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Frogmouth Catfish

  • Fishes

The Nocturnal Fish: Frogmouth Catfish

The Frogmouth Catfish (or Trachelyopterus galeatus) is an aquatic creature that stands out from the rest of its fish brethren. Unlike lots of other fish, this one only chooses to come out at night, often sleeping during the day. As a result, it is a favorite of many fish-keepers, who can enjoy watching their slumbering pet in the mornings, yet enjoy its activity in the evenings.

Though their peculiar sleeping habits have earned them their name, the frogmouth catfish is much more than an aquatic sloth; it is an inquisitive and resilient species that is a pleasure to watch. In fact, some livestock keepers opt to keep them instead of more traditional fish due to the unique glimpse they offer of the nocturnal habitat they inhabit.

Appearance of the Frogmouth Catfish

As far as looks go, the frogmouth catfish looks nothing like the traditional catfish. Its eyes, which actually appear to be perched atop its head, give it a rather unique look, which together with its long barbels, can be almost intimidating.

Naturally, the body of a Frogmouth Catfish is slimy but it does have a number of spines running along the rays of its fin. When the fish is threatened it can ‘lock’ its spines, thus reducing its chances of being harmed and increasing its chances of surviving.

The fish also has a long-based dorsal and anal fin, both of which contain three white spines that can appear quite prominent, particularly when they are highlighted by the shadows of the aquarium’s dark side. The Fish is quite large, averaging approximately 8-10 inches, and can often be seen swim-flitting from one end of the aquarium to the other – a behavior that is one of its most delightful traits.

The body of a frogmouth catfish is an exquisite mottled brown and is particularly beautiful when it is illuminated by sunlight in the early morning and late evening.

Habitat and Behavior of the Frogmouth Catfish

As mentioned, the frogmouth catfish is an interesting sight during the night, since it is not one of the more active fish species. As it focuses mainly on resting, it can usually be found perched on a rock, or with its head collapsed, making it look as if it has no head.

Since the frogmouth catfish is a nocturnal species, it can often be seen out and about at night, searching among the rocks and other hiding places of its tank for food, or just checking out what’s going on. It is also active during the day and can be observed swimming around the tank enjoying itself.

When in danger, the Frogmouth Catfish will often take cover amongst its rock crevices. When it feels threatened, it often extends its barbells and stares menacingly at any approaching predators.

The Frogmouth Catfish prefers to be kept in a well-planted tank, with plenty of hiding spaces for it to rest, such as rock crevices, aquatic plants, and driftwood. It also needs soft, acidic water, moderate temperatures and the water should be kept clean.

Frogmouth Catfish two

The Diet of the Frogmouth Catfish

Frogmouth Catfish usually feed on small crustaceans, insect larvae, and aquatic worms, though some specimens have been known to take flake food, as well as frozen and live food. They should receive a combination of these types of foods on a daily basis to maintain a healthy diet.

Frogmouth Catfish and Aquariums

Frogmouth Catfish is a peaceful fish, and should not be kept with any species that are overly large or aggressive, such as cichlids or goldfish. It should also be kept in tanks that are at least 30 gallons or larger, as it will grow quite large and needs the extra space to swim.

Due to its timid nature, the fish should be the main focal point of the aquarium, and it should be provided with plenty of places to hide if it gets scared or stressed. In addition, the water should be kept clean, as the Frogmouth Catfish is quite sensitive to pollution.

As far as tankmates go, the frogmouth catfish should be housed with other peaceful species, such as tetras or other small fish. However, they should not be kept with other catfish, as they will often scavenge food from the bottom and compete for food.


The Frogmouth Catfish (or Trachelyopterus galeatus) is a unique addition to any freshwater aquarium. They are quite active during the night and can be seen scouring the rock crevices for food. They have an intriguing appearance, as their eyes appear to be perched atop their heads.

This nocturnal fish should be housed in a well-planted tank with plenty of hiding spots, such as rock crevices, aquatic plants, and driftwood. In addition, the water should be kept clean and soft, with moderate temperatures. The diet of the frogmouth catfish should consist of small crustaceans, insect larvae, and aquatic worms, as well as occasional flake, frozen, or live food.

Overall, the frogmouth catfish is a unique and interesting species, and is a joy to watch in a well-maintained home aquarium.

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