Walking Catfish is a type of air-breathing, freshwater fish from Southeast Asia.
It gets its name because it can “walk” on land using a wiggling motion and its pectoral fins for balance.
This helps the fish find food or new environments when needed.
Walking catfish usually lives in slow-moving waters like ponds, swamps, streams, rivers, flooded rice paddies, and temporary pools that may dry up.
When its habitat dries up, it uses its ability to move to other water sources. There has been confusion about this species and its close relatives.
One key difference between walking catfish and North American ictalurid catfish is that the walking catfish doesn’t have an adipose fin.
An albino variety of this fish is popular in aquariums. Walking catfish can survive out of water for a long time as long as it stays wet.
Adults live in lowland streams, swamps, ponds, ditches, rice paddies, and leftover floodwater pools.
They’re typically found in stagnant or muddy water but also inhabit medium to large-sized rivers and sluggish-flowing canals.
During floods, these fish migrate from their usual habitats to flooded areas and return when the dry season begins.
They feed on insect larvae, earthworms, shells, shrimps, small fish, aquatic plants, and debris.
Walking catfish are an important food source that’s sold live or fresh-frozen.
However, they’re becoming rare due to competition with introduced African walking catfish species.
Walking Catfish Interesting Facts
- Walking catfish can “walk” on land using a wiggling motion and their pectoral fins.
- They feed on insect larvae, earthworms, aquatic plants, and other small creatures.
- Albino walking catfish are popular in aquariums and can survive out of the water as long as they stay wet.
- Mating behavior includes the “spawning embrace,” where the male wraps around the female to fertilize eggs.
Walking Catfish Habitat
Walking catfish is native to Java in Indonesia. Some fish from Indochina and Sundaland were wrongly identified as this species.
It has been introduced to other countries, causing negative impacts on local ecosystems. Walking catfish can live in both brackish and freshwater environments.
It’s a bottom-dwelling fish that migrate within rivers (potamodromous). Its depth range is not fully known but is found at least 1 meter deep.
Walking catfish prefer temperatures between 50°F to 82°F (10°C to 28°C), and are typically found in tropical regions between latitudes 29°N to 7°S.
|Water Temperature:||50°F to 82°F (10°C to 28°C)|
Walking Catfish Physical Characteristics
Size: 10.4 inches (26.3 centimeters)
Walking catfish grows up to a maximum length of 18.5 inches (47.0 centimeters) long and weigh up to 1.2 kg.
However, most of these fish usually have an average length of 10.4 inches (26.3 centimeters).
This fish has no dorsal or anal spines but has 60 to 76 dorsal soft rays and 47 to 58 anal soft rays.
Its body becomes compressed towards the back, and the upper jaw sticks out slightly.
The pectoral fin spine is rough on the outside edge and serrated on the inside edge.
The occipital process, a triangular-shaped part on its head, is about twice as long as it is wide.
The distance between the dorsal fin and the occipital process is around four to five times longer than from the nose tip to the end of the occipital process.
In male walking catfish, their genital papilla (reproductive organ) appears elongated and pointed.
Walking Catfish Reproduction
Walking catfish engage in a mating behavior known as the “spawning embrace,” similar to other catfish species.
The male and female gently touch each other’s genital areas and move their dorsal fins.
The male wraps around the female and the female releases sticky eggs into a nest.
In Southeast Asia, walking catfish spawns during the rainy season when rivers are high.
This allows it to dig nests in muddy banks or flooded rice fields’ dikes.