The Tapah / Giant sheatfish are arguably the largest catfish in the country. Records show that the largest Tapah ever found was about 120 kg and measuring over 2 metres long! Currently, specimens over 30 kg are considered large.
The Tapah can be found in the deep sheltered pools of large rivers. They are more active during cloudy and nocturnal conditions, ambushing any prey like other fishes and even mammals that fall into the water. Their lumbering swimming action is compensated by the rows of curving teeth that take a secure hold of the prey.
Scientific name: Wallago attu
Common name: Giant sheatfish / Helicopter Catfish
Malay name: Tapah
Other names: Tapak (Indon.), Bakuk (West Sumatra)
Salient Features: Similar in design to the European wels. Very large mouth, big abdomen. Body tapering to the tail. Small tail fin. Feather-like dorsal fin. Very long anal fin. Flanks are grey-black at the dorsal area, turning to white at the abdomen. Small black dots can be found against the white colour. Very long barbels.
Preferred habitat: Deep pools of large rivers (lower to middle stretches). Prefers structure (sunken timber or rocks)
Distribution: Perak river system, Sg Selangor, Sg Tengi, Sg Bernam., Sg Muar, Sg Endau system, Sg Pahang system.
Sumatra, Java, Indochina, India
Record size: 110 kg.: Sg Tembeling., Pahang.
Angling records: 65 kg (unofficial): Selangor.
Conservation status Not common. Release all large specimens (above 5 kg.)
Diet: Grubs, fishes, mammals
Common baits: Large keli, cyprinids, small ducks.
Popular lures & flies: Large sinking plugs.