cataphractus (Linnaeus, 1758)
This month we welcome back regular contributor,
Chris Ralph with a look at an old favourite in the hobby the
"Spiny catfish" and a host of other common names such
as the Milky Catfish, Talking Catfish, Chocolate Talking Catfish,
Chocolate Raphael or Bacu. We hand you over to Chris now and
a insight into this old member of the Doradidae family.
canthodoras cataphractus is
very popular amongst a number of catfish enthusiasts myself
included. Unfortunately it is not commonly available to the
hobbyist, but is sometimes imported amongst other representatives
of the family Doradidae. When this fascinating catfish is available
expect to pay £10- £12 for an adult fish (2005 u.k.
prices). In their natural habitat these catfish are said to
be abundant in the calm waters of swamps and mangroves. These
catfish are most active at night preferring to take refuge during
belongs to the family Doradidae (Thorny Catfishes) from South
America namely the Amazon River basin and coastal drainages
of French Guiana, Guyana and Suriname. Acanthodoras cataphractus
is also documented as being native to Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia
Acanthodoras cataphractus prefer
to be kept in water which has a pH in the range of 6.0-7.5,
and hardness in the range of 4.0 to25.0°dGH. This catfish
is ideally suited to temperatures in the range of 22-26ºC
I would suggest
a minimum size of 36” x 15” X 12” for a shoal
of these fascinating catfish. The preferred substrate for keeping
these catfish should be good quality aquarium sand such as BD
Aquarium Sand, or very smooth rounded gravel in order to prevent
their barbels from being damaged. The aquarium should provide
some shelter in the form of rocks, bogwood and aquatic plants.
As with all other species of fish, water quality and general
husbandry is very important, and I would recommend that a minimum
of 25% water is changed on a fortnightly basis.
The body shape of Acanthodoras cataphractus
is described as being depressed or flattened and elongated. The
body is naked and is best described as being without scales. The
body has a lateral row of bony plates which bear backwardly projecting
spines referred to as “scutes”. There are a number
of small spiny projections above and below the lateral line situated
behind the dorsal fin and extending towards the caudal fin. The
head of Acanthodoras cataphractus is large and flattened
and is described as being granular with solidly united bones.
The mouth is described as being terminal, with three pairs of
barbels one pair of maxillary and two pairs of mandibular. The
eyes are small or “piggy”. The dorsal fin has 1 spine
and 5 soft rays and the anal fin has 10-11 soft rays.
The base colour of
the body and head is chocolate brown (hence the common name of
Chocolate Talking Catfish) overlaid with some almost creamy orange
markings almost forming a stripe which leads from the head into
the lateral line and body scutes; whilst giving some blotchy markings
over the rest of the body which are mainly on the ventrolateral
region of the body. The fin spines are coloured as are the fins
Wherever possible I would 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. These
catfish 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.
are documented as having been spawned in aquaria. Both parents
were observed digging a depression in the substrate into which
the eggs were deposited. The eggs were guarded by both fish. The
eggs hatched after 4-5 days although unfortunately the young did
not survive beyond the fry stage of development.
As with all the other doradids that I have
had the pleasure to keep over the years, Acanthodoras cataphractus
is omnivorous and readily accepts a mixed and varied diet which
they search through the substrate for. I personally feed all of
my doradids on sinking catfish pellets, good quality flake foods,
granular foods, cultured whiteworm, earthworms, aquatic snails
which they relish and frozen foods such as bloodworm to name but
from the Greek acantha = thorns, and doras, meaning skin;
in reference to the spines on the bony scutes along the
lateral line, and cataphracta/us
= armoured or mail-clad.
is defined as extending from below and to the side.
Scute is defined
as a bony plate.
Dorsal is defined
as top or above.
Maxillary is defined
as being in relation to the maxilla, the bone of the upper
defined as being in relation to the mandible or lower
Depressed is defined
as flattened from top to bottom.
Lateral is defined
Terminal is defined
as being the end point.