aggressive, and predatory fish that require a lot of space and may eat smaller fish.

Therefore, they should only be kept with larger and similarly aggressive fish that can defend themselves. Additionally, the aquarium needs to have excellent filtration and maintenance to keep up with the high waste production of these fish. Overall, it’s important to research and carefully select compatible tankmates for red tail catfish to prevent any potential conflicts or harm.

Where can Fishing for Red Tail Catfish?

Red Tail Catfish can be found in their native habitat in South America, specifically in the Amazon and Orinoco River basins. They are also commonly found in fish farms and aquariums throughout the world. If you’re interested in fishing for Red Tail Catfish, you may want to check with local fish farms or fishing guides in your area to see if they offer opportunities to catch them.

It’s important to note that Red Tail Catfish can grow quite large (up to 5 feet long), so make sure you have appropriate gear and follow any regulations or guidelines in place for responsible fishing practices.

Health risks associated with handling Red tail catfish?

Redtail catfish can pose health risks to those who handle them. These risks primarily stem from the sharp spines on their fins and their potential to carry harmful bacteria. If a person is punctured by one of the spines, it can result in a painful wound that may become infected if not properly cleaned and treated. Additionally, redtail catfish may carry bacteria such as Aeromonas hydrophila which can cause skin infections, diarrhea, and other illnesses if transmitted to humans.

Therefore, proper precautions should be taken when handling these fish, including wearing protective gloves and washing hands thoroughly afterwards.

Conservation Status of Red Tail Catfish

The Red Tail Catfish is categorized as a species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to its widespread distribution and stable population.

However, the species may face threats from overfishing for the aquarium trade or as a food source, as well as habitat loss and degradation in some areas. Additionally, the introduction of non-native Red Tail Catfish populations in some regions can have negative ecological impacts on local ecosystems.

Red Tail Catfish Price?

The price of Red Tail Catfish varies depending on factors such as size, quality, location, and availability. However, as of my knowledge cutoff date of September 2021, Red Tail Catfish prices ranged from $20 to $200 per fish in the United States. It is always best to check with local fish markets or online retailers for current pricing information.


Where is Red Tail Catfish for sale?

Red Tail Catfish can be sold in various places such as fish stores, online marketplaces, and specialized aquatic pet suppliers. It is important to research and select a reputable seller that adheres to proper animal welfare standards and regulations. Some countries or regions may have restrictions on the sale and ownership of Red Tail Catfish, so it is recommended to check local laws before purchasing.

How fast do red tail catfish grow?

Red tail catfish can grow quite rapidly, with juveniles typically reaching lengths of about 12 inches within their first year. In ideal conditions, they can grow up to an inch per week for the first few months and then slow down to around half an inch per week as they mature.

The rate of growth depends on various factors, including water temperature, diet, and habitat conditions. However, adult red tail catfish can reach sizes of over 4 feet in length and weigh over 100 pounds.

Why did my red tail catfish died?

It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact reason for the death of your red tail catfish without more information, as there could be a variety of factors involved. Some common causes of fish mortality include poor water quality, inadequate oxygen levels, improper diet, stress, disease, and overcrowding in the tank.

It’s important to regularly monitor water parameters such as pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels, and ensure that they are within appropriate ranges for your fish species.

Additionally, make sure to provide your fish with a balanced diet and adequate space and shelter in the tank. If you suspect that your fish may have been affected by disease, it may be helpful to consult with a veterinarian or experienced aquarium hobbyist for guidance on diagnosis and treatment.


' src=


Algae eater fish & 15 facts you should know, butterfly koi overview, care, and varieties & facts, you may also like, the spotted beauty – an introduction to freshwater..., the magnificent freshwater tarpon: a legendary sport fish, exploring rare australian freshwater fish species, the majestic freshwater oscar: a unique aquarium resident, the attractive orange freshwater vibrance, the brilliant green pinoy angelfish variety, the striking black pinoy angelfish variety, brackish gobies – unique fish for specific niche..., the captivating purple kuhli loach, the lively freshwater barb fish species, leave a comment cancel reply.

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

The Aquarium Guide

Redtail Catfish Care: Diet, Size, Tank Mates, and Diseases

Adam Edmond Image

  • By Adam Edmond

phantom redtail catfish

They are among the  large aquarium  fish we can see in the trade and are one of the fastest growing as well. Catfish are not known for their beauty, hence the term “catfished”, however, the phractocephalus hemioliopterus is actually considered one of the more attractive members of this family. Although the redtail catfish is often seen in the aquarium trade, it is very unsuited to tank life due to its sheer size.

Table of Contents

Redtail Catfish: A Quick Overview

Redtail catfish, also known as Phractocephalus Hemioliopterus, is a large, predatory fish native to South America. It is popular in the aquarium trade due to its striking appearance and hardy nature.

Redtail catfish can grow to over 3 feet in length and require a spacious tank with strong filtration. They are generally peaceful, but may eat smaller tank mates.

Redtail Catfish Overview

Let’s take a look at how to care for this large fish and familiarize ourselves with more details about this species.

While they can be colorful, most of them feature shades of dark brown and/or grey with spots and a thick yellow/white band that runs along the length of their torso. Aside from the tail fins, the dorsal and caudal fins also feature hues of red and orange. Similar to other catfish species, the redtail catfish also features a flat underside.

As far as sexing goes, there don’t seem to be distinguishing marks to help breeders and aquarists determine if the catfish is male or female.

Lifespan of Redtail Catfish

Redtail catfish live relatively long lives. In captivity, data shows that they can live to about 15 years. It is assumed that they exceed this number in the wild due to more suitable environments. They are quite a demanding species of fish, and what they require may be difficult for aquarists to provide in-home tanks. This is a factor that can shave years off its life.

Redtail Catfish Life Span

To create the perfect situation for these creatures to thrive, you need to pay attention to the different subsections we have listed below. We can say for now that to give them enough space, the right food and ideal tank conditions are crucial elements for the phractocephalus hemiolipterus to thrive.

Remember that this particular catfish is  native to South America , more specifically, in the river basins. This means that they are considered freshwater fish that need an  aquarium  with water and temperature similar to that in South America.

Redtail Catfish Size

How big can a red tail catfish get? As we previously mentioned, redtail catfish are quite large  freshwater fish . Large enough to outgrow their initial tanks. The redtail catfish is said to be one of the more attractive catfish species with beautiful colors and, of course, a red tail. Similar to other catfish species, they also feature two barbels on their mouths.

How fast do red tail catfish grow? They grow quite quickly and to a pretty large size. You’re looking at at least an inch a week and they will be at least two feet in length in about a year. Keeping them in tanks limits their freedom of movement significantly compared to the wild, which is why they won’t grow as large in size as they would in the wild. At best, they will be about 3-4 feet long, when in the wild they may reach up to a whopping 5 feet in total!

Redtail Catfish Size

For a fish in captivity, 3 feet is gigantic. Not only in terms of the fish, but also in the tank size. It may be hard to search for a tank large enough to house the redtail catfish in just any aquarium store. A  baby phractocephalus hemioliopterus  is only about 5 cm, which is why a lot of aquarists are not aware of how large they may potentially be.

Aquarists may be under the misconception that keeping the redtail catfish in captivity at a young age could limit their growth. Although this is true, they will still most definitely reach at least 3 feet long. Regardless of how much “stunting” captivity has on your redtail catfish, the tank size will still need to be astronomical.

The largest recorded retail catfish in the world is measured at 4.62 feet and weighing in at an astounding 56 kg (123 pounds 7 ounces)! If you ever see pictures of these amazing catfish, you will be amazed by how large they can be compared to the average human male.

Natural Habitat and Origin

The redtail catfish is of the  primelodidae family  (whiskered catfish) under the phractocephalus family in the hemioliopterus genus. The experts say the RedTail Catfish is normally found in the Essequibo River, Orinoco, and Amazon River basins of Brazil, Venezuela, Guyana, Colombia, Ecuador, and Bolivia. Even though they live in the rivers, they can also be found in different habitats.

But they have now been introduced to other parts of the world, including Thailand. They can also now be seen in Florida as well.

Some experts say the Redtail Catfish are the only living member of the Pharactocephalus species. They are also called RTC, the banana catfish, the antenna fish, and the flat-nosed catfish.

Redtail Catfish Care & Tank Set-Up

Redtail catfish tank size and specifications , minimum tank size.

As we mentioned, this catfish with a red tail is not easy to care for. If you are determined to keep one in your home, here are a few things that are absolute musts. Just knowing the tank size may put you off a bit. In order to have enough room for ONE adult redtail catfish, the tank size you are looking at is about 1500-2000 gallons. No, we did not include an extra zero.

Since they get to about 3-4 feet, this is the adequate size to keep them happy and have enough room to roam. The tank size is definitely something that you cannot compromise on. With this, many people forget about ever owning a redtail catfish because a tank this big just isn’t doable for regular people.

Redtail fish Tank Size

The juvenile RedTail Catfish can grow much faster than other fish, around 1 inch in a week for the first two years. That’s why you may need to use a larger fish tank within a few months. But you should remember that upgrading your tana can be a little stressful for your fish. So, to help them ease the stress, you can transfer the water from the old tank to the new tank. This way, you can make sure that the parameters remain the same, and your fish will be able to adjust to the new environment. 

Besides, you can also have tank materials transferred from your old water filter system to the new one during cycling the tank. Before transferring your fish, you should finish the nitrification cycle. 

If you want to add décor items to the aquarium, you should ensure they don’t have any swallowable parts. Use décors as large as your catfish to prevent them from trying to eat the items. 

Because of their nature, they may like to destroy the décor. So, it will be better for you to use big rocks and large branches in the tank. An aquarium with nothing on its bottom will work great. However, if you think that looks dull, you can use sand to cover the bottom section. 

On the other hand, as Redtail Catfish are not social-type, the tank’s lighting condition should be subdued. If you can’t do that, you should add more dens and caves to the tank to create hiding spots.

Water Parameters for Redtail Catfish


As mentioned, redtail catfish are very resilient and can withstand and adapt to many conditions, but getting the water conditions just right will only further benefit the phractocephalus hemioliopterus. The ideal water temperature should be between 68 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (20-26 degrees Celsius) with pH levels sitting between 6 and 7.

Water Conditions

The water quality is among the toughest to maintain for a redtail catfish. This is due to the enormous size of the tank and the fact that they eat a lot. The more fish eats, the more waste there could possibly be. Suffice it to say, most of your time may be spent on monitoring the water conditions.

In terms of decoration and populating the tank with a substrate, don’t put too much! As we mentioned, the phractocephalus hemioliopterus eat just about anything. We mean anything ranging from gravel to pieces of floating debris and even the plant substrate. So you are looking at a very large and sparse tank. This is great in a way because a tank with less in it can mean less cleanup and maintenance.

It may not look as nice as a lush green tank, but it’s what they need. Speaking of what they need, since they are bottom dwellers, place the tank in low light areas as well.

Water Flow Rate

The water conditions need to be regularly maintained. Since they are freshwater fish, you may need to pay a closer eye on the soiling of the water due to waste. River basins generally do not have a high  flow rate  so still waters are fine. For such a  large tank , traditional filters may have a difficult time dealing with the water, so opt for a sump filter instead. Unfortunately, a good sump filter can really rack up the bill.

Since they are considered tropical (due to them originating from The South American Amazon Orinoco river basins), you may need to invest in a separate water heater if you are unable to maintain the constant warmer temperature. Since the aquarium tends to be much larger in size compared to regular tanks, it may cause your heater to work overtime and rack up the electricity bill.

They can get used to different environments and water flow rates, but what’s more important to keep an eye on would be the water temperature, tank size, and what you keep in the tank with them.

Feeding Redtail Catfish

What do red tail catfish eat? Fish this size need to eat a lot of food, right? You’re right! Redtail catfish are big eaters and will eat just about anything. Just because that is the case, it doesn’t mean that that is what you should do. Simulating their natural diet in the tank will help prolong their lifespan. In nature, the phractocephalus hemioliopterus eats worms, other fish of a smaller size, insects, and vegetation along the bottom of the river basins.

Best Diet for Redtail Catfish

In captivity, you can also opt to feed them smaller fish and worms but substitute the others with shrimp, and some pellet food. Flakes are advised against since flakes don’t generally sink. If you opt for pellet food, you need to choose the sinking variety as that is where your redtail catfish spends most of its time.

They are omnivorous fish but prefer meats. This is why having a supply of frozen food can help satisfy their hunger. They don’t actually need to be fed much. The younger phractocephalus hemioliopterus need food every other day but full-grown redtail catfish can do well with one large meal a week.

How often should you feed Redtail Catfish?

You know when it’s time to feed them when your fish become active again. This is because the phractocephalus hemioliopterus need time to digest their food and become lethargic after feeding (sort of like you after turkey dinners). Overfeeding is an issue commonly seen among fish. It’s hard to gauge when some species need food but consistency is key remember that they can go a long while without food.

Don’t feed your Redtail Catfish the meat from mammals. Beef and chicken contain lipids, and your fish won’t metabolize them. Such types of meat can also lead to organ degeneration and excess fat deposits.

Can you eat a redtail catfish? This is a funny question that we are often asked. Because of their size, they are unfortunately considered a game by some. However, the natives of South America don’t generally eat the meat because the fish is often dark in color.

Redtail Catfish Care Level

In a word, caring for the redtail catfish is difficult, which is why they are not recommended for first-time aquarists. They need a large tank due to their size and aren’t the most friendly fish in the sea. On the plus side, they are  freshwater fish , which means you don’t need to pay too close attention to the salt levels in the tank.

They are resilient and can adapt to a broad range of habitats, which is why they are considered an invasive species by some. An invasive species means a species that has the power to force out other species that are native to a specific area. This resiliency is also what makes them not as sensitive to certain tank conditions.

Even though they are tough, the right environment is still required to keep them happy and healthy. In captivity, the redtail catfish won’t live as long as it could potentially in its natural habitat. Their size is again something to consider. There are many cases of redtail catfish outgrowing the aquarium at home and because the aquarist cannot accommodate it anymore, they are donated to aquariums.

If you do not have an aquarium large enough to house the redtail catfish until maturity, we would advise you to search for another species that is of a more reasonable size.

Redtail Catfish Behavior and Temperament

Fish are either peaceful or aggressive, but these catfish although many agree are aggressive, can fall somewhere in between. Redtail catfish are predatory freshwater fish. If these natural instincts kick in, then some may argue that they are quite aggressive. Factors that influence their temperament and behavior include the environment.

Are Redtail Catfish lone or societal in nature?

When they are young, they can be a little shy or nonsocial. So, to help them in overcoming their shyness, you should offer sufficient space to hang out, such as dens and caves. Besides, it will be much better for you to keep your aquarium out in the open, where you spend a lot of time. This will help your fish to get accustomed to witching and interact with you. 

Redtail Catfish generally love to swim at the bottom of the tank. When they are adults, you will find them remaining motionless for hours. Due to their completely evolved receptors and stealth capability, they are the predators that can wait for hours for their prey. 

They have a bad habit of putting anything in their mouths. They can even swallow the items. This can be dangerous for your fish and can also lead them to choke. They can even die due to this. So, while adding things to the aquarium, don’t use objects that will easily fit into your fish’s mouth.

Your tank setup will largely dictate how your fish acts. However, the most common display of behavior by the redtail catfish is roaming the bottom of the tank. They slowly pace around the bottom of the tank as most other catfish do. Before the catfish matures, some aquarists say that they can be quite timid. Giving them lots of places to hide can help.

They love to live with their kind or other catfish families. But that doesn’t mean they will not live with others. Redtail catfish can be an ideal community fish if you use fish of the same size. In large public aquariums, they can easily live in large groups. Redtail Catfish are not at all venomous. However, they can be very predatory towards the things they find smaller than them, such as crabs, shrimps, snails, and more.

Redtail Catfish Tank Mates

Imagine a single catfish floating around with no friends in a sparse tank. The situation seems pretty bleak, but it’s okay, you can add some tank mates (on the condition that they are suitable of course). It’s tough to find the right aquarium buddies for these fish because they are large, somewhat aggressive, and will eat almost anything. The phractocephalus hemioliopterus eat smaller fish, so definitely make sure the tank mates you select are not much smaller.

Due to their large size and the fact that Redtail Catfish consume smaller fish, choosing a good tank mate can be a challenging task for you. One of the most common issues is that most types of freshwater aquarium fish are very smaller than the Redtail Catfish. When getting tank mates for your Redtail Catfish, you should consider the size first.

Ideal Redtail Catfish Tank Mates

When they are small, you can keep them with fish of the same size. For example,  Angelfish ,  Gouramis ,  Silver Dollar s, and  Tiger Barb s are good tankmates until your catfish outgrows them. Even though they are voracious, they are not that much aggressive. They can live comfortably with the below and with other bottom dwellers. 

Some of the good tank mates for your Redtail catfish can be Stingrays, Pacu, Arowanas, Adult Plecostomus, Umbees, Peacock Bass, Oscars, and other large fish.

Breeding Redtail Catfish

Breeding with these large fish is extremely difficult. In a regular aquarium, even one of 2000 gallons may not be large enough for 2 of these might catfish and this makes it tough to create the circumstances in which they mate. Even in large ponds, it can be difficult for successful breeding.


Look for fish that are the same size or larger with a focus on non-aggressive temperament. Introduce your catfish to his or her new friend early on so they have time to get acquainted. To minimize trouble, those that do go ahead in keeping redtail catfish usually only keep one. Adding more creatures to the tank only adds more issues such as tank size and having to add some sort of substrate and plants to accommodate the other species can compromise your catfish.

Beautiful stingrays can be optimal tank mates. Some beautiful smaller sharks such as the  iridescent shark  can also hold their own against the phractocephalus hemioliopterus. Ideally, though, we suggest keeping your catfish solo in a tank.

Redtail Catfish Common Diseases and their Treatment

Though hardy, they are not immune to some diseases. Just like most aquarium fishes, stress, poor-quality water, and an unhealthy diet are some of the risk factors that can severely affect your Redtail Catfish’s health. Some of the most common health issues that your Redtail catfish may develop are: 

This is one type of bacterial infection that can affect most freshwater fishes. When it happens, the Redtail catfish’s edge will begin to move away due to the adverse bacterial activity. If not treated soon, this can affect other parts of your Redtail Catfish. You may see discoloration, and your fish will gradually lose appetite and may develop lethargy. In some cases, inflamed patches can be seen on your fish body. To treat this condition, you can use different antibacterial medications like amoxicillin or fish doxy. If you are using this for the first time, you can take the help of an expert. 

It is quite common for Ich to affect the fish that are under stress. Different factors commonly cause this, for example, pH variations, increase in temperature, and more. Some common symptoms to consider here are white spots on the body, rapid breathing, and glancing. You can try changing water or can check the pH level.

Ammonia poisoning

Redtail Catfish can tolerate ammonia. So, if the ammonia content goes up in the water, they will develop health issues. As per the experts, ammonia poisoning can disturb or damage the gills, and catfish will develop respiratory complications. Besides, a higher level of ammonia in water can lead to burning on the fish. 

It has been seen that Redtail Catfish exposed to ammonia poisoning can develop red streaks, witness lethargy, and can have torn fins. Besides, your fish may become reclusive. In some cases, your Redtail Catfish can develop aggressive tendencies. But don’t worry at all as this condition is easily preventable. For this, you should constantly check the ammonia level in the aquarium. The experts suggest it should be around 0mg/1. 

In the rising level of ammonia, you should try to lower the pH level and keep changing the water constantly. You should also discontinue feeding for around one to two days. Your catfish should start acting normally after a few days. 

Red Pest Disease

This is generally caused by one type of bacterium. It commonly targets fish’s circulatory system and other organs and tissues. This health issue can lead to internal bleeding. Speaking about the symptoms, some common symptoms are red streaks, bloated stomach, fin or tail rot, and more. Your fish will begin to swim abnormally and come to the surface quite frequently for oxygen. This condition is also treatable. 

You can use a combination of different medications, like tetracycline, acriflavine, and monacolin. 

Apart from these common Redtail Catfish diseases, they are also prone to fungus, constipation, hemorrhagic septicemia, and more due to their eating habit. So, you should carefully observe your fish for any behavioral changes that can suggest a diseased condition. And you should start treating your fish as soon as possible.  

Facts About Redtail Catfish

  • They come with a broad head with whiskers and white underneath, extending to the caudal fin from the mouth. In some rare cases, the tail may find pelvic, anal fins, and the dorsal is also red. 
  • They can grow up to 5 feet and weigh around 80 to 85 kg.  During the daytime, they remain motionless, and they hunt and eat during the night. They are bottom-dwellers. 
  • They can eat small fish, fallen fruits, and crustaceans. 
  • They have a well-developed tactile sense and a good sense of sight.
  • Redtail Catfish generally communicate by producing a clicking sound.
  • These fish breed through external fertilization after laying eggs. 
  • Redtail Catfish species have not been evaluated by IUCN. 

Are Redtail Catfish right for you? 

They will start cute and small, but with time, they will grow bigger and much faster than other fish. When taken care of and fed properly, they can easily outgrow the aquarists’ fish tank. When the fish attains such a large size, you may need to donate them to a public aquarium or zoo. But the problem is that sometimes they don’t accept privately kept large fish. So, consider this thing while buying a Redtail Catfish.

By offering proper care and a living environment, you can increase the lifespan of your catfish by up to 20 years and more. That’s why Professional and experienced aquarists generally keep Redtail Catfish. So, if you are not quite confident about this, you should get a smaller fish. 

The question here is, can you offer them the most comfortable life possible? This will include a large fish tank with sufficient swimming space or a pond. Besides, you will have to feed them properly and change the indoor pond or aquarium water properly. 

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Are redtail catfish hardy .

Well, these are extremely hardy species. Due to their characteristics, they can easily adapt to almost all types of environments and can easily survive in any water condition. However, they also have some preferred elements. You will have to offer them the best life and environment possible. You need to ensure that the water pH and temperature level of the water are at the required level. Besides, you will have to offer them enrichment. 

What Is The Right Temperature For Your Redtail Catfish? 

Even though they are adaptable and hardy fish, they still have some requirements that you need to follow. By meeting those conditions, you can increase their lifespan. As per the experts, the best temperature for your Redtail Catfish is around 20 to 26-degree C. If you have a small Redtail Catfish, then you can use a normal aquarium heater. You will have to use advanced hearing solutions that can cost you more for the pond. 

Can They Survive In Cold Water? 

Considering their natural habitats and origins, it can be said that they may not be able to survive in cold water. Speaking about their natural habitats, they are large lakes, streams, and rivers, and they never get cold. So, these fish are not ready for cold water. So, if you have an outdoor pond, you should keep it warm during the winters. 

How Can Long Redtail Catfish Survive Without Food? 

A well-grown and healthy Redtail Catfish can live around three days to one week without consuming any food. Some fish species can live more than two weeks. Whether in an aquarium or nature, your Redtail Catfish has sufficient fat and body mass reserves to skip their meals. 

Who Are Ideal Tank Mates of Redtail Catfish? 

They can attack and eat small species, Datnoids, Stingrays, and Gars can be good tankmates of your Redtail Catfish. For best results, you should keep them together from a young age.

We think you may be interested in :  Best Pond Liner

The phractocephalus hemioliopterus is quite the trophy fish to keep. It will surely attract a lot of attention to have such a majestic yet menacing predator swimming in a home aquarium. Since they are so large, an aquarist needs to be prepared for all it will take to raise these creatures in captivity. This includes the large aquarium and regular water maintenance. Since they are predatory in nature, we recommend they be kept alone.

You should remember to keep them with you and have a correct setup. Besides, keeping them for around twenty years can attract an expensive food bill as they have a voracious appetite. You will need years of experience, sufficient resources, and space. However, if you have sufficient fun and the means, then they can be a truly amazing giant to keep. It may be a little challenging, but it is not impossible to keep this fish.

Leave a Comment Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed .

Monster Fish

Redtail Catfish Care: Complete Guide for Beginners


This page may contain affiliate links, which will earn us a commission. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Redtail Catfish Species Profile and Identification

The Redtail Catfish, scientifically known as  Phractocephalus hemioliopterus , is a popular and much-loved species of freshwater fish originating from South America. They have an interesting appearance, with their elongated bodies, flat broadheads, and of course, the iconic red tail from which they get their name.

  • Size:  Adult Redtail catfish can reach lengths of 3 to 5 feet, however, in a home aquarium, they usually grow up to 1.5 to 3 feet.
  • Lifespan:  With adequate care and a suitable environment, Redtail Catfish can live for 15-20 years or even more.
  • Coloration:  They have a dark brown or grayish body with small white spots dispersed all over, and their fins and tails have dark red or orange hues.
  • Temperament:  Despite their intimidating size, Redtail Catfish are relatively peaceful and can be kept with other large species.
  • Unique features:  Two things make Redtail Catfish stand out: their barbels (or whiskers) near their mouth, which aid in locating prey, and their ability to produce sound using their pectoral fins and air bladder.

Keep in mind that Redtail Catfish require a large tank, specialized care, and can be quite messy; this makes them suitable mostly for experienced fish keepers. By learning about their unique characteristics and care requirements, you’ll be well on your way to giving your Redtail Catfish a happy and healthy life.

Redtail Catfish Supplies

When it comes to gathering supplies for your Redtail Catfish, it’s important to plan and have a clear understanding of what’s necessary for maintaining a healthy environment. In this section, we will outline the essential supplies you will need for the proper care of your Redtail Catfish.

  • Aquarium : Redtail Catfish require a spacious tank due to their rapid growth and large adult size. We recommend a minimum 75-gallon tank for juveniles, but be prepared to upgrade to a 300-gallon or larger tank as they grow.
  • Filtration : A high-quality, powerful filtration system is crucial in maintaining clean and stable water quality. Opt for an external canister filter rated for three to four times the size of your tank.
  • Heater and Thermometer : Consistent water temperature is paramount. Invest in a reliable heater and thermometer to ensure it maintains 76°-80°F.
  • Air Pump and Air Stone : Provide aeration for your Redtail Catfish by installing an air pump and air stone. This helps to ensure sufficient oxygen supply.
  • Lighting : Redtail Catfish don’t require specialized lighting, but a basic aquarium light improves visibility and enhances the beauty of the tank. Keep it on for 12-14 hours a day.
  • Substrate : Redtail Catfish prefer sandy or fine gravel substrates. This creates a more natural environment and reduces the risk of injury.
  • Decoration : Include places for your catfish to hide, such as driftwood, caves, or PVC pipes. These provide a sense of security and keep stress levels low.
  • Water Testing Kit : Regularly monitoring water parameters is vital to ensure a healthy aquarium. A complete water testing kit should include tests for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH levels.
  • Maintenance Equipment : Acquire a gravel vacuum, an aquarium-safe algae scrubber, and a sturdy net for cleaning and maintenance purposes.

Finally, don’t forget to stock up on high-quality pellet or sticking foods specifically designed for carnivorous catfish. Mixing this with a variety of frozen or live foods ensures a well-rounded diet for your Redtail Catfish.

Redtail Catfish Tank Setup

Setting up a proper tank for your Redtail Catfish is crucial for its overall health and well-being. The first thing to consider is the  tank size . Redtail Catfish are known for their rapid growth, eventually reaching more than 3-4 feet in length, so it is essential to provide a tank that can accommodate their size.

  • Start with a minimum size of 120 gallons for juveniles.
  • Upgrade to a larger tank, around 300 gallons or more, as your catfish grow.

Redtail Catfish are  bottom dwellers  that prefer to hide in dark spaces, so it is essential to have a  substrate  that mimics their natural habitat. A mixture of sand and fine gravel is a suitable choice, as it provides a comfortable surface for resting and burrowing.

A few more aspects to consider while setting up the tank include:

  • Decorations : Add driftwood, caves, and rocks to provide hiding spots.
  • Plants : Include live or artificial aquatic plants for added cover and environmental enrichment.
  • Filtration : Invest in an efficient and reliable external canister filter to maintain water quality.
  • Heater : Redtail Catfish are tropical species, necessitating a heater to maintain stable water temperatures between 72 and 79°F.
  • Aeration : Ensure proper oxygen levels with an air pump and airstones.

Ensure the tank setup is complete  before  introducing your Redtail Catfish to reduce stress and promote a smoother transition. Once the tank is ready, make sure to acclimate the fish carefully to its new surroundings, following proper acclimation procedures. A well-designed and comfortable tank setup will greatly contribute to the health and happiness of your Redtail Catfish.

Redtail Catfish Water Requirements

When it comes to providing the perfect environment for your redtail catfish,  water quality  is of the utmost importance. These fish thrive in clean, well-oxygenated water with stable temperature and pH levels.


The ideal water temperature for redtail catfish is between  75-82°F (24-28°C) . It is crucial to maintain consistent temperatures, as sudden fluctuations can lead to stress and illness in your fish. Consider investing in a quality aquarium heater and thermometer to help you keep track of temperature changes.

As for pH levels, redtail catfish prefer slightly acidic to neutral water conditions. The ideal pH range is  6.0 to 7.0 . You can use a reliable pH test kit to measure the pH of your aquarium water regularly.

Water Changes

Regular water changes are essential for maintaining a healthy environment for your redtail catfish.  25-30% water changes  should be done  every 2 weeks  to remove excess waste and maintain water quality. Use a siphon to remove debris from the bottom of the tank during water changes.

Efficient filtration is crucial for redtail catfish, as they produce a significant amount of waste. A  strong, high-quality external canister filter  is recommended for handling the bioload of these large fish. Adding live plants to your tank can also help with filtration and water quality.

By ensuring that the water requirements for your redtail catfish are met, you will create an optimal environment for them to grow and live happily. Always keep an eye on water conditions and adjust as necessary to keep your fish healthy and thriving.

Redtail Catfish Diet and Feeding

Feeding your Redtail Catfish a well-balanced and diverse diet is crucial for its overall health and well-being. Apart from store-bought pellets or sinking carnivore wafers, these bottom-dwelling species also appreciate a varied diet that resembles what they typically eat in the wild.

  • Pellets:  High-quality sinking catfish pellets should be the staple of their diet. Feed your Redtail Catfish pellets daily to ensure they receive necessary nutrients.
  • Meaty foods:  Redtail Catfish are carnivores, so supplement their pellet diet with raw or cooked meat, such as shrimp, beef heart, squid, mussels, and earthworms. Feed your Redtail Catfish meaty foods 2-3 times a week to maintain their appetite.
  • Live or frozen foods:  Live or frozen foods including brine shrimp, bloodworms, blackworms, and daphnia add variety to their diet and simulate a natural feeding experience. Offer live or frozen foods 1-2 times per week as a treat.

Here’s a simple feeding schedule for your reference:

Young Redtail Catfish should be fed twice a day, while adults only require feeding once a day. Keep an eye on the consumption rates to prevent overfeeding, and adjust the feeding schedule accordingly if necessary.

Remember to remove any uneaten food to maintain good water quality and prevent ammonia buildup. Following these guidelines will ensure your Redtail Catfish thrives with a healthy and diverse diet.

Redtail Catfish Care Schedule

Taking proper care of your Redtail Catfish is essential to keep them healthy and thriving. By establishing and sticking to a consistent care schedule, you can ensure that your fish remain happy and stress-free.

  • Weekly maintenance : Perform a  25% water change  to maintain optimal water quality. This keeps the water free of harmful compounds such as ammonia and nitrite. Regularly check and adjust the water temperature and pH if necessary.
  • Feeding : Redtail Catfish are carnivores and require a varied diet to keep them healthy. Feed them  2-3 times a week  with a mix of high-quality pellets, frozen fish, shrimp, or other suitable meaty foods. Be careful not to overfeed them, as this can lead to health issues.
  • Cleaning : Thoroughly  clean the substrate, filter, and decorations  in the tank at least once a month. Use an aquarium vacuum to remove any accumulated debris, rinse the filter media, and scrub the decorations with a soft brush.
  • Filter maintenance : Check your filter regularly to ensure it operates efficiently and maintain a balance of beneficial bacteria. Replace the filter media around  every 3 months , depending on the filter type and manufacturer recommendations.
  • Aquarium equipment : Inspect all equipment, like heaters and air stones, monthly. Perform any necessary repairs or replacements to keep everything running smoothly.
  • Health checks : Observe your Redtail Catfish closely for any signs of illness or stress. If you notice any changes in their behavior, appearance, or appetite, consult an expert or do some research to identify and address the issue.

By incorporating these care habits into a regular schedule, you’ll be well on your way to providing an optimal environment for your Redtail Catfish. Their stunning appearance and fascinating behavior make them well worth the effort.

Redtail Catfish Health Problems

Redtail catfish, like any other aquatic species, can encounter various health problems. Providing a clean environment, proper diet, and appropriate tank mates can prevent most ailments. Here are some common health issues you may face while raising a redtail catfish:

  • Ichthyophthirius multifiliis (Ich):  Ich is a common freshwater parasite, causing small white spots on the fish’s body and fins. To treat Ich, gradually increase the water temperature to 86°F (30°C) and introduce an Ich medication into the tank.
  • Fin Rot:  Fin rot is a bacterial infection that causes the fish’s fins to appear ragged and discolored. Treat fin rot using an antibacterial medication specifically designed for fish, and improve water quality to prevent reoccurrence.
  • Fungal Infections:  Fungi can grow on the fish’s body, causing cotton-like growths. You can treat fungal infections using an antifungal medication and maintain high-quality water conditions to minimize the risk.

Preventative measures for redtail catfish health problems include:

  • Regular water changes:  Maintain a regular schedule of water changes to keep the water clean and free from harmful chemicals.
  • Proper filtration:  Invest in a high-quality filtration system to remove debris and maintain water chemistry.
  • Monitor stress levels:  Ensure your redtail catfish is not over-stressed by monitoring its behavior and making adjustments to the environment as needed.
  • Quarantine new fish:  To prevent introducing diseases or parasites into the tank, always quarantine new additions for two to four weeks before introducing them to the main tank.

Redtail Catfish Tank Mates

Finding suitable tank mates for your Redtail Catfish can be a challenging task. Due to their size and predatory nature, it’s essential to choose the right companions for them to ensure a harmonious aquatic environment.

Tank mates to consider:

  • Other large catfish species:  Examples include Tiger Shovelnose Catfish, Giraffe Catfish, and Lemon-spotted Catfish. These species can coexist well with Redtail Catfish as they are also large and have similar habits.
  • Large cichlids:  Common large cichlids that can be good tank mates for Redtail Catfish include the Oscar and Jaguar Cichlid. Keep in mind that the aggression levels of cichlids can vary, so it’s important to monitor their interactions.
  • Large characins:  Fish like the Black Pacu and Silver Dollars can peacefully coexist with Redtail Catfish due to their size and fast swimming nature.

Tank mates to avoid:

  • Small fish species:  Redtail Catfish are known to eat smaller fish, so any fish small enough to fit in their mouth should be avoided. This includes Tetras, Guppies, and Corydoras.
  • Slow-moving fish:  Fish that have a slow swimming speed or are not used to living with aggressive species may have a hard time escaping Redtail Catfish’s predatory behaviors. Examples of these fish are Discus and Angelfish.
  • Territorial species:  Putting territorial fish in the same tank with Redtail Catfish can lead to fights and injuries. Avoid species like Flowerhorn Cichlids or aggressive Plecos.

Providing an appropriately-sized tank and keeping a close eye on the interactions between your Redtail Catfish and its tank mates will ensure their compatibility in a shared environment.

As a beginner, choose tank mates that have been proven to work well with Redtail Catfish and seek advice from experienced hobbyists or professionals if you’re uncertain about a particular species.

Redtail Catfish Breeding

Breeding Redtail Catfish in a home aquarium can be quite challenging, as they require specific conditions to breed successfully. However, with the right knowledge and setup, you can increase the chances of breeding your beloved Redtails. Here are some essential aspects to consider when trying to breed your Redtail Catfish:

  • Tank Size : Redtail Catfish can grow to massive sizes, so they require a large tank for breeding. Ideally, you’ll need a tank of at least 1000 gallons. This ensures there is enough space for the fish to interact and lay eggs comfortably.
  • Water Parameters : Maintaining stable water parameters is essential for successful Redtail Catfish breeding. The ideal water temperature for breeding is around 77°F (25°C), with a pH level of 6.5-7.0.
  • Sexing Redtails : To breed Redtail Catfish, you’ll need to have both a male and a female in your tank. Males tend to have more elongated pectoral fins and a more slender body shape, while females have bulkier bodies.
  • Spawning Site : Providing a suitable spawning site is crucial for successful breeding. Redtail Catfish typically lay their eggs among plants, driftwood, or rock caves. Providing a good mix of these in your tank will encourage natural spawning behavior.
  • Diet : A high-quality and varied diet is essential in promoting healthy breeding behavior, including live or frozen foods such as shrimp, earthworms, or even small fish. Be sure to provide the proper nutrition leading up to breeding attempts.

Remember, breeding Redtail Catfish may not be easy, but with patience and dedication, you might be able to achieve it. Be prepared to invest time, effort, and money into creating and maintaining the ideal breeding environment for them. And, most importantly, be prepared to learn from your experiences and adjust your approach when necessary.

Caring for a redtail catfish can be a rewarding experience, as long as you’re prepared to provide the necessary space, water conditions, and diet it requires. With patience and proper care, your redtail catfish will thrive and become an interesting and unique addition to your aquarium. What has been your experience with redtail catfish? Leave a comment and share your thoughts!

odessa barb

Leave a Comment Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


NAS - Nonindigenous Aquatic Species

  • Browse Archive
  • Flowchart-How It Works
  • User Statistics
  • Query By State
  • Query By County
  • Query By HUC 2
  • Query By HUC 6
  • Query By HUC 8
  • Spatial Query
  • Graphs & Charts
  • Reference Database
  • Database FAQ
  • Data Disclaimer
  • Database Characterization
  • API Documentation
  • Marine Fishes
  • Coelenterates
  • Crustaceans
  • Report a Sighting
  • Screening Tool (SEINeD)


The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.

Copyright Info

The redtail catfish is distinctively-colored, with a dark grey to black background color, a wide white stripe that extends along the midline (from the mouth to caudal fin) and a red or orange caudal fin.  The dorsal, pelvic, and anal fins are also sometimes red or orange.  It can grow to 1.3 m and 80 kg.  The species is often called the pirarara catfish, especially in literature from South America.

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Phractocephalus hemioliopterus are found here .

Table last updated 1/4/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

Barbarino Duque, A. and K. O. Winemiller.  2003.  Dietary segregation among large catfishes of the Apure and Arauca Rivers, Venezuela. Journal of Fish Biology 63: 410-427.

Barthem, R. and M. Goulding.  1997.  The Catfish Connection:  Ecology, Migration, and Conservation of Amazon Predators.  Columbia University Press, New York.

Burgess, W. E. 1989. An atlas of freshwater and marine catfishes: a preliminary survey of the Siluriformes. Tropical Fish Hobbyist Publications, Inc., Neptune City, NJ.

Courtenay, W. R., Jr., D. P. Jennings, and J. D. Williams. 1991. Appendix 2: exotic fishes. Pages 97-107 in Robins, C. R., R. M. Bailey, C. E. Bond, J. R. Brooker, E. A. Lachner, R. N. Lea, and W. B. Scott. Common and scientific names of fishes from the United States and Canada, 5th edition. American Fisheries Society Special Publication 20. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD.

Ferraris, C. J., Jr. 1991. Catfish in the aquarium. Tetra Press, Morris Plains, NJ.

Goulding, M. 1980. Fishes of the Forest: Explorations in Amazonian Natural History. University of California Press, Los Angeles, CA.

Lundberg J.G. and O. Aguilera. 2003. Additional Specimens and Reinterpretation of the Late Miocene Phractocephalus Catfish (Pimelodidae, Siluriformes) from Urumaco, Venezuela. Neotropical Ichthyology.  1(2):97-109.

Rasmussen, J.L. 1998. Aquatic nuisance species of the Mississippi River basin . 60th Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference, Aquatic Nuisance Species Symposium, Dec. 7, 1998 , Cincinnati , OH .

Schultz, L. P. 1944. The catfishes of Venezuela, with descriptions of thirty-eight new forms. Proceedings of the U.S. National Museum 94(3172):173-338.

NS Logo

The data represented on this site vary in accuracy, scale, completeness, extent of coverage and origin. It is the user's responsibility to use these data consistent with their intended purpose and within stated limitations. We highly recommend reviewing metadata files prior to interpreting these data.

Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2024]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [1/4/2024].

Contact us if you are using data from this site for a publication to make sure the data are being used appropriately and for potential co-authorship if warranted.

For general information and questions about the database, contact Wesley Daniel . For problems and technical issues, contact Matthew Neilson .

Redtail Catfish 101: Size, Care, & Tank Mates

  • by Alison Yang
  • Updated: June 29, 2022

The redtail catfish is a massive freshwater fish that only the most experienced aquarists should attempt to keep.

Despite that, there are a lot of people who think that these fish are much more manageable to keep in captivity than they are.

So we’re here to set the record straight.

This guide on redtail catfish care will give you an honest look at what it really takes to keep this fish as a pet and help you decide if it’s something you’re ready for.

Table of Contents

Species summary, water parameters, what to put in their tank, food & diet, behavior & temperament, redtail catfish tank mates.

The redtail catfish (scientific name: phractocephalus hemioliopterus ) is native to north-most South American countries. The countries it can commonly be found in are Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador, Guyana, and Bolivia.

It spends its time in freshwater river basins (the Amazon and Orinoco primarily), streams, and lakes looking for anything it can eat. These fish aren’t picky!

No Spam, Just Cool Fish Stuff!

A redtail catfish swimming in a large tank

They have a bit of a reputation in the countries it occupies due to a combination of their size and mythical stories of their aggression. There is a lot of respect for the redtail catfish in South America.

The average lifespan of a redtail catfish is around 15 years in captivity. In the wild they have been known to live longer, but there isn’t a significant amount of data on that.

Since these fish need very specific requirements when it comes to their care, it’s very common for underprepared aquarists to shorten their lifespan significantly. Any subpar care for such a large fish will quickly shave years off its life.

The redtail catfish has a very classic “catfish” look to it. The barbels (long whiskers) it has are quite large and impossible to miss. They tend to stick straight outward no matter if the fish is swimming fast or not.

The main color of their body is dark grey with a smattering of faint dots stretching over this part of their body. 

The colors of a redtail catfish

The underside of their heads is white and extends back roughly to where their pectoral fins begin. This white area usually travels up over the top of their pectoral fins and continues all the way to the base of their caudal fins.

Their caudal fins are red as well as the top third of their dorsal fins. This is where they get their rather straightforward name.

Redtail catfish have a rather thick body that tapers off a bit toward their tail. Like a lot of freshwater catfish , their underbelly is quite flat, especially underneath their head.

The average size of a redtail catfish in captivity is around 3-4 feet in length. In the wild, this can be closer to 5 feet.

It’s important to understand just how massive this is, and what that means for anyone who wants to keep one in a home aquarium. This means that the minimum tank size is going to be astronomical just to make them relatively comfortable.

Author Note: There’s a lot of misinformation about redtail catfish online. One of the more concerning trends is that many new aquarists think that keeping these fish in tanks at an early age will significantly stunt their growth. This is outright wrong because even though it will definitely stunt their maximum length a bit, they’ll still likely hit 3 feet at least.

Redtail Catfish Care

If you want to give redtail catfish care a shot there are some things that you simply cannot compromise on. With such large and aggressive fish the stakes are always a lot higher and mistakes are punished more as well.

The minimum tank size for an adult redtail catfish is around 1,500-2,000 gallons (yeah). This will give them enough room to swim around and be active without feeling cramped and unhappy.

This huge tank size is obviously quite a lot compared to most freshwater home aquariums. This is where most potential owners typically call it quits because it’s not viable for almost everyone.

Don’t think that you can compromise with something like a 1,000-gallon tank either. This is not nearly enough. Redtail catfish are fish that don’t do well with half measures.

The water parameters are obviously very important as well. Even though redtail catfish are considered hardy, we always recommend doing everything you can to make sure the water situation is as good as it can be.

  • Water temperature: 68°F to 80°F
  • pH levels: Somewhere between 6 and 7.5 is fine, but staying below 7 is ideal.

Maintaining the optimal water parameters can be challenging with such a large tank. A lot of the people who attempt to keep this fish in their home aquarium find that they spend most of their time on this (at least initially).

It’s a very different experience trying to heat a tank that’s almost 2,000 gallons compared to a tank that’s only 20!

Author Note: Due to the amount of food redtail catfish comsume they also create a lot of waste. This presents another challenge when it comes to maintaining water quality.

Redtail catfish love to eat, and that is not exclusive to animals and plants. They will chow down on random items like driftwood, rocks, and gravel too.

This means the ideal tank set up for them is a very large tank, with very little inside it. They don’t require a bunch of decorations or hiding places (they’re quite confident fish) and will likely tear up or consume whatever they find.

Redtail catfish in a sparse tank

This means that you also will want to limit your substrate to a sandy variety if that. This is also something they might nibble on over time so it’s recommended that a substrate-free tank is probably best for them. This obviously has aesthetic downsides, but it’s best for the fish.

The easiest thing when it comes to redtail catfish care is their lighting situation. These fish don’t need much when it comes to light, so a standard lamp will do the trick.

Redtail catfish love to eat. Period.

You can pretty much feed this fish whatever you want and they’ll scarf it down. However, that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.

Just like any fish, they have certain dietary and nutritional requirements that you’ll need to hit if you want them to live as long as possible.

In their natural habitats these fish will eat worms, smaller fish, insects, and random vegetation they come across. You’ll want to keep this in mind when coming up with their diet in captivity.

Some of the recommended live food choices for an optimal redtail catfish diet are:

  • Cut up meat

There are also a lot of great pellet and frozen food options that you can use to provide a good nutritional baseline. Remember that with pellet food you’ll want to make sure it’s a sinking variety so it makes its way down to where they spend time in the tank.

The behavior and temperament of redtail catfish can vary depending on who you talk to. Some people will say they’re hyper-aggressive, and others will say they’re actually rather peaceful.

In our opinion, this is mostly influenced by their tank setup as well as what you define as aggressive. If you consider their natural predatory instincts to be aggressive, then this fish would quality.

We don’t think that’s a very fair label though, because they’re just doing what they know. We would define aggression as non-hunting actions that can harm another fish. While in the right circumstances redtail catfish can display this behavior as well, it’s far less likely.

The phractocephalus hemioliopterus at night

As far as their normal mannerisms go, these fish will spend most of their time roaming around the bottom half of the tank. This is normal catfish behavior and won’t change regardless if you house them with other fish or not. This is something you’ll definitely need to keep in mind when it comes to tank mates (more on that in the section below).

Due to their size and the fact that they eat smaller fish in the wild, picking tank mates for a redtail catfish can be very challenging. The primary issue is that most typical freshwater aquarium fish are smaller than the redtail (because they’re massive).

This means if you’re going to attempt to find redtail catfish tank mates the main factor you should consider is size. If it’s smaller than your redtail it’s not viable.

Pretty much anything nonaggressive that’s the same size or larger can work if they’re introduced to each other early on.

For the most part, redtail catfish owners tend to keep these fish by themselves. There are a lot of things to consider and when you add more large fish to the equation it brings the minimum tank size up even more.

Our recommendation would be to avoid tank mates for the sake of convenience and peace in the tank. Redtail catfish can be so hungry that you never know what they’ll try to chomp down on!

As you can probably tell, caring for redtail catfish is not for everyone. In fact, we would say it’s not for most aquarists.

You need a healthy dose of experience, space, and resources to make it happen.

If that describes you then feel free to go for it! Keeping these fish is definitely not impossible and will be quite rewarding once you put the time in.

If you’re someone looking for a hassle-free freshwater fish that doesn’t require having a swimming-pool sized tank in your home, you should probably pass.

We love these fish though and would enjoy hearing any stories or feedback from redtail catfish owners. Caring for such large fish is a very different experience, so it’s always fun to learn more about!

Alison Yang

Alison Yang

Alison is passionate about the intricate web of life on our planet, she's an Ecology and Evolutionary Biology graduate dedicated to creating impactful content that educates, inspires, and fosters change. As an educator, she has a proven track record of simplifying complex concepts, making them accessible to a broad audience. When she's not diving into the world of science or teaching, you can find her at the local animal shelter, offering her time to care for and advocate for our furry friends. Feel free to reach out to Alison to: [email protected]

You May Also Like

A freshwater aquarium catfish resting on a log

  • 12 minute read

The 15 Best Types Of Freshwater Aquarium Catfish

  • Updated: May 21, 2021

A colorful freshwater fish called the Fancy Guppy swimming alone

  • 18 minute read

The 27 Most Colorful Freshwater Fish For Your Aquarium

  • by Millie Sheppard
  • Updated: November 29, 2022

Just added to your cart

phantom redtail catfish

Live arrival guaranteed

Biggest Selection online

new shipments arriving weekly

phantom redtail catfish

Short Body Phantom Redtail Catfish (Phractocephalus hemioliopterus)

Regular price $900.00 sale price $900.00 regular price sale sold out unit price / per .

Shipping calculated at checkout. We only ship Monday - Wednesday. Thursday shipping is available upon request (You must email or call us to schedule Thursday shipping)



Related products.

phantom redtail catfish

  • Choosing a selection results in a full page refresh.
  • Press the space key then arrow keys to make a selection.

  • Search forums

Phantom Redtail catfish

  • Thread starter Tullyman
  • Start date Jun 23, 2021
  • Advanced Aquaria Discussion Forum
  • Bottom Dwellers
GiantFishKeeper101 said: Yea... that's just platinum redtail. Juvenile phantom may be different than juvenile platinum but phantom grows to become a platinum with slightly reddish skin. But I'd say that when it gets bigger, the reddish could be gone completely leaving the fish completely white just like grade A platinum. So it goes to show that "phantom" is just a marketing scheme for grade A platinum. Not that I blame Rodrigo for it, he just used the name that the supplier's gave to him. Nonetheless, it's still a beautiful fish. Click to expand...



Silver tier vip.

MFK's Gold Medal

Tullyman said: I don’t totally agree with what you say ? How much would a grade A platinum be ? If your saying they may be one in the same …. I scored, got him way cheaper than a platinum. As far as the red/ pinkish hues time will tell. But I tend to believe your opinion on that .And thanks !!!! We love him ! Click to expand...
wednesday13 said: Platinum/leucistic just dont exist for RTC... yet... lol... y the price just keeps dropping. If they did/when they do... we’ll see them in peoples tanks in asia 1st as americans are cheap. Just how it goes... we get the “scraps” from over seas. I personally prefer the Xanthic mutation over platinum/leucistic... the gold tones/hues/shimmers are amazing and unlike any other mutation even albinism, it almost glows...your fish will turn more yellow as it ages esp around the bony head area. Rodrigo called them “amelanistic” thats not the case either thats a closer mutation to albinism and would also have red eyes/more red skin. Every Xanthic fish is uinque to itself making it rare in its own way. It may throw pattern one year... and be yellow/white again the next... just how it goes. People see “platinum” and throw money down... how the world works lol... if they were labeled correctly as “xanthic”, most people wouldnt even know or understand what that is. The new names and “grading scale” have just continuted to keep the price up on the same color morph thats been around for 10 yrs or so now. Rodrigo may make up names... but atleast he offerers them at a reasonable price for the time/yrs this morph has been available in the states ? Click to expand...



Tullyman said: Lol.. @ most people wouldn’t know what xanthic is ? Click to expand...



Gold tier vip.

Distinguished Academic

This phantom for sale is not so white...  

thebiggerthebetter said: This phantom for sale is not so white... Click to expand...
ADawson23 said: Thanks currently texting him. Trying to see if I can arrange shipping for it. Unsure tho Click to expand...
thebiggerthebetter said: IMHumbO this is way overpriced at $550 at 12 inches... but I am a naturalist / purist / anti-morph guy. Even though, if you think about it... Rodrigo was selling them for $35, if memory serves. Way, way cheaper than the alleged light-colored RTC morphs of other kinds... I've just seen someone trying to sell a phantom RTC for $1500 on Craigslist here in southern FL. Click to expand...

I am pretty sure the old price was $35. Unless it was a typo on Pred.Fins website.  

Phantom Redtail Catfish - (Phractocephalus Hemioliopterus)

Common Name: Phantom Redtail Catfish

Scientific Name: Phractocephalus Hemioliopterus

Please watch the video below or at the bottom of the page if using the app. Customers are responsible to make their own decisions when deciding if they want the fish in the video and photos or not. If there is something you do not like about the fish in the video or photos, please do not purchase or contact us first before purchasing for any questions. All purchases are FINAL, per our Terms and Conditions, no exceptions. If the app on Android or iPhone does not work to view the videos, then use a web browser on your cell phone or computer. Below is a video of what these puffers look like. This is a pre-order item, so it won't be the same exact one pictured below:


All new imports are feeding on Fluval Bug Bites unless otherwise specified. To keep your new fish eating once they arrive, please consider purchasing to feed them entirely on Fluval Bug Bites or mix in with your current fish food. I earn a small commission on each purchase which helps feed our new fish. You can purchase from the link below:

Fluval Bug Bites Pleco Formula

Fluval Bug Bites Tropical Fish Food

  • Zelle or cash is the recommended payment method as it helps us with all the fees that PayPal, Credit Card processors, etc. take out of each order. Typically, a charge of 3.2% plus .30 cents per transaction is removed from our payment from you. Every dollar counts in this business and is greatly appreciated. We also take PayPal, Venmo, Cash App and Credit Cards.

Arrival Date:

  • July 31, 2023
  • This fish can only be shipped via Southwest Cargo.

Currently Eating:

  • Fluval Bug Bites Pleco Formula, Fluval Bug Bites Granules Tropical Formula and Tilapia.


  • Captive Bred in Asia

Max Adult Size:

  • 60" Approx.

Aquarium Size:

  • Always provide the largest aquarium possible with the width being the most important.

Other Parameters:

  • Well-filtered water, frequent water changes a necessity.

Water Parameters:

  • Temperature should be approximately 72-82 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • PH: 6.5-7.5
  • Nitrate: Less than 30-40 PPM
  • To learn more in-depth about this fish please visit Planet Catfish.

Important Information:

  • Independent research prior to purchasing a fish you are unfamiliar with is highly suggested. Different fish can have a variety of characteristics that can make them difficult to manage, incompatible with other fish, or require more complicated care than expected. For example, many freshwater fish vary in color and shape based on their sex, age, or where they were caught, as well as nutrition and demanding water conditions. Some species also require tremendous amount of attention and specific maintenance for them to thrive in their environment. Furthermore, the addition of certain fish to an already existing aquarium or tank can have a wide range of consequences, from an undesired change in the dynamic of the aquarium to the potential death of other fish. Taking the time to research extensively on the specific fish, such as nutrition and behavior, and consider expert opinions, can ensure that your fish can thrive and coexist in the upcoming habitat.

Better Price Match!

  • If you find a better price at another online retailer on this fish that is of the exact same species, size, quantity, quality, etc., let us know and we will match the price! Does not include sale prices, wholesale prices, going out of business prices, buddy discounts, etc. We will also price match local fish store prices only in Kentucky. The store must have the same fish competitively priced with the correct ID. Please send us the link to the website of the fish to price match. We will update the price of the fish site wide once we validate the prices so you can then purchase the fish. USA prices ONLY! Simply send us an email, click this link to open your email [email protected] or message us on our Facebook Business Page: Jason's Plecos & Cichlids LLC | Facebook

Don't forget to download our Android and iPhone App!

phantom redtail catfish

Terms & Conditions

Privacy Policy

Shipping & Payment Information

Return Policy

Quarantine Your Fish!

If you come across an issue or error on our website such as incorrect ID or any other concern, please do not hesitate to contact us via email at [email protected]. Our team will be more than happy to further assist you to resolve any issues you may be facing and make sure that your experience on our website is as great as it should be. Furthermore, if you have any other concerns or inquiries, please do not hesitate to reach out to us as well. We value our customers and strive to provide the best customer service for all customers. We look forward to hearing from you and providing the best customer service experience possible.

  • Search Products
  • Track Orders
  • Shopping Bag

PC Aquatics

Item added to your cart

phantom redtail catfish

Phantom Redtail Catfish (Phractocephalus Hemioliopterus)

Couldn't load pickup availability

Pre-orders now! The Phantoms are back. Don't miss out on this rare opportunity. READY TO SHIP IN 2 WEEKS.

The Phantom Redtail catfish is an amelanistic color morph characterized by the lack of pigments called melanins. This means they lack the normal black color a regular morph would have. These will never turn black or have the gray shading on top, will always be full white The redtail catfish, Phractocephalus hemioliopterus, is a pimelodid catfish. In Venezuela, it is known as cajaro, and in Brazil, it is known as pirarara, stemming from the Tupi language words pirá and arara. Phractocephalus hemioliopterus, or redtail catfish, are often known as the vacuums of the tank that will not only eat anything they can fit in their mouth that looks appetizing but also grow to a grand length of 2 feet within one year! Their growth in length depends on how much they are eating and if they have enough in an aquarium to grow. These freshwater catfish are black on top and white stomachs as well as red tail fins.

Shipping calculated at checkout. We only ship Monday - Wednesday. Thursday shipping is available upon request (You must email or call us to schedule Thursday shipping)

phantom redtail catfish


With our live fish arrival guarantee, you can shop with confidence knowing that your fish will arrive in the best possible condition.

phantom redtail catfish

Packages may be sent separately.

When purchasing a fish, please be aware that it will be located separately from our accessories (including fish traps, nets, aquariums, etc.). As a result, your package will arrive separately as well. Thank you!

phantom redtail catfish

Need some advice?

It is important to keep your fish and turtles healthy and happy! That's why we made a care guide for you.

  • Choosing a selection results in a full page refresh.
  • Opens in a new window.

'Weakest character who could survive watching the tape from 'The Ring:' The Ghost Busters, Danny Phantom, a D&D Character, who has the best chance and why?

A new thread on r/whowouldwin has blown up over what weak AF character could survive an attack from The Ring 's demonic villain Sadako/Samara. 

"To be more specific: Who's the weakest character who could watch the tape from The Ring and survive being attacked by Sadako/Samara seven days later? They get prep after watching the tape and they don't have to kill her, just survive her attacks," the thread asks. 

People have come up with some of the most outlandish characters, but give you explanations that actually start to make it all make sense… I mean, The Ghostbusters?! They're just a group of regular 'ole New Yorkers who just happen to know some things about paranormal science (lol wow, that's an oxymoron if I've ever seen one…) and have some gadgets. They might not be able to defeat Samara, but they could probably keep her locked away in their strange ghost uploaded tank thing. And what about Courage from Courage the Cowardly Dog ?! He's just a sweet little rescue pup who lives in the middle of nowhere with his senior humans, but freaky stuff always happens to him there and he always comes out on top. Heck , someone even runs down why the gang from Always Sunny in Philadelphia could defeat Samara… For a movie that used to scare the sh*t out of me when I was younger, she's started to sound pretty easily defeat-able…  

The Ghostbusters

Cheezburger Image 9705472000

  • Advertisement

Cheezburger Image 9705472256

Danny Phantom

Cheezburger Image 9705472512

Courage the Cowardly Dog

Cheezburger Image 9705472768

Dungeons and Dragons' characters

Cheezburger Image 9705475584

John Constantine

Cheezburger Image 9705475840

Casper the Friendly Ghost

Cheezburger Image 9705476608

Harry Dresden

Cheezburger Image 9705477120

A pervert...

Cheezburger Image 9705477376

Johnny Bravo

Cheezburger Image 9705477632

Kamui-san from 'Kamui, The One Standing Behind You'

Cheezburger Image 9705477888

The Roadrunner

Cheezburger Image 9705478144

The 'Always Sunny in Philadelphia' Gang

Cheezburger Image 9705478400

The Scooby-Doo Gang

Cheezburger Image 9705478656

'Queer Eye' the Fab Five

Cheezburger Image 9705479936

Stay entertained and up to date by following us on Facebook and Instagram!

Next on memebase.

Hilarious Avatar The Last Airbender Memes For Fans on Their 10th Rewatch

Hilarious Avatar The Last Airbender Memes For Fans on Their 10th Rewatch

phantom redtail catfish

Follow The Laughs

U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

The .gov means it’s official. Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.

The site is secure. The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

  • Publications
  • Account settings
  • Advanced Search
  • Journal List
  • EJNMMI Phys
  • v.4; 2017 Dec

Logo of ejnmmiphy

Design and implementation of a prototype head and neck phantom for the performance evaluation of gamma imaging systems

Mohammed s. alqahtani.

1 Space Research Centre, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leicester, Leicester, LE1 7RH UK

2 Radiological Sciences Department, College of Applied Medical Sciences, King Khalid University, Zip code 61481, Abha, 3665 Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

John E. Lees

Sarah l. bugby, piyal samara-ratna.

3 Radiological Sciences, School of Medicine, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, NG7 2UH UK

Alan C. Perkins

4 Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, Nottingham, UK

Associated Data

Supporting data files can be found in the supplemental material.

A prototype anthropomorphic head and neck phantom has been designed to simulate the adult head and neck anatomy including some internal organs and tissues of interest, such as thyroid gland and sentinel lymph nodes (SLNs). The design of the head and neck phantom includes an inner jig holding the simulated SLNs and thyroid gland. The thyroid gland structure was manufactured using three-dimensional (3D) printing taking into consideration the morphology and shape of a healthy adult thyroid gland.

The head and neck phantom was employed to simulate a situation where there are four SLNs distributed at two different vertical levels and at two depths within the neck. Contrast to noise ratio (CNR) calculations were performed for the detected SLNs at an 80 mm distance between both pinhole collimators (0.5 and 1.0 mm diameters) and the surface of the head and neck phantom with a 100 s acquisition time. The recorded CNR values for the simulated SLNs are higher when the hybrid gamma camera (HGC) was fitted with the 1.0 mm diameter pinhole collimator. For instance, the recorded CNR values for the superficially simulated SLN (15 mm depth) containing 0.1 MBq of 99m Tc using 0.5 and 1.0 mm diameter pinhole collimators are 6.48 and 16.42, respectively (~87% difference).

Gamma and hybrid optical images were acquired using the HGC for the simulated thyroid gland. The count profiles through the middle of the simulated thyroid gland images provided by both pinhole collimators were obtained. The HGC could clearly differentiate the individual peaks of both thyroid lobes in the gamma image produced by the 0.5-mm pinhole collimator. In contrast, the recorded count profile for the acquired image using the 1.0-mm-diameter pinhole collimator showed broader peaks for both lobes, reflecting the degradation of the spatial resolution with increasing the diameter of the pinhole collimator.


This anthropomorphic head and neck phantom provides a valuable tool for assessing the imaging ability of gamma cameras used for imaging the head and neck region. The standardisation of test phantoms for SFOV gamma systems will provide an opportunity to collect data across various medical centres. The phantom described is cost effective, reproducible, flexible and anatomically representative.

Nuclear medicine procedures are widely used in the diagnosis and therapy of various pathologies of the head and neck. Traditionally, nuclear medicine has been employed in the diagnosis and therapy of both benign and malignant thyroid diseases. In addition, there has been much recent attention to preoperative lymphoscintigraphic imaging for melanoma, oral cancer and parotid gland carcinomas is a well-recognised procedure that has contributed to the improvement of surgical outcomes [ 1 , 2 ]. Imaging is used to identify lymphatic drainage paths and locate sentinel lymph nodes (SLNs) that may contain disseminated disease. SLN mapping and biopsy in the head and neck usually follow preoperative lymphoscintigraphic imaging [ 3 ]. This procedure is used to determine the status of SLNs, which has been shown to provide crucial prognostic details of metastatic growth [ 4 ].

Performing preoperative lymphoscintigraphic imaging and SLN mapping procedures in the head and neck region is challenging in terms of anatomy [ 5 ]. The head and neck region contains several hundred potential lymph nodes that are distributed over different depths and have numerous different lymphatic suppliers, which complicates tracing the lymphatic drainage mechanisms [ 6 ]. Furthermore, the natural anatomical and physiological intricacies of the lymphatic network in the head and neck region pose technical difficulties in the case of preoperative lymphoscintigraphy and SLN mapping procedures. As structures in the head and neck are so closely packed, it is common for the large amount of radioactivity in the injection site to mask the signal from nearby SLNs [ 7 ]. Head and neck anatomy is complex and variable, with lymphatic drainage pattern differing between patients; 4% of SLNs detected related to oral cavity tumours are on the contralateral of the neck [ 8 ]. The identification of sentinel lymph nodes can also be hampered by the rapid displacement of the intradermally injected radioisotope, which may accumulate in several lymph nodes within a short period.

The use of an additional visual guided system can enhance the interventional process in SLN surgery pertaining to the head and neck region. This is seen in the case of small field of view (SFOV) portable gamma cameras used during radio-guided surgery. These provide visual guidance during critical SLN biopsy processes and can help surgeons in acquiring real-time, intraoperative lymphoscintigraphic images [ 9 ]. The intraoperative usefulness of these cameras has been indicated in several scientific studies [ 10 – 13 ], including studies of head and neck SLN mapping. However, there remains a need for quality control procedures for testing the use of these portable gamma imaging systems in specific clinical procedures.

Quality assurance and performance testing of any medical imaging device commonly involves the use of phantoms, which are structured to imitate the process of radiation interaction with human tissues [ 14 ]. Medical phantoms are designed and developed in different forms ranging from simple cylindrical or cubic shaped objects to the accurate three-dimensional (3D) representation of body and organ shape. Tissue-equivalent anthropomorphic phantoms that present the true shape of human body parts are useful in various disciplines of radiology and radiation dosimetry, including therapeutic and diagnostic procedures [ 15 – 17 ].

This study aims to develop and standardise a test object and protocols particularly suited for small field of view (SFOV) compact gamma cameras but which can be equally useful for large field of view (LFOV) systems. A flexible insert was designed for a commercially available head and neck phantom. This insert effectively imitates human tissues in that region including simulating SLNs and a life-size thyroid gland. The phantom insert was designed to be reproducible at relatively low costs; allowing this test object to be incorporated into different quality assurance protocols. It is proposed that this phantom can be employed in assessing the clinical usefulness of SFOV gamma imaging systems in SLN mapping and small organ imaging.

Head and neck phantom

The outer shell of the phantom was obtained from The Phantom Laboratory [ 18 ]. This comprised a shell manufactured from ~3.2-mm-thick cellulous acetate butyrate (CAB) mounted on a polycarbonate end plate, a transparent plastic selected because of its low water absorption and its strength. The anthropomorphic head and neck phantom is constructed to allow filling with water or other tissue equivalent liquids. The shape of the outer shell imitates the head and neck contours of an average size adult male; the maximum axial height being 255 mm, and the maximum transverse width 175 mm (Fig.  1a ).

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is 40658_2017_186_Fig1_HTML.jpg

a Photograph of the head and neck phantom. b The internal jig with the attached thyroid phantom from anterolateral view b

An anatomical insert (further details discussed below, see Figs.  1 and ​ and2) 2 ) was used in conjunction with the outer shell of the phantom. This insert was modular and could include a simulated thyroid gland, trachea, cervical spine, lymph nodes and injection sites in any combination together with various locations for lymph nodes and injection sites.

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is 40658_2017_186_Fig2_HTML.jpg

Schematics of the internal jig showing the mounted simulated thyroid gland ( red ) and simulated sentinel lymph nodes (SLNs). The shape and position of the thyroid phantom relative to the simulated trachea: anterolateral ( a ), anterior ( b ), superior ( c ), and inferior ( d ) views

Anatomical simulation

Information about the anatomical characteristics of the human neck has been collected and analysed, and tissue equivalent materials were selected for mimicking soft, cartilaginous and bone tissues. The size of a thyroid of a healthy adult was chosen for simulation. Various studies have been published summarising the geometric information of the healthy thyroid from medical imaging investigations [ 19 – 25 ]. The average geometric measurement of healthy male thyroid glands given in these papers was considered to design the thyroid phantom (Table  1 ).

Summary of the anthropomorphic thyroid phantom parameters

Once the size had been determined, the structure was manufactured using 3D printing facility (Fig.  2 ). A red coloured acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) thermoplastic polymer material (chemical formula: (C 8 H 8  · C 4 H 6  · C 3 H 3 N) n ) was used to manufacture the outer shell of the thyroid insert; the inner sealed space was filled with water mixed with the desired radioactivity concentration. Two valves allowed filling the inner space with the radioactive solution via a syringe (Fig.  2 ).

A simulated trachea was constructed to hold the life-size thyroid phantom. The trachea was designed and manufactured as a sealed cylinder filled with air and was made of polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), chemical formula: (C 5 O 2 H 8 ) n, (height = 150 mm, diameter = 20 mm, thickness = 3 mm). The anthropomorphic thyroid phantom was manually attached to the trachea simulator in its appropriate anatomical position. The internal jig also included a cylindrical rod of aluminium that was used to imitate the cervical spine in the neck region (height = 200 mm, diameter = 25 mm). The materials chosen to simulate the head and neck parts of the phantom show an acceptable degree of similarity to normal human tissues as characterised in a number of published studies (see Table  2 ).

Comparison of the densities for the materials utilised for the phantom designing with real human tissues [ 41 – 47 ]

Sentinel lymph nodes (SLN) and injection site simulation

Low profile plastic micro-tubes (0.2 ml) with attached caps have been used to simulate SLNs or injection sites. These are easily removed from the phantom (along with the thyroid) for easy storage while any activity decays. These tubes can be filled with various activity concentrations to simulate a range of clinical scenarios, e.g. high activity for an injection site and low activity for a SLN.

A selection of PMMA plates, 3 mm thick, were designed, containing drilled holes to hold the micro-tubes, which attach directly to the insert (Fig.  2 ). Node placement can be varied by adjusting the height of the plates on the insert, varying the shape of plate used (see Fig.  3 for sample shapes) and by changing the hole a node is set in. For instance, deep, posterior and superficial cervical lymph nodes can be simulated and located in their accurate anatomical place and can be individually filled with different radioactivity concentrations. The phantom design enables reproducible node placements for different applications.

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is 40658_2017_186_Fig3_HTML.jpg

A schematic diagram showing a cross section through the neck region of the phantom; it shows the position, lateral depth and amount of radioactivity in the simulated lymph nodes

Radioactivity distribution and imaging procedure

When simulating a scintigraphic procedure, the amounts of radioactivity should be a true reflection of the activity concentrations reached in clinical situations. In practice, identifying the particular radioactive material concentration for SLNs in the head and neck region can be a difficult task due to the different nature of radiopharmaceuticals and patient anatomy and physiology.

For this study, 4 simulated SLNs were placed at superficial (15 mm depth) and deep (30 mm depth) locations in the head and neck region with various concentrations of 99m Tc solution ranging between 0.1 and 1 MBq, as shown in Fig.  3 . These concentrations have been selected with the guidance of available clinical data [ 26 – 31 ]. The uptake of 99m Tc pertechnetate in the thyroid gland is considered to be between 1 to 5% of administrated activities ranging between 185 and 370 MBq [ 32 ]; from these figures, 15 MBq of 99m Tc was taken as an appropriate amount of activity to represent the radioactivity uptake in the thyroid gland.

The average amount of activity usually administrated for head and neck lymphoscintigraphy is 20 MBq [ 33 ], and it was assumed that half of the injected activity will be distributed in the tissues surrounding the targeted SLNs. This background activity was simulated through mixing 10 MBq of 99m Tc solution with the water filling the outer shell of the head and neck phantom.

SPECT-CT imaging

The phantom was also investigated using a Philips BrightView XCT dual head SPECT-CT system in the nuclear medicine clinic at Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham [ 34 ]. The phantom was fastened to the patient table with the patient head support in place. The camera was fitted with a low energy parallel collimator, and image data was acquired in a 128 × 128 matrix through 120 angular increments each of 20 s per angle over a 360° rotation. The data were processed on a dedicated nuclear medicine computer (Hermes Medical Solutions, London, UK). Reconstruction was performed using the Ordered-Subsets Expectation Maximisation (OSEM) with 15 subsets and with 4 iterations and displayed in sagittal, transverse and coronal planes. The reconstructed images were filtered with a 3D Gaussian function having a full width at half maximum of 8 mm. CT imaging was performed with 120 kVp and 20 mAs.

SFOV imaging

The Hybrid Gamma Camera (HGC), designed and manufactured at University of Leicester, UK, is a novel SFOV portable gamma imager. The gamma detector consisted of a caesium iodide doped with thallium (CsI(Tl)) scintillator (1500 μm thick) coupled to an electron multiplying charge-coupled device (EMCCD) (i.e. e2v CCD97 BI) and a tungsten pinhole collimator. The recorded intrinsic spatial resolution for the CsI(Tl) scintillator is 0.23 ± 0.02 mm, and it has a sensitivity of 40 ± 3% at 140.5 keV. Detailed information of the HGC design, manufacture and characteristics are available elsewhere [ 35 – 37 ]. Two pinhole collimators (0.5 and 1.0 mm diameter) were fitted to the camera interchangeably during the study. Various collimator-to-surface distances (ranging between 80 and 200 mm) were selected to produce results with a range of field of views.

The hybrid optical-gamma camera is designed in a configuration that allows simultaneous hybrid imaging for the targeted tissues with different imaging outputs (i.e. optical, gamma, or hybrid), as seen in Fig.  4 . An additional hybrid optical-gamma anterior view of the neck region was acquired to illustrate the localisation information provided by fused images.

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is 40658_2017_186_Fig4_HTML.jpg

a A schematic diagram for the hybrid gamma camera (HGC) showing its internal structure. b Photograph of the HGC

For the gamma images produced by the HGC, count profiles were acquired for the simulated thyroid gland gamma images at a collimator-to-surface distance of 120 mm using both pinhole collimators. Furthermore, two circular regions of interest (ROIs) were identified corresponding to the simulated SLN size to obtain the contrast and noise values. The contrast was then calculated as the difference between node and background ROI mean count values, with noise being defined as the standard deviation in the background ROI for calculating the contrast to noise ratio (CNR) of the simulated SLN, as explained in detail elsewhere [ 37 ]. The ability of the HGC to detect different targeted nodes is evaluated following Rose’s approximation [ 38 ]; a node within the FOV is classified as a detected node when its CNR value set above 3–5.

SPECT and SPECT-CT imaging

SPECT-CT images were used to validate the anatomical structure of the phantom. The appearances of the simulated thyroid gland in the coronal plane images were similar to those of a healthy thyroid (Fig.  5a, b ). Furthermore, the accurate positioning of the simulated thyroid gland and the uniform distribution of radioactivity throughout both lobes and the isthmus reflect the design accuracy of the phantom and its suitability for various gamma imaging performance tests.

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is 40658_2017_186_Fig5_HTML.jpg

Coronal SPECT and SPECT-CT images showing the position of the simulated SLNs (0.1–0.5 MBq) and the simulated thyroid gland (15 MBq) within the phantom ( a , b ); CT and SPECT-CT images of the midsagittal plane of the head and neck phantom showing the simulated thyroid gland, trachea and cervical spine ( c , d )

Figure  5c, d shows the SPECT-CT images through the midsagittal plane of the phantom. These images show the structure of the internal jig components including the simulated cervical spine, trachea and thyroid gland. A variation in X-ray contrast, as demonstrated in the images, for different simulated anatomical structures is in line with the proposed appearance of these structures in real life, which proves the suitability of the materials used to simulate the outer shell and the internal parts of the phantom.

In Fig.  6 , two simulated superficial SLNs were placed in the area of the parotid gland, having two different low activity concentrations, to simulate targeted parotid SLNs (Fig.  6 a, b ). In Fig.  6c, d , deep simulated cervical SLNs (i.e. 30 mm depth) were located in their accurate anatomical position taking into account the position of the simulated trachea and cervical spine. Both lobes of the simulated thyroid gland can be identified in the proper position attached to the simulated trachea in a way that can provide valuable information about the capability of different gamma scanning systems in imaging the thyroid gland, Fig.  6e, f .

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is 40658_2017_186_Fig6_HTML.jpg

SPECT and SPECT-CT images in the transverse plane representing the anatomical structure of the head and neck phantom; images a and b show two superficially low activity uptake simulated SLNs in gamma and hybrid modes (0.1 and 0.2 MBq, respectively). Images c and d show two deeper suited, higher activity uptake simulated SLNs in gamma and hybrid modes (0.5 and 1.0 MBq, respectively). Images e and f show the thyroid level SPECT and SPECT-CT images in the neck region (15 MBq)

The simulated SLNs were also imaged through the sagittal plane. SPECT and SPECT-CT images, in the sagittal plane, were acquired to represent the deep SLNs (30 mm depth) in the cervical region (Fig.  7a, b ) and the superficial SLNs (i.e. 15 mm depth) in the parotid region (Fig.  7c, d ).

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is 40658_2017_186_Fig7_HTML.jpg

SPECT and SPECT-CT images in the sagittal plane showing the deeper simulated SLNs (0.5–1.0 MBq) and the simulated thyroid gland in a and b ; images c and d show the simulated superficial SLNs at the parotid gland level (0.1–0.2 MBq)

SFOV hybrid gamma camera (HGC) imaging

The anthropomorphic head and neck phantom was employed to show the capabilities of the HGC for imaging small organs and mapping SLNs in the head and neck region. The imaging protocol utilised, as well as the anthropomorphic phantom, is suitable for different SFOV gamma imaging systems and the experimental setup can be replicated for comparison purposes.

Thyroid phantom images

Hybrid gamma and optical images were acquired using the HGC with both pinhole collimators (0.5 and 1.0 mm in diameter) for thyroid imaging. The thyroid images produced through both pinhole collimators vary in terms of spatial resolution and number of acquired counts. Figure  8 shows the different gamma images acquired for the simulated thyroid gland utilising both pinhole collimators in a time series with acquisition time varying between 100 and 400 s. The differences between each collimator can be clearly observed, and the clarity of the acquired images improves following increasing acquisition period. At a 120 mm collimator-to-surface distance, the degradation of spatial resolution while utilising the 1.0 -mm-diameter pinhole collimator is clear from the images in Fig.  8 (left-hand side).

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is 40658_2017_186_Fig8_HTML.jpg

Left-hand side : planar HGC gamma images of the simulated thyroid gland at a 120 mm collimator-to-surface distance acquired with different acquisition times ranging from 100 to 400 s using both pinhole collimators (0.5 and 1.0 mm diameter). Right-hand side : count profiles plot for the data acquired from anterior gamma images for the simulated thyroid gland (400 s) using 0.5 and 1.0 mm diameter pinhole collimators. The yellow line in both thyroid gamma images (400 s) represents the cross-section area of the acquired data for both count profiles

The count profiles through the middle of the simulated thyroid gland images provided by both pinhole collimators were obtained. Figure  8 (right-hand side) shows the difference in the spatial profiles when using the two collimators. Employing the thyroid phantom in quantitative assessment protocols would optimise the ability of the device’s operator to choose the suitable configuration of a gamma imaging system to satisfy the existing medical needs; furthermore, the phantom will be a helpful tool to determine appropriate settings for the patient and the imaging system for clinical imaging studies.

The HGC can produce optical-gamma fused images at different distances from the targeted tissues. Figure  9a, b represents the anterior hybrid images for the thyroid phantom from two different imaging distances (100 and 200 mm) from the camera. The acquisition time for the acquired thyroid gamma images was 400 s using the 0.5-mm-diameter pinhole collimator.

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is 40658_2017_186_Fig9_HTML.jpg

Hybrid HGC images of the simulated thyroid gland at a distance of 100 mm ( a ) and 200 mm ( b ) from the phantom surface

Simulated sentinel lymph node (SLNs) images

Imaging targeted areas intraoperatively during SLN mapping procedures requires a swift imaging process that is able to detect any potential lymph node within the field of view. To achieve this target, SFOV gamma imaging systems for intraoperative imaging should be able to provide gamma images for the targeted SLN at a short acquisition time. The anthropomorphic head and neck phantom was employed to simulate a situation where there are four SLNs distributed at two different vertical levels and depths. Using both pinhole collimators and with the HGC position at a distance of 80 mm from the surface of the phantom, several gamma images were acquired from the lateral view at different acquisition times ranging from 10 to 300 s.

Figure  10 shows gamma images of the two simulated superficial SLNs at the parotid gland level containing two different radioactivity concentrations (i.e. 0.1 and 0.2 MBq). The HGC is able to clearly detect both simulated SLNs using the 1.0-mm-diameter pinhole collimator at a short acquisition time (i.e. 100 s). In contrast, the ability to detect these simulated SLNs degrades when the HGC is fitted with the 0.5-mm-diameter pinhole collimator. However, using longer acquisition times helps to provide a detailed image with an acceptable level of detectability (Fig.  10 –upper row). These images show the advantage of using the 1.0-mm-diameter pinhole collimator for the imaging of low activity accumulation targeted areas at short acquisition times, as the main purpose of utilising SFOV gamma imaging systems intraoperatively is to localise the site of SLNs. This demonstrates that the HGC is capable of detecting a small amount of accumulated activity (0.1 MBq) in a reasonable acquisition time (i.e. <100 s). For higher activity accumulation targets, using the 0.5-mm-pinhole collimator (smaller diameter) will provide better spatial resolution with a good level of detectability, i.e. beyond the threshold value based on the Rose criterion of detectability (Figs.  11 and ​ and12 12 ).

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is 40658_2017_186_Fig10_HTML.jpg

Planar HGC gamma images for the two simulated, superficial SLNs (0.1 and 0.2 MBq) at an 80 mm collimator-to-surface distance utilising both pinhole collimators (0.5 and 1.0 mm diameter); the acquisition time varied between 10 and 300 s

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is 40658_2017_186_Fig11_HTML.jpg

Planar HGC gamma images for the two simulated, deep SLNs (0.5 and 1.0 MBq) at an 80 mm collimator-to-surface distance; both pinhole collimators (0.5 and 1.0 mm diameter) were used, and the acquisition time varied between 10 and 300 s

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is 40658_2017_186_Fig12_HTML.jpg

Bar chart showing the recorded contrast to noise ratio (CNR) values of different radioactivity concentrations for the simulated superficial and deep SLNs (i.e. 15 and 30 mm depth) for a 100 s acquisition time. Error bars represent the standard deviation of the CNR calculation for each node. The dotted line at CNR = 3 represents a threshold value of the Rose criterion of detectability

As a further measure, CNR calculations were performed for the detected SLNs at an 80 mm distance between both the pinhole collimators and surface of the head and neck phantom for a 100 s acquisition time (Fig.  12 ). The recorded CNR values for the simulated SLNs having low activity accumulations are higher when the HGC was fitted with the 1.0-mm-diameter pinhole collimator. For instance, the recorded CNR values for the superficially simulated SLN (15 mm depth) containing 0.1 MBq of 99m Tc using 0.5- and 1.0-mm-diameter pinhole collimators are 6.48 and 16.42, respectively (~87% difference).

Phantoms are commonly used to assess nuclear imaging devices. These range from relatively crude arrangements consisting of tanks with chambers and spheres through to software generated phantoms for the evaluation of image processing. The use of an anthropomorphic phantom has the advantage of providing accurate anatomical and functional detail which may be used for both the assessment of equipment and user training.

The current development in computer-aided design (CAD) and 3D printing machines has facilitated the process of constructing inexpensive complex 3D medical phantoms which can be patient specific. The combination of computer aided modelling, advanced medical imaging technologies (i.e. computed tomography scanner, ultrasound devices etc.) and rapid prototyping provided by 3D printers has improved the ability to fabricate objects comparable to human parts in micro and macro architecture scales. Future developments could include the insertion of 3D printed lesions or tumours using information obtained from CT or magnetic resonance (MR) medical images.

The images presented show the flexibility of the head and neck phantom to simulate many clinical scenarios; i.e. lymph nodes can be simulated at any selected position following lymphatic drainage pathways in the head and neck regions.

This work was mainly aimed at assessing the capabilities of SFOV cameras; however, the phantom could equally be used with LFOV SPECT-CT cameras. Currently, there are many SFOV gamma imaging systems employed in intraoperative imaging [ 11 , 39 , 40 ]. However, anthropomorphic phantoms have still not been standardised or utilised to quantify the capability of these different systems to detect targeted tissues during intraoperative procedures such as SLN mapping. Furthermore, the imaging of small organs is an area in which portable SFOV gamma cameras can provide further flexible techniques comparable to the conventional nuclear scanning techniques in cases like thyroid scans and lacrimal drainage procedures [ 13 , 35 , 36 ].

This study has shown the suitability of the HGC for small organ imaging such as thyroid imaging and lymph node detection in head and neck. The ability to interchange collimators helps the user prepare the HGC according to the purpose the study; for example, in cases where good spatial resolution is a requirement, such as thyroid imaging, using a 0.5-mm-diameter pinhole collimator would be suitable for a reasonable acquisition time. Nevertheless, in critical or time-dependent cases where sensitivity is of particular importance, like SLN mapping, the 1.0-mm-diameter pinhole collimator would be the proper choice. Therefore, the ability of the HGC to utilise both pinhole collimators enhances its practicality and improve its ability to meet the needs of SFOV gamma imaging systems.

The standardisation of a test protocol for SFOV portable gamma systems will provide an opportunity to collect data across various medical centres and research groups. Moreover, it will contribute towards a technical baseline for researchers and clinical practitioners to consider when assessing their SFOV gamma imaging systems.

In this study, a novel anthropomorphic head and neck phantom was designed and fabricated. The internal parts and the outer shell of the phantom provided life-size adult head and neck, thyroid gland, trachea and cervical spine. In addition, different SLNs at various depths and locations, having any desired activity concentration, could be simulated. The anatomical structure of the anthropomorphic head and neck phantom was demonstrated using a SPECT-CT imaging.

This phantom was employed to evaluate the capability of a novel SFOV camera—the HGC—in simulated scenarios such as SLN mapping of the head and neck region and to show the possibility of using these gamma systems in small organ imaging such as thyroid imaging procedures.

The performance of a novel HGC was investigated using the head and neck phantom. Both pinhole collimators (0.5 and 1.0 mm diameter) were utilised, and a comparison between their performances during various gamma imaging scenarios was carried out. The results showed the ability of the HGC to image small organs, such as the thyroid gland, and to detect lymph nodes in SLN mapping procedures. The phantom provides a valuable tool for assessing camera imaging abilities prior to use in the surgical settings.


The authors would like to thank Layal K Jambi, Paul Houghton and William McKnight, Space Research Centre, University of Leicester, for their technical support. The authors also acknowledge the technical assistant of Mr. Simon C. Lawes, Nuclear Medicine Department, Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, during acquiring the SPECT-CT images. Additionally, we would like to thank the staff at the Leicester Royal Infirmary for their support and advice, particularly Sharon McMahon and the nuclear medicine team. All computer aid designs included in this work were produced using Siemens NX software.

M.S. Alqahtani has been financially supported through scholarship programme in King Khalid University, Ministry of Education, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The authors acknowledge the support of Science and Technologies Facilities Council through a CLASP award (ST/M007820/1).

Availability of data and materials

Abbreviations, authors’ contributions.

MSA drafted the manuscript and contributed to the phantom development, study design, data collection and data analysis and interpretation. JEL and SLB contributed to the phantom development, study design, data analysis, and participated in the critical revision of the manuscript. PSR contributed to the design of the internal jig and the simulated thyroid gland. AHN participated in the data collection and processing of SPECT-CT images. ACP contributed to the study design, data analysis, and participated in the critical revision of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Contributor Information

Mohammed S. Alqahtani, Email: .

John E. Lees, Email: .

Sarah L. Bugby, Email: .

Piyal Samara-Ratna, Email: .

Aik H. Ng, Email: [email protected] .

Alan C. Perkins, Email: [email protected] .



    phantom redtail catfish

  2. For Sale

    phantom redtail catfish

  3. Redtail Catfish (Phractocephalus hemioliopterus) Information Sheet

    phantom redtail catfish

  4. RARE Phantom Redtail Catfish Feeding From My Hand!

    phantom redtail catfish

  5. Phantom Redtail Catfish

    phantom redtail catfish

  6. For Sale

    phantom redtail catfish


  1. Redtail Catfish😱 Updation⚠️ call me 9946019259


  3. Feeding My Red Tail Catfish

  4. Giant RedTail Catfish feeding|Legendary fins

  5. Wild Redtail Catfish #fishtank #aquariumfish #predatoryfish

  6. snakehead and redtail catfish vs meat


  1. Phantom Redtail Catfish Journal

    #1 I was talking to Rod from predatory fins and he offered me a new catfish never been seen on the market so he instantly had my attention. He sent me a video and I thought it was so bizarre I had to hop on the train. Introducing the Phantom Redtail catfish! I'd love help figuring out the proper mutation term. Phantom Redtail Catfish Watch on

  2. RARE Phantom Redtail Catfish Feeding From My Hand!

    0:00 / 11:25 RARE Phantom Redtail Catfish Feeding From My Hand! SC Fish Keeping 68.8K subscribers Join Subscribe 11K views 2 years ago One of the rarest catfish on the market right now is the...

  3. Red Tail Catfish & 11 Facts You Need To Know!

    Red Tail Catfish (Phractocephalus hemiliopterus) is a freshwater fish species native to South America, commonly found in the Amazon River basin and neighboring rivers. It belongs to the family Pimelodidae and can grow up to 4 feet in length in the wild.

  4. Phantom Redtail Catfish (Phractocephalus hemioliopterus)

    The Phantom Redtail catfish is an amelanistic color morph characterized by the lack of pigments called melanins. This means they lack the normal black color a regular morph would have. These will never turn black or have the gray shading on top, will always be full white The redtail catfish, Phractocephalus hemioliopterus, is a pimelodid catfish.

  5. Redtail catfish

    The redtail catfish, Phractocephalus hemioliopterus, is a pimelodid (long-whiskered) catfish.In Venezuela, it is known as cajaro, in Guyana, it is known as a banana catfish, and in Brazil, it is known as pirarara, stemming from the Tupi language words pirá and arara. It is the only extant species of the genus Phractocephalus.This fish is common in the aquarium trade, although its massive ...

  6. Platinum Redtail Catfish 101: Care, Max Size, Lifespan, Tank Mates

    Species Summary Redtail Catfish (Phractocephalus hemioliopterus) is one of the larger fish in the Amazon Basin, also known as the South American Red Tailed Catfish, Redtail Catfish, and Banana Catfish. This species was first described in 1801.

  7. Redtail Catfish Care: Diet, Size, Tank Mates, and Diseases

    Just knowing the tank size may put you off a bit. In order to have enough room for ONE adult redtail catfish, the tank size you are looking at is about 1500-2000 gallons. No, we did not include an extra zero. Since they get to about 3-4 feet, this is the adequate size to keep them happy and have enough room to roam.

  8. Redtail Catfish Care: Complete Guide for Beginners

    The Redtail Catfish, scientifically known as Phractocephalus hemioliopterus, is a popular and much-loved species of freshwater fish originating from South America. They have an interesting appearance, with their elongated bodies, flat broadheads, and of course, the iconic red tail from which they get their name.

  9. redtail catfish (Phractocephalus hemioliopterus)

    The redtail catfish is distinctively-colored, with a dark grey to black background color, a wide white stripe that extends along the midline (from the mouth to caudal fin) and a red or orange caudal fin. The dorsal, pelvic, and anal fins are also sometimes red or orange. It can grow to 1.3 m and 80 kg.

  10. Redtail Catfish: Size, Food, Tank Mates, Care…

    Key Facts: Nicknames: Color Forms: Gray and white with red tail. Minimum 1500+ gallon. 68°F-80°F. Redtail Catfish have the classic catfish shape with thick bodies that taper progressively thinner towards the tail. They have long barbels and, like other catfish, they have a flat underside which is most notable under their head.

  11. Redtail Catfish 101: Size, Care, & Tank Mates

    The redtail catfish is a massive freshwater fish that only the most experienced aquarists should attempt to keep. Despite that, there are a lot of people who think that these fish are much more manageable to keep in captivity than they are. So we're here to set the record straight.

  12. You Never Seen Some of These Fish Before!!!! Phantom Redtail Catfish

    0:00 / 25:57 YOU NEVER SEEN SOME OF THESE FISH BEFORE!!!! PHANTOM REDTAIL CATFISH Predatory Fins 294K subscribers Join Share 132K views 2 years ago To order your Phantom RTC click on link below...

  13. Short Body Phantom Redtail Catfish (Phractocephalus hemioliopterus

    The Phantom Redtail catfish is an amelanistic color morph characterized by the lack of pigments called melanins. This means they lack the normal black color a regular morph would have. These will never turn black or have the gray shading on top, will always be full white The redtail catfish, Phractocephalus hemioliopterus, is a pimelodid catfish.

  14. Phantom and platinum redtail catfish

    Hello monster fish keepers I was curious on the difference between phantom and platinum redtail catfish . thebiggerthebetter Gold Tier VIP. MFK Member. Dec 31, 2009 15,303 13,785 3,910 Naples, FL, USA. Aug 21, 2022 #2 Phantoms are man-made by allegedly flashing UV light at the eggs or fry. Cruelty, if you asked me.

  15. Phantom Redtail catfish

    Jul 6, 2021. #21. GiantFishKeeper101 said: Yea... that's just platinum redtail. Juvenile phantom may be different than juvenile platinum but phantom grows to become a platinum with slightly reddish skin. But I'd say that when it gets bigger, the reddish could be gone completely leaving the fish completely white just like grade A platinum.

  16. Redtail Catfish (Phractocephalus hemioliopterus)

    Redtail Catfish (Phractocephalus hemioliopterus) $ 14.99 - $ 149.99. One of the largest growing catfish species of the Amazon Basin, Redtail Catfish is a true monster fish and will reach a truly massive size in a relatively short time. In the aquarium, they are fairly easy to care for but keep in mind they will attempt to eat anything they ...

  17. Phantom Redtail Catfish

    Shop For Fish. Terms & Conditions. Shipping & Payments. Contact Us. Phantom Redtail Catfish for sale online, Phantom Redtail Catfish for sale, Phractocephalus Hemioliopterus for sale online, Phractocephalus Hemioliopterus for sale.

  18. My Favorite Fish Died…

    1.29M subscribers Subscribe 1.1M views 10 months ago In today's video, one of my favorite pet fish mysteriously DIED... Our newest phantom redtail catfish worth thousands of dollars died over...

  19. Phantom Redtail Catfish (Phractocephalus Hemioliopterus)

    The Phantom Redtail catfish is an amelanistic color morph characterized by the lack of pigments called melanins. This means they lack the normal black color a regular morph would have. These will never turn black o. Pre-orders now! The Phantoms are back. Don't miss out on this rare opportunity. READY TO SHIP IN 2 WEEKS.

  20. Tissue accumulation and species‐specific metabolism of technical

    The pooled blood samples (n = 2 for redtail catfish and n = 1 for oscar fish) were centrifuged at 3040 g for 15 min to obtain serum for the analysis of PBDEs and PBDE metabolites. Internal tissues (liver, kidney, and intestine) and gills from each composite sample of redtail catfish and oscar fish were carefully taken using steel tweezers ...

  21. 'Weakest character who could survive watching the tape ...

    A new thread on r/whowouldwin has blown up over what weak AF character could survive an attack from The Ring's demonic villain Sadako/Samara. "To be more specific: Who's the weakest character who could watch the tape from The Ring and survive being attacked by Sadako/Samara seven days later?They get prep after watching the tape and they don't have to kill her, just survive her attacks," the ...

  22. New VIP Chapters: Wednesday/Thursday

    New chapter music playlists of TPA have been put up, courtesy of our ChoicesCP branch team 🎶: ️🕵🏽‍♂️ The Phantom Agent • C1 The Art of the Chase (Wed/Thu) - Soundtracks. ️🕵🏽‍♂️ The Phantom Agent • C2 No Risk, No Reward (Wed/Thu) - Soundtracks. 🎧 For past music playlists :

  23. Design and implementation of a prototype head and neck phantom for the

    The phantom was also investigated using a Philips BrightView XCT dual head SPECT-CT system in the nuclear medicine clinic at Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham . The phantom was fastened to the patient table with the patient head support in place. The camera was fitted with a low energy parallel collimator, and image data was acquired in a ...