The sun catfish Horabagrus brachysomais a large catfish that is known for its distinct black spot right behind the gill plate. It is a generally peaceful fish that comes out at night. A native of Kerala state in south west India, it is found in slow moving streams, rivers and other like waterways. It can also be found in lakes on occasion, and have occurred in Kerala’s Vembanad Lake. The sun catfish has a body similar to that of the North American channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) and grows to about eight to 10 inches in length, with a maximum size of around 12 inches, though there are reports of 18-inch specimens documented in the wild. They are often found in local fish stores as babies at around 3-inches. It is yellowish in color with the black spot behind the gill plate and a black stripe running vertically down the tailfin area.
Aquarium Requirements: The sun catfish is a larger catfish and as such, requires a large tank, especially when kept with other large and compatible fish. Depending on your tank’s bioload, the sun catfish should be housed in a minimum 75 gallon tank, given it is a large fish. Because the sun catfish is a nocturnal species, the aquarium should be set up with several hiding spots in which it can fit its entire body, as it will spend most all of the daytime hours in caves and other areas that block out the light. Dim lighting is necessary for this fish to thrive. Adequate and strong filtration is a must given this is a large fish that is also a hearty eater. As with all tanks that house larger fish, constant water changes are a must. PH levels are ideal right around 6.2 to 7.6 with soft to moderately hard water.
Compatibility: The sun catfish should be compatible with any larger non-aggressive fish. It will eat most any small fish that it can fit into its mouth, so plan accordingly when determining if you wish to acquire this fish. Ideal tank mates would be larger and peaceful characins such as the silver dollar (Metynnis argenteus), blood parrot cichlids (yes, those hybrid fish), other large catfish, and larger, peaceful cichlids.
Feeding: In the wild, the sun catfish feeds on smaller fish, plant matter, and invertebrates. In captivity, a varied diet of fish foods will suffice. It will accept a variety of pellet foods as well as earthworms and even meal worms. While sinking foods are ideal, the sun catfish will feed on the surface. Feeding at night is the most appropriate time as it is nocturnal, but don’t be surprised if the fish darts out, grabs some food and heads back to its cave.
Breeding: Breeding of the sun catfish in the aquarium trade occurs primarily in Thailand. Wild populations are considered endangered.