with the Bagridae family from the first factsheet
of 2017, we move into February and a much larger and
as they say "a different kettle of fish"
in the Whale Catfish, (given this common name because
of its likeness to some members of the South American
family Cetopsidae, Whale catfishes) or given its scientific
name the double barreled Rita rita. Not a
catfish for your usual community tank as it grows
far too large and would pollish off the rest of your
fish in the tank, so follow below the ins and outs
of keeping this large Bagrid.
Can occur in brackish
and fresh waters but thought to prefer clean water.
Although Rita rita is reported to be in decline
from overfishing in southern West Bengal, available
data indicates that it is still relatively abundant.
Together with the apparent absence of major threats
(other than possibly overfishing), this species is
assessed as Least Concern but there is a concern as
being critically endangered in Bangladesh (IUCN 2000).
However, further taxonomic studies to assess the identity
of the material from the northern Western Ghats are
needed. Given the fishing pressure being currently
exerted on this species, it may be necessary to reassess
this species in the near future when more detailed
catch data is available. (IUCN Red List 2010).
was described from estuaries in Bengal (Hamilton 1822).
It has previously been thought to be found throughout
the northern part of the Indian subcontinent, including
the Indus River drainage. However, Ng (2004) described
the population from the Indus River drainage as a
distinct species, Rita macracanthus.
Pimelodus rita, Arius ritoides,
Rivers of northern India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and
Nepal. Type locality: estuaries of
Bengal. No types known.
Body elongate. Head depressed;
occipital process subcutaneous (situated or lying
under the skin, as tissue), extends to the basal bone
of the dorsal fin. Mouth transverse; villiform teeth
in two contiguous bands in front of the upper jaw.
Molariform teeth in two elliptical patches on the
palate. Occipital process broad, deeply notched posteriorly
to receive triangular basal bone of the dorsal fin.
3 pairs barbels, the maxillary pair extends posteriorly
to the operculum, mandibular pair to the pre-operculum,
nasal pair minute or small with a valve like base.
Dorsal spine very stout, hollow as long or longer
than the head in adults; smooth anteriorly, finely
serrated posteriorly on its upper part. Pectoral spine
stout and hollow, shorter than the dorsal spine, denticulated
on both the edges. Forked caudal fin and the lateral
line is straight.
Greenish/brown above and
on the sides, brownish/white on the belly.
Care & Compatibility
Provide sand or smooth gravel
as a substrate and driftwood for hiding places. If
deciding to keep this large catfish they can only
be kept with the same size or larger robust species
as this bagrid will, and can eat, smaller fish.
reported 20,800 eggs in less than 500g of its egg
Carnivore. Feeds on insects,
molluscs, shrimps, fishes and roots of aquatic plants,
also putrid carcass or flesh of animals.
tail. Dorsal fin:The
primary rayed fin(s) on top of the body. Mandibular: Pertaining
to the lower jaw (mandibular barbels). Maxillary:Pertaining
to the upper jaw (maxillary barbels). Molariform: Having the form of a
molar tooth. Occipital process: A median
bone on the upper surface of the back of the head;
pertaining to the occiput. Operculum: The
bony covering of the gills of fishes.
Villiform: Elongated cardiform teeth.
A vernacular name from Bangladesh.
of Flora and Fauna of Bangladesh.
Vol.23. Freshwater Fishes. Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
300p. Ferraris, C.J. Jr., 2007. Checklist
of catfishes, recent and fossil (Osteichthyes: Siluriformes),
and catalogue of siluriform primary types. Zootaxa
1418:1-628. Jayaram; K.C. Catfishes of India,
Narendera Publishing House. p.383. Ng, H.H. 2010. Rita rita.
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010.