ur factsheet this month is concentrating on a catfish
that should never really be kept in the aquarium as
an adult but only as a juvenile but this beggars the
question, what would you do with it when it outgrows
your tank. The species in question has the common
name of "Goonch" or
the "Devil Catfish" and is from the Sissoridae
family and namely what we are talking about here is
Based on the study in West Bengal
the status of the species, as it is currently understood,
is assessed as Near Threatened. The taxonomic status
of Bagarius from throughout the Indian subcontinent
is badly in need of critical study. Irrespective of
the confusion surrounding the taxonomy of this species,
the currently known populations of Bagarius yarrelli
are harvested heavily in different parts of its range
as food fish and for ornamental trade and as sport
fish (IUCN 2010).
yarrelli- showing the teeth
Bagarius lica Volz, 1903, and B. nieuwenhuisii
Popta, 1904 were described from Sumatra and Borneo,
respectively but now known as synonyms of B. yarrelli.
This species is only suitable for freshwater public
aquariums were they can give it over to huge acrylc
tanks where it can grow to over 6 ft. (1.8cm) long.
It inhabits a variety of fluviatile habitats, although
it is typically associated with swift, clear rivers
with a substrate of rocks and sand.
Mota Mola at Poona, Deccan, India.
As a large, predatory fish
that is actively caught for food, this species is
in some danger of being overexploited. Even though
current indications are that this species is still
relatively abundant, the current fishing pressure
on this species (at least on the Indian subcontinent)
is likely to be unsustainable; local declines reported
in some studies for B. bagarius may refer
to this species (Mishra et al. 2009). However, more
empirical data is needed to support this claim.
The effects of other potential anthropogenic threats
such as habitat destruction and competition from
alien species need to be further ascertained (H.H.
As of January 2021 B. yarrelli is now a
synonym of Bagarius bagarius. There are
now five Bagarius species described. The
"Devil Catfish" Bagarius
bagarius from the
Indian subcontinent. The
"Dwarf Goonch" B.
vegrandis is found
in Chao Phraya and the Mekong. The "Flat head
suchus is found
in Chao Phraya and the Mekong. The Giant B.
lica is found
in every basin except Salween. B.
from Vietnam, and the undescribed speciesB.
sp. salweenwhich is only found in Salween. B. yarrelli
is now a synonym of Bagarius bagarius.
and Ganges drainages, most of southern India east
of the western Ghats, Mekong basin, Xe Bangfai
basin (Laos) to Indonesia. Type locality:
Mota Mola at Poona, Deccan, India.
200cm. (6ft 8ins)
Vertebrae: 40 - 45. Pelvic-fin
origin usually behind the base of the last dorsal
ray; adipose-fin origin in front or above the anal-fin
origin. Elongate neural spines 2-5, slender; abdominal
vertebrae 21-24. Eye circular, diameter 10-13 times
in HL; head width 4.3-4.7 times in SL.
Occasional dark spotted pattern
on yellow or olive brown body. Three black bands to
body, one at the dorsal insertion, one at the adipose
fin insertion, and one at the area of the caudal peduncle.
Care & Compatibility
Grows very large and is a natural
predator on small and large fish so not really an
addition to the home aquarium. Better to leave well
Spawns in rivers
before the rainy season. Migrates in schools and is
also reported to migrate to follow its prey. Also
reported that it follows Catlocarpio siamensis
(The Siamese giant carp) during its upstream migration.
Apparently the main upstream migration begins close
to the peak of flood when the current is very strong
and the water is turbid.
Feeds primarily on prawns but
will take small fishes and aquatic insects. In the
aquarium Juveniles can be fed bloodworm, small earthworms,
Different name for the same fish. Caudal peduncle: The narrow part
of a fish's body to which the caudal or tail fin is
attached. Dorsal fin:The
primary rayed fin(s) on top of the body. Pectoral fins: The paired fins just
behind the head. Adipose fin: Fleshy finlike projection
without rays, behind the rayed dorsal fin.
From the local name Vaghari, in Calcuta. yarrelli:
Named for fellow zoologist and friend of the author
William Yarrell (1784-1856).
R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2009. FishBase.
World Wide Web electronic publication. www.fishbase.org,
version (09/2010). IUCN. 2010.
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2010.4).
Kottelat, M., A.J. Whitten,
S.N. Kartikasari and S. Wirjoatmodjo 1993
Freshwater fishes of Western Indonesia and Sulawesi.
Periplus Editions, Hong Kong. 221 p. Mishra, S. S., Acherjee, S. K. and Chakraborty,
S. K. 2009. Development of tools for assessing
conservation categories of siluroid fishes of fresh
water and brackish water wetlands of South West Bengal,
India. Environmental Biology of Fishes 84(4): 395?407.
Ng, H.H. 2010. Bagarius yarrelli
. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010. Ng, H. H, Kottelat,M. 2021.
Description of Bagarius vegrandis, a new species of
sisorid catfish from Indochina (Actinopterygii: Siluriformes),
with notes on the identity of Bagarius bagarius. Rainboth, W.J.
1996 Fishes of the Cambodian Mekong. FAO Species Identification
Field Guide for Fishery Purposes. FAO, Rome, 265 p. Roberts,
T.R. 1983. Revision of the south and southeast
Asian sisorid catfish genus Bagarius, with description
of a new species from the Mekong. Copeia 1983(2):
435?445. Sykes, W.H. 1839. [On the fishes
of the Deccan]. Proceedings of the Zoological Society
of London 1838: 157?165.