s you can see in the image below, this months factsheet (May
2011) is based on the Bagridae family from Asia and a very nicely
coloured member by the common name of the "Tawny Dragon
catfish" so named for its specific (latin) name of fulva;
meaning tawny, and draco; meaning dragon.
Tachysurus fulvidraco has
had a chequered history. In the 1980s you could purchase this
species under one of its previous names, Pelteobagrus fulvidraco
and it was reasonably common in the trade in the U.K.
Today it is quite rare in imports which
is a pity as this is a very interesting "cool water catfish"
There is still ongoing discussions in
the scientific fraternity on the validity of the genus name
of Tachysurus as the original description of this genera
was by La Cepède in 1803 and it depicted a member of
the Ariid catfish family. He proposed the name Tachysurus
a catfish depicted in a Chinese illustration archived in Paris
at the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle (MNHN).
Tachysurus sinensis La Cepède, 1803 is the type
species of Tachysurus La Cepède, 1803 (pp. 150,
151) by monotypy. The locality for the illustration is given
as China. The only problem with this was the painting looked
very much like a Bagrid and not an Ariid species and quite probably
Pseudobagrus fulvidraco (Richardson, 1846) or P.
nitidus Sauvage & Dabry de Thiersant, 1874. Of course
this story is not as simple as that and if you want to read
more on the pros and cons of this argument you can seek out
and read the references listed below by López;
J. Andrés 2008 and Ng, H.H. &
Kottelat, M, 2007. To add to this confussion, Fishbase
has this species listed as Pelteobagrus fulvicrado
and Catalog of Fishes has it down as Tachysurus fulvicrado.
Drifting away from the scientific slant
to this species, how do we keep the "Tawny Dragon catfish?.
Not too much of a problem catfish as long as you don't house
them with smaller species as being a Bagrid they will do what
the vast majority of Bagrids will do "chase and eat them".
I mentioned 'them' earlier in the text as you can keep them
in a group and they will get on fine together as long as you
give them plenty of room and hiding places for each individual,
but you would need a very large tank with a minimum length of
6ft. If you are set on a large big fish community type setup
you would probably be better off with one individual.
This is a primarily a cool water catfish
so placing the tank in a centrally heated house would suffice
but there are also reports that this catfish is also happy at
temperatures of between 23-26°C (72-79°F) so a very
variable temperature range does not worry this Bagrid at all.
Providing a good current in the aquarium will suit this catfish.
The growth of these fish are quick and a report states that
a 8cm (3¼ins) imported specimen reached 14cm (5½ins)
in a matter of a few months.
The image above depicts a golden variety
of the Tawny Dragon catfish.
Dorsal spines (total): 2; Dorsal soft rays
(total): 7; Anal soft rays: 19 - 20. Body is naked, skin fairly
thin particularly on the upper side of the head. The mouth is
large with upper jaw extending slightly beyond lower. Four pairs
of barbels, two mandibular, one maxillary and one nasal. Dorsal
spine very stout only slightly serrated along posterior edge.
Pectoral spines very stout with fine serrations along the anterior
and coarser serae along the posterior edge. The caudal fin is
forked with rounded lobes.
Yellowish brown with irregular darker brown
bands running into both caudal lobes. Colour contrast is more
intense on juvenile specimens than in adults.
Needs a large tank as they grow fast and
they will squabble with conspecifics if kept in too small a tank.
Create hiding places with rocks and bogwood with the tank densely
planted and with floating plants as part of the setup. If keeping
other fish with the "Tawny Dragon" you will need fish
larger than this catfish that will accept cooler temperatures,
although a mid 70s tank will suit them fine. Although they are
a cooler water catfish don't keep them with Goldfish as they will
be constantly harassed as they are slow swimmers and will be picked
on during the night.
In the wild these fish form small breeding
colonies by making burrows or depressions on the bottom near the
shore. The eggs are guarded by the male.
As with most other
species of catfish the males tend to be more slender than
the females. It would appear also that the male can be
determined by the papillae just prior to the anal fin,
a feature found in other Bagridae.
Will accept most prepared foods such
as flake, tablets, live and frozen tubifex and bloodworm.
fulva; meaning tawny, and draco; meaning
Case 3455 Pseudobagrus Bleeker, 1858 (Osteichthyes, Siluriformes,
BAGRIDAE):proposed conservation. Bulletin of Zoological
Nomenclature 65(3) September 2008.
Ng, H.H. & Kottelat, M; The identity
of Tachysurus sinensis La Cepède, 1803, with the
designation of a neotype ( Teleostei: Bagridae) and notes
on the identity of T.fulvidraco (Richardson, 1845). Electronic
Journal of Ichthyology November, 2007 2: 35-45.
Northern Area Catfish Group.
Information sheet 14.
Goss, Malcolm; Red in the - bed - tank.
Thames Valley Catfish Area Group. Magazine 1991.
is defined as the tail fin.
Pectoral fins: are defined as paired
Dorsal fin: is defined as the medial
fin on top of the back.
Anal fin: is defined as the medial fin
immediately posterior to the anus.
Mandibular barbels: pertaining to the
lower jaw. (mandibular barbels)
pertaining to the upper jaw. (maxillary barbels)
on top of the head, by the nostrils. (nasal barbels)
Top image: Freshwater
Fishes of China in Coloured Illustrations
Bottom image: © Zhou