taying with the Bagridae family from the
first factsheet of
2017, we move into February and a much larger and as they say
"a different kettle of fish" in the Whale Catfish, (given
this common name because of its likeness to some members of the
South American family Cetopsidae, Whale catfishes) or given its
scientific name the double barreled Rita rita. Not a
catfish for your usual community tank as it grows far too large
and would pollish off the rest of your fish in the tank, so follow
below the ins and outs of keeping this large Bagrid.
Can occur in brackish and fresh waters
but thought to prefer clean water. Although Rita rita
is reported to be in decline from overfishing in southern
West Bengal, available data indicates that it is still relatively
abundant. Together with the apparent absence of major threats
(other than possibly overfishing), this species is assessed
as Least Concern but there is a concern as being critically
endangered in Bangladesh (IUCN 2000). However, further taxonomic
studies to assess the identity of the material from the northern
Western Ghats are needed. Given the fishing pressure being
currently exerted on this species, it may be necessary to
reassess this species in the near future when more detailed
catch data is available. (IUCN Red List 2010)
rita = albino
was described from estuaries in Bengal (Hamilton 1822). It has
previously been thought to be found throughout the northern part
of the Indian subcontinent, including the Indus River drainage.
However, Ng (2004) described the population from the Indus River
drainage as a distinct species, Rita macracanthus.
Body elongate. Head depressed; occipital
process subcutaneous (situated or lying under the skin, as tissue),
extends to the basal bone of the dorsal fin. Mouth transverse;
villiform teeth in two contiguous bands in front of the upper
jaw. Molariform teeth in two elliptical patches on the palate.
Occipital process broad, deeply notched posteriorly to receive
triangular basal bone of the dorsal fin. 3 pairs barbels, the
maxillary pair extends posteriorly to the operculum, mandibular
pair to the pre-operculum, nasal pair minute or small with a valve
like base. Dorsal spine very stout, hollow as long or longer than
the head in adults; smooth anteriorly, finely serrated posteriorly
on its upper part. Pectoral spine stout and hollow, shorter than
the dorsal spine, denticulated on both the edges. Forked caudal
fin and the lateral line is straight.
Greenish/brown above and on the sides, brownish/white
on the belly..
Provide sand or smooth
gravel as a substrate and driftwood for hiding places.
If deciding to keep this large catfish
they can only be kept with the same size or larger robust species
as this bagrid will, and can eat, smaller fish.
Bhatti (1924) reported 20,800 eggs in less
than 500g of its egg mass.
Carnivore: Feeds on insects,
molluscs, shrimps, fishes and roots of aquatic plants, also putrid
carcass or flesh of animals.
A median bone on the upper surface of the back of the head;
pertaining to the occiput.
Dorsal fin: The primary rayed fin(s) on
top of the body.
Molariform: Having the form of a molar
Caudal: The tail.
Maxillary: Pertaining to the upper jaw.
Pertaining to the lower jaw. (mandibular
The bony covering of the gills of
A vernacular name from Bangladesh
Ng, H.H. 2010. Rita rita.
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T166602A6245095.
Jayaram; K.C. Catfishes of India, Narendera Publishing
Ferraris, C.J. Jr., 2007. Checklist of catfishes,
recent and fossil (Osteichthyes: Siluriformes), and catalogue
of siluriform primary types. Zootaxa 1418:1-628..
Encyclopedia of Flora and Fauna
of Bangladesh. Vol.23. Freshwater
Fishes. Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. 300p.
© Johnny Jensen ©