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Coral Catfish
Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith
Marine Fish
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Plotosus lineatus

Coral Catfish

Quick Stats:   Coral Catfish

Family: Plotosidae
Range: Indo-Pacific
Size: Up to 12 inches
Diet: Omnivore
Tank Set-up: Marine: Sand, plants
Reef Compatible: With caution
Tank Conditions: 78-80ºF; sg 1.018; pH 8.1-8.4
Minimum Tank Capacity: 75 gallon
Light: Low
Temperament: Aggressive
Venomous: Yes
Swimming Level: Bottom
Care Level: Easy
Reproduction: Egg Layer

The Coral Catfish, also known as Striped Eel Catfish, Saltwater Catfish, or Marine Catfish, can be found in schools sifting into the substrate on and around reefs in the Indo-Pacific. The color of the Coral Catfish changes as the fish matures. The young juveniles are entirely black. As they mature, the body becomes brown and yellow or white horizontal stripes appear. As an adult, the brightness of the colors fade.

In the wild, the Coral Catfish is found scavenging in the sand, so the aquarium should have a sandy bottom. It will dig in and out of the sand in search of food, so it is ideal to "sink" meaty foods to the tank bottom. The Coral Catfish is thought to go into freshwater river systems at times as an adult in the wild. It can accommodate salinity variations, but these should be kept to a minimum. The Coral Catfish is sensitive to copper-based medications.

Juvenile coral catfish form amazing and beautiful schools, and do not do well when separated. They may hide themselves and stop eating. Since they must be kept in groups and grow quite large as adults, they must be reserved for the largest home aquaria. As the Coral Cat matures, it begins to lose its schooling behavior.

The Coral Catfish should be kept with caution because its spines are venomous.

Feed a variety of fresh or frozen seafoods and flaked food at least twice per day.


Photo courtesy of T.F.H. Publications, publishers of the Burgess Atlas.

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