Clown Catfish, Assam Clownwels (Germany) - Gagata cenia (Hamilton, 1822)
Over the years, the name “clown catfish” has been generally applied to species with a bold coloration and with highly active disposition. Nowhere is this name more apt than in the subject of this month’s article, Gagata cenia.
Unlike most other members of the Sisoridae, Gagata are highly active, schooling fish, but like other sisorids, they require cool, clean, well-oxygenated water, and enjoy the presence of a current very much. There is evidence to suggest that at least two different species of Gagata even form mixed schools in the wild. They are nervous bundles of energy, constantly twitching their fins and dashing about the tank madly at the first sign of stress (because of their schooling nature, individual fish do not fare very well in the aquarium). Consequently, they do not travel well, and newly imported fish sometimes arrive in a weakened state that leaves them prone to infections. Although they can adjust to prepared food, they seem to do much better with a feeding regime consisting of mostly live foods. The reduced jaw teeth and gill rakers of G. cenia seem to support the fact that they are suctorial detritivores, meaning they feed on fine organic matter by vacuuming it off the substrate.
The species of Gagata usually imported in the aquarium trade is G. cenia (from northern India). However, the growing number of fish imported from Myanmar (Burma) means that Burmese species such as G. gasawyuh, and more rarely, G. melanopterus, are beginning to show up in the trade. Gagata gasawyuh can be distinguished from G. cenia in having only four (vs. five) dark saddles on the head and body, and G. melanopterus can be distinguished from G. cenia in lacking any saddles on the head and body and having black pectoral, pelvic and anal fins.
Because of the delicate nature of these fishes, they are not suggested for the beginner. However, once they acclimatize to the aquarium, a school would provide plenty of bottom-feeding activity for a fast-water tank setup.
Thanks go again to Heok Hee Ng for this month's featured catfish, we sign off with a useless piece of trivia - this catfish and last months feature were described within a couple a years of each other (nearly 200 years ago) and were both considered Pimelodus at the time.
Copyright information for the images used in this article can be found on the species' full Cat-eLog page.
|Cat-eLog Data Sheet|
|Scientific Name||Gagata cenia (Hamilton, 1822)|
|Common Names||Clown Catfish|
Assam Clownwels (Germany)
|Type Locality||N. Bengal rivers.|
|Pronunciation||Gah gah tah - keen ee a|
|Etymology||The generic name comes from the local name of the fish (keyakatta). The specific name also comes from the local name of the fish (sinia).|
|Size||100mm or 3.9" SL. Find near, nearer or same sized spp.|
|Identification||Dorsal with dark saddles extending ventrally only to lateral line. Caudal fin with transverse black bar across peduncle and round or square black spot on middle of each lobe. Dorsal fin with black spot on distal part of anterior rays. Anal fin with 4-5 simple rays, 9-11 branched rays. Upper jaw and 4th ceratobranchial toothless; lower jaw with few conical teeth in pocket or depression near symphysis. Snout tip acutely pointed in lateral view, with tip separated from the rest of the snout by distinct notch.|
|Distribution||The Ganges, Indus and Mahanadi River drainages in the Indian subcontinent.|
Indian waters, North Eastern India Waters, Padma, Ganges (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Pakistan Waters, Indus (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Indian waters, Mahanadi (click on these areas to find other species found there) (Click the map-icon to show/hide map of species distribution)
|IUCN Red List Status||Least Concern|
|pH||6.0 - 7.0|
|Temperature||18.0-25.0°C or 64.4-77°F (Show species within this range)|
|Other Parameters||Requires well oxygenated water.|
|Feeding||Readily feeds on most foods, but live or frozen food is preferred.|
|Furniture||A sandy/gravel bottom and enough rocks/driftwood to partially deflect the current and for the fish to hide in.|
|Compatibility||A peaceful, shoaling species that should be kept in a group of at least 4. Best kept in a well-oxygenated tank, preferably with some current. Ideal tankmates include balitorine loaches such as Homaloptera, fast-swimming cyprinids such as Danio or Barilius, and smaller mastacembelids.€|
|Suggested Tankmates||Ideal tankmates include balitorine loaches such as Homaloptera, fast-swimming cyprinids such as Danio or Barilius , and smaller mastacembelids.|
|References||Fishes Ganges - pp174 - Pl. 31 (fig. 57)|
|Registered Keepers||(1) Shovelnose (k: 2), who also notes: "Wild Caught", (2) TheFishGuy, (3) jc, (4) Bob Mehen (k: 3), who also notes: "These fish are the most active catfish I've ever kept, day and night! Housed in a temperate,(19oC) Asian themed tank with lots of flow,(12,000lph+). I lost 3 of the orginal 6 which were thin & did not feed well on introduction, rapidly losing weight. The remaining 3 are now doing well and gaining weight and size being target fed with tablet food, frozen bloodworm and cyclops.".|
Click on a username above to see all that persons registered catfish species. You can also view all "my cats" data for this species.
|More on Gagata cenia|
|Look up Gagata cenia on AquaticRepublic.com|
|BBCode||(use for links from the forum posts)|
|(permalink to this species)|
|Look up Gagata cenia on Fishbase|
|Get or print a QR code for this species profile, or try our BETA label creator.|
|Last Update||2005 Nov 28 00:00 (species record created: 2003 Dec 01 11:22)|
Back to Catfish of the Month index.