Matt Clarke looks at the recently imported Red tail Tiger shovelnose cross and explains that this hybrid catfish is probably best avoided.
Scientific name: Phractocephalus hemiliopterus X Pseudoplatystoma fasciatum
Common name: Red tail - Tiger shovelnose cross
Origin: These hybrids are produced specifically for the aquarium trade and are not found in the wild. The parent species come from the Amazon basin.
Size: Not known, but adult Red tails commonly hit 90cm/36\" or more, and Tiger shovelnoses can get just as big. Some hybrids grow quicker and larger than either parent (something called hybrid vigour), so these are going to be monster catfish...
Diet: Chopped or whole trout for large specimens. Whole shrimp and other bulky frozen foods for younger fishes. Feed only a few times a week and allow time for the fish to digest its meal between feeds.
Water: The water of the natural habitats of the parent species is soft and acidic, but both are hardy and adaptable, so more alkaline conditions are not usually a problem.
Aquarium: Expect it to hit a couple of feet in less than 18 months! A tank of 3 x 1.2 x 1.2m/10\' x 4\' x 4\' would be advisable for a single specimen, with an enormous filtration system to match. To allow sufficient swimming room, you need to furnish the tank with heavy, smooth boulders or large pieces of bogwood. Many tankmates could be looked upon as food, so the fish is best kept alone.
Notes: The tank you will eventually need is likely to cost several thousand pounds, so think very carefully before buying one. Do not buy a small specimen if you have no intention of buying a tank this large and expensive! Hybrids are frowned upon by purists and most people would recommend that hobbyists stear clear of these.
Availability: These fish were at Swallow Aquatics in East Harling, Norfolk, and were imported from fish farmers in Singapore. They have trebled in size in just a few months.
Price: Around 49.95, depending on size and availability.
This article was first published in the February 2004 issue of Practical Fishkeeping.