Colombian Shark Catfish, Haj-havmalle (Denmark), Hajmal (Sweden), Mini-Hai (Germany), Shark Catfish, Tete Sea Catfish, White Tip Shark Catfish - Ariopsis seemanni   (Günther, 1864)

Article © Julian Dignall, uploaded June 01, 1998.

Another fish whose taxonomical background is somewhat difficult to fathom; our Shark Catfish is often referred to as Arius jordani and has been moved to the genus Hexanematichthys but currently resides in Ariposis. The family Ariidae is distinct in the catfish world as being the only family to have a truly global distribution. They can be found on all five continents from marine environments (hence the family's rather general tag of "Sea cats") to freshwater lakes, they are however all tropical.

I think these are great catfishes for the aquarist seeking to keep big fish without having to build an indoor pond. This catfish is easy to rear to an adult size of around 12" or more. A small shoal can be maintained in a large, at least 2 foot wide aquarium. By the time they reach this size however, these fish will require to be kept in brackish water and so at this stage your choice of tankmates is restricted. Conversely if you've always wanted to keep shoals of Scats or Monos then this is THE catfish for you!

It must be pointed out that this fish does lose some of its striking colouration as it grows; the black white-edged fins do grey with age. But for a big catfish, the shark cat is very active, which is a good feature. When larger these fish are very tame and will eat from your hand if properly trained. Watch out for periodic "mad" spells from these fish (I lost a Shark cat that was extremey active for a number of days and eventually swam at full speed into a glass stress bar at the top of the aquarium), perhaps this can be attributed to their natural migratory nature?

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