The walking catfish (Clarias batrachus) is a species of freshwater airbreathing catfish native to Southeast Asia. It is named for its ability to “walk” and wiggle across dry land, to find food or suitable environments. While it does not truly walk as most bipeds or quadrupeds do, it has the ability to use its pectoral fins to keep it upright as it makes a wiggling motion with snakelike movements to traverse land. This fish normally lives in slow-moving and often stagnant waters in ponds, swamps, streams, and rivers, as well as in flooded rice paddies, or temporary pools that may dry up. When this happens, its “walking” skill allows the fish to move to other aquatic environments. Considerable taxonomic confusion surrounds this species and it has frequently been confused with other close relatives. One main distinction between the walking catfish and the native North American ictalurid catfish with which it sometimes is confused, is that the walking catfish lacks an adipose fin.
n Thailand, this fish is known as, pla duk dan (Thai: ปลาดุกด้าน). It is a common, inexpensive food item, prepared in a variety of ways. It often is offered by street vendors, especially grilled or fried.
This fish is one of the most common freshwater catfish in the Philippines where it is known as hito in the local language.
In Indonesia, it is called lele, and it is the main ingredient in several native dishes, such as pecel lele.
Not true C. batrachus, but C. magur is eaten in West Bengal মাগুর মাছের ঝোল, and is considered good during illness, particularly for body weakness. It is prepared in a light curry sauce with coriander powder and cinnamon powder. It reportedly is fed to children to develop body strength.
In Karnataka, C. magur is called murgodu (ಮುರ್ಗೋಡು). In coastal Karnataka, it is called mugudu (Tulu: ಮುಗುಡು), and is considered a delicacy. Neither the Thai nor the Indian populations are likely to be C. batrachus, however.
A white variation with black patterns is commonly seen in the aquarium fish trade. However, this color variation also is prohibited where walking catfish are banned. Very well-rooted plants and large structures that provide some shade should be included in an aquarium with these fish. Any small tankmates will be eaten by this fish.