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Horabagrus brachysoma  (Günther, 1864)

one hundred factsheets ago on January 2007 we featured the "Black Collared Catfish",
Horabagrus nigricollaris. We have now got around to featuring its close cousin and the only other member of this genus, the "Golden Red Tail Catfish" or if you prefer the "Sun Catfish", Horabagrus brachysoma.

Horabagrus brachysoma


As stated there are only two species in this genera, the other being Horabagrus nigricollaris, and the differences between the two apart from colouration (see image below) is that H. nigricollaris has the spot behind the gills extending over the head to meet the corresponding spot on the other side whereas H. brachysoma has only the spot on both sides (a good identification guide). There are also slight differences with the caudal and dorsal fins. Colour in the tank can vary from light to very dark depending on lighting and substrate.

Horabagrus nigricollaris

Horabagrus nigricollaris
similar apart from colouration and Sun spot placement.

The Horabagrus genus has had a checkered history with H. brachysoma named in 1864 by Günther as Pseudobagrus brachysoma and placed in the Bagridae family. In 1955, Day, while studying this family, created a new genus Horabagrus and placed this only species (at that time) into it. In 1964, Tilak in studying the osteology and weberian apparatus of the Schilbidae family doubted the inclusion of Horabagrus in the Bagridae family. Work carried out by JAYARAM suggested that the Horabagrus were more closely related to the Schilbidae family but could be given their own family, Horabagridae, with some species taken out of the Schilbidae that are phylogenetically different.

Mo (1991) then suggested that this genus should be placed in the Schilbidae family and a few authors have actually taken this as they feel that there are a few similarities that place them in this family. At the moment we at ScotCat have it in Bagridae but I am sure that in the future there will be more work done on this genus and a final destination for these two species.

As bagrids go this is quite a pretty species and along with its near cousin, H. nigricollaris, should make an interesting addition to your catfish collection.


D. 1, 5; P. 1,8; V. i, 6; A. iii, 23-28; C. 17. Median longitudinal groove on head short, narrow as a single fontanel not reaching base of occipital process. Occipital process 3.0 to 4.0 times longer than broad at base and reaching basal bone of dorsal fin. Teeth villiform in bands on jaws and palate. Four pairs of barbels; maxillary reaching pectoral fin base, nasals anterior edge of opercle, outer mandibular pair opercle, inner shorter.

Brownish black above and on sides above lateral line, golden yellow beneath and underside white. A thick black shoulder spot and a semi-lunar thick black ring at caudal base present.

Aquarium Care

This species along with H. nigricollaris are extremaly nocturnal and would do better if the aquarium is not too brightly lit, and you may see them if you feed at night.


Will do well in a larger community tank with other bagrids such as Pseudomystus siamensis but will be predatory on smaller fishes that are even at the 2 inch (5cm) mark as they will charge into them at night and stun them, then they will consume the injured fish, so house with larger barbs and Characins such as Congo Tetra's that are over this size..

Not reported.

Sexual differences
Not reported but females would probably be more rotund especially in the breeding season.

Will feed mostly at darkness but if plenty of cover is provided they will dart out and feed quickly. Worm and tablet foods will all be taken greedily.

Glossary of Terms

Occipital process: A median bone on the upper surface of the back of the head; pertaining to the occiput.
Fontanel: The space(s) between the bones on top of the skull covered by skin.

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

Pectoral fin: The paired fins just behind the head.

Villiform: Elongated cardiform teeth.

Maxillary barbels: Pertaining to the upper jaw. (maxillary barbels)

Nasal Barbels: On top of the head, by the nostrils. (nasal barbels)

Mandibular barbels: Pertaining to the lower jaw. (mandibular barbels)

Horabagrus: Taken from Mr. S.L.Hora, director of Zoological Survey of India + Greek, pagros = a fish, Dentex sp.
brachysoma: Black collar.


Jayaram; K.C., Catfishes of India, Narendera Publishing House 2006, p 144-145.
Ferraris, C.J. Jr., 2007. Checklist of catfishes, recent and fossil (Osteichthyes: Siluriformes), and catalogue of siluriform primary types. Zootaxa 1418:1-628.

ScotCat Factsheet. no.127. January 2007. Horabagrus nigricollaris

Photo Credits

Allan James @ ScotCat

Factsheet 227

Macrones chryseus, Mystus chryseus, Pseudobagrus brachysoma, Pseudobagrus chryseus
Common Name:
Golden Red Tail Catfish, Sun Catfish
Asia: India Vernbanad Lake and estuaries of Kerala and southwestern Karnataka, India.
30cm. (12ins)
23-25°C (73-77°F)    
6.5 -7.2.
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                                                                                                                                        Factsheet 227 = updated December 14, 2018 , © ScotCat 1997-2018 Go to Top