All photos by Antonis Roussos / MCH - February 2006, taken at "Hydrocosmos" petshop. Text by Francesco Zezza
Few short notes on Pimelodids catfishes.
FOREWORD: I have never kept these fishes (to my regret I have to add) but I like them a lot and, in the future, given the chance … I WON’T MISS IT! Since these catfishes are NOT very common or well known I will first introduce the Pimelodids catfish as a “group” !
Pimelodis Catish are found in Central/South America and some Caribbean islands (56 genera and over 300 species counted up to now). Many of them grow BIG!!! Among the main physical characteristics which are worth mentioning are the long pair of UPPER whiskers and two pairs of LOWER barbels used to search for food (almost all of them are nocturnal prowlers). They are scaleless fishes and this - since you will be probably keep a wild caught specimen - makes things very difficult should any illness arise. As a general rule “scaleless” fishes do not tolerate almost drugs, including salt. The same is true while quarantining them. Their main characteristic is their remarkable adult size (Brachyplatystoma filamentosum will reach, eventually THREE meters/NINE feet in T.L.) which call for extremely careful planning (apart from a correct identification !) when it comes to setting up a tank to keep them in.
All Pimelodis live at the bottom hence the tank will be aquascaped accordingly: Healthy specimens breath slowly and regularly. Their tank:
· will (preferably) exceed in length the T.L. of the fish by two/three times and in width at least once, (THINK!),
· will be filled with acidic/neutral water (at least upon their arrival),
· will offer them generous (both in amount AND frequency) water changes,
· will have a lot of water movement, subdued lights and room for the fishes to gulp air at the surface (every now and then),
· will have ALL of the technical equipment OUT of REACH of fishes (i.e. out of the tank or securely shielded) and always in “top notch” condition,
· will have extremely oversized filter(s). Pimelodis are extremely sensitive to pollutants: a “yawning” fish shows – to an aquarist – his/her dislike for the water he/she’s swimming in,
· will have an aquascaping, with no sharp edges at all, reduced to the bare minimum, rock and bogwood will do, but always offering each fish (just in case …) his own, separate, hiding spot. They are – or may result - among the rest, territorial to the highest extent,
· will – just in case - contain few (selected) tankmates ALL of them exceeding the Pimelodid mouth size (not an easy task),
· will be fed (well, I refer to the fish in it !) extremely sparingly mostly when adult size/age has been reached.
FINAL TIP (in case You have to move them): stay away from nets (to avoid damage to whiskers, barbels, spines and alike) and just in case (not that easy, I think …) “bag them” …
To finish with introduction:
1. A nice pic (shot in Belgium during the first, ever, MCH meeting) of a Phractocephalus hemioliopterus (a.ka,: Red Tailed Catfish). A presentation will be online next month !
2. Few notes on Perrunichthys perruno (a.k.a.: Reticulated Catfish) are available (always at MCH) here.
To make a long story short the title of the “best of the best” of Pimelodids, when it comes to aquarium keeping, goes to Brachyplatystoma (Merodontotus) tigrinus, to whom I devote the (following) few notes:
Fast facts on Brachyplatystoma tigrinus (Merodontotus tigrinus)
Biotope: South America: Brazil (the holotype comes from Rio Madeira), Columbia (i.e.: lower Caqueta) and – to a certain extent – Peru.
Tank: Really large to huge and many times even this is not enough with any of the Pimelodids. To be more specific, for a single B. tigrinus, something like 500 liters could/should do. Our friend is less demanding in tank size as compared to a Red Tailed Catfish but, still needs a fairly large tank and the larger the better. Anyway, there some things you should always have in mind when deciding to keep this kind of fish: lots of room, huge filtration and suitable aquascaping.
Water chemistry: nothing really exotic: Temp: 22-26ºC (71-79f ). pH: 6.5.-7.5.
Spawning: I don't have any information about it, neither on sexual differences nor on actual spawning in a tank. Actual spawning, to the best of my knowledge, has never happened in a tank.
Food: Animal matter, mainly. Anything live/dead/chopped fitting in his (large) mouth will be considered food and eagerly taken. Feed sparingly: once a day (adult specimens) with starvation once a week.
Tank Mates: This is either an extremely complicated issue (choose large “strong but not bully” tank-mates) or extremely simple (keep him/her alone). Do consider the fact a healthy (full grown) specimen will attain a T.L of more than 60 cm (about 24 inches) and perhaps more. Think/act conservatively …