Electric Catfish | Malapterurus electricus
Catfish / Malapteruridae / Electric Catfish
Profile: Electric Catfish
Malapterurus electricus Synonyms: Silurus electricus
Physical description: An elongated, thickset species having small beady eyes. There are three pairs of barbels protruding from the mouth. This species lacks a dorsal fin, but has a rounded caudal fin. The body coloration is dark-pink to beige with irregular black spotting. Just prior to the caudal peduncle is a broad, dark marking followed by a whitish-pink stripe. At the caudal peduncle is another dark, broad band. The fins are generally colorless except for the caudal fin which has a curved brown stripe.
Size/Length: To 39" (100 cm) in nature, although usually not larger than 12" (30 cm).
Similar species: Other Malapterurus species.
Habitat: Widespread throughout tropical Africa; Zaire, Niger, Volta, and Nile Rivers.
Aquarium: A tank measuring 48" (122 cm) with a capacity of 55 gallons (209 L) is sufficient. Provide hiding places among rocks and caves. The lighting should be dim. This species will burrow in the gravel at night, so plants should be well-rooted or potted.
Water chemistry: pH 7-7.8 (7.0), 5-20 dH (10), 73-86°F (23-30°C)
Social behavior: A predatory species that should be kept singly. Other tank mates may be "shocked." This is a nocturnal species.
Suggested companions: None
FOOD: Live; fish, crustaceans, worms, insect larvae; chopped meat.
Sexual differences: Unknown.
Breeding techniques: Unsuccessful. This species is a cave spawner.
Breeding potential: 10. Has not be accomplished in aquaria.
Remarks: This species is equipped with electrical organs in the cutaneous layer of the skin. The fish insulates itself against shock by a thick fatty layer. The head is the negative pole, while the tail is the positive pole. This species will grow accustomed to their keeper and may take food from one"s hand.
Difficulty of care: 7. This hardy species requires live foods. The Electric Catfish should be kept alone. Take care when preforming maintenance.