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Malapterurus electricus (Gmelin, 1789)

Image contributors to this species:

Hippocampus Bildarchiv (2) Frants Lehmann (5 Stamps) Chris Ralph (1) Johnny Jensen's Photographic Library (3) Hans van Heusden (2)

ScotCat Sources:

Factsheet Etymology = Genus Etymology = Species

Other Sources:

Fishbase  Google Search  All Catfish Species Inventory  Wikipedia

Relevant Information:

Characteristics: Anal-9. No rayed dorsal fin, adipose fin short, pectorals without spines, caudal rounded. Head and body rounded and fleshy, mouth terminal, teeth fine, in broad bands on both jaws, 3 pairs barbels, outer mandibulars longest, reaching base of pectorals, gill slits short, restricted to sides. Colour: Body grey to to brown above with a white underside. Numerous black spots and blotches along the body, denser on posterior half. Caudal fin dark at base margined with orange or red, anal fin similarly coloured. Ventral and pectoral fins yellowish to red. Young specimens differ from adults - the body being flesh coloured with very few black spots and having a light ring around the caudal peduncle and a vertical black bar at the base of the caudal fin. Aquarium Care: Not to be trusted when adult so will need to be kept on its own. Juveniles can be kept together but would need to be monitered when growing.

Common Name:

Electric Catfish


Silurus electricus




Africa: Nile and tropical Africa (except Lake Victoria and rivers of East Africa north  of the Zambezi), Lake Tanganyika and probably Malagarazi, Fernando Poo Island. Also known from the lower and middle Zambezi, Pungwe, lower Save, and  throughout the Congo system


90cm. (36ins)


23 -30°C (73 -87°F)


6.5 -7.2.


Norris, S.M., 2002. A revision of the African electric catfishes, family Malapteruridae (Teleostei, Siluriformes), with erection of a new genus and descriptions of fourteen new species, and an annotated bibliography. Ann. Mus. R. Afr. Centr., Sci. Zool., 289:155 p.
ScotCat Factsheet no. 130. April 2007.



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