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Amblyceps mangois (Hamilton, 1822)

ur factsheet this month (June 2007) brings us to a member of the Asian family, Amblycipitidae, and the Indian Torrent Catfish, Amblyceps mangois.

At one time this family was monotypic, but due to the work carried out by Ng and Kottelat, there are now thirteen species in this genus, A. mucronatum, A. murraystuarti, A. platycephalus, A. foratum, A. variegatum, A. laticeps, A. caecutiens, A. serratum, A. tenuispinis, A. macropterus, A. carinatum, A. apangi and our factsheet of the month, A. mangois.

A. mangois differs from these other species in having a relatively short body with 34-36 (versus 38-40) vertebrae, and a caudal fin with upper and lower lobes of distinctly different shapes (versus truncate caudal fin in A. murraystuarti and with both lobes similar in shape in other Indochinese species). The Pectoral spine is smooth. Due to the deeply forked caudal fin (only A. tenuispinis, A. carinatum and A. macropterus have this trait ) this catfish is sometimes referred to as "The Fork-tailed Catfish"


Amblyceps mangois



These catfish live in small hill-streams where the water is clear, cool and highly oxygenated, and they hide out in the rocks and pebbles that adorn the bottom of these streams. This catfish has to put up with different conditions in these streams wheras it can turn from a gently flowing stream to a raging torrent and as such has adapted to life in these conditions.

It can also regulate the amount of water that enters its gills and it uses a fold of skin that resides behind the gill opening to suspend its breathing where oxygenated water is retained and a slow absorption of oxygen is carried out. It is also capable of moving from stream to stream as their habitats dry up.

Keeping this catfish is actually not too much of a problem as long as you can provide conditions that are benificial to its surroundings. Breaking up the surface of the water with a spray bar is a good idea which oxygenates the water. A bed of sand or smooth gravel, as they like to bury themselved in the substrate, and a few pipes and caves for them to hide away and feel secure in their surroundings.

Amblyceps mangois (after Hora,1933)
Amblyceps mangois (after Hora,1933)

Dorsal 1/6; pectorals: 1,7; Ventrals i, 5; Anal fin ii-iii, 7-9; Caudal 19. Eyes small and subcutaneous. Jaws unequal, either jaw may be longer than the other. Teeth villiform in bands on upper jaw produced at the sides, lower jaw a similar narrow band which is interrupted in the middle. Palate without teeth. Four pairs of barbels; maxillary barbels reaching middle or end of pectoral spine, nasal barbels equaling head length, outer and inner mandibular barbels as long as nasal. Rayed dorsal fin inserted almost above pectoral fin base, with six rays and a concealed spine not reaching pelvic fin. Pelvic fin not reaching anal fin. Anal fin not reaching caudal fin. Least height of caudal peduncle 1.0 to 1.6 in its length. Caudal fin deeply forked, upper lobe longer.

Olive brown lighter below. A dark lateral band branching towards caudal and anal base may be present.


Best kept with larger Danio's such as "The Giant Danio" (Danio aquepinneatus) Barbs and Rasboras. Any medium sized fish that like water movement in the aquarium


This species breeds in the summer in its natural habitat. Not yet bred in aquaria.

Sexual differences
Females have a pair of unbranched ovaries and are smaller than the males who have branched testes.

In their natural habitat their diet consists of aquatic insects and larvae. In an aquarium set-up they like worm foods such as frozen bloodworm and whiteworm. They feed very much like the Tatia species from South America where they feed frantically on the move, twisting and turning to take the food.

Glossary of Terms
Monotypic : Having only one species, such as a monotypic family of fishes.
Subcutaneous: Positioned beneath the skin.
Villiform: Elongated cardiform teeth.
Maxillary barbels: Pertaining to the upper jaw. (maxillary barbels)
Nasal barbels: On top of the head, by the nostrils. (nasal barbels)
Mandibular barbels: Pertaining to the lower jaw. (mandibular barbels)


Amblyceps = Amblys = blunt; ceps = from caput head.

Stratton,Andy; Keeping the Forked-tailed Catfish, Aquarist & Pondkeeper, March 1994, p74-77.
Jayaram, K.C.; Catfishes of India, Narendera Publishing House. p156-157.
Ng, H.H., 2005 Amblyceps carinatum, a new species of hillstream catfish from Myanmar (Teleostei: Amblycipitidae). Raffles Bull. Zool. 53(2):243-249.

Photo Credits
Top picture:        © Tobias Koch @  maccus.de

Bottom picture:  Original Source
Factsheet 132

Pimelodus mangois, Pimelodus indicus, Amblyceps arunchalensis
Common Name:
Indian torrent catfish



India Ganges drainage in  Northern India
12.5cm. (5ins)
18-23°C (63-73°F)    
7.0 -7.5.
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                                                                                                                                              Factsheet 132 = updated December 14, 2018 , © ScotCat 1997-2018 Go to Top