The redtail catfish - Phractocephalus hemioliopterus

Phractocephalus hemioliopterus – The Redtail Catfish

The redtail catfish, Phractocephalus hemioliopterus, is the only living representative of the genus Phractocephalus in the family Pimelodidae (long-whiskered catfishes). The redtail catfish is native to South America, but it is also farm-raised in Vietnam. In Vietnamese, it’s called cá hồng vỹ, or cá hồng vỹ mỏ vịt.

The redtail catfish - Phractocephalus hemioliopterus
The redtail catfish – Phractocephalus hemioliopterus

Family: Pimelodidae
Genus: Phractocephalus
Species: Phractocephalus hemioliopterus
English name: redtail catfish
Vietnamese name: cá hồng vỹ, cá hồng vỹ mỏ vịt

farm-raised redtail catfish
farm-raised redtail catfish

P. hemioliopterus can be used as a pet fish, however it can grow to very big sizes, so the the species is farmed mainly for food.

catching a redtail catfish
Catching a redtail catfish

Culinary uses

The redtail catfish is less common in cooking in Vietnam. Its meat texture is described as different from other local catfish, and similar to the cobia (Rachycentron canadum). Some suggested dishes: Grilled redtail with galangal, sautéed diced redtail catfish with cashew nuts, steamed redtail catfish in soy sauce, redtail catfish hotpot with green chili and cinnamon basil leaves, redtail catfish soup with pickled bamboo shoots, grilled redtail catfish with chili salt.

redtail catfish hotpot
Redtail catfish hotpot


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