he Astroblepidae family is little known
as they prefer cool water and are not kept very often in the hobby
due to their exact requirements. But nonetheless they are very
interesting especially in their climbing habits.
Fishes of the family Astroblepidae (and
its one valid genus Astroblepus Humboldt, 1805) are
found in freshwaters streams (between 200 to 13,400 feet above
sea level) of the tropical Andes from Panama to Bolivia, and
occur in both the western Pacific and eastern Amazonian slope
drainage systems in South and Central America.
Astroblepids are closely related to the
Loricariids, and in fact one genus of fish (Lithogenes
Eigenman, 1909) seems intermediate between the two families,
having the shape and form of an Astroblepid, but some plates
on the body and other morphological characters closer to Loricariids.
Astroblepids are distinguished from loricariids by the naked
body, which is covered by bony plates in loricariids. At the
time of writing, Lithogenes is currently placed in
mancoi - ventral
view with the suckermouth and the attachment apparatus on
The images above were taken by myself in the field at an
altitude of 1471m and a water temperature of 15.6C (60.1F).
We found Astroblepus in the Madre De Dios region
between 443m (1453ft) to 1471m (4826ft) high but never below
Upper Ucayali River basin
and the Madre De Dios region Peru
The family Astroblepidae
have the head and body depressed, flattened and not covered by an
armour of dermal scutes. Two pairs
of barbels, one maxillary and one nasal. The dorsal fin is short
with 6 to 7 rays that is provided with a stout spine. An
adipose fin is either present or absent and when present it is often
long and low with a stout spine. The mouth is inferior, with the
lips expanded and forming a sucker.
All species of Astroblepus feed on Aufwuchs which is
why they are problematic to keep in the aquarium for any length
of time. The structure of their mouth and teeth reminds one
strongly of loricariids.
Astroblepus are adopted perfectly
to strong current. They do not have only a suckermouth, but
also a moveable adhesive apparatus on the belly. Both specializations
allow the fish to climb even over the strongest rapids existing.
On the upper edge of the opercula is a small aperture that allows
the fish to breath even although the mouth is attached to the
There are at present (April 2019) 67 species in the Astroblepus
Remarks: This species
may be A. mancoi or a very close relative.
Dark brown body colour with yellowish vertical
bands. Caudal fin outer rays with brown and yellow bands. Dorsal
fin clear with hard ray sporting brown and yellow bands.
Not an easy family
of catfishes to keep as they would have to have a large
tank with rocks and some appropriate vegetation. The water
would need to be fast flowing and provided with extra oxygen
via an air tube fed into the powerhead flow. The tank should
be set up with rocks so as to provide an area where the
water current will be slower.
Any fast water fishes that are used to
cooler water temperatures.
|Males have an elongate
urogenital papilla that apparently functions as an intromittent
insect larvae, spirulina tablets or paste, algae based foods and
live bloodworm would probably be the staple diet but you may wish
to try glassworm and blackworm (although these won’t tend
to stay on the substrate unless the current takes them there).
Dorsal fin: The primary rayed fin(s) on top of
Adipose fin: Fleshy finlike projection
without rays, behind the rayed dorsal fin.
Maxillary barbels: Pertaining to the upper
jaw (maxillary barbels).
Nasal barbels: On
top of the head, by the nostrils. (nasal barbels).
Opercula: The bony covering of the gills
Astron = star; blepos = look.
For the Inca Ayar Manco, coloniser
of Cuzco, the “Moses of the Peruvian Indians”,
who, about 1100 A.D. led the exodus from Tampu-tocco.”
(Eigenmann & Allen, 1942)
Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2017.FishBase.
World Wide Web electronic publication. www.fishbase.org,
( 02/2017 )
Burgess, W.E., 1989. An atlas of freshwater
and marine catfishes. A preliminary survey of the Siluriformes.
T.F.H. Publications, Inc., Neptune City, New Jersey (USA).
Grant; Steven, The Aquarium Gazette: Issue
1; February/March 2008; ASTROBLEPUS
All Astroblepus images by Author