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Acanthodoras cataphractus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Image contributors to this species:

Danny Blundell (1) Chris Ralph (4) Johnny Jensen's Photographic Library (1) Allan James (1)

ScotCat Sources:

Factsheet Article Etymology = Genus Etymology = Species

Other Sources:

Fishbase Google Search  All Catfish Species Inventory

Relevant Information:

Dorsal spines (total): 1; Dorsal soft rays (total): 5 - 5; Anal soft rays: 10 - 11. The body is a little elongated, without scales, with one lateral range of bony plaque. The head is large and flattened. Mouth terminal, and has three pairs of barbels. Eyes are small. Abundant in calm waters of swamps and mangroves. Omnivorous, feeds mainly on organic wastes. Searches for food by digging in the sediment. Active at night, lies hidden in the underwater roots and stocks during the day. Every basic unit of the sound they emit when they move their pectoral spine lasts 100-200 milliseconds with a frequency of 170-250 Hertz. Aquarium Care: Wherever possible it is recommend that the aquarist keep these catfish in small groups of four to six specimens, assuming that they are available in these numbers; failing this Acanthodoras cataphractus are quite happy to shoal with other members of the family Doradidae. In their natural habitat they would be found in very large shoals. They are ideally suited to being kept in a community aquarium environment with other medium to large species of fish such as Bleeding Heart Tetras, Emperor Tetras and other catfish. The main thing to remember is that these catfish have quite a large mouth and are capable of eating any fish small enough to fit inside. Diet: As with all the other doradids, Acanthodoras cataphractus is omnivorous and readily accepts a mixed and varied diet which they search through the substrate for. Sinking catfish pellets, good quality flake foods, granular foods, cultured whiteworm, earthworms, aquatic snails which they relish and frozen foods such as bloodworm.

Common Name:

Spiny catfish


Silurus cataphractus, Cataphractus americanus, Doras blochii, D.brunnescens,  D.castaneoventris,  Callichthys asper  




South America: Amazon River basin and coastal drainages of French Guiana,  Guyana and  Surinam.


15cm. (6ins)


22-26°C (71-79°F)




ScotCat Factsheet no. 140. Feb. 2008.
Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2009.FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication. www.fishbase.org, version (02/2010).



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