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Hop to next section All Fishes Data Sheet
Scientific Name Heteropneustes fossilis  (Bloch, 1794)
Common Names Fossil Catfish
Gællesæk-ålemalle (Denmark), Liver Catfish, Scorpion Catfish, Stinging Catfish
Type Locality Tranquebar [Tharangambadi], India.
Type Locality Notes Type locality inferred from modern location of Tharangambadi, India.
Synonym(s) Heteropneustes microps, Saccobranchus fossilis, Saccobranchus microcephalus, Saccobranchus microps, Saccobranchus singio, Silurus biserratus, Silurus fossilis, Silurus laticeps, Silurus singio
Pronunciation foss ill iss
Etymology Heteropneustes: From the Greek heteros, meaning other and pneo, meaning to breathe; in reference to the ability of the fish to utilize atmospheric oxygen. 
Hop to next section Species Information
Size 300mm or 11.8" SL. Find near, nearer or same sized spp.
Identification Heteropneustes fossilis can be differentiated from H. kemratensis by having lesser anal fin rays.
Sexing Male has a thinner ventral line due to the stockier shape of the female.
General Remarks Burgess' Atlas wrongly labels H. microps as H. fossilis in the colour plates section, but shows H. fossilis correctly in the preceding black and white text. Some references mention the rarer Sri Lankan species H. microps. This species, which purportedly differs in that the anal and caudal fins are joined in H. microps and distinctly separate in H. fossilis, is currently considered a junior synonym. The albino form is very, very rarely available to the aquarium trade.
Hop to next section Habitat Information
Distribution Asia: Pakistan and Sri Lanka to Myanmar.
Indian waters (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Thailand Waters (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Myanmar Waters (click on these areas to find other species found there)

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IUCN Red List Category Least Concern, range map and more is available on the IUCN species page. Last assessed 2019.
pH 6.0 - 8.0
Temperature 21.0-25.0°C or 69.8-77°F (Show species within this range)
Other Parameters Hardness up to 30 °dGH with good filtration made necessary by this fishes voracious appetite. Generally an undemanding, hardy species.
Hop to next section Husbandry Information
Feeding Will eat all prepared foods, feeder fish are not required. Larger adults will require larger foods such as earthworms and frozen prawns. Can be trained to accept large cichlid foods from the water surface. User data.
Furniture Typical medium size catfish set-up with plenty of swimming space for feeding and night time activity. A choice of shady retreats should be available for the fish during the day.
Compatibility Only sensibly housed with fish that cannot be eaten and are active swimmers. Fish that rest or are slow swimmers are "buzzed" by this catfishes nocturnal prowling. Enjoys the company of it's own kind.
Suggested Tankmates Large barbs and similar, Asian fish. Generally, medium sized active fish.
Breeding A sticky cluster of yellow-green eggs are laid in pits in the aquarium substrate. Both parents tend the clutch, fanning the pit to ensure water circulates around the eggs. Care continues well after the fry emerge. The fry grow rapidly and can attain lengths of greater than 80mm in a matter of months.
Breeding Reports There is no breeding report.
Hop to next section Further Information
Reference Naturgeschichte der ausländischen Fische v. 8, pp 46, Pl. 370 (fig. 2).
Registered Keepers There is no registered keeper.
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Last Update 2022 Apr 25 02:57 (species record created: 2001 Apr 24 00:00)