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Schilbe intermedius  Rüppell, 1832

n entering 2013 we bring to you a member of the Schilbeidae family and a catfish that may not look too garish but still, in my opinion, has a subtle charm all of its own with its shades of grey and the dark patch on the operculum. Not for a small aquarium of course as this species can grow upwards to 30cm (12ins) and as such would need to be housed with the same size or larger fish but would do better with its own kind in a large aquarium.

Schilbe intermedius


Schilbe intermedius feeds on a wide range of invertebrates including terrestrial insects and whole or pieces of fish. Primarily piscivorous at 13-34 cm  TL . It rarely grows larger than 30 cm SL . The greatest predation pressure was exerted on the cyprinid, Barbus radiatus, which made up 29% of all identifiable fish species. Spawns throughout the year peaking once and migrates into rivers in fairly compact schools during the rainy season to spawn in floodwater pools.



Schilbe intermedius = albino


Albino version



Keep with a group of four or more in a large size aquarium from 150cm (5ft.) upwards that is well-filtered having a pH ranging between 6.5 and 7.2 and a temperature of between 23 and 26°C. Provide wide open spaces, long grass like plants with a few pieces of bogwood positioned around its margins and that would make an ideal habitat for a small group of Schilbe intermedius.

Similar looking to Schilbe marmoratus but this species is smaller with a more light brown colour pattern and has a marbled appearance but also possesses the same dark humeral patch as our factsheet of the month.



Dorsal spines (total): 1 - 1; Dorsal soft rays (total): 5 - 6. Anal fin long, extending from vent almost to origin of caudal fin. Four pairs of short, circum-oral barbels. 


Ground colour silverish, brownish to olive on the back and upper parts of the head. There are two dark grey to olive bands, the longest running in the middle of the flanks along the lateral line from the upper gill cover to the caudal peduncle. At the beginning of this band there is a dark humeral spot. The second band is shorter, running from the beginning of the pectorals only to the end of the anal. Fins transparent, the anal with a dark band near the body; a dark streak runs into each lobe of the deeply forked caudal fin.

Large aquarium with tankmates not too small as they could become prey during night time activities. Will do better with conspecifics.

Not achieved in the aquarium. Oviparous, eggs are unguarded.  

Sexual differences

S. intermedius is sexually dimorphic with females growing to a larger size than males. The modal length of females was 20-21 cm SL. (8-8¼ins) and males 14-15 cm SL. (5½-6ins)



Diet is no problem as they will eat most  aquarium fare.


Schilbe: schérifié (noble). It probably announces the superiority of this species for its taste.

intermedius: In between, (between two species.)


Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2008.FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication. www.fishbase.org, version (11/2008).
Merron G. S. and Mann B. Q. The reproductive and feeding biology of Schilbe intermedius Riippell in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. Hydrobiologia 308: 121-129, 1995.
Seegers, Lothar; The Fishes of the Lake Rukwa Drainage. Koninklijk Museum voor Midden-Afrika. 1996. 407 p.


Glossary of Terms

Dorsal fin: The primary rayed fin(s) on top of the body.
Anal fin: The fin forward from the anal cavity.
Caudal fin: The tail.
Caudal peduncle: The area between the dorsal fin and the tail.
Oviparous: Describing a species that lays eggs.

Photo Credits

© Reinhold Wawrzynski @  Catfish and more

Factsheet 199

Schilbe mystus, S.senegallus, S. dispila, S. senegalensis, S. senegalensis fasciata, S. palmeri  
Common Name:
Africa: Senegal, Gambia, Casamance, Corubal, Geba, Sassandra, Boubo, Bandama, Agnébi, Comoé, Tano, Pra, Volta, Mono, Ouémé, Ogun, Niger, Chad and Cross River basins. Africa: Nile River in Sudan. Reported from the Okavango Delta, Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique and South Africa. Type locality: Nile.
30cm. (12ins) SL
23-26°C (73-79°F)   
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