Cat-eLog Right Arrow Clariidae Right Arrow Heteropneustes

Jump to next section Cat-eLog Data Sheet
Scientific NameHeteropneustes fossilis  (Bloch, 1794)
Common NamesFossil Catfish
Gællesæk-ålemalle (Denmark), Liver Catfish, Scorpion Catfish, Stinging Catfish
Type LocalityTranquebar, Tamil Nadu, India.
Synonym(s)Silurus fossilis
Pronunciationfoss ill iss
EtymologyHeteropneustes: From the Greek heteros, meaning other and pneo, meaning to breathe; in reference to the ability of the fish to utilize atmospheric oxygen. 
Jump to next section Species Information
Size 500mm or 19.7" SL. Find near, nearer or same sized spp.
IdentificationHeteropneustes fossilis can be differentiated from H.kemratensis by having lesser anal fin rays
SexingMale has a thinner ventral line due to the stockier shape of the female.
General RemarksSome references mention the rarer Sri Lankan species H. microps. This species, which purportedly differs in that the anal and caudal fins are joined in H. microps and distinctly separate in H. fossilis, is currently considered a junior synonym. The albino form is very, very rarely available to the aquarium trade.
Jump to next section Habitat Information
DistributionWidely distributed in India,Thailand, Burma and possibly Sri Lanka.
Indian waters (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Thailand Waters (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Myanmar Waters (click on these areas to find other species found there)
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IUCN Red List StatusLeast Concern
pH6.0 - 8.0
Temperature21.0-25.0°C or 69.8-77°F (Show species within this range)
Other ParametersHardness up to 30 °dGH with good filtration made necessary by this fishes voracious appetite. Generally an undemanding, hardy species.
Jump to next section Husbandry Information
FeedingWill eat all prepared foods, feeder fish are not required. Larger adults will require larger foods such as earthworms and frozen prawns. Can be trained to accept large cichlid foods from the water surface.
FurnitureTypical medium size catfish set-up with plenty of swimming space for feeding and night time activity. A choice of shady retreats should be available for the fish during the day.
CompatibilityOnly sensibly housed with fish that cannot be eaten and are active swimmers. Fish that rest or are slow swimmers are "buzzed" by this catfishes nocturnal prowling. Enjoys the company of it's own kind.
Suggested TankmatesLarge barbs and similar, Asian fish. Generally, medium sized active fish.
BreedingA sticky cluster of yellow-green eggs are laid in pits in the aquarium substrate. Both parents tend the clutch, fanning the pit to ensure water circulates around the eggs. Care continues well after the fry emerge. The fry grow rapidly and can attain lengths of greater than 80mm in a matter of months.
Jump to next section Further Information
ReferencesNaturg. Ausl. Fischev. 8 - pp46 - Pl. 370 (fig. 2)
Burgess' Atlas wrongly labels H. microps as H. fossilis in the colour plates section, but shows H. fossilis correctly in the preceding black and white text.
Registered Keepers(1) Dave Rinaldo, (2) Iwona (k: 7), (3) CFC, (4) yellowcat, (5) lordotterby, (6) brettwms75, who also notes: "I really like to watch this fish swim and eat. I'd like to test-out the sting of this fish. I've felt an Electric catfishes jolt when I held one but the Fossil's sting scares me a bit. I'd buy more if I could find them!", (7) vernonlarge (k: 2), (8) amiidae, (9) Chi-Chi, (10) myrheksa (k: 3), (11) miravns, (12) Shovelnose (k: 2), (13) Oliver D., (14) Back, (15) TRD (k: 2), who also notes: "I think it is a male and a female. They tend to keep hidden during the day mostly.", (16) arapaimag (k: 5), (17) Mcjlance, (18) in_the_seance, (19) Pestey, (20) CatfishPownage63, (21) Arron_N, (22) apo1980, (23) protopterus, (24) angerygrover.

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Breeding Reports(1) Iwona (b: 9).
Article - CotM 2001 October
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Last Update2013 Jul 19 10:07 (species record created: 2001 Apr 24 00:00)