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
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.
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
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