welcome back Chris Ralph for an in depth look at another,
what I would call, "beastie" from the genus,
Hemibagrus, Hemibagrus wyckii, and also our
third factsheet on this genus after Hemibagrus
nemerus and Hemibagrus
With no more ado I will now hand you over to
wyckii has evil written throughout its body.
This is not a catfish for the novice fishkeeper and
should not be kept within the confines of small aquaria.
This particular species is often referred to as a
“tank buster” due to the size that it
can attain. These catfish are destined to be kept
in solitary confinement due to their predatory and
catfish is still referred to as Mystus wyckii
in some aquatic literature, especially older reference
books, and also by one or two aquatic retailers. It
is sometimes confused also with another member of
the family Bagridae, Hemibagrus wyckioides
or the Asian Red-tailed Catfish which was formerly
known as Mystus nemurus. These two catfish
are totally different by virtue of the fact that one
fish, Hemibagrus wyckii, is black, whilst
the other, Hemibagrus wyckioides, is light
grey to brown with a distinct red coloured tail. This
catfish is very bold and has been known to attack
the hand of the owner feeding it!
wyckii - showing the large
For its tank size
I would suggest a minimum size of 96” x 24”
X 24” for a single specimen with very little
if any décor. Heater guards should be provided
in order to help prevent heaters being damaged by
the fish, or if using a sump filter place the heater(s)
within it, thus avoiding the need for heater guards.
As with all other species of fish, water quality and
general husbandry is very important, and I would recommend
that a minimum of 25% water is changed on a weekly
are referred to as Plakotkao by the fishermen in Thailand
who also suggest that this catfish has mystical qualities.
rivers of Thailand, Mekong, Sumatra, Java, Cambodia,
Viet Nam, Indonesia and Laos.
710mm S.L. (standard length
– this is the measurement of the fish from the
tip of the snout to the base of the caudal peduncle).
The body of Hemibagrus
wyckii is described as being depressed and broad,
and the head is also described as being extremely
depressed and broad. The dorsal fin spine is described
as being well ossified and long with between 10 and
12 serrations on the posterior edge. Hemibagrus
wyckii has a smooth flat skull roof with the
occipital process reaching the basal bone of the dorsal
fin. The pectoral fins have 10-11 soft rays and the
pelvic fins have 6 soft rays. The caudal fin is forked.
The base colour of the body
and head is black with a cream coloured coracoidal
region. The caudal fin is dark grey in colour with
a white to cream coloured edge to caudal fin rays.
White coloured markings are present on the tips
of the pectoral fins and dorsal fin, and are also
present on the anterior edge of the adipose fin.
Care & Compatibility
Hemibagrus wyckii is
not compatible with any other fish especially smaller
species as they will eventually feature somewhere
on the menu!.
There have not
been any reports of successful aquarium spawnings
of Hemibagrus wyckii to my knowledge, which
I guess is not really surprising considering the fact
that these catfish are not tolerant of one another.
There are no documented sexual
differences although it is generally thought that the
females may be smaller and deeper bodied than the males.
readily accepts a diet which includes pieces of fish,
whole prawns, mussels and earthworms to name but a
few. In its natural habitat this catfish is a predator
capable of devouring any fish small enough to fit
inside its large mouth.
is defined as the tail fin. Coracoid: is defined as middle or lower
section of the pectoral girdle. Depressed:is defined
as being flattened from top to bottom. Dorsal:is defined
as top or above. Posterior: is defined as being situated
half; bagrus - From 'bagre',
a South American name for a catfish, but is only used
for African and Asian species.