Walking Catfish (Clarias Batrachus)

walking catfish

Last updated on September 3rd, 2022 at 05:17 am

You have always wanted to have a walking catfish, but you’re unsure if they can live in your home aquarium. Luckily, walking catfish are one of the most common fish found in pet stores across the country and can be easily cared for.

The walking catfish, also known as the Asian catfish or the Indonesian walking catfish, is native to freshwater areas of Southeast Asia, India, and Bangladesh. It has been popular in the aquarium trade since the 1970s and is one of the easiest fish to maintain in home aquariums due to its hardiness and long lifespan of 30 years or more with proper care.

Putting the walking in the name of this freshwater fish, the walking catfish literally walks across the land when it needs to move from one body of water to another. If you’re planning on adding a walking catfish to your collection of fish, be aware that they’re not as hardy as other types of fish and that they can be susceptible to illness or death if kept in unfavorable conditions.

Here are some tips on how to properly care for your walking catfish.

Origin and descriptions

walking catfish

The walking catfish, or claria fish (Clarias batrachus), is found in rivers and canals of Southeast Asia. This species is sometimes confused with another river-dwelling catfish called the walking shark, which is a completely different fish from a catfish. These fish grow up to 12 inches long and can live up to five years.

Their appearance alone makes them fascinating, but what exactly should you know about these unique fish?

Here are some facts that may pique your interest. The metabolism of fish consists mainly of three processes: respiration, absorption, and excretion. Respiration takes place through gills where oxygen from water is absorbed into blood vessels; absorbed oxygen is then distributed throughout other parts of its body by a series of blood vessels.

Absorption occurs when water passes through its gut wall and substances contained within it are removed. Excretion includes voiding waste through urine or feces.

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Many people make assumptions based on their initial observations, but just because they look similar doesn’t mean they act alike! While they might look like eels, there are many differences between them besides size. Eels lack ventral fins, whereas catfish have one pair on each side near their heads, extending towards their tails. Eels also have small hooks on their jaws that aren’t present in catfish.

Species profile

The walking catfish, Clarias batrachus, is an omnivorous freshwater fish native to South Asia, from the clariidae family. It is best suited for a tropical aquarium environment with temperatures between 76 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit and water that is not too hard or too soft. This species can be difficult to feed because its short, upturned mouth does not allow it to suck food from the bottom or surface of tanks or ponds.

When fully grown, walking catfish reach lengths of around 20 inches; they are often much smaller at purchase and grow fairly quickly in captivity. In addition to natural foods like worms, crustaceans, and insect larvae, these fish will also readily eat commercially prepared aquarium foods designed for bottom-feeders like white worms and sinking shrimp pellets.


Walking catfish are natives of Southeast Asia, where they live in large rivers and lakes. This species is not normally found in brackish or salty water, so if you want to maintain a healthy population of these fish, be sure your tank’s salinity levels are at 1.005 or lower.

You should also set up an aquarium that mimics their natural habitat; remember that walking catfish don’t like staying still (no surprise there), so provide plenty of room for them to roam about freely. These fish will do well in either freshwater or saltwater setups, as long as conditions are clean and stable. If you opt for a freshwater aquarium, it’s best to use soft, slightly acidic water with temperatures between 72 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit.

Julidochromis transcriptus (Masked Julie Cichlid)

Walking catfish size and weight

This fish species can grow up to around 20 inches (51 cm) in length and weigh around 2.6 pounds (1.2 kg).

Tank size

Due to their big size, the minimum recommended tank size is 100 gallons (380 liters)

Tank requirements

The walking catfish, also known as claria fish, is a very unique tropical freshwater fish that spends most of its time on land. These fish naturally tend to spend a lot of time in caves or under large rocks, so it is important that you have several hiding places in your tank with adequate cave-like features.

Caves are important because they provide them with security, comfort, and privacy. When choosing decorations for your tank, pay close attention to whether or not you choose artificial or live plants; living plants should be avoided since these can harbor parasites, which can be detrimental to your fish’s health.

As long as decor is chosen carefully, a walking catfish’s habitat can look just like one created for a standard coldwater species. Be careful when picking out gravel for your tank – walking catfish love digging! Choose light-colored gravel with small stones no larger than about 1/4 inch.

Picking dark-colored gravel may make him feel like he needs to dig deeper into his lair, which may stress him out more than necessary and even prevent him from exploring different areas of his home at all times.

Tank mates

While walking catfish are good community fish, they should not be kept with small fish because they can easily swallow them whole. A large tank is ideal for keeping them in your home. They are compatible with large, slow-moving fish, such as koi and goldfish.

They can also be housed with loaches, tetras, small catfish, and cichlids. Be careful about placing them with small guppies because your guppies will be eaten by your walking catfish in no time.


walking catfish

In order to successfully breed walking catfish, you need an aquarium that’s at least 100 gallons. You should have a minimum of two females and one male. The reason for so many females is that they are very aggressive towards each other while they’re spawning.

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However, once they lay their eggs, they will stop being aggressive towards each other so it’s important not to move them into another tank until after spawning. Spawning usually occurs in the dark corners of the tank. The female will release her eggs along with special glue-like substances called milt.

The male then releases sperm which becomes entwined with her eggs and milt, forming tiny jelly-like balls. These balls start sinking to the bottom where they develop into larva. After two weeks, these larvae swim up towards your filter intake tube where they attach themselves by developing suction cups on their bellies.

Once attached to your filter, you should begin doing partial water changes every few days. Water changes will continue up until about week seven when they’ll detach from your filter intake tubes and become free-swimming baby fish!

Are they aggressive or peaceful?

Although walking catfish are primarily peaceful, these fish can become aggressive if they’re not properly cared for. It’s important to properly care for them if you don’t want them to nip at or attack your other fish and aquarium plants. The trick is getting them used to living in a particular tank before adding any other fish so that they don’t feel threatened and decide it’s time to take over.


walking catfish

These particular catfish have no special care requirements. They live in a planted tank without extra filtration and appear to be fairly hardy fish. Claria fish are non-aggressive, so they will not bother any of your other tank mates. However, they do walk on their pectoral fins, so their aquarium needs to be large enough that they can turn around comfortably and back up to avoid running into plants or décor items like rocks and caves.

Most walking catfish enthusiasts use an under-gravel filter with these fish as they generally produce very small amounts of waste. Some owners recommend adding them to an established tank where there are plenty of covers from which to choose, while others place them in their own tank with little plant life.

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The most important thing about caring for them is to make sure you provide them with adequate food.

What they eat

They are omnivores and should be fed a variety of meaty foods. They will eat small invertebrates like worms and insect larvae, as well as tiny snails, shrimps, cyclops, bloodworms, freeze-dried krill, and brine shrimp. High-quality flake food also makes an excellent addition to their diet. Do not feed them plants or algae of any kind.


With good care and proper water chemistry, this species has been known to live for almost 15 years in captivity.

Parasites and diseases

walking catfish

The walking catfish is susceptible to a number of parasites and diseases. They are commonly infected with flukes and ich, which can be treated with medications available at pet stores or through aquarium supply companies.

Parasites can usually be avoided by keeping your tank clean and well-filtered and adding some salt to your fish’s water. You should also quarantine any new additions to your tank before you add them in case they are carrying an infection or parasite.

Do they make good pets?

If you’re thinking about buying a walking catfish, consider whether you can provide it with an appropriate environment. Claria fish are better suited to hobbyists who know what they’re doing and have set up their tanks well.

With a little effort on your part, your walking catfish can make a great addition to your aquarium!