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
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, Callichthys
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 fins.
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 20-25%.
Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French
Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Surinam, Trinidad
& Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela.
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.
Care & Compatibility
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
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: Callichthyidae) 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
@ Allan James @
Bottom image:@ Danny
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