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Chrysichthys nigrodigitatus  (Lacepede, 1803)

uite a mouthful for a name and so would your tetra's be as well if you housed this African bagrid in a community tank with smaller characin type fish, as this is a fish only suitable for a larger tank, as it can get quite big. The genus Chrysichthys was split off from Bagridae by Mo in 1991 along with all of the African Bagrids bar one and is now housed in the Claroteidae family. You can find out more in the Ichthyology articles section titled,
The Family Claroteidae 

Chrysichthys nigrodigitatus


I have two 12" specimens housed in a 72" x 18"x 15" with large clay pipes for shelter and apart from a few skirmishes now and again I have had not too many problems with them (apart from growing!). So you should house them with larger community fish and you won't have many problems

In the above picture you can see the large eyes (large mouth!) and relatively small barbels on this species which usually relates to the habitat where it resides, being clear water where large barbels for feeling for food is not needed, hence the large eyes for hunting prey. There are 4 pairs of barbels of course in the Claroteidae family I pair: maxillary, 1 pair: outer mandibular, 1 pair: inner mandibular and one pair of nasal barbels.

Chrysichthys nigrodigitatus

The colour is quite drab in this species with a basic grey/silver body colouration and a white underside. It has a quite large dorsal fin and a deeply forked caudal fin.

It is basically a food fish in its native African waters where it can grow to excess of 50cm  (18") so I know what to do when they get too big :-) ( only joking). Its flesh is reported to be quite good and they are fished out of Lake Togo using all types of capture methods including nets and weirs.

The males when fully grown usually have a broader head which they use to dig out their breeding nests in their native habitat.

Dorsal 11,6; Anal 5-6, 9-10. Adipose fin is round and is not rayed. The head viwed from above is oval and the eye is very large and easily visible from above. The dorsal fin is large and its upper edge round. The caudal fin is deeply forked.

The colour is grey/blue except for the ventral surface which is white. The fins are greyish-pink, the adipose fin black and the lips and the barbels pink.

Peacfull as youngsters but not to be trusted as they grow with smaller fish. Should do all right with larger fish such as Cichlids and the larger Barbs such as the 'Tinfoil', Barbonymus schwanenfeldii.

They excavate caves in the river banks. The eggs are laid in the caves and guarded by the parents until they hatch. The fry are then guarded until they become free-swimming.

They are an omnivore and will take a wide variety of food in the aquarium including frozen food, tablets, pellets and prawns.

Chrysichthys: Chrysos = gold; ichthys = fish.
nigrodigitatus: Black fingered.

Burgess E.Warren Dr. Atlas of Freshwater & Marine Catfishes 1989.
Baensch, H.A. and R. Riehl 1991 Aquarien atlas. Bd. 3. Melle: Mergus, Verlag für Natur- und Heimtierkunde, Germany. 1104 p.
Holden, M & Reed, W; West African Freshwater Fish.

Photo Credits
Allan James @ ScotCat
Factsheet 027

Pimelodus nigrodigitatus, Arius acutivelis, Melanodactylus nigrodigitatus, Chrysichthys acutirostris, Chrysichthys büttkoferi, Chrysichthys ogowensis, Chrysichthys macrops, Chrysichthys coriscanus, Chrysichthys lagoensis.
Common Name:
Silver Cat
Africa: Senegal to Cabinda, Angola  
50cm. (18ins)
23-26°C (73-79°F)
6.0 - 7.2
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                                                                                                                                 Factsheet 27= updated December 14, 2018 , © ScotCat 1997-2018  Go to Top