Diagnosis: mouth inferior (Ref. 81639). Lips normally well developed, lower lip continuous (Ref. 81282, 81639). Geographical variations in mouth form: soft or “rubbery” versus keratinised (Ref. 2940, 81282). Two pairs of well-developed barbels; barbels long, posterior barbel reaching to or beyond posterior margin of eye (Ref. 81639). Scale formula 4.5/26-30/4.5 (Ref. 2940, 81282) or 4.5-5.5/26-33/3.5-4.5/2-3 (Ref. 81639). 2-3 (Ref. 81639) or 3 (Ref. 2940, 81282) scales between lateral line and pelvic-fin base. 12 scales around caudal peduncle (Ref. 2940, 81282, 81639). 8-9 (Ref. 2940, 81282) or 8-10 (Ref. 81639) dorsal fin branched rays. Last simple dorsal ray ossified and as long as or shorter than head in specimens over 150 mm SL (Ref. 2940, 81282) or measuring 0.67x HL (Ref. 81639).
Description: large species; last simple dorsal-fin ray strong, bony, not serrated (Ref. 81282, 81639). Scales with parallel striae; lateral line complete; dorsal fin with concave border (Ref. 81639). D:IV,8-9 (Ref. 81282). D: III-IV, 8-10; A: III, 5-6; P: 15-18; V: 9-10 (Ref. 81639).
Coloration: in life adult specimens are an overall bright golden color with dark scale pockets, while juveniles are marbled silver and brown pattern, with a conspicuous dark caudal peduncle spot (Ref. 81282). Preserved specimens brownish above, scales darker at base, white beneath; fins greyish (Ref. 81282, 81639). Pectoral and pelvic fins with black distal margin (Ref. 81639).