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Catfish at a Crossroads

A walk down memory lane explores how red-tailed catfish went from all the rage to aquatic nightmares for the uninitiated.

By David Sands, Ph.D.

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More than 20 years have passed since the last newsletter of the Red-Tailed Catfish Group (RTCC) was published in the United Kingdom. Some of its members were fortunate enough to experience the only official meeting at Preston (a small market city between Liverpool and Manchester in northwest England), where the talk turned to baby red-tailed catfish (Phractocephalus hemioliopterus), monster reds kept in a hobbyist’s swimming pool and a jar containing alien-looking giant tapeworms.

In June 1995 my Handbook of the Red Tailed Catfish: Emperor of the Amazon was published. The handbook brought together 10 years of survey research and ironically made the need for a RTCC club more or less redundant. The RTCC had been formed to help combat the dearth of published information on red-tailed cats, especially related to general husbandry, to fund a captive survey of red-tailed cats, provide for research and to make the hours of telephone conversations between myself and struggling aquarists viable. We produced newsletters, enamel badges, drinking cups and other items to promote the survey.

Want to read the full story? Pick up the March 2009 issue of Freshwater And Marine Aquarium, or subscribe to get 12 months of articles just like this.

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