Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Siluriformes
(Catfish) > Clariidae
Etymology: Heterobranchus: Greek, heteros = other + Greek, brangchia = gill (Ref. 45335). More on author: Valenciennes.
Environment / Climate / Range
Freshwater; demersal; potamodromous (Ref. 51243); depth range 10 - ? m (Ref. 7248). Tropical; 22°C - 23°C (Ref. 2059); 27°N - 19°S
Size / Weight / Age
Maturity: Lm ?  range ? - ? cm
Max length : 150 cm SL male/unsexed; (Ref. 4967); max. published weight: 55.0 kg (Ref. 7248)
soft rays: 42 - 52;
Vertebrae: 55 - 61. Head long, broad and somewhat rectangular in dorsal outline; snout broadly rounded; eyes with superolateral position. Frontal fontanelle long and narrow; occipital fontanelle oval-shaped. Tooth plates wide. Suprabranchial organ well developed. Pectoral spine strongly serrated on anterior side. Adipose fin with blackish posterior part, nearly as long as dorsal fin (Ref. 4967); caudal fin barred. Openings of secondary canals hardly visible but display a regular pattern.
Africa: Nile, Niger, Senegal, Congo system, upper and middle Zambezi. Also from Lakes Tanganyika and Edward (Ref. 7248), Gambia and Benue River, Chad and Volta basins, and the coastal basins of Guinea to Nigeria (Ref. 7357).
An uncommon species which inhabits large rivers (Ref. 4967). Is the largest freshwater species in southern Africa. Occurs in large deep rivers within the mainstream or in deep pools and lakes or backwaters (Ref. 7248, 78218). Most active at night, feeding on any available food, including invertebrates and insects when small, fish and other small vertebrates when large. Scavenges off large carcasses and offal from riverside villages. Live for 12 or more years (Ref. 7248).
Teugels, G.G., B. Denayer and M. Legendre, 1990. A systematic revision of the African catfish genus Heterobranchus Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire, 1809 (Pisces: Clariidae). Zool. J. Linn. Soc. 98:237-257.
IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 90363)
Threat to humans
Fisheries: minor commercial; aquaculture: commercial; gamefish: yes
CollaboratorsPicturesStamps, CoinsSoundsCiguateraSpeedSwim. typeGill areaOtolithsBrainsVision
Estimates of some properties based on empirical models
Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805
= 0.5625 [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.00741 (0.00565 - 0.00972), b=2.96 (2.89 - 3.03), based on LWR estimates for this species (Ref. 93245
Trophic Level (Ref. 69278
): 3.7 ±0.66 se; Based on food items.
Resilience (Ref. 69278
): Low, minimum population doubling time 4.5 - 14 years (K=0.11; tmax > 11; Fec > 10,000).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153
): High to very high vulnerability (69 of 100) .