Sun catfish care guide

The sun catfish (lat. Horabagrus brachysoma), which is also known as eclipse catfish, can often be seen in tanks nowadays, though it’s not a fish for everyone. This article has information about how large the fish can grow and who it represents danger to.

Habitat in the wild

The sun catfish is endemic in Kerala state, India, and it dwells in Kerala backwater areas, in Vembanad lake, the Periyar and Chalakudy  Rivers. The fish prefer thickly planted areas with slow water flow. As a rule, these are low-land river areas and backwaters with a muddy or sandy bottom.

Sun catfish preys on insects, mussels, and fish. Adult species of the fish can eat ground insects and even frogs. Having such a flexible diet is very convenient in the changeable life environment, where food availability depends on monsoon rains. It is known that the fish becomes more gluttonous during its spawning period and the months that follow the monsoon season.

Scientific NameHorabagrus brachysoma
Common NamesSun catfish, eclipse catfish
Range and habitatIndia
Size45 centimetres (18 in)
Lifespan10 years
Ease of keepingEasy
Minimum tank size50 gallons
Temperature73-77 °F (23-25 °C)
Water hardness5-20 dGH

Difficulties in keeping

It is an undemanding fish. However, it won’t do for community tanks. Firstly, this is a predator fish, which will prey on its tank mates. Secondly, the sun catfish becomes more active in the evening and at night, while it prefers hiding during the day.


This catfish has a large head and eyes, four pairs of barbs (on the upper and undertip, and in the corners of the mouth). Fish has a yellow-colored body with a large black spot near its pectoral fins.

It the internet, you may see the information that the sun catfish grows to be a small fish, about 13 cm long. Most aquarists think that this is a small-sized fish, but this isn’t true. In fact, the fish can grow up to 45 cm long in the wild, while in a tank, its size doesn’t exceed 30 cm (12 in).

Keeping in a tank

It is a nocturnal fish, so you should provide it with dim light and lots of shelters in the tank (snags, small stones, flowerpots, and various tubes, etc.). The sun catfish produces a lot of waste, and for successful keeping it in the tank, you should use an external filter. Recommended tank water parameters are the following: temperature 23-25 °C, pH 6.0-7.5, hardness 5-25 °H.


It is a predator fish, so it prefers eating live fish. Nevertheless, it can also eat various food in a tank – live, frozen, artificial.

Tank mates

This catfish quite often are sold as fish for community tanks, but actually, you mustn’t keep it in one tank with small-sized fish species. This catfish will eat everything that it can swallow; thus, its tank mates should be of the same size or even larger.

The best tank mates are large cichlids and other catfish species. Young species feel good in a company of their kind, and they even can create schools, while reproductive species of this catfish prefer solitude.

Gender differences: male vs female



There is no valid information about successful breeding in captivity.