Hara horai

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Matt Clarke on the erethistid catfish Hara horai.

Common name: Elongate moth catfish, Hora's moth catfish

Scientific name: Hara horai Misra, 1976

Origin: Practical Fishkeeping's Fish Mapper shows that the species is found on the border of India and Nepal. Museum data show that the fish has been recorded from from Terai Duars in north Bengal, India, and also recorded from Rajpur in Nepal.

Size: Up to 8cm/3", usually smaller.

Diet: Hara species tend to be picky feeders. Bloodworms and other insect larvae are the food of choice and are usually accepted frozen, as well as live.

Water: These were in hard, alkaline water and appeared to be doing very well. However, Hara are typically found in neutral or slightly acidic water. The precise temperature requirements of this species aren't known, but it's possible that they may prefer it cooler. Many Hara do best in water of 15-20C.

Aquarium: In my opinion, Hara are relatively tricky fish to acclimatise, and I wouldn't recommend them to anyone other than skilled catfish enthusiasts. They're peaceful and attractive little fish and do well in a mixed community containing other small south east Asian fishes. Provide a soft, sandy substrate and plenty of bogwood to act as shelter as they appreciate daytime cover.

Notes: Not to be confused with the similar sounding Hara hara, Hara horai is a larger fish and is seen far less frequently in the shops. It is a member of the catfish family Erethistidae and shares the genus with four other species: H. jerdoni, H. filamentosa, H. hara and H. serratus. The latter was described from Manipur, India, in 2000 by Vishwanath and Kosygin. There is also at least one known species awaiting formal description.

Identification: The pectoral spines of H. horai are just about equal to the length of the head, while in H. hara the spines are shorter than the head length. The occipital process is also a useful character in distinguishing Hara species. If you look at the fish from above you will see a bony structure extending from the head towards the front of the dorsal fin. There are usually five prong-like structures on this - the middle one is the occipital process. In H. horai and H. hara this doesn't meet the base of the dorsal fin. In H. jerdoni the process almost meets the dorsal fin base. H. filamentosus has a characteristic filament on the tail lobes. The full diagnosis for the more recently described H. serratus is available on FishBase.

Availability: These fish were shot at Wildwoods in Middlesex during the summer. They are rarely available in the trade.

Price: On sale for around 5-10 each.