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Clarotes laticeps  (Rüppell, 1829)

larotes laticeps
belongs to the Claroteidae family and the Clarotes genera includes one other species in C. bidorsalis. The "Widehead catfish" was a member of the African-Asian Bagridae family until 1991 when Mo split it up and constructed a new family, Claroteidae, for the African Bagrids. The registered standard length for this species is a whopping 80cm. (2ft. 8ins) but it is unlikely to reach this size in captivity.

Clarotes laticeps


This Afrcan bagrid could be mistaken for a Bagrus species but the small and well set back adipose fin, and the spine and rays on this fin, is a giveaway to this species. The long maxillary barbels can reach back past the dorsal fin. Another identification guide is the black blotch above the humeral process and also the brown or blackish bands in the centre of each caudal fin lobe. May not look at first glance as a colourful catfish species but the subtle olive, silver and brown shades on the body gives it a charm all of its own.


Africa: Nile, Niger, Senegal, Bénoué, and Volta Rivers; also in Lake Chad. Type locality: Cairo.




Clarotes laticeps - close up of the wide mouth



Very much a predator due to its wide mouth and would need a large aquarium to house it. Not a catfish for the average hobbyists aquarium, but for an experienced catfish or tank buster aquarist who can bring years of knowledge on keeping fish of this size, it is a good and interesting addition.



Head much depressed, snout broad. Mouth inferior. Four pairs of barbels. Dorsal fin spine strong, feebly serrated behind in the young, with granulations in front in the adult. Adipose fin rayed, supported by a spine. Caudal fin deeply forked, lobes acutely pointed in juveniles, more obtusely, or even rounded in adults.

Ground colour of of head and body olive to dark brown, ventral region silvery white. A blackish blotch above the humeral process. Caudal fin with a brown or blackish band in the centre of each lobe. Remaining fins yellowish to light brown.

Aquarium Care

Provide good filtration for this large species as they will consume large amounts of food if fed heavily. A sand or fine non sharp gravel for the substrate with a large rockscape and bogwood setup. Would probably uproot plants so have them heavily potted or even plastic plants would suffice if this is part of your setup that you want.


This is a predatory species and as such the tank mates would need to be larger so as not to be looked on as lunch!. Large species such as giant gouramis or large cyprinids would make ideal tank mates as long as they are larger than the catfish.

Not reported as it would be difficult due to the size of this species In its natural habitat spawning takes place in the rainy season.

Sexual differences
Sexually mature males alter body shape in as much as the head and mouth get noticeably wider.

Feeds on crustaceans, insects, mollusks and fish in its natural habitat so not fussy in the aquaria. Feed tablet, pellet, live and frozen foods.

Glossary of Terms

Dorsal fin : The primary rayed fin(s) on top of the body

Adipose fin : Fleshy finlike projection without rays, ( this specis has) behind the rayed dorsal fin.

Caudal fin: The tail.

Humeral process : Bony extension of the pectoral girdle.
Standard Length (S.L.) : Standard length as measured from the snout to the caudal peduncle.


Clarotes : From the Greek, klarotes, a term for slaves, people with bent necks; in reference to the morphology of the head.
laticeps : Broad head.

Baensch, H.A. and R. Riehl 1991 Aquarien atlas. Bd. 3. Melle: Mergus, Verlag für Natur- und Heimtierkunde, Germany. 1104 p.
Seegers, L. 2008 The catfishes of Africa. A handbook for identification and maintenance. Aqualog Verlag A.C.S. GmbH, Germany. 604 p.

Photo Credits
©  Hippocampus Bildarchiv  
Factsheet 229

Chrysichthys cranchii, Pimelodus laticeps, Bagrus laticeps, Bagrus nigrita, Octonematichthys nigrita, Clarotes heuglinii, C. macrocephalus Chrysichthys macropogon, C.nigrita, C. pitmani
Common Name:
Widehead catfish
Africa: Nile, Niger, Senegal, Bénoué, and Volta Rivers; also in Lake Chad. Type locality: Cairo (see map)
80cm. (2ft. 8ins)
20-26°C (67-79°F)   
6.5 -7.5.
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                                                                                                                                        Factsheet no 229 = updated December 14, 2018 , © ScotCat 1997-2018 Go to Top