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Hara hara  (Hamilton, 1822)    

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

Hara hara

Identifying the "Asian Moth cats" is no easy matter with at the last count of about 7 species, not to mention the Erithistes species of Moth Cats which are also very alike. To go some way to identifying these species we have
Erethistes filamentosus which sports a long filament to the top ray of the caudal fin, H. jerdoni which has very long pectoral spines and is also very much smaller in size, H. horai which grows larger and has a larger adipose fin. These are the most common, along with H. hara for the "Moth Cats" seen in the aquarium trade today.

On another note, Talwar & Jhingran (1992), state that both H. filamentosa Blyth, 1860 (E. filamentosus) & H. saharsai Datta Munshi & Srivastava, 1988 are synonyms of Hara hara, just confirming how alike members of this genera are.

Hara jerdoni & Hara hara

A. Dorsal view of head of Hara jerdoni to show occipital process reaching basal bone of dorsal fin. Longer length of pectoral spines.
B. Dorsal view of head of Hara 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 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 Hara species it was H. 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.

Remarks: There are some publications that sight this species as Erethistes hara due to a paper published in 2006 by Ichthyologists Alfred W Thompson & Lawrence M. Page of the Florida Museum of Natural History. Ferraris (2007) also stated that the Erethistidae be moved back into the Sisoridae family.



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 blackish/brown bands.

Try and buy a group of them as they will prosper better in their own company than singularly. Furnish a small aquarium with sand, rockwork and driftwood with plenty of hiding places. Keep up with the regular water changes, keeping the water temperature in the mid seventies, as they can take cooler water, but will struggle if it rises into the eighties. So basically we have a cool water catfish here. You don't need a powerfull filter to chase the water around the tank just normal water movement from an internal power filter will suffice.

Sexual Differences
Females are heavier in the body than the males. Males have slightly longer fins and barbels

There has been a report of the breeding of Hara 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 Hara hara instead of H. 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 become active.

Glossary of Terms
Synonym: Different name for the same fish.
Occipital: A median bone on the upper surface of the back of the head; pertaining to the occiput.
Cleithral : A flattened pointed posterior extension of the pectoral girdle (most prominent in the genus Synodontis)
Scapular: The shoulder region.
Humeral process: Bony extension of the pectoral girdle.

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
Taylor, Adrian; My Observations on breeding the Moth Cat, Hara jerdoni. 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
Burgess, Warren E. Dr., An Atlas of Freshwater and Marine Catfishes. 1989.
Taylor, Adrian;

Factsheet Request
Alvin Reddy

Photo Credits
 © Steven Grant
Factsheet 088

Glyptothorax asperus, Hara buchanani, Hara filamentosa, Erethistes hara, Hara saharsai, Laguvia  asperus, Pimelodus asperus, Pimelodus hara
Common Name:
Moth Catfish
Asia: India, Nepal and Myanmar. Reported from Bangladesh
12.0cm. (4¾ins)
12-25°C (51-77°F)     
6.0 - 7.5
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                                                                                                                                     Factsheet 88= updated December 14, 2018 , © ScotCat 1997-2018 Go to Top