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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless otherwise credited.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2020

 
 
     
   
   

 

   
   
 
Common Walking Catfish
   
   

Fig 1


Fig 2


Fig 3


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Order : Siluriformes
Family : CLARIIDAE
Species : Clarias batrachus
Maximum Length : 47 cm

The Common Walking Catfish is an adaptable species able to survive in disturbed, stagnant or somewhat polluted waterbodies such as rural streams, rice paddies, concrete drainage channels or man-made ponds, lakes and swamps. During flooded or rainy conditions this species can move from one water body to another overland.

Adults can reach up to 47 cm in length, though most fully grown specimens are around 30 cm or so. Its body colour is greyish or pale brown, and its head is reddish brown. There are narrow bands of pale spots on the flanks, though these are often faint.

It possesses four pairs of long barbels, which are sensory devices used to locate food prey, which comprises other fish, aquatic invertebrates such as shrimps or insect larvae, and aquatic plants. The barbels also allow this nocturnal species to navigate amongst sunken debris at night. By day it lies concealed in muddy substrate or beneath fallen leaves, logs or other debris.

It can be distinguished from the similar Forest Walking Catfish Clarius leiacanthus by only having a narrow gap between the leading edge of the long dorsal fin and the trailing edge of the bony plates on top of the head. In addition, the head is more oval and rounded than that of the Forest Walking Catfish, which is more squarish in outline.

Originally from the island of Java in Indonesia, the species has been introduced to many countries in Southeast Asia and beyond, and is a significant food source in some rural communities.


Figs 1 to 3 : Common Walking Catfish from shallow, rural stream with sandy substrate and accumulations of  rotting leaf litter.

All photos taken in Singapore.


References : H10