common name of "Twig Catfish" certainly
sums up this member of the Loricariidae family as
one look at the picture shows an animal reassembling
a twig or stick and it is now sadly a forgotten "pleco"
with the onslaught of the L-numbers in the last 10
years or so relegating this once sought after catfish
to the memories of yesteryear.
The genus name
of Farlowella is named in honour of William
Gibson Farlow the famous American botanist of the
last century, and the beginning of the 21st, who's
main work was actually working with algae plants which
brings us to the one of the most favourite foods of
this slender catfish "algae". It is quite
difficult to get a right balance in feeding this species
as greens are predominately its main food and they
do not do all that great on meaty foods such as bloodworm,
frozen or live, or any other types of worm food, algae
wafers are another good possibility. Water quality
is another issue as Farowella do not take kindly
either to large wholesale water changes as they quickly
succumb to the shock of such an action. A better idea
is to make two or three small water changes per week
with aged water so as not to upset their equilibrium.
There are at
present (2002) 36 species of Farlowella with F.
vittata and F.
gracillis being the
most commonly exported varieties. There is large and
slight differences between the different types which
sometimes can lead to confusion in the hobby not to
mention the headaches that the Judges on the show
circuits have to put up with (so I won't mention it
:-)) One very important I.D. is the ventral scutes
on these species and it is one way of differentiating
between them. Below are two line drawings of such
in the line drawing above you can see the differences
between the elongated snouts of the two species with
F.gracilis being the longer and slimmer with F.acus
with the shorter snout, and also the threadlike appendages
adorning the caudal fin of F.gracilis.
The identify of
members of this genus is carried out by looking at
the ventral plates (underneath the mouth to anal area)
to identify to species. F.acus (F.acus
species group) has two rows of abdominal scutes, no
median scute at the base of the pelvic fins (occasionally
found in species of the Farlowella curtirostra
species group), and fairly long breeding odontodes
on the snout (found on no other species of Farlowella).
To sex out this
species is comparatively easy as the male(in
breeding condition anyway)has a broader snout
(rostrum) from the female and is adorned with short
bristles.Sometimes it is hard in young specimens
to tell this difference but I have always found a
sure fire method by running your fingers along the
snout of a captured specimen and you can feel the
slight roughness of the male compared to the female.
The photograph above was captioned
as a pair but I am sure with the differences in the
ventral scutes and the bristles on both of the rostrums,
that we have a male F.acutus on the left (two
rows of plates) and a male F.gracilis (three
rows of plates)on the right of the picture.
acus is a native of Venezuela and some records
show catchment areas of Colombia and Brazil but they
may have been specimens of other species of Farowella
such as F. gracilis or F. gladiola.
America:Venezuela,Lake Valencia and Torito River.
D1/6; A1-5; P1/5-6; V1/4-5;
33-34 bony scutes in a lateral series. On the belly
the rows of of lateral scutes are closely aproximated.
Snout 4-4½ times in the distance from its tip
to the anus (snout tip to front of mouth).
Olive-green to yellow-brown,
underside yellowish. A very distict irregular dark
band, often beset with blotches, extends from the
head to the root of the tail. Fins transparent, the
rays with dark spots. Each caudal lobe with a dark
Care & Compatibility
An easy catfish to keep? no
I don't think so as there have been many unexplained
deaths attributed to this species (myself included)
and as such would need dedicated care from an experienced
catfish keeper who has worked with this species or
its close cousin from the easier kept
As this is a very timid species, if housed with other
inhabitants you would be better keeping away from
boisterous fish such as some of the Barb species (such
as tigers) and definately Cichlids. Better companions
would be the unobstrusive Corydoras species
and small Characins or Rasboras.
In the aquarium
the male will clean a hard surface usually the aquarium
wall and the female lays its eggs last thing at night
or early morning with upwards of 60-80 laid. The male
mouths and fans the eggs with his pectoral fins and
they hatch in 6-10 days depending on the temperature,
thereafter the problems start as you will have to
feed them more or less right away on the right foods.
This is where a well matured and planted aquarium
would be beneficial as the fry can feed of the established
plant material and the micro bacteria in the tank
and also be supplemented with lettuce, corgette (zucchini)
and cucumber but it will not be an easy task as high
losses are reported in the first few weeks of life
until they can get a foothold on life. A good method
of feeding which has had a good success rate, is green
peas squeezed out of the shell and crushed into a
paste which you can then sprinkle at the front of
the tank so you can see at the end of the day what
has been left over, and then subsequently siphon the
waste out and replace again. This should be done every
day. In their natural habitat they spawn from between
November and March but can be induced at any time
(if in good condition) in captivity.
They are mostly vegetarian
with algae being their number one source of food for
adults and young fry so the above mentioned foods
along with vegetable laden tablets should suffice.
Named in honour of W.G.Farlow of Harvard University.
acus: Pointed; a neadle
Association of Great Britain; Vol.1. Retzer, M.E. and Page,
L. M.; Systematic
of the Stick Catfishes, Farlowella Eigenmann &
Eigenmann (Pisces, Loricariidae) Proceedings of the
Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, Vol.
147, (1997), pp. Riehl,
R. and H.A. Baensch 1991 Aquarien Atlas.
Band. 1. Melle: Mergus, Verlag für Natur- und
Heimtierkunde, Germany. 992 p.
Sterba's Freshwater Fishes of the World 2.