Freshwater Barracuda

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Acestrorhynchus altus - Menezes, 1969
Freshwater Barracuda

An interesting fish, but far too predatory for the average community tank.


The so-called Freshwater Barracudas (see also Red Tail Barracuda, Acestrorhyncus falcatus) have an undeniable menacing appeal for the aquarist with a larger tank and an interest in toothy predators.

Must be kept in a species display or with rugged tankmates of a similar size.

Known for its slashing attacks on live prey, this is the sort of fish sometimes bought small in the mistaken belief that it won't grow and eat most, if not all, other fish in the tank. It is an instinctive piscivore and not suited to most community aquariums.

See Family account: Acestrorhynchidae.

Other common name(s):

  • Dog Characin
  • Amazon Cachorro

Native range:

Habitat: Needs open water for swimming, with large pieces of driftwood or robust plants.

Maximum length: 23.3 cm (9 in)

Minimum aquarium size: 285 L (75 gal)

Water: Freshwater 22 °C (72 °F) - 28 °C (82 °F)

General swimming level: Top to midwater.


Carnivore. Will greedily eat small fishes, such as guppies and baitfish (shiners). To avoid disease problems, keep feeder fish in a quarantine tank and cull out any unhealthy specimens. A steady diet of "feeder" goldfishes is not recommended. May or may not be weaned onto fish and crustacean flesh.

Aquarium Compatibility

A tough fish to match with others. It will attack and eat anything it considers prey, including most fish less than 2/3rds its own length.

Best kept in groups of three or more of the same species.

Special Care

Needs a tank at least 5 ft. (1.5 m) in length. Will smash into the glass walls of small aquaria, causing injury.


Spawning has occurred in captivity, but without success in raising the fry. Spawning activities coincide with the beginning of the rainy season in the wild.

Image credit: JJ
Text credit: JL