Colombian Shark Catfish

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Hexanematichthys seemanni - (Günther, 1864)
Colombian Shark Catfish

Sold as a freshwater fish, but native to brackish and saltwater. Aaron Norman


These are brackish to marine species that will require increasing amounts of salt in the water as they mature.

They grow rapidly and become predatory. Even small specimens will rip the scales off other fishes.

Family: Ariidae

Other common name(s):

  • Tete Sea Catfish
  • Shark Catfish
  • White Tip Shark Catfish

Native range:

Habitat: Brackish waters in rivers draining into the Pacific Ocean from the western coasts of Central and South America. Adults move into full saltwater. Younger fish do best with plants and driftwood for shelter, while bigger specimens just need open space to move about.

Maximum length: 35 cm (14 in)

Minimum aquarium size: 681 L (180 gal)

Water: Brackish 22 °C (72 °F) - 26 °C (79 °F)

General swimming level: Bottom.


Omnivore feeding heavily on meaty foods, including smaller fishes, shrimp, crabs, worms.

Aquarium Compatibility

Keep only with tankmates too large for it to eat. Juveniles seem to do better when kept in social groups.

Special Care

Juveniles will exist in freshwater, but older specimens need brackishwater (specific gravity 1.005) to full-strength seawater (specific gravity 1.024).


Reportedly a mouthbrooder, with the male carrying and protecting the eggs.

Reference: 101 Best Tropical Fishes
Image credit: AN
Text credit: KW