Gulper Catfish (Asterophysus Batrachus) Also known as the Ogre Catfish, the gulper catfish is one of those fish that may be interesting to some but are definitely not for everyone. Have you ever read The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery? In the first chapter of that book, there is an illustration by the main character that shows a child’s rendition of a python that has just swallowed an elephant. If you were to take that image and add fins and whiskers to the bloated snake and you will have a fairly accurate picture of what the greedy gulper catfish looks like after feeding. These fish have cavernous mouths and stretchable stomachs that enable them to swallow fish two times their own length! The enormous meal gets folded as it is swallowed leaving catfish distended and swaying on the bottom like a basketball. Needless to say, no fish can be safely housed with a gulper catfish except other gulper catfish. Fortunately, they do not need to be fed live foods and will take strips of fish meat, prawns, and other meaty aquatic foods. Also, they do not need to be fed often, just once or twice a week. The gulper is nocturnal but the addition of large plants and driftwood may help them feel secure enough to come out of hiding, usually under the wood, during the day. At night they are quite active and need room to explore so the tank should be at least 75 gallons or 280 liters or larger. They are from areas of blackwater and all are wild caught, so pH is important. They require the pH to be between 5.4 and 7. I saw juveniles in a fish store in the USA many decades ago and it is only recently that I have encountered them again.
Origin: Venezuela and Brazil
Temperature: 24-29°C/ 75-84°F
Feeding: Live foods or pieces of fish, prawn, or mussel. Newly imported species will have to trained to accept non-living foods. This involves using long tweezers and moving the food in such a way that it imitates a livinng thing.
Habitat: A sandy substrate and subdued lighting will make this fish feel at home. It likes to have some places it can seek refuge like under driftwood, tree roots, or in clumps of plants. You will need a strong filter or a sump on their tank. They are messy eaters but they cannot tolerate deteriorating water quality. Large weekly water changes are necessary.
Breeding: Unknown. The males possess a structure similar to a male guppy on the front portion of their anal fin indicating that fertilization is internal, but how eggs are laid and clutches reared is currently unknown