Freshwater catfish (Tandanus tandanus), also known as Eeltail catfish, are native to the Murray Darling Basin and are usually found in slow flowing river or lake systems. They are a relatively sedentary species that don’t move around much, making them an ideal species for dams. They are a smooth skin fish with no scales and an eel like tail. This fish needs to be handled with care as they have a spine at the fin behind their head. Known for their excellent eating, they will grow in dams to around 500g – 2kg.
One benefit to stocking Freshwater catfish in dams is that they are one of few native species that will successfully breed in dams. Freshwater catfish become sexually mature at around 3-5 years of age and will create a nest from gravel and pebbles in Summer when water temperatures reach around 20-24 degrees. The eggs settle into the gravel nest where the male remains to clean, fan and protect the eggs that hatch after around seven days. If you want to successfully breed Freshwater catfish then you need to make sure you’ve got the habitat to do so.
The obvious requirement in terms of habitat is to have a gravel/pebble area in the dam for them to build their nest. Beyond that, usually surface and subsurface habitat such as logs, concrete blocks, aquatic plants, floating wetlands and purpose built fish habitat structures will ensure your fish are happy, healthy and protected from predators. When constructing habitat it’s important to think not only of the species you’d like to keep but also the critters they like to eat so in the case of Freshwater catfish you should also construct habitat to suit freshwater shrimp, yabbies, aquatic insects, snails and small fish.
If you’re after a ‘not so common’ species to stock in your dam; that’s good eating and will successfully breed then the Freshwater catfish is a good choice.