Hemibagrus Wyckioides (Asian Redtail Catfish)

hemibagrus wyckioides

Last updated on September 16th, 2022 at 01:55 pm

The Hemibagrus wyckioides (Asian redtail catfish) is an exotic species that has become popular with hobbyists around the world. With proper care, these large and extremely active fish can live up to 15 years in captivity and grow to lengths of over 50 inches long, making them an attractive display fish for public aquariums as well as private homes.

But how does this species live up to its name? The Asian redtail catfish is the largest species of catfish in the Bagridae family, which includes both freshwater and marine species. These fish can be found throughout Asia, usually in large swamps or slow-moving rivers where they are often used as food or sport fish.

The first dorsal fin has a red hue due to the amount of blood flowing through it when it comes into contact with environmental stressors such as low oxygen levels, high salinity levels, or increased pressure.

Hemibagrus wyckioides was first discovered in Thailand in 1987 and can only be found in the Mekong River in Southeast Asia, specifically Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Asian redtail catfish are distinguished by their unique barbels that are located underneath their mouths like whiskers on a cat and their flat bodies with large pectoral fins that resemble wings.

Origin and descriptions

hemibagrus wyckioides

Hemibagrus wyckioides, also known as Asian redtail catfish, is a species of fish from family Bagridae. It originates in China, Taiwan, and Vietnam. The Hemibagrus wyckioides species was described by Wakiya in 1909 based on specimens he collected from Hanoi. This species has been described at least four times previously under different names but all of these descriptions were considered to be synonyms to Hemibagrus wyckioides.

This species is reported to grow up to 50cm but according to research, it can grow up to 70 cm, although they do not state how old they are when they reach 70 cm or how big they are when they’re born or juvenile. The average life span of Hemibagrus wyckioides is 15 years and they have been bred in captivity and commercially sold in China. The diet of Hemibagrus wyckioides consists mainly of worms, small crustaceans and insects.

Hemichromis Fasciatus (Banded jewelfish)

Species profile

Hemibagrus wyckioides is a species of catfish in genus Hemibagrus, family Bagridae. It is native to Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. This species grows to 51 inches in length and has a red tail. It can be found in tropical freshwater fish tanks and ponds. Asian redtail catfish are nocturnal bottom-dwellers that feed on worms, insect larvae, crustaceans and small fishes.

Like all other members of Hemibagrus genus, H. wyckioides possesses highly distinct labial barbels within its lower lip. These barbel aid it with detecting prey during night-time foraging. They also possess two pairs of dorsal fins as well as two pairs of pectoral fins, but lack adipose fin entirely unlike most Asian riverine bagrids.


Asian redtail catfish live in slow-moving waters, such as swamps and lakes. They are mostly found in eastern Asia but have also been introduced to North America, where they thrive in warm, swampy regions like Florida. Sometimes Asian redtails will venture into faster-moving waters — they were even found once in Germany’s Rhine River!—but they are not built for long trips and can only handle these conditions for a few days before returning to their preferred habitat.

Redtail catfish size and weight

They are very long and can reach a size of 51 inches (130 cm) with a weight reaching around 80 kg

Redtail catfish tank size

Due to their size, they require very large size, the minimum recommended tank size is 1,500 to 2,000 gallons.

Hemibagrus wyckioides tank set up

Getting started with catfish is easy. A 2000-gallon long tank will house a single Asian redtail catfish. The Hemibagrus wyckioides is a bottom feeder that spends most of its time swimming around rocks or other objects on the ground looking for food.

Because they are used to living in warmer climates, they prefer warmer water than many tropical fish so make sure to set your temperature to between 81 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. They also require more salt than freshwater fish because they live in brackish waters where there is less oxygen available, but don’t overdo it. If you only put one tablespoon of salt per five gallons of water then you should be fine.

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To properly maintain their habitat, you need to do at least 10 percent water changes each week. Feeding them is pretty simple too—they love shrimp! Feed them 3–4 shrimp twice daily; that way they get their fill without overloading them with meat, and potentially causing swim bladder issues. On average, an adult fish eats 4–5 ounces of food every day while juveniles eat three times that amount.

Redtail catfish tank mates

The Asian redtail catfish is best kept with other bottom dwelling fish. Tetras, danios, and barbs are all good choices for companions to these catfish. They should not be kept with aggressive bottom feeders such as loaches or sharks. Their long whisker-like barbels can get caught in their mouths and cause damage, potentially leading to death.

Other species such as Gars, stingrays, datnoids, and other large varieties can also become good tank mates if they are kept together from a very young age.

Breeding Hemibagrus wyckioides

hemibagrus wyckioides

When fish spawn for the first time, both parents are present. When it comes to Asian redtail catfish, things get a little more complicated. If you’re looking to breed Asian redtail catfish, you should have at least one male and two females in your tank. They will breed when they are ready which is triggered by water temperature and the quality of food available.

Keep temperatures above 70 degrees Fahrenheit and make sure they have a high-quality diet before trying to breed them. Also ensure that there aren’t any physical abnormalities such as a deformed spine on either parent because these conditions might hinder spawning or cause harm to eggs. Before actually trying to spawn them, remove all but one other fish from their tank so that it does not disturb their mating behavior.

Also, consider removing any sponge filters from their tank because these can catch eggs and remove oxygen from the water which causes disease in newborns.

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Are redtail catfish aggressive or peaceful?

Although Hemibagrus wyckioides is generally considered a peaceful fish, it does get territorial and aggressive during spawning season. In addition, if you don’t do frequent water changes or overfeed your tank, these fish can become quite aggressive—with each other and with any other fish in their territory. They’re definitely not ideal for a community tank! If you have an aquarium of their own, though, they are calm and mostly nocturnal.

Hemibagrus wyckioides care

hemibagrus wyckioides

Asian redtail catfish are moderately difficult to care for. They need a water temperature between 18-22C and pH between 6.5-7.0, with soft water preferred for long-term health of these fish. Their tank should be well-covered since they are excellent jumpers and will easily outgrow any tank under about 1000 gallons in size.

As juveniles they eat algae and small invertebrates; as adults, they require meaty foods like bloodworms or daphnia. Never overfeed them – there’s no benefit to eating more than can be used by their bodies, and overeating can damage their internal organs.

Redtail catfish diet

Hemibagrus wyckioides catfish are omnivores. They are capable of feeding on an assortment of organisms including phytoplankton, zooplankton, insect larvae, fish eggs, and small crustaceans. However, they show a preference for fishes and invertebrates. They have also been known to feed on dead animals or plants when other sources aren’t available.

The preferred food source varies with age as younger individuals typically prey upon smaller organisms such as insects, snails, etc. While older individuals will target larger animals such as frogs and even smaller species of fish. When predatory behavior is observed, it is normally triggered by hunger rather than being territorial as seen in other species of predatory fish such as grouper or barracuda.

Water parameters

hemibagrus wyckioides

The ideal water should have a pH of 6.4, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 10ppm, and Temperature 25 degrees Celsius. Water hardness level should be medium-hard with a specific gravity of 1.023sg at room temperature. Lighting comprised of four T5 fluorescent bulbs; two actinic blue bulbs and two daylight bulbs producing 8 watts each. CO2 injection rate: 20mL every three hours via pressurized system into refugium only.

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Hemibagrus wyckioides lifespan

They can live up to 15 years with proper care, but their average lifespan is around 12 years. In a proper aquarium environment with appropriate feeding, you may be able to keep your fish alive for much longer than 12 years!

Parasites and diseases

As with many other marine species, Hemibagrus wyckioides are susceptible to parasites and diseases. These include protozoan infections such as ich, flukes, and nematodes; monogenean skin flukes; copepods; and crustaceans. Cancer-like lesions are also known to affect Asian redtail catfish.

And while they’re often found in freshwater bodies from northeastern Asia, there have been cases of Asian redtail catfish in Korea affected by bleeding ulcers caused by herpesvirus papillomatosis that were thought to be linked with a viral infection carried by turtles.


They have no natural predators other than human beings.

Do Hemibagrus wyckioides make good pets?

If you’re thinking about keeping an Asian redtail catfish as a pet, it’s best to think again. These beautiful creatures live in freshwater environments and have been known to grow up to 2 feet long. While these fish can make excellent pets, they require plenty of care. They need clean water that is warm and well-aerated, which many people are unable to provide properly.