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Horabagrus brachysoma

Sun Catfish

Classification

Bagridae

Distribution

Endemic to the state of Kerala in south-western India.

Habitat

Sluggish tributaries and backwaters.

Maximum Standard Length

18″ (45cm).

Aquarium SizeTop ↑

A 60″ x 24″ x 24″ (180cm x 60cm x 60cm) – 648 litre tank is just about ok for a single specimen. Larger quarters woud be required by a group.

Maintenance

It’s a nocturnal species, so provide dim lighting and refuges in the form of big chunks of bogwood, tangles of beech branches, large rocks or lengths of plastic piping of a suitable bore. Ensure that any decor is either secured or is too heavy to be moved around by the fish. A large and efficient biologocal filter is needed to cope with the amounts of waste produced by a fish of this size.

Water Conditions

Temperature: 74-77°F (23-25°C)

pH: 6.0-7.5

Hardness: 5-25°H

Diet

Feeds on smaller fish, invertebrates and plant matter in nature, although thankfully there is no need to offer live ‘feeder’ fish in the aquarium. Most specimens are easy to feed, accepting a wide range of dried and meaty frozen foods. Feed a mixture of dried pellets as well as frozen prawns, mussels, earthworms etc.

Behaviour and CompatibilityTop ↑

Peaceful for its size and does well in a community of other placid, similarly-sized fish. It will eat any tankmate it can fit in its mouth, so be warned. Decent choices include larger cyprininds and characins, other big catfish, Arowana, Polypterus, Datnioides and Cichla species. Obviously, a tank much larger than the minimum size suggested above would be needed to house this type of community. It will not squabble with conspecifics and can be kept singly or as a small group.

Sexual Dimorphism

Unknown.

Reproduction

Unrecorded in captivity.

NotesTop ↑

Also known as the bullseye, solar, eclipse or golden red-tailed catfish, this species is relatively common in the trade. Unfortunately, it’s a victim of some rather misplaced marketing, as it’s often sold as being suitable for the general community tank found in homes worldwide. The majority of specimens seen for sale measure only 2-3″, which only serves to make the situation worse. Obviously, given its adult size it’s totally unsuitable for this kind of setup, but makes a fine addition to communities containing other large fish.

There are only 2 species currently in the genus Horabagrus. The other, H. nigricollaris resembles H. brachysoma quite closely, but is a much smaller fish and more suitable for home aquaria. The 2 can be told apart by examining the black shoulder markings found on either side of the fish. In H. brachysoma this is no more than a vaguely circular dark blotch. In H. nigricollaris the marking extends up and over the top of the body. This gives the impression the fish is wearing a dark collar, and gave rise to the species name.

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