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Heterobranchus longifilis  Valenciennes, 1840

Image contributors to this species:

Frants Lehmann (1 Stamp) Jean-Francois Helias (1) Johnny Jensen's Photographic Library (3) Karsten Mody (1)

ScotCat Sources:

Etymology = Genus

Other Sources:

FishbaseGoogle SearchAll Catfish Species Inventory


Relevant Information:

Aquarium Care: Grows too large for aquarium keeping and is a predator. Characteristics: Dorsal spines (total): 0; Dorsal soft rays (total): 31- 39; Anal soft rays: 46 - 50; Vertebrae: 62 - 63. Head large, 3-4 times in SL. Barbels very long, reaching beyond head. Suprabranchial organ well developed, fills suprabranchial chamber. Gill rakers numerous, 54-84 on first gill arch. Rayed dorsal fin extends to above anterior base of anal; adipose large, extending from rayed dorsal to caudal; anal fin origin nearer caudal fin base than tip of snout. An uncommon species which inhabits large rivers. Is the largest freshwater species in southern Africa. Occurs in large deep rivers within the mainstream or in deep pools and lakes. Most active at night, feeding on any available food, including invertebrates and insects when small, fish and other small vertebrates when large. Scavenges off large carcasses and offal from riverside villages. Lives for 12 or more years. Remarks: Teugels et al. (1990) diagnosed this genus on the presence of a large adipose fin supported by 21-27 extended neural spines. The external morphology of Heterobranchus species is similar to that of Clarias and Dinotopteroides species. The most important difference is the presence of a large adipose fin. Eleven nominal species have been described in this genus and Teugels et al. (1990) recognised four of them as valid: Heterobranchus bidorsalis Geoffrey Saint-Hilaire, 1809 (type species), H.longifilis Valenciennes, 1840, H. isopterus Bleeker, 1863 and H.boulengeri Pellegrin, 1922. The genus is endemic to Africa. Its monophyletic nature was recently confirmed by genetic evidence (Agnèse and Teugels, 2001).

Common Name:



Heterobranchus laticeps, Clarias loangwensis, Heterobranchus platycephalus


Clariidae blycipitidae


Africa: Nile, Niger, Senegal, Congo and upper and middle Zambezi Rivers. Type locality: Nile (Egypt).


150cm. (5ft)


22-25C (71-77F)




Skelton, Paul. 1993 A Complete Guide to the Freshwater Fishes of Southern Africa, Southern Book Publishers. 388 p.
Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2009.FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication. www.fishbase.org, version (01/2009).
Teugels, G.G. and Agnèse, D. 2003 Taxonomy and Phylogeny of Clariidae - an overview. Flemish FWO project G.0388.00 on catfish. In Catfishes (2003) Eds. G.Arratia, B.G. Kapoor, M.Chardon & R.Diogo - 2 vols, pp 487.



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