Tandanus tandanus (PLOTOSIDAE) Eel-tailed Catfish


The Eel-tailed Catfish is a reliable visitor to Enoggera catchment around December if the creek has had the benefit of recent rains. A handy tree overhangs the creek making it possible to get a closer shot of the catfish patrolling the nest. Two members found eight catfish nests in the St John’s Wood section of Enoggera Creek. Within approximately 100 metres of the boundary of the army land they observed five downstream and three up. These pictures were taken about 5 m from the boundary. It looks like the catfish prefer shallow water with some sun for nests. Patrolling is to help regulate temperature of the eggs.

Catfish Nest

Tandanus tandanus has a short first dorsal fin and an eel-like tail. The second dorsal fin originates above the middle of the body. The first dorsal fin and pectoral fins are each preceded by a sharp serrated spine. The down-turned mouth is surrounded by four pairs of barbels. There are no scales. This fish is brown to olive green, reddish or even purplish above, and pale below. Juveniles have dark brown to black mottling. This species is only known from Australia. It occurs throughout much of the Murray-Darling River drainage and in coastal drainages from northern Queensland to central New South Wales.

Below Walton Bridge Reserve – Downstream

Eel-tailed catfish can reach up to 7 kg in weight and 90 cm in length. They live for as long as 22 years and reach sexual maturity at 5 years of age. These fish are disturbed when dogs get into the stream and can even be spooked by children or bushcarers who get close to the water. It is unknown if humans or pets prevent successful spawning in this way, but is best to observe the fish from a distance so they can get on with the business of reproducing.

This location is heavily shaded by excellent Waterhousea canopy.

Downstream from Walton Bridge Reserve

 Trevor Ozanne writes: Sightings seem to be continuous – do they really have a season? The four that come to mind for me (in order down the creek) are:

  • Adjacent to Banks St Reserve near Pavonia St Ashgrove
  • Quandong Park
  • below the Ashgrove Ave bridge
  • Tennis Ave at the big pool.

An even more interesting animal for me is the Platypus.  People have told me about a dozen sites but in 20 years I have yet to see my first one – other than Eungella near Mackay, where people see them twice every day. They’re on our logo because of continuous reports of them. Brian Sait was always reporting them – one mother-and -child ‘swam up to my gumboots’ at the BP garage site at the Stewart Rd bridge.