hypophthalmus (Sauvage, 1878)
his month we welcome back regular U.K. contributor Chris Ralph
with his insight on the "Iridescent Shark", Pangasianodon
hypophthalmus , and his
trepidation on keeping this large catfish in the home aquarium.
is a catfish which should never be imported due to the eventual
size that it can attain, and the fact that it is a very nervous
and skittish fish, which does not fare well in the confines of
cramped aquaria. All too often this catfish is offered for sale
as a juvenile fish at around 75-100mm and is quite often labelled
as Pangasius sutchi or Iridescent Shark.
A couple of years ago whilst on a day
out with Kate looking at some aquatic retailers we were horrified
to find that this catfish was being offered as the fish of the
week on a buy one get one free basis. Needless to say we shall
not be venturing back to that retailer. If only these catfish
remained small and manageable, but alas they do not.
These catfish are bred commercially in large ponds for the aquarium
trade, which begs the question why? Obviously there is a demand
or else this trade would not exist, how we control the importation
of these fish is another story! Who in their right mind would
want to keep a catfish that is capable of weighing in excess
There is also an albino form of this catfish which is also offered
for sale. It is documented that this is a migratory species
of catfish moving upstream to spawn in May-July. This fish has
been introduced to other countries other than those documented
below which include Bangladesh, Philippines, Singapore and Taiwan.
Aquarium size would need to be as large as possible but as an
absolute minimum for a 450mm specimen I would suggest a 72”
x 24” x 24” aquarium, even though I do not advocate
the keeping of these catfish.
Published in Practical Fishkeeping January 2006.
The body is best described as being elongated.
The position of the mouth is described as being terminal. There
are 6 branched dorsal fin rays and the pelvic fins have 8-9 soft
rays. The gill rakers are described as being normally developed,
with small gill rakers being interspersed with larger ones.
The fins of this catfish are dark grey or
black in colour. Juvenile specimens are described as having a
black stripe along the lateral line with a second long black stripe
below the lateral line. Adult fish are described as being uniformly
grey in colour. These catfish have a dark stripe on the middle
of the anal fin and a dark stripe in each of the caudal lobes.
Whilst this catfish is fairly peaceful avoid
keeping it with small fish as they will eventually appear on the
menu. It is best to keep this catfish with other large fish avoiding
those species that are too boisterous.
There are no known records of aquarium spawnings
of this catfish, which is most likely due to the adult size of
these fish and the enormous size of aquarium required. To be honest
it is quite a relief that these fish have not been bred in aquarium
|It is documented that
the males have darker stripes and are more slender than
This catfish is best described as being
an omnivore feeding on a mixed and varied diet that includes catfish
pellets, catfish tablets, frozen bloodworm, floating food sticks
and vegetable matter to name but a few.
Pangasius + an (Greek for without)+odon (Greek for tooth);
in reference to the toothless state of the adult fish
hypophthalmus: With an eye-spot
rakers : Structure
on the upper portion of the gill arches.
Lateral Line: A sensory line, along the
sides of the body.
ScotCat – www.scotcat.com
FishBase - www.fishbase.org
Catfish Association Great Britain Volume
Hans A Baensch and Dr Rudiger Riel, Baensch
Aquarium Atlas 2
Bottom: Nishant Kakani
Helicophagus hypophthalmus, Pangasius pleurotaenia, Pangasius
sutch, Pangasius hypophthalmusi
|Iridescent Shark, Sutchi
catfish or Pla Sawai
: namely the Mekong, Chao Phyra and perhaps Mekong basins;
Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Viet Nam. It is documented that
this catfish has been introduced into additional river basins
for the purposes of aquaculture.
| 1300mm or 52” SL
(standard length is the measurement from the tip of the snout
to the base of the caudal peduncle).
|The ideal temperature
range is 22-26°C
|The ideal range is 6.5-7.5
|If you found this page
helpful you can help keep ScotCat running by making a small