Fish, Tanks and Ponds

Fish, Tanks and Ponds
A comprehensive guide to fish

Clarias batrachus

Walking catfish

Walking catfish, Clarias batrachusWalking catfish, Clarias batrachus
Photos by Andy Rapson


Clarias: Greek, chlaros = lively, in reference to the ability of the fish to live for a long time out of water

General Notes:

Walking catfish are so called because they are able to live out of water for quite a long period and will often migrate over land from one pool to another in order to find more favourable conditions. Clarias can be kept with other fish which are to big to be eaten. Clarias are able to thrive in a very wide range of conditions and are very unfussy, their size apart they are very easy fish to keep. Because of their ability and willingness to walk over land to find a better environment it is very important that they are kept very well covered with something quite sturdy - Clarias are quite powerful fish!!!


Wild Clarias feed on small fish, insect larva, worms, shellfish, crustaceans, plants and detritus. In captivity they are bold greedy feeders accepting dried food such as sinking pellets, lance fish, whitebait, and suitably sized live or frozen food.


There are no reliable external differences between the sexes.


Clarias are an important food fish and have been commercially bred in large numbers. There are some reports of aquarium breeding but this is quite rare due to the size of aquarium required. Clarias lay their eggs in a tunnel in the bank in their own environment, in captivity they are reported to lay their eggs directly on to the substrate. After spawning the male alone guards the brood.

Wild status

Walking catfish are classed by the IUCN Red list of Threatened Species as 'least concern' the species is very widespread and has been extensively introduced beyond its natural range even becoming a pest in some regions.

Information at a glance

pH: 5.5 - 8.4
dGH: 5 - 19
Temperature: 10 - 28°C (50 - 82°F)
Diet: Omnivore
Size: 47cm (19.5in) (average)
Min tank size: 1,000 litres
Difficulty level: Intermediate
Aquarium type: Suitable Community
Swimming level: Bottom

Distribution and habitat

distribution map for Walking catfish, Clarias batrachus

Origin: Asia: Java, Indonesia

Habitat: Occurs in streams, swamps, ponds, ditches, rice paddies, and pools. Usually confined to stagnant, muddy water. Found in medium to large-sized rivers, flooded fields and stagnant water bodies including sluggish flowing canals


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Siluriformes
Family: Clariidae
Genus: Clarias
Species: C. batrachus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Common name:
Walking catfish

Synonyms: Silurus batrachus, Clarias punctatus, Clarias assamensis, Macropteronotus magur