Fish, Tanks and Ponds

Fish, Tanks and Ponds
A comprehensive guide to fish

Ariopsis seemanni

Columbian shark catfish

Columbian shark catfish, Ariopsis seemanniColumbian shark catfish, Ariopsis seemanni
Photos by Andy Rapson


Ariopsis: Greek, ari = very, strength, superiority + Greek, opsis = appearance

General Notes:

Juvenile A. seemanni are seen for sale on a regular basis. This species isn't suitable for aquarium keeping due to its differing requirements with age. As the fish grows it require more and more saline conditions until it reaches adulthood when it has to be kept in full marine water. A. seemanni would also require a very large aquarium since it grows to 14 inches and is a very active open water swimmer. Unless you are able and willing to provide a 675 litre marine aquarium for the adults of this species then there is little point in keeping this fish when juvenile.


Wild Columbian shark catfish eat insects, shrimps, prawns, amphipods and smaller fish.


Adult females are more heavily built than adult males.


There are no reports of captive breeding. Columbian shark catfish are mouth brooders and the male alone broods the the eggs and fry. The eggs of this species are proportionally very large.

Wild status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species lists Ariopsis seemanni as 'Least Concern' the fish is abundant across most of its range and under no immediate threats. All specimens offered for sale are caught from the wild.

Information at a glance

pH: 6.8 - 8
dGH: 8 - 30
Temperature: 22 - 26°C (72 - 78°F)
Diet: Omnivore
Size: 35cm (14in)
Min tank size: N/A
Difficulty level: Do not keep
Aquarium type: N/A
Swimming level: Lower

Distribution and habitat

distribution map for Columbian shark catfish, Ariopsis seemanni

Origin: Central and South America: Pacific draining rivers and estuaries from Mexico to Peru.

Habitat: Juveniles in habit fresh water initially but quickly move to brackish water. Adults live in the ocean.


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Siluriformes
Family: Ariidae
Genus: Ariopsis
Species: A. seemanni (Günther, 1864)

Common name:
Columbian shark catfish

Synonyms: Arius seemanni, Galeichthys seemanni, Hexanematichthys seemanni, Sciades seemanni, Tachisurus seemanni, Tachisurus jordani, Arius jordani, Galeichthys jordani, Hexanematichthys jordani, Galeichthys gilberti, Galeichthys eigenmanni, Tachysurus eigenmanni, Galeichthys simonsi, Hexanematichthys simonsi, Arius assimilis