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Leporacanthicus heterodon  Isbrücker & Nijssen, 1989

t's the month of July 2014 and we pay homage to the World Cup which is being held in Brazil of course this year and so we feature a catfish from this country, namely Leporacanthicus heterodon from the middle Rio Xingu, and to celebrate the wonderful game and also some of the strange haircuts on view, which I will explain later.

Leporacanthicus heterodon

L. heterodon is is the smallest species in this genera. The genus Leporacanthicus is characterised by the possession of having a small suckermouth with lip barbels on the top and pointed teeth. The Leporacanthicus genus is readily identifiable from all other Ancistrini by the development of only two teeth in each premaxilla, the inner teeth being very long (all other Ancistrini have more than two teeth in the premaxilla), by having a well-raised supraoccipital crest (the supraoccipital in most Ancistrini is flat to slightly raised) and by having numerous long barbels above the upper jaws. It has been hypothesized that the enlarged teeth of the upper jaw are used to remove snails from their shells (Burgess 1994).



Head crest with odontodes

Head crest with odontodes


Coming back to the strange haircuts scenario we can see in the above image a small crest on the head (the supraoccipital crest) which is formed by enlarged odontodes and would go down very well passing the ball about in a Brazilian world cup game....with apologies to anybody who is not the least interested in the beautiful game.


The collection point for L. heterodon is the middle Rio Xingu which has been in the aquaristic news in the past couple of years with the inclusion of the Belo Monte Dam which will be the world’s third largest hydroelectric dam on the Rio Xingu – a major tributary of the Amazon. The Xingu is one of the most biologically diverse waterways on the planet, not to mention home to many well-known aquarium fish. Officially known as the Belo Monte Dam Complex, this project will divert 80% of the Xingu’s water flow and, in effect, flood over 1,500 square kilometers of Brazilian rainforest, not to mention the aquatic and wildlife that inhabit that area. This will lead to changes in the water chemistry which are predicted and a lot of our aquarium Loricariids, including Hypancistrus zebra, are set to perish from these dramatic changes in water chemistry and the changes in food sources that will result from the modification of the river.

Head narrow and pointed with a small crest formed by prominent odontodes on the posterior extremity of the supraoccipital process. Snout sharp. Upper lip fringed.

Grey to gold with black spots distributed irregularly over the whole body. Spots are prominent on the head. Body colour can vary but males tend to have better colouration

Aquarium Care

This catfish can be territorial with its own kind and so must have a big enough aquarium if more than one is kept. Regular water changes must be adhered to, and also having a powerful filter system that can deliver a high oxygen content. Hiding places are beneficial to this fish with bogwood or wood of some description and/or some rockwork. This species can sometimes be problematic in the aquarium due to its sharp teeth which can shred plants, damage other inhabitants of the tank and also the silicon sealant that is in the corner framework.


Can be housed with most small to medium community fish but bare in mind that they can be territorial and so other fish would be better chosen to be housed in the upper echelons of the aquarium.

The males have a more elongated body and a broader head and they also posses short odontodes on the edges of the snout which the females lack and the males also tend to have a better body colouration.

This genus has been bred in an aquarium that is around the 200 litre mark with soft to medium hard water. The spawning's can be triggered by large water changes and increasing the water circulation of the tank. 30 to 40 eggs are laid and the larvae hatch in about 6 days. The fry can be reared with flake foods, tablets and fine frozen foods.


This is a breeding report from Norwegian aquarist Ole Paulsen. "It can be bred in 80 liter tanks too. Most importantly for breeding this species successfully is to have a cave with an opening on the side or in the middle. They breed in normal caves also but they prefer side openings.

Mosquito larvae, shrimps, crustaceans and tablet foods.

Leporacanthicus: From the Latin; "lepus", "leporis" meaning rabbit and from the Greek, "akantha" meaning thorn.
heterodon: Different tooth.

Glossary of Terms:

Premaxilary: In relation to the premaxilla (an upper jaw bone) e.g. premaxillary tooth band.

Supraoccipital process: Unpaired bone at the back of the skull, usually with a crest.

Odontodes: Hair - like stuctures on the body


Cramer, C. Konn-Vetterlein, Daniel. Tanke, Andreas. 2013. Loricariids of the Middle Rio Xingu. 2nd. Edition. PantaRhei GmbH.
Datz Special: All L-Numbers: Habitat, Care & Diet.
Ferraris, C.J. Jr., 2007. Checklist of catfishes, recent and fossil (Osteichthyes: Siluriformes), and catalogue of siluriform primary types. Zootaxa 1418:1-628.

Seidel, I. 2008. Back to Nature guide to L-catfishes, Ettlingen, Germany 208 p

Amazonas Magazine; http://www.reef2rainforest.com/2014/05/13/fluval-sponsors-expedition-to-document-renowned-xingu-river/
Paulsen, Ole. Internet Conversation. July 2014

Photo Credits

Top image:       © Haakon Haagensen @


Bottom image: © Johnny Jensen @   Johnny Jensen's Photographic Library
Factsheet 217

Common Name:
Golden Heterodon, L172a, L172b
South America: Brazil: in the Xingu River basin. Type locality: Brasilien, Est. Mato Grosso, Rio Xingú, Cachoeira von Martius, oberer Xingú.
18.0cm. (7ins)
25-30°c (77-87°f.) 
6.0 - 7.2.
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                                                                                                                                  Factsheet 217 = updated December 14, 2018 , © ScotCat 1997-2018 Go to Top