Sun catfish, also known as Horabagrus Brachysoma or Günther’s catfish, is commonly found occupying the lowland and muddy areas of rivers and streams in Southwestern India. The species has become a popular choice for aquarists over the years, due to its availability at several aquarium stores around the world.

Keeping the predator fish in an aquarium may seem easy but can actually be a tricky job. Hence, in this article, we are going to learn all about Sun Catfish care, fish that can be kept as Sun Catfish tank mates, its growth rate, diet and breeding possibilities.

Sun Catfish Stats: The Important Tidbits

Flaunting a dark spot outlined by a bright yellow circle just behind its gills, the spectacular Sunspot Catfish has many names.

You may often hear aquarium store owners and aquarists referring to them as sun catfish, yellow catfish, golden red tail catfish, bullseye catfish and solar catfish apart from the more common sun catfish or Gunther’s catfish.

Here are some important Sun Catfish stats that you should keep in mind when planning to bring one, or two, home.

Quick stats:

Listed tank sizes are the minimum
Size: Up to 18in (45cm).
Tank: A large 180Gal. (648L) tank is only enough for a single Sun catfish. A much larger tank would be vital in adding any more of them, or other large community species.
Strata: Bottom to middle dwelling.
PH: 6.0 – 7.5
Hardness: Soft to moderately-hard water, dH range: 5-25° H)
Temperature: 74°F to 77°F (23°-25° C)

Classification:

Order: Siluriformes
Family: Bagridae
SubFamily: Horabagrinae
Genera: Horabagrus
Species: Badis

Sun Catfish Care: How Should You Handle It?

The Gunther’s catfish is a sensitive species and therefore needs to be provided with the best care and protection when kept in an aquarium. For this, there are two main factors that a fish owner must look into.

Check them out below:

– Fish Tank Set Up

To determine the correct aquarium size for your spectacular aquatic pet, it is important to understand the Sun Catfish growth rate. Obviously, it won’t be feasible to replace the aquarium as your fish grows, or buy one that is too large for it. Aquarists generally consider the Sun Catfish size to be quite small since it is merely 13 cm long.

However, the species can actually grow up to 45 cm long when in the wild, whereas its size in captivity hardly increases after reaching 30cm due to limited space. Hence, a tank size of 80 – 180 gallons is believed to be good enough for one Sun Catfish. You will definitely require a bigger aquarium if you plan to house more of the fish or its tank-mates together.

Furthermore, being nocturnal creatures, Sun Catfish do well in tanks that have dim lighting and ample aquarium décor that can serve as good hiding places for them. The fish tend to prefer hidden during the day and become highly active during evenings and night time, darting towards the live food or pellets you drop down in the tank for them.

Also, you may want to consider adding substrate to the aquarium so as to replicate the muddy natural habitat of the Sunspot fish.

– Aquarium Water Conditions

Although the Sunspot fish can adapt to a vast range of water conditions, it is unlikely to thrive well in polluted or unsuitable water situations.

It is therefore advisable to ensure the following water conditions for your Sun Catfish tank:

  • Temperature: 23 to 25 degree Celsius
  • Hardiness: 5 to 25 dGH
  • PH Level: 6.0 to 7.5

It is also vital to keep an eye on the level of nitrate, ammonia and nitrite in the tank which is likely to rise considering the amount of waste a Gunther’s Catfish produces. To stay on the safe side, it is best to change around 25% of the fish tank water every two to three weeks. This is bound to keep your Sun Catfish healthier for a longer time span.

In addition to the occasional water change, you can either add some snails and cleaner fish as Sun Catfish tank mates so as to minimize the aquarium waste. Moreover, installing an external filter is also a god idea for this purpose. However, since the species prefers slow moving currents, similar to those in its natural habitat, the filter setting should be kept accordingly.

– Tank Mates: Which Ones Are the Best?

Seemingly harmless, you may assume the Sun Catfish to be an ideal community fish. However, the species are likely to prey on tank-mates that are smaller than them. As a matter of fact, a pair of Sun Catfish is generally peaceful among other same-sized fish when kept in an aquarium that is of an appropriate size.

On the contrary, if you choose smaller Sun Catfish tank mates, they will soon become a part of the Sun Catfish diet. Nevertheless, the Eclipse Catfish are more community oriented when younger, and prefer solitude as adults. Regardless, keeping them as a group of at least five similar sized fish is preferable for their well-being.

Also, it is best to introduce the Sunspot fish and its tank mates to the aquarium environment at the same time to avoid territorial spats.

The following species are an ideal choice as Sun Catfish tank mates:

  • Other Catfish
  • Arowanas
  • Characins
  • Polypterus
  • Cyprinids
  • Cichlids
  • Datnioides

– Breeding: Is It Possible in an Aquarium?

While young Eclipse fish enjoy being in company with their own kind and often create schools, they begin to seek solitude once they reach reproductive age. This is why Sun Catfish breeding is unsuitable and hardly possible in an aquarium setting. Besides, in order to get your Sunspot Fish ready to reproduce, you will need to provide them with a large enough space to achieve sexual maturity growth level first.

However, there is no guarantee that even if you do try to breed the Sunspot Fish in a tank as large as 200 gallons, the fish will reach the desired size for reproduction. Sun Catfish breeding is thus almost impossible for hobby aquarists to manage on their own.

In the wild, the female Sunspot fish lays eggs while the male fertilizes them. As a hobbyist, you may consider sourcing newly bred Sun Catfish from fish farms for your aquarium.

– Diet: What’s Their Favorite Food?

As mentioned earlier, the Sun Catfish are fond of eating fish that are smaller than them.

However, this does not make it mandatory to offer them live feeder fish as part of their regular diet. The Sun Catfish diet in the wild has been found to switch between animal based to plant based feed during its different growth phases.

Thus, even though this aquatic species loves devouring live feed, you can also offer them frozen meaty food such as prawns, earthworms and mussels. This can also be substituted with dried pellets to bring variety.

Here’s a list of food that can serve as top favorites in the Sun Catfish diet:

  • Smaller fish
  • Earthworms
  • Mussels
  • Insects
  • Shrimp
  • Invertebrates
  • Plant matter
  • Dried pellets

Nonetheless, variations in the Sun Catfish diet keep the species healthy and prevent it from losing interest in feeding. Thankfully, the predatory fish is not much of a fussy eater and feeding it just one or two times a day is sufficient enough for its overall growth and health.

Also, make sure to offer an amount of food that it can consume before letting it sink to the bottom and contaminate the aquarium water.

Conclusion

In this article, we have elaborated all important facts about the Sunspot fish. We have also mentioned how to ensure Sun Catfish care in a fish tank, its dietary habits, breeding possibilities and more.

Here’s a quick round up of what we have covered in detail above:

  • Sun Catfish are mostly found in slow moving water bodies such as streams and swamps. They are native to Kerala and the backwaters of Southwest India.
  • They have a long yellow body with a dark spot around their fin, and can grow up to 30 inches in captivity.
  • The species requires a large fish tank to aid its proper growth, which will otherwise be hindered and decrease the lifespan of the fish.
  • The water condition in a Sunspot fish tank should comprise of: 23 – 25 degree Celsius (temperature), 5 – 25 dGH (hardness) and 6 – 7.5 (pH). Moreover, the lighting in the aquarium should be low and there should be ample hiding places for the predator fish.
  • Sun Catfish owners should ensure a 25% water change every 2 to 4 weeks alongside installing an external filter so prevent contamination in the fish tank as the fish produces a lot of waste.
  • Ideal tank mates for the Eclipse fish include similar sized fish like Cichlids, Characins, Arownas, Cyprinids and other catfish. Any aquatic species smaller than this will end up getting eaten by them.
  • Sun Catfish breeding in an aquarium setting is next to impossible as the creatures are unlikely to reach their growth state feasible for reproduction in captivity.
  • An ideal Sun Catfish diet consists of live feed such as small fish, insects and earthworms. However, since the fish is omnivorous and a non-fussy eater, it can also be given plant matter, frozen meaty food and dried pellets to add variety.
  • The fish is more active in the dark, darting out at its prey from behind hiding places. You will hardly be able to spot them beneath your aquarium décor during the day. Hence, their feeding time should be chosen accordingly so as to prevent uneaten food from sinking to the bottom of the tank and increasing risk of contaminated water.

The maintenance of the Sun Catfish in an aquarium may appear tricky to some, but if you are a determined aquarist, this species is definitely worth all the efforts!

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