Common Names: Red-tailed catfish tiger shovelnose hybrid, RTCxTSN, TSNxRTC, red-tailed shovelnose catfish, leopard catfish
Scientific Name: Technically, as a hybrid, it doesn't have one, but I suppose you'd be able to call it Phractocephalus hemiolopterus x Pseudoplatystoma faciatum. Planetcatfish calls them Phractocephalus sp. hybrid.
From which our beloved hybrid came from
From Where? Again, this isn't a real species with a real natural distribution. It's parent species both come from South America though, in the Amazon and some of its tributaries.
Size: It's hard to tell - as displayed in several other hybrids of fish, there isn't an exact size to which this hybrid will grow. Normally, one would expect the size that either parent species would attain; in this case both the red-tailed catfish and the tiger shovelnose catfish are both capable of reaching over a meter (3 feet plus), even in captivity, so expect the same for this bugger...
... although on that same note, hybrids also have a tendency to actually get to bigger sizes than their parent species in something termed 'hybrid vigour'. Just be prepared to house a very, very large fish.
Foodstuffs: Absolutely anything. Keepers of the regular red-tailed catfish will tell you that what will go down their throat, does, and this absolutely applies to this hybrid. Smaller fish will happily live on sinking pellets, small frozen foods (like market shrimp) as well as live food if that's your fancy. The bigger fish will eat anything from whole sardines, slivers of chicken, beefheart, and probably your offspring too.
Feed until they're looking a little plump, then leave them until their stomach goes back to normal. This normally means that you don't have to fed them every day.
Avoid decor and equipment that can fit into the mouth of this fish, and change/protect your tank appropriately as the fish grows. Many stories arise about such fish swallowing gravel, rocks, pieces of filters and suction cups. It isn't known if swallowing such items is dangerous for the fish, but afterwards they throw it up. Along with whatever went missing is their stomach acids and whatever they were busy digesting at the time, which HEAVILY pollutes the tank. Get ready to do a big water change should this happen.
Water: Not fussy at all. Keep the pH between 6.0 and 8.0, and the temperature within the tropical range, and you'll have a happy monster catfish. They're not especially whiny about water conditions either, but try to keep the water clean. They're heavy eaters and heavy messers, so weekly or fortnightly water changes are recommended, as well as a really good filter system.
Aquarium Specifics: A biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiig tank. And you'll need one from the start, because they're not slow growing, either. My little guy grew from a mere 10cm (4 inches) to 20cm (8 inches) in just over a month, and that was when I was feeding sparingly. In cases like this, a tank isn't recommended, but rather a tropical pond, which can satisfy their space needs much easier.
As far as decor goes, its best to keep it sparse. They'll appreciate the extra space. Large, smooth, solid rocks work best, so long as they can't get knocked over by this (potential) giant. Sharp rocks and wood are both dangerous to this catfish.
Compatibility: You'll actually find this to be a docile fish. Well, aside from eating tankmates anywhere from up to half its own length and less, that is. They have huge mouths, huge appetites and long whiskers. Sometimes they'll test to see whether another fish can fit in their mouths by actually trying it out.
Lessons learned: keep with fish of equal size and larger (if applicable).
Specific Problems: Giganormous size, tank-mate tasting and bulky nature are the only problems, all of which are easily resolvable. However, this catfish is best left to specialists who already know how handle these bad boys.
Rarity: Not too rare. It shouldn't be allowed to be common either, since few people are capable of housing them.
Similar Species: Their hybrid traits vary from fish to fish, some possessing more red-tail catfish traits, some having more shovelnose traits, others looking like a complete muddle up. They can be told apart from Phractocephalus hemiolopterus by their longer mouth and spotty patterning, and apart from Pseudoplatystoma by their reddish tails and by the predominance of black on their body.