Catfish of the Month Right Arrow January 2018


Mystus dibrugarensis   (Chaudhuri, 1913)

Article © Balaji Vijaykrishnan, uploaded March 08, 2018.

And now for something completely the same, another grey catfish that will never enter the trade.

While the typical COTM article focuses on species available in the trade, this one focuses on one of those obscure species that is least likely to enter the trade anytime soon, Mystus dibrugarensis.

Mystus dibrugarensis was originally described as Macrones montanus var. dibrugarensis from Dibrugarh, Assam, north east India (Brahmaputra drainage). This species was considered to be a synonym of M.montanus (a species described from southern India - Cauvery drainage) but has since been elevated to species level. I had the opportunity to procure a few fish from "extreme" north eastern India and thus began my tryst with this species.

For starters, this seems like a "dwarfish" species much like M. carcio and behaves very much like the aforementioned species as well, not the typical crabby guise that one would expect from a bagrid. Secondly (and more delightfully), they do not seem to be completely nocturnal and spend a considerable portion of the day swimming in the open in what could perhaps be termed "loose schooling behaviour". I first witnessed this at a fellow hobbyist"s tank with around half a dozen specimens and it looked rather lovely. While this will reduce as the fish become more comfortable, there is still a considerable amount of interaction between specimens and this actually adds a great deal to the overall "character" of the tank. This behavior further piqued my interest in the species and I have already started looking out to expand the small group that I have.

The M.dibrugarensis I have are presently kept with Hypselobarbus jerdoni, Tor khudree, Systomus banksi, Mystus bleekeri, Botia striata and a Pterocryptis sp. They do not seem to be overtly bothered by congeners (M. bleekeri) and equally importantly, they do not seem to bother smaller fish (Botia striata) either. Overall, M. dibrugarensis seems to be a species suited even for planted tanks in addition to regular community tanks.

Feeding seems easy as is with most Mystus species. I feed a mix of Tetra Bits, earthworms, bloodworms, prawns and Hikari pellets and everything is consumed greedily.

I know it seems like a great deal so far but here is THE deal breaker, this species has probably never entered the trade (even though other species from the region/river enter the trade fairly often). I will maybe post in the forum when I hear of these little "Hors d'oeuvre" fish being exported for the trade as a tip off for the fellow Asian fish fanatic.


Copyright information for the images used in this article can be found on the species' full Cat-eLog page.

Down arrow Cat-eLog Data Sheet
Scientific Name Mystus dibrugarensis  (Chaudhuri, 1913)
Common Name
Type Locality Dibrugarh, Assam, India.
Synonym(s) Macrones montanus dibrugarensis, Mystus montanus dibrugarensis, Mystus vittatus dibrugarensis
Pronunciation miss tuss - dib - roo - gar - en - sis
Etymology The generic name is probably derived from the Latin mystax, meaning moustache, in reference to the long barbels. It was first used by Scopoli in 1777 making it a very old genus that has included many catfishes from throughout the world at one time or another. This species is named after its type locality, Dibrugarh.
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Down arrow Species Information
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Identification Fishes of the genus Mystus Scopoli are small to medium-sized bagrid catfishes occurring in South Asia. Roberts (1994) recognized Mystus to have an elongate cranial fontanel reaching up to the base of the occipital process, long maxillary barbel, very long adipose fin, 11–30 gill rakers on the first gill arch and 37–46 total vertebrae, about equally divided between abdominal and caudal regions. He included only eight species under the genus. Mo (1991) characterized the genus to have a thin needle-like first infraorbital, twisted and thickened metapterygoid loosely attached to the quadrate by means of ligament or a small extent of cartilage. Jayaram & Sanyal (2003) and Ferraris (2007) respectively listed 44 and 33 species of Mystus as valid.

Mystus dibrugarensis is regarded as a junior synonym of M. montanus in many accounts (e.g. Jayaram and Sanyal 2003; Ferraris 2007), the latter species is restricted to southern India (in the Cauvery River drainage) and differs from M. dibrugarensis in having a longer adipose-fin base and a more diffuse spot on the caudal peduncle.
Down arrow Habitat Information
Distribution Arunachal Pradesh and Assam , India
Indian waters, Arunachal Pradesh State Waters (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Indian waters, Assam State Waters (click on these areas to find other species found there)

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IUCN Red List Category Least Concern, range map and more is available on the IUCN species page. Last assessed 2010.
Down arrow Husbandry Information
Breeding Reports There is no breeding report.
Down arrow Further Information
Reference Records of the Indian Museum (Calcutta) v. 8 (pt 3), pp 254, Pl. 9 (figs. 2, 2a-b).
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Last Update 2019 Oct 26 07:03 (species record created: 2018 Mar 08 14:10)

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