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Frogmouth Catfish 5" (Chaca chaca)

(fwf catfish oddballs chaca cat)

Fish Size:

Frogmouth Catfish 5" (Chaca chaca)

Family: Chacidae


Description: Dorsal 1/3-4;  Anal 7-10; Pectoral 1/5; Ventral 6. Body tadpole like, anteriorly and strongly depressed, posteriorly strongly compressed, without lateral scutes but covered with a thick horny skin. Mouth very broad. Dorsal fin small. The rounded caudal fin extends far forwards on both dorsal and ventral surfaces. 1 pair of very short, often merely peg-like, barbels at the corners of the mouth. Older specimens have small, arborescent appendages at the corners of the mouth.


Best viewed in HD. (Click Play, bottom right hand side of video, click on settings, click HD)

Video by: MonsterZ666 Courtesy of You Tube


Colour pattern: Black-Brown with numerous black and pale spots and blotches, the head somewhat paler and the belly white with closely-approximated dark blotches. Fins dark brown with black blotches and whitish to fawn edges.

Size: 19.0cm. (7½ins)

Temperature:22-24 (71-75f.)

pH: 6.5-8.0.



Feeding:In their native habitat they feed on other fish such as Betta's and various Cyprinids. In the aquarium, will feed also on live food such as other smaller fishes and fry. Will take worm foods such as large earthworms, chopped beaf heart, shrimp and can be weaned on to tablet food. The main criteria is to give them a varied diet with live food being predominant.

Breeding:There is a substantiated report in the Tropical Fish Hobbyist magazine of March 1992 by Sharad R. Sane and Leena R. Bhide on the successful spawning of Chaca chaca. Three males and one female were set up in a bare bottomed tank 36" x 18" x 18" with an 8" asbestos pipe with a 3" diameter. This tank also contained Danio's, Rasboras and four Perch, Nandus nebulosus. One morning in April 1989 they noticed that one of the four Chaca's was in the pipe. The next morning all of the Nandus had bulging bellies even although they had not recently been fed. They found fry still in the pipe with the male guarding them and as they emerged from the pipe the Nandus were eating them. The rest of the fish were removed from the tank including the other three Chaca and a total of 78 fry were raised from that spawn.



Note: This odd ball catfish does not do a lot apart from sitting very still buried in the substrate waiting for its next meal and then engulfing its prey by opening its very large mouth and basically creates a strong vacuum, whereas the unlucky victim is drawn in to the gaping hole!. It is a very hardy aquarium fish that will do very well on a sand/leaf substrate where it can bury itself with just its head showing and also a landscape of rocks and caves. It is not your average community tank fish so I would choose my tankmates carefully for fear of them getting eaten as they will consume fish half their size. Probably any species of the African Synodontis would do fine and for the upper layers you would do better with larger shoaling fish such as Congo tetras, or larger barbs i.e. Tinfoil Barbs. This would pre-empt a larger tank to house the larger barbs or characins. If you can make the space, a better idea would be a species tank with 3 to 4 individuals, as they seem to coincide peacefully with one another with a feeding of earthworms and other meaty foods such as feeder fish like young Tilapia sp. They are said also to take tablet food when fully acclimated.

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