Sperata aor (Hamilton,
elcome to the Asian version of the South American shovelnoses,
maybe not in the aggression stakes but certainlyu
in size, as The "Indian Shovelnose Catfish" grows, to
a total lengh (from tip of snout to end of caudal fin) 6'ft. (180cm)
and is arguably along with another nasty
wyckii one of the most aggressive
big cats. The larger Asian Bagrid
cats seem to be that bit more territorial and aggressive compared
to their South American counterparts.
This is a very sleek looking catfish from
the Bagridae family and
is one of only four in this genus, Sperata
acicularis, S. aorella and S.
seenghala. They all grow large and
have an elongated shape with a large head and depressed body and
posses four pairs of barbels with a black spot on the posterior
of the adipose fin. Ferraris
and Runge (1999) revised this
genus and they separated the Myanmar populations previously identified
as aor as a separate new species.
The image above shows the deeply forked tail and the black spot
to the adipose fin. The four species posses
a black spot on the posterior end of the adipose fin but S.
seenghala differs from S. aor in having a spatula
snout and shorter barbels. These
two members of this genera are regularly caught on rod and line,
and nets, and sold in the local food markets.
The image above shows the rounded snout
and the long maxillary barbels.
Aquarium Care: This species
is not intended
to be housed in a community aquarium and apart from the reason
of aggression towards other fish and conspecifics it grows too
large for the normal tanks in our homes. Please leave this catfish
alone unless you have the facilities to move through the growth
patterns from a small 3inch specimen on to the tank busting 6ft
giant, although they may not reach this size in a captive environment.
A specimen would need a large heated pond in a Conservatory like
building on its own to do it any kind of justice. The
pond would need to be at least 12ft wide by 20ft long as
this is a quick growing catfish given the right dietary requirements.
Provide hiding places such as large pipes, driftwood and rocks.
D 1/7; P 1/9; A; 12/13.
Head depressed, rounded snout. Four pairs of barbels with the maxillary
pair reaching to the end of the anal fin or sometimes the rear of
the caudal base or beyond. Caudal fin
Body silvery grey
with white below. Fins yellowish with dark edges. Black blotch at
the posterier end of the adipose fin.
Aggresive towards other fish and conspecifics.
Can be kept with the same size or larger fish when younger such
as South American Pacus and large Cichlids.
Oviparous, distinct pairing possibly like
other members of the same genus. and breeds before the onset of
the monsoon in the Ganges. They apparently prepare a nest on the
bottom of the river bed and guard it. The fry have been reported
to feed of the skin on the males belly where he produces a slime
In the wild adults will feed on small fishes
and worms. Can be fed on frozen shrimps, worms, pellet and tablet
foods. Adults can be fed on strips of trout and sprats. Not a fussy
Females have a more
rounded appearence and the males have a genital papilla
just in front of the anal fin.
Named after Mr. M. A. Sperat.
aor : From the Bengali common
name for this fish: "AYRE" for Sperata aor.
Froese, R. and D. Pauly.
Editors. 2009.FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication.
www.fishbase.org, version (01/2009).
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.
© Danny Blundell @ TheDanny
Anal fin : The median, unpaired, ventrally located
fin that lies behind the anus, usually on the posterior
half of the fish.
Adipose fin : Fleshy finlike projection
without rays, behind the rayed dorsal fin.
barbels: Pertaining to the upper jaw. (maxillary