are continuing the predator theme this month ( Nov.2004)
with another beastie, the "Helicopter catfish"
from the upland rivers in Thailand down to Indonesia.
This species of Wallagonia is not exported
as much as its cousin Wallago
but a few aquatic publications have W. leeri captioned
as W. attu and I will point out the differences
later in these two closely related species.
First of all we
at ScotCat must stress that this
is not really a catfish to keep in your aquarium and
as they are creeping up more and more on importers
lists you must keep in mind that it can grow to a
mostly unmanageable 6ft in length and would need a
fish only diet the older it gets, as you can tell
by the girth of its mouth. It strikes me as strange
that it is now offered to unsuspecting aquarists although
these specimens were in very good condition and were
around 18inchs in length when photographed in the
aquatic stores tanks.
W. attu from the very similar W. leeri
you have to look at the dorsal fin first. W.
attu has a pointed extension while W. leerii
does not and is more rounded at the tip. The mouth
gape of W. attu ( see above) reaches beyond
the insertion of the eye and W. leerii has
the mouth only reaching to the beginning of the eye.
W. attu has a longer anal fin than W.
leerii with 77- 97 with the latter possessing
between 64-75 fin rays. You can see below the massive
mouth and the rows of conical teeth.
There are at present
5 species of Wallago listed on Fishbase (2010),
our factsheet of the month Wallago leeri,
attu, W. hexanema,
(which is probably W. attu,W. maculatus,
and a new species which was described in 2004
by Heok Hee Ngfrom mainland Southeast
distinguish W. leerii from the very similar
W. attu you have to look at the dorsal fin
first. W. attu has a pointed extension while
W. leerii does not and is more rounded at
the tip. The mouth gape of W. attu (see above)
reaches beyond the insertion of the eye and W.
leerii has the mouth only reaching to the beginning
of the eye. W. attu has a longer anal fin
than W. leerii with 77- 97 with the latter
possessing between 64-75 fin rays.
Cited in Fishbase as Wallago but in the Catalog
of Fishes in the current status (2018) Wallagonia
micropogon is stated
to be a synoymn of Wallagonia leerii and
could be the one and same species. The diferences
between Wallago and Wallagonia are
complex and are due to the different bone structures.
Wallagonia was placed by Myers (1948) and
nearly all subsequent authors as a junior synonym
of Wallago, but it is was later recognised
as a distinct genus by Roberts, T. R. 2014.
Body elongated, compressed.
Abdomen rounded. Head large, depressed. Snout spatulate,
somewhat protruded. Teeth villiform in bands on jaws
and in patches on palate. Two pairs of barbels, one
pair each of maxillary and mandibular. Mouth reaching
to anterior margin of eye. Mandibular barbels shorter
than pelvic fin. 12-16 gill rakers on 1st arch. 64-75
anal fin rays.
Light golden brown on upper
body with broad black band reaching to caudal peduncle
from posterior of insertion of dorsal fin. Silver
spangle effects adorning this band. Older larger adults
lose this colouration and tend to be all over silver.
Care & Compatibility
This catfish is not meant to
be in an aquarium as it will view any other fish as
lunch. Only suited to very experienced aquarists who
can give this catfish an indoor heated pond and plenty
Not possible in
an aquarium setting as in their local habitats they
leave the deeper water and spawn in the shallows.
As juveniles they will eat
pellet and tablet foods and meaty foods such as earthworms
and beef heart. As adults they will only except a
living fish diet.
Walago(nia):Bleeker, in 1851 took the Indian fish
name 'Wallagoo', gave it generic rank, and used it
in connection with a new species. leerii: Named in honour
H.A. and R. Riehl 1985 Aquarien atlas. Band
2. Mergus, Verlag für Natur- und Heimtierkunde
GmbH, Melle, Germany. 1216 p. Froese, R. and D. Pauly.
Editors. 2004. FishBase. World Wide Web electronic
publication. www.fishbase.org, version (09/2004).
Jayaram, K.C.; The Freshwater Fishes
of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burma and Sri Lanka
- A Handbook. Zoological Survey of India, Calcutta
1981 p.206-210. Ng, H. H. 2004. Wallago micropogon:
A new species of silurid catfish (Teleostei: Siluridae)
from mainland Southeast Asia. Copeia, 2004 (1): 92-97.
. Rainboth J. Walter; Fishes of the
Cambodian Mekong. FAO Rome 1996.