he catfish that we are spotlighting
this month is small, from Asia, and was once situated
for many years in the Sisoridae family but was re-located
back into the Erithistidae family by de Pinna. This
new family was first established in 1822 by Bleeker,
and resurrected again in 1996 by de Pinna.
In Ferraris 2007, Erithistes
has been moved back to its original placement in the
Sisoridae family which had been moved there by de
Pinna in 1996, along with Conta, Erethistoides,
Hara and Pseudolaguvia.
Identifying the "Asian Moth cats" is no
easy matter with at the last count of about 7 species,
not to mention the Hara species of Moth Cats
which are also very alike. To go some way to identifying
these species we have Erithistes
which sports a long filament to the top ray of the
caudal fin, E.
which has very long pectoral spines and is also very
much smaller in size, E.
which grows larger and has a larger adipose fin. These
are the most common, along with E. hara for
the "Moth Cats" seen in the aquarium trade
On another note,
Talwar & Jhingran (1992), state that both E.
filamentosus (Blyth, 1860) and E. saharsai
Datta Munshi & Srivastava, 1988 are synonyms of
Erithistes hara, just confirming how alike
members of this genera are.
Erithistes jerdoni(A)&Erithistes hara(B) side by side
Dorsal view of head of Erithistes jerdoni
to show occipital process reaching basal bone of dorsal
fin. Longer length of pectoral spines.
Dorsal view of head of Erithistes hara to
show occipital process not reaching basal bone of
dorsal fin and pectoral spine shorter than head length.
(Both figures after Hora, S.L. 1949. Rec.Indian
Mus. 47, Plate 11, figs. 7 & 2 respectively).
Why are they called
"Moth Cats"?. Hamilton who described Erithistes
(Hara) hara, remarked on the colour and pattern
of the fins as being very like the wings of moths.
These fish are beginning to appear again in the U.K.
in the last couple of years as the last time I acquired
a Erithistes (Hara) species it was E.
jerdoni in 1986, when they were rediscovered
in Bihar and Assam a year earlier, and exported via
a development project. Have a go with them if you
can find them in your local aquatic outlet and you
also may be lucky enough to spawn them and hopfully
redistribute them around to make these catfish more
popular in the hobby.
Nepal and Myanmar. Reported from Bangladesh.
Pectoral spine shorter (1.05-1.08)
than head length. Occipital process, cleithral process,
scapular process all prominent and naked. Humeral
process prominent on ventral side. 4 pairs of barbels.
Rayed dorsal fin with 5 or 6 rays and a spine.
A combination of brown and
cream vertical bands after the posterier of dorsal
fin. Maxillary & mandibular barbels with alternative
Care & Compatibility
This is a peaceful species
which would be better kept in a group of about
6 specimens with plenty of swimming space. Provide
good filtration and aeration as this species
is not the easiest to keep in the aquarium.
Provide a sand substrate with plants as an option.
There has been
a report of the breeding of Erithistes jerdoni
by an aquarist here in the U.K. where they laid their
eggs in a spawning mop. The eggs had a black nucleus
and had a jelly like substance surrounding them. This
species may have been E. hara instead of
E. jerdoni as stated in the article. The
females are usually heavier looking than the males
and it is said that the males have slightly longer
fins and barbels.
They are not fussy feeders
and can be fed a healthy diet of worm foods such as
frozen bloodworm and tubifex and also tablet food
at lights out, as this is the time of day that they
A flattened pointed posterior extension of the pectoral
girdle (most prominent in the genus Synodontis). Humeral process:
Bony extension of the pectoral girdle. Occipital:
A median bone on the upper surface of the back of
the head; pertaining to the occiput. Scapular:
The shoulder region.
Different name for the same fish.
Etymology not explained, presumably erethizon, porcupine
and–istes, adjectival suffix, i.e., porcupine-like,
referring to strong and serrated dorsal and pectoral-fin
spines. hara: The species epithet hara
is presumably a local Bengali name for this catfish
Warren E. Dr.,An Atlas of Freshwater
and Marine Catfishes. 1989. Grant, Steven; The Identity of Moth
Cats of the genera Hara Blyth, 1860 and Erethistes
Müller & Troschel, 1849 (Pisces: Siluriformes:
Erethistidae) Cat Chat,
the Journal of the Catfish
Study Group Jayaram, K.C.;
The Freshwater Fishes of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh,
Burma and SriLanka. A Handbook.Zoological
Survey of India, Calcutta. p.245-246.
My Observations on breeding the Moth Cat, Hara
the Journal of the Catfish