Conta is distributed in the Ganges and Brahmaputra drainages, India and Bangladesh. C. conta is also listed to originate from Bhareli and Mahananda Rivers, northeast Bengal, Garo Hills, Meghalaya; and Bangladesh; and also Sarda River, Uttar Pradesh. C. pectinata originates from the Middle Brahmaputra River basin, Assam, India.
Conta occurs in rocky streams at the bases of hills.
Conta can be distinguished from all other erethistids by the presence of a very long and narrow adhesive apparatus on its thorax about six times as it is long. It also has extremely narrow gill openings, a slender body, a serrated anterior margin on the dorsal fin spine, a papillate upper lip, and 9-10 anal fin rays. The eyes are small and located dorsolaterally. There is villiform (brush-like) teeth in both jaws. The pectoral fin spine is serrated anteriorly and posteriorly.
C. conta reaches about 8 centimetres. C. pectinata grows to about 5 cm. C. pectinata differs from C. conta in that it has a longer and more slender caudal peduncle and in having anteriorly-directed serrations (instead of antrorse or distally-directed serrations) the anterior edge of the pectoral fin spine.
Catfish (order Siluriformes) are a diverse group of ray-finned fish. Named for their prominent barbels, which resemble a cat's whiskers, catfish range in size and behavior from the heaviest, the Mekong giant catfish from Southeast Asia and the longest, the wels catfish of Eurasia, to detritivores (species that eat dead material on the bottom), and even to a tiny parasitic species commonly called the candiru, Vandellia cirrhosa. There are armour-plated types and also naked types, neither having scales. Despite their name, not all catfish have prominent barbels; members of the Siluriformes order are defined by features of the skull and swimbladder. Catfish are of considerable commercial importance; many of the larger species are farmed or fished for food. Many of the smaller species, particularly the genus Corydoras, are important in the aquarium hobby.
Catfish are easy to farm in warm climates, leading to inexpensive and safe food at local grocers. Ictalurids are cultivated in North America (especially in the Deep South, with Mississippi being the largest domestic catfish producer). Channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) supports a $450 million/yr aquaculture industry. In Central Louisiana, Morgan W. Walker, Jr., an Alexandria businessman, in 1970 converted a 1,100-acre cattle ranch into catfish ponds to raise fish on a mass scale for sale and consumption.
Catfish raised in inland tanks or channels are considered safe for the environment, since their waste and disease should be contained and not spread to the wild.
In Asia, many catfish species are important as food. Several walking catfish (Clariidae) and shark catfish (Pangasiidae) species are heavily cultured in Africa and Asia. Exports of one particular shark catfish species from Vietnam, Pangasius bocourti, has met with pressures from the U.S. catfish industry. In 2003, The United States Congress passed a law preventing the imported fish from being labeled as catfish. As a result, the Vietnamese exporters of this fish now label their products sold in the U.S. as "basa fish." Trader Joe's has labeled frozen fillets of Vietnamese Pangasius hypophthalmus as "striper."
There is a large and growing ornamental fish trade, with hundreds of species of catfish, such as Corydoras and armored suckermouth catfish (often called plecos), being a popular component of many aquaria. Other catfish commonly found in the aquarium trade are banjo catfish, talking catfish, and long-whiskered catfish.