I taut I saw a taw a puddy tat

Mr. Fish


brought home an unusual catfish from the store the other day and put him into my quarantine tank. Since this was the first catfish that I had acquired in some time I decided to set up the quarantine tank with numerous caves so that the catfish would feel at home and also so that I could observe him by putting the caves all facing out.

The fish I got was Platydoras armatulus (previously P.costatus, see here), the Striped Raphael Catfish. He was around three inches long and about an inch and a half wide. Striped Raphael catfish have been in the hobby for a long time and this was not the first time I had one.


Platydoras armatulus

Platydoras armatulus

Platydoras armatulus comes from South America and is widespread in rivers from Peru to Brazil. It is in the catfish family Doradidae, the Talking Catfish. When I first got the talking catfish I discovered that they do indeed make a squeaking sound when removed from the water. This seemed to go along with the movement of the pectoral fins. It was only later on that that I found out that the sound was coming from the movement of the pectoral fins. I also found out that the amount of strength in those pectoral fins was enough to hold on to a finger for an extremely painful time. I demonstrated that trait to friends with a pencil after that.

Feeding the Raphael is easy as it will eat anything. It prefers snails, insect larvae and definitely tubifex worms. If you have a snail problem, this is definitely the fish to take care of it.

This black talking catfish has a white stripe across its lateral line, down its back and on a line from the mouth to the outer edges of the pectoral fins. This distinctive and striking pattern makes it popular among fishkeepers seeking an oddity for the community aquarium. Like most catfishes, Platydoras armatulus is extremely nocturnal.

The females are larger than males, but since you generally will only have one of these cats that is not important to the general fishkeeper. What is important is that the Raphael Catfish can be extremely territorial towards its own kind and is likely to dispute ownership of caves, nooks and crannies with other nocturnal catfishes. However, it is not over aggressive and will do little more than outspread its pectoral and dorsal fin spines and this is only dangerous when directed at scaleless fishes disputing territory.

I might add that the spines can be hazardous to your hands, so be careful. So after the mandatory three weeks in the quarantine tank where I fed and fattened up this little armored catfish for entrance into the cold hard world of many more cats and many big cichlids, he made his grand entrance. He promptly headed into the rock grottos that make up my 240 gallon aquarium and I didn't see him again.

About three months ago while I was up late at night, raiding the refrigerator, I happened to spot Raphael foraging around the tank. It had been so long that I forgot that I even had him. So out of the corner of my eye "I taut I saw a taw a puddy tat". That drew me to the aquarium and I spent about an hour just watching the tank in the dark. The cichlids were all drifting mid water fast asleep and the catfish were out. It was an exciting night to be alive.

This article first appeared in the Tampa Bay Aquarium Society Newsletter, Volume III, Issue 5, January 1995.

Photo Credit: Allan James @ ScotCat


Donate towards my web hosting bill!

If you would like to contribute an article, please e-mail me. You will of course be credited for your work.

If you would like to donate any denomination of money to the site just click the above link button. All proceeds will go to running the site and hopefully to keep it going for a few years yet.

Print or e-mail this factsheet below



Print Friendly and PDF