is a small member of the family Callichthyidae, the armored
catfish. Along with Corydoras and Brochis it is
further a member of the subfamily Corydoridinae (Burgess,
p38). Thus, to most of us, members of the genus Aspidoras
are like small Cory catfish. Indeed, the features which separate
Aspidoras from Corydoras are, to the layman, too
small to distinguish. Nevertheless, we can make some generalizations
about this group that serve to separate them.
that I have seen are small, 2 to 2 1/2 inches in length (5 -
6 cm). They have relatively small eyes when compared to
They tend to be fairly slender,
and the males and females can be hard to distinguish. Most
are covered with black or grey blotches on a whitish background.
In fact, they look a lot like male Corydoras paleatus
(the Peppered Catfish).
The females tend to get a little more plump, but this is not
as obvious as with Corydoras. As with Corydoras,
Aspidoras are quite peaceful. I have found that A.
maculosus is a little more skitterish than Corys, however.
They would do well to have a little cover, or a place to escape
to. They definitely do better in groups of at least a half
a dozen, and they tend to stick together. Also, if you purchase
a small group, you are more apt to get some of each sex.
Feeding Aspidoras is pretty much the same as with Corydoras.
They take all foods I have tried including flakes, brine shrimp
(adult frozen and baby), beef heart, Tabi-Min, etc. They are
bottom feeders so one has to be sure they get their share in
a community setup.
I obtained about a half-a-dozen a little over a year ago at
a club auction, and placed them in a 5 gallon tank. The tank
contains a sponge filter, some java moss, and water sprite floating
on the surface. As these were close to adults, I gave them a
bottom mop to spawn in, in addition to the jave moss. After
several months, however, no eggs were found in the mop or on
the glass. Then one day I found 3 eggs on the front glass near
the surface of the water. These were removed and placed in a
small tank with a sponge filter. They hatched and grew without
difficulties. As they were not enough for our Breeder's Award
Program, I gave them away as soon as they were big enough. The
experience made me think, however, that maybe they needed a
floating mop. So I placed a killie mop with a cork on top in
the front of the tank where I could watch. Within a week I found
a few eggs on the glass behind the mop facing the front. An
inspection of the mop revealed many more eggs hidden in the
upper portion of the mop. The mop and eggs were again placed
in a 1 1/2 gallon tank with a sponge filter. The sponge
filter has a short stem so the water level can be kept low,
also the filter has a small stone under one edge so the fry
can go under and not get stuck. After about three days
the eggs hatched. Another 2 to 3 days were required for the
fry to absorb their yolk sac. At that time they were fed. They
took the usual fry food without difficulties and were easily
My fry get a banquet of a squirt of infusoria, some vinegar
eels, some microworms, and very few baby brine shrimp. Very
small servings of each are given to prevent pollution. At this
point I also introduce some small snails to clean up whats left. As
soon as I see they are going after the brine shrimp (by their
pink bellies), I discontinue the other foods. When they are
about 1/2 inch in length, they get some powdered dried food.
I have found that A. maculosus are quite easy to raise
under these conditions. I have not tried to start them in small
margarine containers, so I don't know if it will work.
My fish definitely prefer a floating spawning mop. In the last
spawning, consisting of 17 fry, only 2 eggs were on the glass.
And these two were right next to the mop. This makes it very
convenient, as the mop is easily removed to another container
I find these a delightful little cat. They should make a nice
addition to a small community tank.
References: Burgess, Dr. Warren E.; A Complete
Introduction to Corydoras and Related Catfishes, T.F.H. Publications,
Neptune City, NJ, 1987.
This article can also be viewed on the Saskatoon
Aquarium Society web site. As published in Nekton, the newsletter
of the Saskatoon Aquarium Society.