Fish, Tanks and Ponds

Fish, Tanks and Ponds
A comprehensive guide to fish

Auchenoglanis occidentalis

Giraffe catfish

Kissing gourami, Helostoma temminckiiKissing gourami, Helostoma temminckii
Photos by Andy Rapson


Auchenoglanis: Greek, auchen = neck + Greek, glanis = a fish that can eat the bait without touching the hook; a cat fish.

General Notes:

Giraffe catfish are very big fish as the video clip demonstrates and they grow remarkably quickly, you have been warned!!! Apart from their size giraffe catfish are easy to keep, they are tolerant of a wide range of conditions and will readily accept all food offered. They are entirely peaceful and will mix with a range of other species. They don't eat plants but due to their size and feeding habits plants are almost certain to be up-rooted, artificial plants are recommended over real plants with this species.


Giraffe catfish will accept live and frozen food along with suitably sized pellets, they are bold feeders and may even learn to be hand fed with a little patience.


There are no external differences between the sexes with giraffe catfish and so there is no reliable way to sex them.


Giraffe catfish have never been bred in captivity. In the wild they are nest builders and the male alone defends the brood.

Wild status

The giraffe catfish is listed as Least Concern as it has a wide distribution, with no known major widespread threats. In N Africa it is listed as vulnerable. For the majority of its range, no major threats to this species are known. In eastern Africa, it is threatened by loss of habitat, as well as overfishing. In north Africa, dams, water pollution (agriculture, domestic and commercial/industrial), groundwater extraction and drought all pose possible threats to this species

Information at a glance

pH: 6.5 - 7.8
dGH: 5 - 28
Temperature: 22 - 25°C (72 - 78°F)
Diet: Omnivore
Size: 70cm (28in)
Min tank size: 3375 litres
Difficulty level: Easy
Aquarium type: Community
Swimming level: Bottom

Distribution and habitat

distribution map for Giraffe catfish, Auchenoglanis occidentalis

Origin: Africa: present in most rivers of West Africa, Lake Chad, the entire Congo River system, the Nile, East African lakes, and the rivers Omo and Giuba

Habitat: Lakes and large rivers usually found in shallow water where there is a muddy bottom


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Siluriformes
Family: Claroteidae
Genus: Auchenoglanis
Species: A. occidentalis (Valenciennes, 1840)

Common name:
Giraffe catfish

Synonyms: Auchenoglanis scutatus, Auchenoglanis vittatus, Pimelodus occidentalis, Auchenaspis occidentalis, Auchenoglanis biscutatus occidentalis, Auchenoglanis occidentalis occidentalis, Oxyglanis sacchii, Auchenoglanis occidentalis tanganicanus, Auchenoglanis occidentalis tchadiensis, Auchenoglanis acuticeps, Auchenoglanis wittei, Auchenaspis biscutata, Auchenaspis biscutatus, Auchenoglanis biscutatus