Fun Spotted Catfish Facts For Kids

Aashita Dhingra
May 09, 2023 By Aashita Dhingra
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Isobel Murphy
Fact-checked by Abdulqudus Mojeed
Discover the best Spotted catfish facts about this fish that is indigenous to the Indian subcontinent.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.6 Min

The spotted catfish is a sea catfish species found in Indo-western Pacific waters. Its scientific name is Arius maculatus, and it goes by the names spotted sea catfish, marine catfish, and sea barbel!

It was identified first in the year 1792 and it can now be found in tropical, marine, brackish, and freshwaters in the Indo-Pacific region.

The species is indigenous to the countries of Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar.

It is not a very big fish, with its average height being 12 in (31 cm) and an average weight of 2-7 lb (1-3 kg).

Spotted catfish make up a big part of the fisheries market and they also have uses in the wine industry where their bladders are used for making isinglass (a kind of collagen used to clarify beer and wine).

Find out more about the amazing spotted catfish here, or learn about the redtail catfish and the Mekong giant catfish here on Kidadl.

Spotted Catfish Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a spotted catfish?

The spotted catfish is a type of fish.

What class of animal does a spotted catfish belong to?

The spotted catfish belongs to the Actinopterygii class of fish.

How many spotted catfish are there in the world?

The total spotted catfish population in the world has not been estimated or evaluated, but these fish are found in great numbers in their habitat range.

Where does a spotted catfish live?

The spotted catfish lives in the ocean. This fish is known to spawn in large numbers on the coast of the Indian city of Mumbai in the period between January and April and Karnataka between September and October.

What is a spotted catfish's habitat?

Spotted catfish are found in Indo-Pacific ocean regions. Their habitat includes estuaries and inshore waters, as well as marine, brackish, and freshwater. It lives at a depth of 160-330 ft (50-100 m).

Who do spotted catfish live with?

Spotted catfish can be seen living in 'schools' with other catfish, or alone.

How long does a spotted catfish live?

Spotted catfish live for about 10 years in the wild, but in captivity, they may live for 15-20 years.

How do they reproduce?

Spotted catfish reproduce by 'spawning', which means laying eggs. The male spotted catfish holds or incubates the eggs in his mouth. The male starves during the incubation period and is known to swallow a few eggs to prevent himself from dying. When the eggs hatch, the hatchlings become fingerlings, which survive in schools in shallow waters until reaching maturity.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the spotted sea catfish has not been evaluated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Spotted Catfish Fun Facts

What do Spotted catfish look like?

The spotted catfish (Arius maculatus) is a species of catfish indigenous to the Indian subcontinent and its waters, be it marine, brackish, or freshwater. It is a fish that is 12 in (31 cm) long and weighs about 2-7 lb (1-3 kg). It has a gray-silver-colored body with light black spots on it.

Its fins, tail, and head also have similar colors. Its eyes are black and white. The most defining feature of the spotted catfish is the presence of barbels or tentacles on its mouth and chin.

Close-up of the face of a spotted fish.

*Please note that this is an image of a spotted fish, not a spotted catfish specifically. If you have an image of a spotted catfish, please let us know at 

How cute are they?

Spotted catfish are plain-looking creatures. They aren't very colorful fish, having mostly dull colors like gray, white, silver, and black. The main feature of these catfish that people find unendearing is their barbels, of which they have between two and four (these look like a cat's whiskers, hence their name).

How do they communicate?

Spotted catfish can produce sound vibrations which they use to communicate with other catfish.

How big is a spotted catfish?

A spotted catfish's typical size is 12 in (31 cm), but they are known to reach lengths of 31 in (80 cm) from time to time. An average spotted catfish is between three to six times bigger than a dwarf minnow.

How fast can a spotted catfish run?

A spotted catfish may be able to swim up to 15 mph (24 kph), but only for short bursts of time.

How much does a spotted catfish weigh?

A spotted catfish generally weighs about 2-7 lb (1-3 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names for male and female spotted catfish.

What would you call a baby spotted catfish?

During different stages of its life, a baby spotted catfish may be called a hatchling, fingerling, or fry.

What do they eat?

Spotted sea catfish eat detritus, milkfish larvae, polychaete worms, crustaceans, and mollusks.

Are they dangerous?

As far as humans are concerned, spotted catfish are not dangerous. Spotted catfish are dangerous to their smaller prey though, which includes invertebrates and larvae.

Would they make a good pet?

Yes, spotted catfish make a good pet for personal aquariums. The spotted catfish is a peaceful fish species that gets on well with lots of different tank mates.

Ideal tank mates include other catfish, as well as fishes like guppies, and loaches. Other tank mates that are ideal for the spotted catfish are giant danios and opaline gourami. These fish require a water temperature of between 68-79 F (20-26 C) and, as they do well with freshwater fish they are most comfortable in a freshwater aquarium.

A proper filtration system should be in place for any freshwater aquarium. The most common aquarium diseases that a spotted catfish can suffer from are bacterial and parasitical infections.

Did you know...

The spotted Raphael catfish (Agamyxis pectinifrons) is the Amazonian counterpart of the spotted sea catfish.

Agamyxis pectinifrons, which is indigenous to South America, is a small fish that grows to an average size of 5.9 in  (15 cm) in length. The average spotted Raphael catfish lifespan is typically around 10 years and these catfish are also sometimes known as the talking catfish.

More than other catfish, in a spotted catfish aquarium, the spotted Raphael catfish needs a hiding place that it can fit into.

Spotted Raphael catfish don't actively seek out other fish for prey, but they are known to eat smaller fish when an opportunity presents itself. The spines on a spotted Raphael catfish can tear through nets as they are so strong.

One of the main things involved with spotted Raphael catfish care is choosing a tank size of at least 35 gallons and the spotted Raphael catfish proves to be a non-aggressive and active fish species when kept in a group of three to five fish.

Another relative of the spotted catfish species is the Pictus catfish, also known as Pictus cat, polka dot catfish, or Pimelodus pictus. A typical Pictus catfish size is 5 in (12.7 cm) in length, and an ideal Pictus catfish tank will be at least 55 gallons.

A 55-gallon tank is the minimum tank size for this Pictus, bottom dweller. Wild Pictus fish tend to be scavengers, and so in aquariums, they should be fed frozen foods, bloodworms, and blackworms.

They make for good aquarium fish as they have a peaceful nature. Pictus catfish are known to eat small fish and fry as well.

Spotted catfish attain sexual maturity at between four and five months of age.

Spotted catfish in the wild mainly eat insect larvae and small invertebrates. Spotted catfish are only able to eat smaller fish. Their mouths can easily capture smaller fish but struggle with large fish.

The sharp spines on a spotted catfish are venomous but are mostly innocuous.

The Synodontis angelicus catfish is another related species, it is found in the Congo Basin.

The natural habitat of the spotted catfish is tropical waters in the Indo-western Pacific region. In a fish tank, it is essential to provide 'hiding places' for your spotted catfish.

An aquarium or a tank for catfish also benefits from having live plants. You can attempt to recreate their natural habitat by having good-quality live plants as well as sandy substrate in your aquarium.

All catfish are scaleless fish, and they sometimes have scutes that they breathe through. The pectoral fins on a spotted catfish are used to change direction in the water.

Apart from the Amazon Basin, Pictus catfish are also found in the Orinoco River Basin. This species is in fact, endemic to these two basins.

Pictus catfish belong to the family  Pimelodidae, which is a family of catfish with longer whiskers than many others. They sometimes get confused with the African catfish (also known as Angelicus cats or Mochokid cynodontis angelica).

Pictus catfish have a combined respiratory system, meaning that they must periodically come up to the surface to trap an air bubble for breathing. Females of the Pictus catfish species are bigger than males, meaning they are only very slightly dimorphic.

Pictus catfish are known to feed on fish that are smaller than them, like neon tetra fish. Fish that are too large for Pictus catfish to consume are safe from becoming their prey as these fish are generally non-aggressive otherwise.

What is the rarest catfish?

The Mekong giant catfish and the golden cave catfish are two of the rarest catfish and are the hardest to find. They are both listed as Critically Endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

What do you feed the spotted Raphael catfish?

The spotted Raphael catfish is a bottom dweller and a bottom feeder. They are not fussy eaters at all and will feed on whatever makes its way to the bottom of the tank.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish from our chum salmon facts and giant grouper facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable spotted catfish coloring pages.

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Written by Aashita Dhingra

Bachelors in Business Administration

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Aashita DhingraBachelors in Business Administration

Based in Lucknow, India, Aashita is a skilled content creator with experience crafting study guides for high school-aged kids. Her education includes a degree in Business Administration from St. Mary's Convent Inter College, which she leverages to bring a unique perspective to her work. Aashita's passion for writing and education is evident in her ability to craft engaging content.

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Fact-checked by Abdulqudus Mojeed

Bachelor of Law

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Abdulqudus MojeedBachelor of Law

A versatile professional with a passion for creative writing and technology. Abdulqudus is currently pursuing his Bachelor of Law from the University of Lagos and has experience as a tutor, intern assistant, and volunteer. He possesses strong organizational skills and is a detail-oriented person.

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