Fish, Tanks and Ponds

Fish, Tanks and Ponds
A comprehensive guide to fish

Horabagrus brachysoma

Sun catfish

Sun catfish, Horabagrus brachysomaSun catfish, Horabagrus brachysoma
Photos by Andy Rapson


Horabagrus: Taken from mister S.L.Hora, director of Zoological Survey of India + Greek, pagros = a fish, Dentex sp.

General Notes:

Although the sun catfish can reach 45cm (18in) although 30cm (12in) is far more likely in the aquarium. Some popular aquarium books list the fish as only growing to 12cms (5in) which is an error. Sun catfish are quite peaceful but they won't give a seconds thought about eating any small fish which they come across.
Sun catfish are quite shy especially in open brightly lit tanks, they are very secretive and prefer subdued lighting and plenty of cover. These fish are extremely hardy and will tolerate a wide variety of conditions including brackish water.


In the wild environment H. brachysoma eats a wide range of items including: Plant matter, detritus, fish, amphibians, crustaceans, insects and worms. In captivity they will accept all live, frozen and prepared food. A varied diet will help to keep the fish in full health. It is illegal to use live vertebrates (including fish) as food in the UK. In the case of H. brachysoma live food isn't necessary because it will accept all other food with out any problem.


H. brachysoma is peaceful with other peaceful fish which are to large to be eaten. It will live happily alongside a variety of fish in a wide range of habitats.


Females have large, soft and distended abdomens when adult males have a reddish vent.


H. brachysoma has not been bred by hobbyists.

Wild status

Horabagrus brachysoma is listed as being vulnerable and in decline in the wild despite being artificially increased in some regions. Over exploitation, and habitat loss are the two major threats facing this species.
The fish is bred in captivity in large numbers as a food fish and for the aquarium trade. In recent years the population has declined by 50% across 80% of its natural range.

Additional information

There are only two known Horabagrus. H. brachysoma and H. nigricollaris both are occasionally available in fish stores. The two fish are visually very similar the main difference is in the dark blotch on the fishes flanks. The mark on H. brachysoma is almost round but on H. nigricollaris the mark extends upwards to the fishes dorsal region.

Information at a glance

pH: 6 - 7.5
dGH: 5 - 19
Temperature: 23 - 25°C (74 - 78°F)
Diet: Omnivore
Size: 45cm (18in)
Min tank size: 675 litres
Difficulty level: Intermediate
Aquarium type: Special community
Swimming level: All levels

Distribution and habitat

distribution map for Sun catfish, Horabagrus brachysoma

Origin: Asia: Kerala, India.

Habitat: H. brachysoma  occupies lowland areas of rivers and backwaters with mud or sand substrate. It has also been recorded in deep pools and hill streams.


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Siluriformes
Family: Bagridae
Genus: Horabagrus
Species: H. brachysoma (Günther, 1864)

Other common names:
Günther's catfish

Synonyms: Pseudobagrus brachysoma, Pseudobagrus chryseus, Macrones chryseus, Mystus chryseus