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Neosilurus brevidorsalis (Günther, 1867)

he last time ScotCat visited the Plotoside family for a factsheet was way back in March 2009 with a look at Porochilus rendahli "Rendahl's catfish". This month of April 2013 takes us back again to this family and a look at the "Short Finned Catfish" Neosilurus brevidorsalis.

Neosilurus brevidorsalis



If you looked back at the P. rendahli factsheet you would be forgiven in thinking that this is the same fish as N. brevidorsalis but as mentioned in that factsheet the eye is much closer to the mouth in the Porochilus genus and also larger as can be seen in the bottom two images.



Neosilurus brevidorsalis with the smaller eye in normal position relating to the snout.


Poochilus rendahli with the larger eye being closer to the mouth.

Neosilurus brevidorsalis with the smaller eye in normal position relating to the snout.
Poochilus rendahli with the larger eye being closer to the mouth.


Neosilurus brevidorsalis occurs in lakes, swamps and rivers, including turbid backwaters and clear, flowing tributaries. Inhabits bottom of warm, clear, flowing streams; also lives in billabongs and flooded lagoons. Feeds on insects, prawns, mollusks and small crayfish and reaches sexual maturity at about 12 centimeters.


In the aquarium they tend to be less inclined to like company as they get older, and are very much a digger. Better suited to larger tanks of 4ft (120cm) or over with rocks and plants provided for cover. This genera are easily spooked in the aquarium. Best kept in small groups of 4-6 individuals. The pectoral and dorsal spines, as is the norm in this genera, are venomous so handle with care.


This species is uncommon in Australia as it is found only in the far north at the tip of the Cape York peninsula in Queensland (see map) in the tributaries of the Jardine River and in McDonnel Creek (Jackson River system). It is more widespread in southern New Guinea. The specimens pictured here were captured in Papua New Guinea (Timika). In its natural habitat they feed on aquatic and terrestrial insects, mollusc, shrimps and prawns.



Dorsal spines (total): 1; Dorsal soft rays (total): 4-5; Anal spines: 0; Anal soft rays: 56 - 93.


Dark brown to grey overall, sometimes almost black or mottled, and white underneath.


Generally peaceful with other placid species.

As yet unknown.

Sexual differences

There are no proven external sexual differences, but females are probably more robust in the body.



Tablet and pellet foods, also frozen shrimp and worms but they do relish prawns.


Neosilurus: Neo means "new" in latin and "silurus" From 'silouros', a kind of river fish. Silurus, sheetfish, catfish. According to Lacepéde (1803) this word indicates the rapidity with which Silurus can move its tail.
brevidorsalis: With short dorsal


Allen, G.R., S.H. Midgley and M. Allen, 2002. Field guide to the freshwater fishes of Australia. Western Australian Museum, Perth, Western Australia. 394 p.
Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2011. FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication. www.fishbase.org, version

Glossary of Terms

Dorsal fin: The primary rayed fin(s) on top of the body.
Anal fin
: The fin forward from the anal cavity.

Photo Credits

© Allan James @ ScotCat courtesy of Pier Aquatics

Factsheet 202

Copidoglanis brevidorsalis, Anyperistius perugiae, Neosilurus bartoni 
Common Name:
Shortfin tandan, Short-finned Catfish
Australia Northen Australia; The tip of the Cape York Peninsula New Guinea; Southern region.
15-20cm. SL (6-8ins)
22 -28°C (71 -83°F)
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