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. Diagnosis: length of rayed dorsal fin 27-36% standard length; 26-35 dorsal-fin rays; length of adipose fin 24-34% standard length; strong, downward-pointed serrations on the anterior part of the pectoral spine; width of vomerine tooth plate 25.0-32.2%, and width of premaxillary tooth plate 29.5-36.9% head length (ref. 57129). Posterior part of adipose fin blackish (Ref. 4967, 57129). Caudal fin with a whitish cross-bar (Ref. 57129). Head long, broad and somewhat rectangular in dorsal outline; snout broadly rounded; eyes superolateral in position; frontal fontanelle long and narrow; occipital fontanelle oval-shaped; tooth plates wide; suprabranchial organ well developed; pectoral spine strongly serrated on anterior side; caudal fin barred; openings of secondary canals hardly visible but display a regular pattern (Ref. 270).
Coloration: preserved specimens: grey, greyish-brown to dark brown on back and sides, and pale brown to whitish on belly; some individuals marbled, particularly on posterior part of body; caudal fin often crossed by several vertical bars, one of which is whitish, hind margin of fin often white-edged; posterior part of adipose fin darker than anterior part (Ref. 57129).
Africa: Nile, Congo system, upper and middle Zambezi (Ref. 3820). Reported from Lake Rukwa and the lower Zambezi (Ref. 95585). Also from Lakes Tanganyika and Edward (Ref. 7248). In West Africa known from the Gambia, Upper Senegal, Niger, Benue, Lake Chad, Volta, and coastal basins from Guinea to Nigeria, including the delta of Niger and the Cross river (Ref. 57129).
An uncommon species which inhabits large rivers (Ref. 4967). 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). Maximum reported size for West Africa: 610 mm TL (Ref. 57129).
Life cycle and mating behavior
Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae
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. (Ref. 270)
IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 96402)
CITES (Ref. 94142)
Threat to humans
Fisheries: minor commercial; aquaculture: commercial; gamefish: yes
Estimates of some properties based on models
Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805
= 0.5625 [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.00708 (0.00540 - 0.00929), b=2.95 (2.88 - 3.02), 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) .