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Akysis maculipinnis FOWLER, 1934


Order: Siluriformes Family: Akysidae


Described from ‘Chantaboon, Southeast Siam’ which corresponds to modern day Chanthaburi Province, eastern Thailand and presumably the river drainage of the same name.

It’s apparently restricted to this area with distribution extending into southwestern Cambodia, though to date we’ve been unable to locate any definitive record pertaining to the latter country.


Members of this genus are near-exclusive inhabitants of swiftly-flowing streams and rivers with substrates generally consisting of any combination of sand, gravel and rocks. Water is normally transparent to slightly turbid, though overall volume, flow, and thus the amount of suspended material tend to increase significantly during rainy periods.

Aquatic plants are not normally present though there may be patches of leaf litter or underwater structures such as fallen branches or roots protruding from banks.

In the Khao Ang Rue Nai Wildlife Sanctuary, which lies at the border of Chachoengsao, Chonburi, Rayong, Chanthaburi, and Prachin Buri provinces and contains the last remaining area of lowland rainforest in Thailand, A. maculipinnis was collected alongside a number of other species including Parachela maculicauda, Hampala macrolepidota,Labiobarbus spilopleura, Mystacoleucus marginatus, Oreichthys parvus, Osteochilus hasseltii, ‘Puntius binotatus, P. orphoides, P. partipentazona, Danio albolineatus, Esomus metallicus, Rasbora borapetensis, R. trilineata, Pangio anguillaris, Lepidocephalichthys hasseltii, Homaloptera smithi, Nemacheilus pallidus, N. platiceps, Schistura kohchangensis, Pseudomystus siamensis, Amblyceps sp., Glyptothorax sp., Macrognathus circumcinctus, M. siamensis, Mastacembelus armatus, M. favus, Parambassis siamensis, Pseudogobiopsis oligactis, Betta prima, Trichopodus microlepis, Trichopsis vittata, and Channa striata.

Maximum Standard Length

30 – 35 mm.

Aquarium SizeTop ↑

A tank with base dimensions of 45 ∗ 30 cm is more than sufficient, even for a group.


Not difficult to keep but should really be provided with a soft, sandy substrate since some of its time is spent completely buried, or with only eyes protruding.

It also appears to enjoy squeezing into crevices between rockwork and other solid surfaces so additional décor could include some water-worn rocks of various sizes, plus perhaps some driftwood roots and branches.

Aquatic plants can be added if you wish with those that can be grown attached to rocks and wood, such as Microsorum, Anubias or various moss species particularly useful since they will not be disturbed by the fishes’ burrowing activity. Leaf litter can also be used with dried beech, oak or Ketapang leaves all suitable.

Like many fishes that naturally inhabit running water it’s intolerant to accumulation of organic pollutants and requires spotless water in order to thrive. It also does best if there is a relatively high proportion of dissolved oxygen and decent water movement in the tank. Weekly water changes of 30-50% tank volume should be considered routine.

Water Conditions

Temperature: 16.5 – 24 °C

pH: 6.0 – 7.5

Hardness: 36 – 215 ppm


Akysis species are primarily nocturnal micropredators feeding on small aquatic crustaceans, worms, insect larvae and other zooplankton. They can be a little picky in the aquarium and may not accept dried foods although in some cases they will learn to take them over time.

At any rate they should always be offered regular meals of small live or frozen fare such as Artemia, Daphnia, bloodworm or glassworm, ideally after dark in order that they can demonstrate natural behaviour, though once settled most specimens will emerge at feeding times. If the specimens are very small you may need to chop the food accordingly.

Behaviour and CompatibilityTop ↑

Not especially competitive and should not be kept with much larger or more aggressive fishes. Miniature schooling cyprinids such as Boraras, Microdevario or smaller Danio and Rasbora species make good tankmates, or if geography isn’t an issue many similarly-sized characins and livebearers should also work.

Other similarly-sized akysid catfishes plus smaller sisorids such as Erithistes, Erethistoides, Hara, Pseudolaguvia and many Glyptothorax spp. are recommended for the lower levels.

In addition, many balitorid loaches from genera such as Gastromyzon, Pseudogastromyzon and Homaloptera are also suitable. Some members of the families Botiidae, Cobitidae and Nemacheilidae are ok but proper research is essential as some can be excessively aggressive/territorial or simply grow too large, and it’s also proven to co-exist peacefully with freshwater shrimp.

It’s nonaggressive towards conspecifics and can be kept singly or in a group as preferred.

Sexual Dimorphism

Sexually-mature, gravid females appear heavier-bodied than males, and the eggs are visible through the skin as a bluish mass.

Additional sexual dimorphism has been reported in A. alfredi (Ng and Kottelat, 1998), A. fuscus (Ng, 1996) and A. microps (Ng and Tan, 1999). In the former two species the anus is located anterior to a genital papilla in males, this structure having a genital opening covered by a fleshy flap at its tip and situated immediately posterior to the base of the pelkvic fins.

In females the anus is located more posteriorly and the genital papilla is formed by a short appendage with an opening at the tip, this structure being situated approximately level with the poterior end of the inner pelvic fin ray.

In A. alfredi the distance between the origin of the first pelvic fin ray and the first anal fin ray is less than in females (13.8-17.5% of standard length (SL) vs. 17.7-18.4%) but in A. fuscus the opposite is true.

The pelvic fins in males are also shorter than in females (12.9-14.2% SL vs. 14.1-15.5%), closer together (distance between pelvic fins 4.0-4.9% SL vs. 4.8-5.5%), usually overlapping posteriorly (vs. spread laterally) nand often curved to forma bowl-like shape (vs. straight).

In A. microps the genital papilla in males has a bulbous base with the genital opening at the tip not covered by a fleshy flap, while in females the genital opening is only partially covered by an appendage and there are no obvious differences in pelvic fin morphology between the two genders.

According to Vishwanath et al. (2007) male specimens of A. prashadi possess a short, conical genital papilla immediately posterior to the anus while females have a flattened papilla with radial grooves at the pore.


This species spawns above the substrate in flowing water and does not exhibit any parental care. In fact it’s an avid egg-eater and therefore a means to protect the eggs from the adults is essential if you wish to raise fry.

A method designed by SF member Frank Strozyk has proven to work, and involves the use of two plastic tubs, one filled with gravel and variably-sized stones, and the other covered with 3.5-4 mm mesh held in place with rubber bands with stones piled on top.

The grade of the mesh used is fundamental since if too small the eggs will fail to pass through and if too large the adults may be able to get to them.

The way in which the water flow is directed is also important; it must be strong enough that the adults cannot consume all the eggs but must slow down as it reaches the container, or ideally the mesh screen, so that the eggs sink to the base. This is perhaps the most crucial thing to get right and even small changes such as the addition of a diffuser may yield very different results.

These are placed beneath the flow of an internal power filter or pump, with the fish spawning at night directly within the flow, or above the boxes. Using this method up to 60 eggs have been collected in a single night, and it’s probable that many more are eaten.

Once in condition the adults spawn on a more-or-less daily basis, and may continue to do so for a number of weeks.

The eggs are removed to a separate container and hatch in around 3 days at 24°C/75.2°F with the fry having a large blue-coloured yolk sac. This is fully-absorbed within a week, and the fry are able to accept small live foods such as microworm or Artemia nauplii by the 5th day.

They are very sensitive to even minor changes in water chemistry but require a relatively large amount of food, so the trick to raising them is maintanance of water quality while ensuring a continuous supply of suitably-sized live foods during the early stages of life.

Twice-daily, 100 % water changes using aged water should be considered mandatory and failure to adhere to such a regime can result in significant fry losses.

Thanks to Frank Strozyk.

NotesTop ↑

This species has been exported for the aquarium hobby and ranks among the smaller members of the family. It can be differentiated from all other Akysis species by the following combination of characters: head length 22.0-28.6% of standard length (SL); caudal peduncle depth 8.8-10.7% of SL; anal-fin base length 15.2-19.1% of SL; eye diameter 12-16% of head length (HL); nasal barbel length 57 92% of HL; posession of 3-4 serrae on the posterior edge of pectoral fin spine; body patterning mottled with indistinct light patches; caudal fin emarginate.

Members of the family Akysidae are often referred to collectively as ‘Asian stream catfishes’ since the majority are exclusive inhabitants of such environments. All have four pairs of barbels, and within this larger grouping Akysis species are diagnosable by possession of tuberculate skin and cryptic colour patterning typically comprising yellowish bands or blotches on a brownish background.

Based on various morphological aspects the genus as originally considered was split into the A. variegatus and A. pseudobagarius species groups by Ng and Kottelat (1998), but all species of the latter group were reassigned to the genus Pseudobagarius by Ferraris (2007) on the basis of the following shared characters: tip of snout extends anterior to margin of lower jaw; mouth subterminal; narial openings (anterior and posterior nostrils) relatively large and closely-set; caudal fin deeply forked.

Pseudobagarius spp. also tend to have a relatively extended body shape compared with Akysis, while in the latter the snout tip extends only slightly beyond the margin of the lower jaw, mouth orientation terminal to slightly subterminal, narial openings relatively small and widely-spaced and caudal fin truncate or emarginate.

In recent phylogenetic analyses the family Akysidae has been grouped into an assemblage informally referred to as ‘Big Asia’ where it occupies a basal position and is most closely related to the families Amblycipitidae, Sisoridae and Erethistidae, these apparently forming a monophyletic group alongside the Bagridae and Horabagridae.

The South American family Aspredinidae has often been affiliated with Akysidae in earlier studies, but is now considered more closely associated with the Doradidae and Auchenipteridae.

All akysids possess venom apparatus at the base of the dorsal and pectoral spines and though not dangerous to a healthy human can inflict a painful sting, so should be handled with care when being removed from the water for any reason or during aquarium maintenance.


  1. Fowler, H. W., 1934 - Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 86: 67-163
    Zoological results of the third De Schauensee Siamese Expedition, Part I--Fishes.
  2. Ferraris, C. J., Jr., 2007 - Zootaxa 1418: 1-628
    Checklist of catfishes, recent and fossil (Osteichthyes: Siluriformes), and catalogue of siluriform primary types.
  3. Ng, H. H., 1996 - Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 44(1): 3-10
    Akysis heterurus, a new species of catfish (Teleostei: Akysidae) from eastern Sumatra, with notes on Akysis hendricksoni Alfred.
  4. Ng, H. H., 1999 - Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 47(2): 541-548
    The Akysis of Myanmar: a review (Teleostei: Akysidae).
  5. Ng, H. H., 2006 - Zootaxa 1150: 19-30
    Akysis longifilis, a new species of catfish (Teleostei: Akysidae) from Myanmar.
  6. Ng, H. H., 2008 - Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters 91(3): 255-262
    Akysis vespertinus, a new species of catfish from Myanmar (Siluriformes: Akysidae).
  7. Ng, H. H., 2009 - Journal of Threatened Taxa 1(1): 2-8
    Akysis portellus sp. nov., a new species of catfish (Teleostei: Akysidae) from the Sittang River drainage, Myanmar.
  8. Ng, H. H. and D. J. Siebert, 2004 - Zootaxa 733: 1-8
    A new species of the catfish genus Akysis (Siluriformes: Akysidae) from southern Borneo.
  9. Ng, H. H. and H.-H. Tan, 1999 - Zoological Studies 38(3): 350-366
    The fishes of the Endau drainage, Peninsular Malaysia with descriptions of two new species of catfishes (Teleostei: Akysidae, Bagridae).
  10. Ng, H. H. and M. Kottelat, 1998 - Journal of Natural History 32(7): 1057-1097
    The catfish genus Akysis Bleeker (Teleostei: Akysidae) in Indochina, with descriptions of six new species.
  11. Ng, H. H. and W. J. Rainboth, 2005 - Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, Supplement 13: 33-42
    Four new species of Akysis (Teleostei: Siluriformes: Akysidae) from mainland southeast Asia, with comments on A. similis.
  12. Page, L. M., R. K. Hadiaty, J. A. López, I. Rachmatika and R. H. Robins, 2007 - Copeia 2007 (2): 292-303
    Two new species of the Akysis variegatus species group (Siluriformes: Akysidae) from southern Sumatra and a redescription of Akysis variegatus Beeker, 1846.
  13. Rainboth, W. J., 1996 - FAO, Rome: 1-265
    Fishes of the Cambodian Mekong. FAO Species Identification Field Guide for Fishery Purposes.
  14. Sullivan, J. P., J. G. Lundberg and M. Hardman, 2006 - Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 41(3): 636–662
    A phylogenetic analysis of the major groups of catfishes (Teleostei: Siluriformes) using rag1 and rag2 nuclear gene sequences.
  15. Tan, H. H. and H. H. Ng, 1999 - Journal of Natural History 34(2): 267-303
    The catfishes (Teleostei: Siluriformes) of central Sumatra.

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