Boofhead Catfish

Neoarius leptaspis
Boofhead Catfish - Marinewise © 2024 MarineWise

Quick Facts

Scientific name Neoarius leptaspis
Other names Freshwater Forked Tailed Catfish, Lesser Salmon Catfish, Salmon Catfish, Triangular Shield Catfish
Size Up to 60 cm (23.6 in)
Weight Up to 5.4 kg (12 lb)


Habitat & AU Distribution Fresh, brackish & marine waters in stream, rivers & estuaries amongst muddy bottoms & aquatic vegetation
Depth Range 0 - 5 m (16 ft)
Boofhead Catfish Distribution

Interesting Info

  • The Boofhead Catfish is a species of catfish found in the rivers and streams of northern parts of Australia. They have a wide distribution, including the Gulf of Carpentaria, the Northern Territory, and northern Queensland.
  • The fish has a flattened head, a thick body, forked tail, and a smooth, scaleless skin that is often covered in a layer of slime.
  • Boofhead Catfish are bottom-dwelling predators that feed on small fish, crustaceans, and other aquatic invertebrates.
  • They have a unique breeding behaviour where males build nests out of small rocks and gravel, and then guard the eggs until they hatch.
  • The Boofhead Catfish is a nocturnal species, meaning that it is most active at night and tends to hide during the day.
  • The species is known to have venomous spines on its dorsal and pectoral fins, which can cause pain and swelling if touched.
  • They are a long-lived species, known to live for over 20 years in the wild.
Species Interaction

Recreational Fishing

Boofhead Catfish can provide a fun and challenging fishing experience, they are known for their aggressive behaviour. Providing powerful strikes and strong fighting ability for their size. They are poor eating, so are usually caught and released for sport.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Siluriformes

Family: Ariidae

Genus: Neoarius

Species: Neoarius leptaspis

Conservation Status

The boofhead catfish is listed as “Least Concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This means that the species is not considered to be at risk of extinction or facing significant threats to its population.

Fish Taste Quality

Boofhead catfish are not considered to be good table fare by many people. Their taste is often described as being quite strong and unpleasant, with a somewhat muddy or earthy flavour. The flesh is usually quite tough and can have a chewy texture.

Taste Rating: 2/5

How to catch
Boofhead Catfish

Catch Difficulty: Easy

Tackle: Running Sinker Rig

Bait: Fresh cut flesh baits, Pilchards, Prawns, Squid, Worms, Yabbies, Live minnow

Technique: Keep bait on the bottom, Keep bait close to structure

Popularity: Targeted