Photoperiod and shelter have direct or indirect effects on phenotypic traits expression in different fish species. The present study was, therefore, intended to explore whether these light and shelter could influence some phenotypic traits of African catfish larvae under laboratory condition. Newly hatched larvae were stocked in plastic aquaria (10L) at a rate of 5 individuals/L and reared for one month under four treatments such as 24h light (24L), 24 h dark (24D), 12h light and 12h dark with PVC (12DL_PVC), and 12h light and 12h dark without PVC (12DL) conditions. A total of 108 larvae were sampled for phenotypic traits analysis. The results revealed that complete darkness (24D) significantly improved the overall growth parameters (total length, standard length, caudal peduncle length, anal fin length, caudal fin length, total body depth, dorsal fin length, pre dorsal distance, pre anal distance, pre ventral distance, head width, head length, eye diameter, maxillary barbell length, inter orbital length, and specific growth rate) than all other treatments, while no significant variation was found among other treatments. Although shelter did not show any significant role in the overall growth, it significantly reduced the larval mortality than those reared without shelter. The survival rates were also significantly different among various light regimes in which the highest was found in 24D (86%) followed by 12DL_PVC (74%), 24L (71%), and 12DL (60%). The study also revealed that larvae reared in 24D exhibited maximum dark brown body colouration (63%), while in 24L showed maximum light brown colouration (96%). On the other hand, maximum larvae were appeared as medium brown color (76%) in tanks having PVC, whereas many of them were light brown (61%) in non-PVC tanks. Taken together, the study suggests that C. gariepinus larvae should be reared in completely dark condition to enhance their overall production.