his month (May 2019) we concentrate on a family of
catfish that are, on the most part, overlooked by
even the most ardent catfish hobbyists. The Aspredinidae
family are what is known in the hobby as " Banjo
Cats" or "Guitarrita" (little guitar)
owing to their long flattened banjo/guitar shape.
They are even cited as "Frying Pan Fish".
You will probably get my drift now on the shape of
this months factsheet individual, namely, Bunocephalus
amaurus, the "Camouflaged catfish".
family is divided into two subfamilies, Bunocephalinae,
this months subject, and Aspredininae and can be told
apart by the longer anal fin of the latter, and also
the longer body.
but is rarer in imports. Frequently occurs in creeks
where it plays the role of a typical bottom cleaner,
possessing a broad food spectrum. Lives in the leaf
litter in small forest creeks of the interior.
male dorsal head view showing the 'Y' shaped nuchal
British Guiana (Guyana).
It is documented
that some of the aspreniids are salt tolerant and
as such are naturally occurring in estuarine environments.
Banjo catfish are generally found in fresh water,
with some occasionally being found within brackish-water
environments of tropical South America. It is also
documented that some members of the subfamily Aspredininae
live in coastal brackish waters.
Lives in the coastal
rivers of northern South America between Orinoco to
Amazon mouths. Present in all freshwater rivers except
the Marowijne River where it is replaced by B.
Coastal rivers of northern
South America between Orinoco to Amazon mouths. Type
locality: Konawaruk, British Guiana.
plate has a shallow 'Y' shaped nuchal crest, its base
just in front of the dorsal plate extending forward
and dividing level to the base of the pectoral spine.
Head and body covered in minute tubercles, plus nine
rows of conspicuous tubercles around the tail.
Dark chocolate brown with lighter
saddle between the nuchal crest and the dorsal spine
and lighter patches on the back between the dorsal
and caudal fins. Barbels banded. Dorsal, caudal and
anal fins dark brown to black with a white margin,
first rays of dorsal and anal and outer rays of caudal
banded. Ventral fins mottled with a white margin.
Pectoral fins dark brown to black, last rays lightly
Care & Compatibility
No problem to keep in a community
tank and they will forage out in the open when food
is introduced. Can be kept in groups and are non aggresive
inmates in a shallow tank. The main problem is seeing
them as they are a nocturnal species and you may be
able to spot them if you feed at lights out in the
dusk of a half lit room or fishhouse. Provide sand
as a substrate as they will dig themselves into this
and will smell food as it is introduced.
This species has
not been recorded but B.
has been bred with the eggs boasting a total of 4,000
and are laid in the sand and would probably be better
served if they are removed to a smaller tank or container,
and when hatched will need to be fed very fine first
foods such as brine shrimp and micro worm, after they
have used up their yolk sac. They can then be weaned
onto small worm foods such as grindel worm and tubifex.
Determining the sexing out
of this species is not easy but a rule of thumb is that
the females are larger and fuller in the belly and usually
a little darker in colouration.
Adults when settled in their
tank are not fussy feeders and can be fed a healthy
diet of worm foods such as frozen bloodworm and tubifex
and also tablet and pellet foods at lights out.
Dorsal fin: The primary rayed fin(s) on top
of the body. Nuchal: Area between the skull and
dorsal fin. Pectoral fins: The paired fins just
behind the head. Tubercles:
Tentacle-like projections. Ventral fins: The paired fins, between
the pectorals and the anal fins.
cephalus = head(with bumps on the head).
J.P. 2003 Aspredinidae
(Banjo catfishes). p. 261-267. In: R.E. Reis, S.O.
Kullander and C.J. Ferraris, Jr. (eds.) Checklist
of the Freshwater Fishes of South and Central America.
Porto Alegre: EDIPUCRS, Brasil. Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors.
2009. FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication.
www.fishbase.org, version (01/2011). Catfish Association
Great Britain: Magazine No. 14, April 1977.
Page 8. Ralph, Chris: Tropical Fish Hobbyist
Magazine. The Banjo Catfishes, Issue November 2007. Mol, H.A. Jan, The Freshwater Fishes
of Suriname. BRILL, Leiden Boston, 2012. 889 p.