We welcome back Chris Ralph for an in depth
look at another, what I would call, "beastie" from the
genus, Hemibagrus, Hemibagrus wyckii, and also our third
factsheet on this genus after Hemibagrus
nemerus and Hemibagrus
wyckioides. With no more
ado I will now hand you over to Chris.
emibagrus wyckii has evil written throughout its body. This
is not a catfish for the novice fishkeeper and should not be kept
within the confines of small aquaria. This particular species
is often referred to as a “tank buster” due to the
size that it can attain. These catfish are destined to be kept
in solitary confinement due to their predatory and territorial
This catfish is still referred to
as Mystus wyckii in some aquatic literature, especially
older reference books, and also by one or two aquatic retailers.
It is sometimes confused also with another member of the family
Bagridae, Hemibagrus wyckioides or the Asian Red-tailed
Catfish which was formerly known as Mystus nemurus.
These two catfish are totally different by virtue of the fact
that one fish, Hemibagrus wyckii, is black, whilst
the other, Hemibagrus wyckioides, is light grey to
brown with a distinct red coloured tail. This catfish is very
bold and has been known to attack the hand of the owner feeding
The body of Hemibagrus wyckii is
described as being depressed and broad, and the head is also described
as being extremely depressed and broad. The dorsal fin spine is
described as being well ossified and long with between 10 and 12
serrations on the posterior edge. Hemibagrus wyckii has
a smooth flat skull roof with the occipital process reaching the
basal bone of the dorsal fin. The pectoral fins have 10-11 soft
rays and the pelvic fins have 6 soft rays. The caudal fin is forked.
For its tank size I would suggest a minimum size of 96”
x 24” X 24” for a single specimen with very little
if any décor. Heater guards should be provided in order
to help prevent heaters being damaged by the fish, or if using
a sump filter place the heater(s) within it, thus avoiding the
need for heater guards. As with all other species of fish, water
quality and general husbandry is very important, and I would
recommend that a minimum of 25% water is changed on a weekly
These catfish are referred to as Plakotkao
by the fishermen in Thailand who also suggest that this catfish
has mystical qualities.
The base colour of the body and head is black
with a cream coloured coracoidal region. The caudal fin is dark
grey in colour with a white to cream coloured edge to caudal fin
rays. White coloured markings are present on the tips of the pectoral
fins and dorsal fin, and are also present on the anterior edge of
the adipose fin.
Hemibagrus wyckii is not compatible
with any other fish especially smaller species as they will eventually
feature somewhere on the menu!
There have not been any reports of successful
aquarium spawnings of Hemibagrus wyckii to my knowledge,
which I guess is not really surprising considering the fact that
these catfish are not tolerant of one another.
Hemibagrus wyckii readily accepts
a diet which includes pieces of fish, whole prawns, mussels and
earthworms to name but a few. In its natural habitat this catfish
is a predator capable of devouring any fish small enough to fit
inside its large mouth.
|There are no documented
sexual differences although it is generally thought that the
females may be smaller and deeper bodied than the males.
defined as top or above.
Coracoid: is defined as middle or lower
section of the pectoral girdle.
Caudal: is defined as the tail fin.
Depressed: is defined as being flattened
from top to bottom.
Posterior: is defined as being situated
meaning half and bagrus from bagre which is a South American
name for a catfish, but is only used for African and Asian
wicki, Hemibagrus wycki, Bagrus wyckii, Macrones wyckii, Mystus
wyckii, Mystus wycki.
freshwater rivers of Thailand, Mekong, Sumatra, Java, Cambodia,
Viet Nam, Indonesia and Laos.
|710mm s.l. (standard length
– this is the measurement of the fish from the tip of
the snout to the base of the caudal peduncle).
-26°C (71 -79°F)
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