Silver Catfish, Porochilus argenteus (Zietz 1896)

Other Names: Central Australian Catfish, Silver Eeltailed Catfish, Silver Tandan

Silver Catfish, Porochilus argenteus. Source: Dave Wilson / Aquagreen. License: All rights reserved

A pale, silvery-white catfish with yellowish-orange fins.

Cite this page as:
Martin F. Gomon, Porochilus argenteus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 23 Jul 2024,

Silver Catfish, Porochilus argenteus (Zietz 1896)

More Info


Known only from throughout the Lake Eyre drainage and Lake Woods, NT; tropical; benthic; usually inhabiting turbid waterholes of larger rivers over sand or rock bottoms.


Meristic features: Dorsal fin I, 4; 2nd Dorsal + Caudal + Anal finrays 120; Pectoral fin I, 7.

Body slender, tapering posteriorly; head broad, flattened; head-snout profile concave; eyes relatively low set on side of head; tail pointed; lateral line continuous; anterior nostrils above upper lip.

Scales absent, body covered in smooth skin. First dorsal small, with one sharp spine and 4 soft rays; 2nd dorsal fin confluent with anal and caudal fins, originating near posterior-most part of body; caudodorsal fin base length less than 10% of SL.


Maximum size to 35 cm, commonly to 20 cm.


Pale, silvery-white overall with yellowish-orange fins.


Likely to feed on molluscs, crustaceans, insects and worms.


Little is known of the biology of this species. The species likely spawns during flooding and undertakes substantial migrations, either as adults and/or juveniles. Individual fish can be sexed by the shape of their urogenital papilla: those of females are short and flat, whereas in males, the papilla is longer and pointed.

Species Citation

Plotosus argenteus Zietz 1896, Report Horn Scientific expedition. Part 2. Zoology. London: 410. Type locality: Cooper Creek near Innamincka, central Australia.


Martin F. Gomon

Silver Catfish, Porochilus argenteus (Zietz 1896)


Allen, G.R. 1989. Freshwater Fishes of Australia. Neptune, New Jersey : T.F.H. Publications 240 pp., 63 pls.

Allen, G.R., Midgley, S.H. & Allen, M. 2002. Field Guide to the Freshwater Fishes of Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 394 pp.

Burgess, W.E. 1989. An Atlas of Freshwater and Marine Catfishes — a preliminary survey of the Siluriformes. Neptune City, New Jersey : T.F.H. Publications 783 pp.

Hammer, M.P. & Walker, K.F. 2004. A catalogue of South Australian freshwater fishes, including new records, range extensions and translocations. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 128(2): 85-97.

Hoese, D.F. & Gates, J.E. 2006. Plotosidae. pp. 357-365 in Beesley, P.L. & Wells, A. (eds). Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35 Australia : ABRS & CSIRO Publishing Parts 1-3, 2178 pp.

Huey JA, Baker AM, Hughes JM (2006) Patterns of gene flow in two species of eel-tailed catfish, Neosilurus hyrtlii and Porochilus argenteus (Siluriformes: Plotosidae), in western Queensland's dryland rivers. Biol J Linn Soc 87: 457–467. doi: 10.1111/j.1095-8312.2006.00590.x

Larson, H.K. & Martin, K.C. 1990. Freshwater Fishes of the Northern Territory. Northern Territory Museum of Arts and Sciences Handbook Series Number 1. Darwin : Northern Territory Museum of Arts and Sciences 102 pp. 73 figs.

Leggett, R. & Merrick, J.R. 1987. Australian Native Fishes for Aquariums. Artarmon : J.R. Merrick Publications 241 pp. 142 figs.

Merrick, J.R. & Schmida, G.E. 1984. Australian Freshwater Fishes Biology and Management. Sydney : J.R. Merrick 409 pp. figs 280 col. figs.

Pollard, D.A, Davis, T.L.O. & Llewellyn, L.C. 1996. Family Plotosidae: Eel-tailed catfishes. pp. 109-113 in McDowall, R.M. (ed.). Freshwater Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Sydney : Reed Books 247 pp.

Unmack, P.J. 2001. Biogeography of Australian freshwater fishes. Journal of Biogeography 28: 1053-1089

Unmack, P.J. 2001. Corrected identifications and lectotype designation for Porochilus argenteus (Zietz) (Osteichthyes: Siluriformes: Plotosidae). Records of the South Australian Museum 34(1): 57-59

Wager, R. & Unmack, P.J. 2000. Fishes of the Lake Eyre Catchment of Central Australia. Brisbane : Department of Primary Industries and Queensland Fisheries Service 88 pp.

Zietz A.H.C. (1896) Description of an additional new species of fish from the Finke and Barcoo Rivers pp 410-411 in Spencer B. (ed) Report on the work of the Horn Scientific expedition to central Australia. Part 2. Zoology. London 

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37192008

Habitat:Turbid freshwaters

Max Size:35 cm


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