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Acestrorhynchus falcatus, the so-called Redtail Barracuda. Tom Lorenz


Toothy and torpedo-shaped, these South American natives, popularly called Freshwater Barracudas, make fascinating aquarium specimens but require larger tanks and careful community planning.

Although not related to saltwater barracudas (Family Sphyraenidae), these river dwellers share flashy, silvery scales, large eyes, and prominent needlelike, razorsharp teeth. As namesakes of a noteworthy marine predator, they are possessed of great speed and can attack live prey with slashing speed.

Unwary aquarists should avoid the temptation to bring home a small juvenile Freshwater Barracuda without considering what may be in store. Their adult sizes and predatory behaviors make them unsuitable for the average community aquarium.

For the fishkeeper with a larger tank (ideally five feet [1.5 m] or more in length) and a fascination with big, predatory species, they are captivating animals.

To Freshwater Barracuda enthusiasts, they are commonly known as "Acestros" or, more colloquially, "Aces."


Native range:

Taxonomic rank: Family


Total known Total profiles
Subfamilies 0 0
Genera 1 0
Species 15 2

Captive care: Generally easy to keep, but need plenty of open swimming room and larger tankmates that are too large to eat and that will mind their own business. If kept in cramped quarters or aquaria with aggressive tankmates, they may dash themselves against the glass walls and sustain serious injuries.

They are best kept in groups of three or more.

Feeding: Carnivores. Will ferociously attack feeder guppies, baitfish (shiners) and the like. Avoid feeding live goldfish. May or may not be weaned onto other meaty foods, including pieces of shrimp and fish flesh.

Notes: This family is also known as Smallscale Pike Characins (Fishbase).

The most commonly imported species are Acestrorhynchus altus, the Freshwater Barracuda, and Acestrorhyncus falcatus, the Red Tail Barracuda.






Reference: 101 Best Tropical Fishes
Image credit: JJ