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Hemibagrus nemerus  (Valenciennes, 1839)                                     

e continue our look at another "Wolf in sheep's clothing" continuing the theme from our 100th factsheet two months ago in spotlighting the Asian Red Tailed catfish,
Hemibagrus wyckioides. A close associate this month from the Bagridae family and from the same genus is Hemibagrus nemerus. If you look up Fishbase the common name for this species is the Asian Red Tailed Catfish which is also a widely used name in the hobby for H.wyckioides but considering that H.nemerus does not sport a truly red tail, more of a pinkish/orange variety, I have taken it upon myself to give it the common name of the False Asian Red Tailed Catfish. Common names don't really matter in the great theme of things as long as we get the right scientific name for this species.

Hemibagrus nemerus

This can become a pretty nasty character in your fish tanks and if housed with other fish can be lethal. Cichlids such as the Pikes from the Crenichla genus that can look after themselves would be the best bet for other tankmates. I have housed them with Synodontis and they can make a lot of damage to their fins and can kill smaller specimens by charging them midriff and causing internal injuries.

The reason for this factsheet this month is that there are a lot for sale around the U.K. at present going under various names with such as Mystus gulio and there seems to be quite an influx of asian imports at the present (Nov.2004). They look quite nice at about 10cm (4inch) and you could be fooled into thinking that "they would make a nice addition to my community tank"!.

Hemibagrus nemerus = albino

There are a few identification checks to make between H.nemerus and H.wyckioides. H.nemerus has a smaller adipose fin and a identifying black mark on this fin which can even be seen on the farm bred albino variety above. It also possess a filament extension to the top caudal lobe and there are a few specimens that do not even have the pinkish/orange colour to the caudal but have the same colouration as the body.

Hemibagrus nemerus = juvenile

Hemibagrus nemerus (juvenile)

Tying in with the factsheet of two months ago, Hemibagrus wyckioides, there is also a link to last months factshheet for the Helicopter catfish
Wallago lerii, in that this enormous catfish from the Siluridae family actually predates on H.nemerus in its native habitat so there is always something else higher up in the food chain!.

Your tank set-up should be at least a 4ft long for juveniles with either gravel or a sand base with rockwork and also plants if you so prefer. H.nemerus will rearrange the substrate to suit itself anyway with the gravel bed being shifted and usually banked up the side of the aquarium walls. External filtration is a better bet with weekly water changes carried out, although this catfish is very hardy and can take most tank parameters.

In its native habitat they are caught by seines, hook and line, gill nets, cast nets and traps and then taken to the local markets to be sold fresh.

The dorsal fin has 2 spines with 7 soft rays. The anal fin has 10-13 soft rays. Base of adipose fin shorter than that of dorsal fin and about equal to that of anal fin. Barbels four pairs; nasal barbels extending to or beyond eyes, maxillary ones in anal fin, mandibulary ones beyond base of pectoral fins, mental ones 2/3 - 3/4 the distance between their base and insertion of pectoral fins. Head flattened rather than conical; rugose skull roof; depressed dorsal fin not reaching adipose fin; pectoral fin smooth in front.

Body colour brown often with greenish sheen. Fins grey with violet tint. Caudal fin sometimes shows a pinkish/orange colouration. Dark pigmentation to adipose fin.

Not to be trusted with other fish. If kept with other fish they will have to be able to look after themselves as mentioned above.

There are no known reported aquarium spawning's of this catfish, most likely due to the eventual size that these fish attain and their aggressive nature! The males are said to possess a genital papilla just in front of the anal fin. Breeds in the summer months in its natural habitat. Moves into the flooded forest to spawn and the youngsters are usually seen in August. Returns to the larger Rivers at the end of the year.

Whilst this catfish is best described as a predator/carnivore in its natural habitat feedings of fish, insects, shrimps and other crustaceans, in captivity this catfish will feed on mussels, prawns, pieces of fish, earthworms and will even take prepared foods such as catfish pellets.

Hemi- half; bagrus- From 'bagre', a South American name for a catfish, but is only used for African and Asian species.

Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2004. FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication. www.fishbase.org, version (11/2004).
Rainboth, W.J., 1996 Fishes of the Cambodian Mekong. FAO Species Identification Field Guide for Fishery Purposes. FAO, Rome, 265 p.

Photo Credits
Top: & Middle                ©  Hippocampus Bildarchiv

Bottom:   Allan James @    ScotCat
Factsheet 102

Bagrus nemurus, Mystus nemurus, Macrones nemurus, Hemibagrus hoevenii, Bagrus hoevenii
Common Name:
False Asian Red Tailed Catfish

Cambodia Cambodia,
Indonesia Indonesia, Laos.
Malaysia. Malaysia.

Singapore. Singapore.
Thailand. Thailand.
Viet Nam Viet Nam

65cm ( 26inch)
22-25ºC ( 71-77°f)
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                                                                                                 Factsheet 102 = updated November 28, © ScotCat 1997-2018  Go to Top