Fun Eel-tailed Catfish Facts For Kids | Kidadl


Fun Eel-tailed Catfish Facts For Kids

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The eel-tailed catfish (Tandanus tandanus) is a freshwater catfish native to the Murray Darling basin of eastern Australia. They have a tapering eel-like tail and several barbels around the mouth that gives the fish an eel-like appearance. They are also known by some other common names like tandan and jewfish. This freshwater catfish inhabits almost all types of habitats of the Murray Darling river system except southern tributaries containing alpine and sub-alpine waters.

Since 1930, their populations have suffered severe declines. Overfishing has decreased the total freshwater catfish populations at a rapid rate. They became a rare species by the end of 1950. The evidence of population recovery since the growth in commercial catches in 1970-80 is missing. They are also in constant competition with introduced species having similar feeding habits. Fluctuating water levels have been known to affect them, and spawning does not occur if the water level becomes too low. Although they have been recognized by many conservation sites and are protected by the federal laws of Australia, the lost population of the eel-tailed catfish has not been recovered fully. In Victoria and New South Wales, the species of freshwater catfish is considered to be Endangered.

To know more facts about the fish, keep on reading these amazing facts. For more relatable content, check out these redtail catfish facts and Mekong giant catfish facts for kids

Fun Eel-tailed Catfish Facts For Kids

What do they prey on?

Shrimp, bloodworms, brine shrimp, live worms

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

4 lb (1.8 kg)

How long are they?

19.7 in (50 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Olive green or black

Skin Type

Smooth skin

What were their main threats?

Overfishing And Other Introduced Species

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them?

Freshwater Lakes, Ponds, Streams











Eel-tailed Catfish Interesting Facts

What type of animal are eel-tailed catfish?

The eel-tailed catfish (Tandanus tandanus) is a type of freshwater fish.

What class of animal do an eel-tailed catfish belong to?

The eel-tailed catfish (Tandanus tandanus) of Siluriformes order and Plotosidae family belong to the class Actinopterygii, the common class for all ray-finned bony fishes.

How many eel-tailed catfish are there in the world?

The total population of the species of the eel-tailed catfish has not been determined. The fish used to be a common species in the past. A few decades ago, they were fairly common throughout the Murray Darling Basin. Recent analysis has shown that they are slowly trying to regain the population in the Murray Darling basin zone. However, they had failed to reach the population status prior to 1980, when these freshwater catfish were not exploited to the current extent.

Where do eel-tailed catfish live?

The eel-tailed catfish are freshwater fishes of Australia that occur throughout most of the Murray Darling river basin of east Australia. They are found along the coasts and inland drainages of the river system. Their range extends from the tropical coastal regions of Queensland up to the west coasts of New South Wales. Some populations have also been introduced in the Great Lakes and south coast of New South Wales. At present, these fishes of Australia are also found in several other river basins like Richardson, Werribee, and Yarra Rivers, apart from the Victorian and New South Wales tributaries of the Murray River.

What is an eel-tailed catfish's habitat?

The eel-tailed catfish are freshwater fishes of eastern Australia that are found in slow-moving and sluggish streams of south-east Australia. They prefer living in slow-moving ponds and lakes consisting of fringing vegetation more than occupying flowing water streams of the lower Murray Darling basin. Since the eel-tailed catfish feed on the bottom, they generally inhabit the sandy and gravel bottoms and hover over the substrate.

Who do eel-tailed catfish live with?

The eel-tailed catfish are generally solitary fish living alone in the wild. They are found with a partner catfish only during the breeding season. The juveniles might live by forming loose aggregations in their young stage. In an eel-tailed catfish aquarium, they are often found with other larger freshwater fish like Murray cod. However, they do not live peacefully with their own species. Putting small fishes in a similar tank with the eel-tailed catfish must be avoided since they will definitely prey on the smaller fishes.

How long do eel-tailed catfish live?

The life span of an eel-tailed catfish ranges between 8-10 years of age. These fishes can live a long life if they get a healthy living environment.

How do they reproduce?

The breeding season of this freshwater fish lasts from spring to mid-summer. Spawning in the eel-tailed fish species is facilitated by warm water with temperatures ranging between 68-75.2°F (20-24°C). They reach sexual maturity when they are around three years old. The male and the female fishes pair up before they start spawning. The male and the female fish have elaborate courtship behaviors. The pairs start to build their breeding nests one to two weeks before they start to spawn. They prefer to nest in rocky bottoms filled with small stones and gravels. The nest is circular in shape and built-in a depression-like structure. The female fish can lay up to 20,000 eggs in the depression after spawning. The eggs are protected by one parent until they hatch. Sometimes both the parents are observed to protect the eggs. They can produce multiple broods in a single breeding season. If they do not get an adequate water level, the pairs might abandon their nest and build a new one. They grow really fast.

What is their conservation status?

The eel-tailed catfish (Tandanus tandanus) are listed as a species of Least Concern in the IUCN Red List. The species lack historical evidence of their declining population. Therefore, they are considered to be Least Concern animals. In reality, the eel-tailed fish subpopulation in their native region has become vulnerable. Their population has decreased significantly in the last few decades. They are susceptible to many fisheries and are threatened by overfishing. Apart from that, the extensive growth of common carp throughout their native water has reduced the availability of food sources and nesting sites of the fish. 

Eel-tailed Catfish Fun Facts

What do eel-tailed catfish look like?

The eel-tailed catfish is a freshwater fish of Australia. This is a unique-looking fish with a large head and stocky body. They have thick and fleshy lips with tubular nostrils consisting of four pairs of sensitive barbels. The downturned structure of the mouth and the barrels help in the feeding habits of the fish. They have smooth, shiny skin with colors varying from olive-green to black or brown on the dorsal side. The underside is white. The most distinct feature of the fish is its tapering eel-tail and the sharp serrated dorsal fin spines. These freshwater catfish also consist of sharp and serrated pectoral fin spines that can cause wounds.

An eel-tailed catfish is venomous.
*We've been unable to source an image of eel-tailed catfish and have used an image of blue catfish instead. If you are able to provide us with a royalty-free image of eel-tailed catfish, we would be happy to credit you. Please contact us at [email protected].

How cute are they?

The fish is a popular choice as aquarium fish since humans are attracted to this species.

How do they communicate?

There is no information about the communication methods of the fish. Perhaps they communicate by releasing chemical cues like other fishes.

How big are eel-tailed catfish?

The average eel-tailed catfish size is 19.7 in (50 cm). They are smaller than the channel catfish.

How fast can an eel-tailed catfish swim?

The eel-like fish swims like a snake in an undulating manner; however, its speed is unknown.

How much do eel-tailed catfish weigh?

The average weight of an eel-tailed catfish is 4 lb (1.8 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

The male and the female species do not have any particular name.

What would you call a baby eel-tailed catfish?

A baby of an eel-tailed catfish is called a fry.

What do they eat?

The fish is an opportunistic eater who eats almost anything they get. Their diet includes shrimp, bloodworms, brine shrimp, and live worms.

Are they poisonous?

The fish have poisonous spines. The eel-tailed catfish venom can cause severe wounds. Therefore they cannot be eaten.

Would they make a good pet?

Although their spines can cause wounds, these fishes are often kept in aquariums.

Did you know...

The eel-tailed catfish's skin appears very smooth because they are scaleless.

Eel-tailed catfish tank size

The eel-tailed catfish grows very fast. They require a minimum 100-gallon (454.6 L) tank for their survival in captivity.

Do eel-tailed catfish bite? 

There is no information regarding the biting habits of the eel-tailed catfish; however, the serrated dorsal and pectoral fin consists of sharp spines which are venomous and can cause severe wounds.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these lambchop rasbora interesting facts and pigfish surprising facts pages.

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

Written By
Moumita Dutta

Moumita is a multilingual content writer and editor. She has a PostGraduate Diploma in sports management, which enhanced her sports journalism skills, as well as a degree in journalism and mass communication. She's good at writing about sports and sporting heroes. Moumita has worked with many soccer teams and produced match reports, and sports is her primary passion.

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