Sun Catfish (Horabagrus Brachysoma): Ultimate Care Guide


The sun catfish is a beautiful creature of the sea. Its other names include: eclipse catfish, spotted Thai cat, Asian sun catfish, sunspot catfish, Indian sun catfish, Burmese sun catfish,  and Guather’s catfish. The sun catfish has many other names including the scientific name horabarus brachsoma. The large head and light colored eyes of this creature make it stand out amongst other catfish. The sun catfish, most commonly known as the eclipse catfish, has a yellowish color to its body. A large spot near the pectoral fin makes this fish stand out even more. The sun catfish has a slender body, a tall dorsal fin, and pink colored cheeks. This fish is truly one of the best looking as far as catfish go. The sun catfish can be found in swamps and rivers of Kerale, Canara, and Malabar, South India. Not only is this a beautiful fish, but it can multiply extremely fast. One catfish can lay up to 4,000 eggs annually per every pound of body weight. Their cuteness, however, does not stop with their appearance. Their names make them even more attractive. The very young catfish are called sac fry, while the older juveniles are often referred to as fingerlings. 

The cuteness does, however, have to end eventually, and the fact that sun catfish eat everything that can fit into their mouths is far from appealing. This makes finding tank mates a little extra difficult if you want your other fish to survive. The sun catfish can eat fish nearly its own size; even if other fish are fast enough to escape this predator, the catfish will more than likely  eat them when they are asleep. This is very easy for the sun catfish to do, however, because despite their name, they are mostly nocturnal. On the other hand, this feeding habit serves to be good in other ways. The sun catfish will eat just about anything, making it very easy for you to find food they will be happy with. A few of the things sun catfish will eat are as follows: fish, vegetables, pellets (from the pet store), shrimp, spinach, insects, muscles, clams, red leaf lettuce, worms, larva, small reptiles, and amphibians. Since your catfish is mostly a nocturnal creature, it will more than likely prefer to eat at night. If you are not able to do this a red light can be bought for your aquarium. This gives the illusion of night time and will encourage your sun catfish to eat at the time you prefer to feed.

Sun Catfish (Horabagrus Brachysoma)
Sun Catfish (Horabagrus Brachysoma)

Sun Catfish Care

The sun catfish is not at all difficult to take care of. It is a very good catfish for beginners and advanced alike. They are typically friendly creatures and are very hardy by nature. Besides their easy (but slightly dangerous) eating habits, they are very flexible with their water temperature, pH, etc. the sun catfish prefers tropical temperatures averaging around 80 degrees fahrenheit. This, however, does not have to be exact. It can live in waters ranging from 73-80 degrees fahrenheit ( 23-26 degrees celsius). The water pH can range from 6.0-8.0 without harming your sun catfish. These fish also prefer soft water but can thrive in hard water as well. Sandy or muddy bottoms are ideal and will keep your fish very happy.

Despite the many pluses, sun catfish eat a lot, therefore, they produce a large amount of waste. Is it recommended to clean your tank often, more specifically, when the tank appears dirty and grimy. Although this is recommended, neglect of this will more than likely not affect your catfish. This is because catfish are able to like in extremely dirty water with seemingly no problem.

Sun Catfish Size

Sun catfish are often mistaken for small fish. This is definitely not true since they can reach 45cms in length (18 inches). They are often taken for much smaller because when in captivity they stay much smaller. A large aquarium size for this species would be around 30cms(12 inches). These fish grow extremely fast if kept in ideal conditions. Juveniles typically grow much faster than older fish. Once they are between 3-5 inches the growth rate will lessen. Because these fish grow so fast, it is important to own a proper tank for your sun catfish. The average proper minimum tank size is 125 gallons. These fish grow fast, and even if you buy them as tiny juveniles, they will not stay that way long. A great rule of thumb is to buy the biggest tank possible. You cannot buy a tank too big for your special pet.

Sun Catfish Lifespan

The lifespan of a sun catfish is up to 10 years. Proper feeding, aquarium keeping, temperature, and care can help your pet have the best and longest life possible. Ift is sometimes  possible to tell the sex of your sun catfish. The sex can be determined by examining the genitals. The male should have an elongated area found behind the anus, while the female’s genitals will look swollen and as if it can be opened. To assure you do not injure your catfish, do not attempt to touch your catfish in that area. While you may be able to determine the sex of your fish, sun catfish tend to be loners once they reach reproductive age. This makes breeding very difficult. It is hardly possible to breed in an aquarium setting. So if you were planning to set up a sun catfish breeding center, don’t get your hopes too high. It would also require a very large amount of aquarium room to house two sun catfish that  have reached sexual maturity.

Sun Catfish Disease

Catfish can harbor several diseases and infections that every catfish owner needs to watch out for. A few of the most common diseases include the following: cornybacteriosis, fin rut, fish TB, fungus, chinodonella, fungal infections, bacterial infections, ulcers, tumors, swim bladder, inflammation, bulgy eye disease, constipation, and cataracts. These diseases can be treated by a specialist and some possibly prevented with ideal aquarium cleanliness and diet keeping. It is important to watch out for any changes in your catfish’s behavior, eating habits, or waste. A few signs to look out for are as follows: swelling of the head and bulging of the eyes, decaying or peeling  skin, weight loss, discoloration, loss of color, inactivity, sluggishness, loss of appetite, gill damage, swelling, improper growth rate, darting, pale skin, red eyes, erratic behavior,and cotton like splotches on the body. Signs of any of these symptoms may mean your fish is sick and in need of proper medical help. The three categories of diseases that catfish suffer from are bacterial infections, fungal infections, and parasitic infections ( bacterial being the most likely to affect a catfish).

Sun Catfish Tank Mates

Tank mates are important for your sun catfish, however, it is important to choose the right ones. As stated earlier in this article, any fish that your catfish can fit into its mouth will not make a good tank mate, only a good meal. Sun catfish are schooling fish. This means it is perfectly ok to have more than one sun catfish in your tank.this does not mean they will reproduce. It is possible to keep your catfish alone, yet your pet will be much happier with a companion. It is also completely safe to keep them in a tank with monster fish. Catfish as a whole love to hide. Although sun catfish are not as shy as most other types of catfish, they still hide the majority of the time. Having one sun catfish in your tank is one way to ensure your pet will feel comfortable coming out into the open. The more fish around your pet, the more likely it is for it to come out of hiding. Although they are much braver in groups, it is still a necessity to offer your fish many an abundance of hiding places. Sun catfish are compatible with African Cichlids and some fish larger than the sun catfish.

A list of compatible tank mates for your sun catfish is provided below:

  • Other catfish
  • Monsters
  • Arowanas
  • Characins
  • Polypterus
  • Cyprinids
  • Cichlids
  • Datnioides

Incompatible tank mates would include any fish smaller than or the same size as your sun catfish, fish that need a different temperature or water pH than your sun catfish, or any fish needing any chemicals for health or tank cleaning purposes as this may harm your catfish.

Where to find Sun Catfish for sale

The sun catfish is a cheap fish ranging from around 10 dollars to 20 dollars, depending on where you are located. They are not only a cheap creature to buy, but with their eating habits, they also demand a very cheap and diverse food supply. The tank needed would more than likely cost the most. It is not hard to find a place that sells sun catfish. Sun catfish can be found in almost any pet store and more than likely will not get above 20 dollars in price. Petsmart is definitely one excellent place to try when looking for your perfect catfish. Normally sold at a very young age, you will be able to watch your pet grow and develop into the beautiful sun catfish of your dreams.

Fish Laboratory

With decades of collective fishkeeping experience, we are happy to share the fish care tips that we've picked up along the way. Our goal at Fish Laboratory is to keep publishing accurate content to help fishkeepers keep their fish and aquarium healthy.

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