Callichthys callichthys (Linnaeus,
he Armoured Catfish is well named as the flanks
of this catfish resemble the tiles on your house roof and as such
is one of the most hardiest patrons of our aquariums.
As you can see from
the side panel this member of the Callichthyidae
family, which also includes the Cory's, is well distributed around
most of the countries of South America and as only recently as 1999
this catfish was monotypic ( having only one species, such as a
monotypic family of fishes). Three more recently described species,
fabricioi Roman-Valencia, Lehmann
and Muñoz, 1999, from the upper Cauca River of the Magdalena
River basin in Colombia, Callichthys serralabium Lehmann
& Reis, 2004, from the upper Orinoco River, near La
Esmeralda, Venezuela and the headwaters of the Negro River tributary
of the Amazon River, both in Brazil and Venezuela and the latest,
Callichthys oibaensis Ardilia Rodríguez, 2005, from
the Suárez River basin, Colombia. The differences between
our factsheet subject this month, Callichthys callichthys,
and Callichthys serralabium is that Callichthys serralabium
possess a serrated lower lip, 8–9 branched rays in the pectoral
fin, an irregular colour pattern of dark, diffuse blotches on flanks
of adults, a longer anal-fin spine, and absence of the prenasal
In its natural habitat Callichthys callichthys can move
from a dried up stream to other waters by crawling on its ventral
Callichthys callichthys was many years ago a much sought
after catfish in the U.K. but as trends and time passes by and the
many species of Corydoras started arriving in this country
due to the much improved air travel, and also the much vaunted arrival
of the many new varieties of Loracariids and the L-numbers, its
popularity waned, but there is still an interest among the more
discerning aquarist that the Armoured Catfish still has a part to
play in the catfish fraternity.
As stated earlier, Callichthys callichthys
is an easy catfish to keep as long as its inhabitants are not
too small, such as very small tetras and Livebearer fry, apart
from that you well need at least a 30inch (76.5cm) long to give
them some room with hiding places such as rockwork and or, a wood
layout such as bogwood or branchwork. Sand or gravel for the substrate
would suffice and of course a weekly change of water of about
D 1/6; A 1/5-6;
26-29 bony scutes in the upper lateral series, 25-28 in the lower.
Body elongate, of almost uniform depth, tapering in breadth posteriorly.
Head broad, flattened dorsally. Two rows of bony scutes on the flanks,
arranged like tiles on a roof. Caudal fin rounded. 2 pairs of maxillary
barbels which reach to the pectoral fins when laid back. Eyes small.
to dark grey with a delicate blue or violet sheen on the flanks.
Underside blue-grey to brownish. Fins grey with dark spots, the
margins pale or in fine specimens, orange to reddish.
Very adaptable to water conditions and can
be housed with most other fish as long as they are not too small
or overly aggressive. More than one can be kept. May be prone to
digging and uprooting plants.
Is a bubble nest builder and as such can lay
up to 120 eggs in the nest. The male looks after the nest area and
can be heard making grunting noises when doing so. The young hatch
at about 4-5 days and can be fed as per Corydoras species.
The male in breeding condition sports orange to red in the pectoral
spine as seen in above image.
Can be fed most aquarium fare such as good
quality flake, tablet, pellet foods and frozen food such as bloodworm.
Callum = hard skin; ichthys = fish.
Pablo and Reis, Roberto E.;
Copeia: Vol. 2004, No. 2, pp. 336–343. Callichthys
serralabium: A New Species
of Neotropical Catfish from the Upper Orinoco and Negro Rivers (Siluriformes:
Lehmann, Pablo and Reis, Roberto
E.; Systematic revision of the neotropical
armored catfish genus Callichthys (Ostariophysi: Siluriformes: Callichthyidae).
Sterba, Günther; Sterba's Freshwater Fishes
of the World vol.1