In this, the last month of 2005, we welcome
back Chris Ralph a regular contributor to ScotCat and who also
writes for the largest circular fishkeeping magazine in the U.K.,
"Practical Fishkeeping". He is also an author in his
own right with a few books now on the hobby. Without further ado
Chris will explain the doe's and don'ts of keeping one of my own
favourite big cats, Oxydoras niger, the "Mother
of Snails Catfish".
he Mother of Snails Catfish is not
a very commonly seen doradid, although if you have kept one then
it is one that you will not forget in a hurry due to the size
that they can grow to. These catfish are usually offered for sale
as juvenile specimens at around 4” in length. To the unsuspecting
aquarist they have probably taken on more than they bargained
for! This said if you are a genuine enthusiast you would already
know a bit about these fish and their requirements prior to their
purchase. The colour of these fish is basically dark brown to
black, hence their other common name name "Black Doradid".
If you own one of these catfish you will
know that feeding time can be a rather wet experience, even
with tight fitting cover glasses, or in my case an open topped
pond! I have lost count of the number of soakings that I have
had over the years! I purchased my first Mother of Snails Catfish
about twenty years or so ago. The first one that I owned was
around 10” long SL (25cm) and very rapidly outgrew a 72”
x 18”x 18” aquarium. I eventually purchased a larger
aquarium 72” x 24” x 36” and went on to keep
this fish for a number of years. When the fish died from a bacterial
infection it was almost 28” in length, and would have
required an even larger aquarium before too long. This was really
the main reason behind the construction of the Tropical Pond,
although at present I am not keeping any large catfish. The
Mother of Snails Catfish belongs to the Family Doradidae, all
of which originate from various locations throughout South America.
Sometimes literature refers to the doradids
as “Talking Catfish” due to the fact that they can
be heard to make audible noises, almost as if they are speaking
to one another. There have been no records of these catfish
having been successfully bred under aquarium conditions yet,
which is probably just as well!
One of the main characteristics
of the doradids is the presence of thorn like projections along
the side of the body, which are known as scutes. These scutes
are very sharp, so care should be taken when moving these fish.
Occasionally amongst imports of Oxydoras
niger there are the odd slightly different specimens which
tend to have black coloured fins and a grey coloured body, which
are Pseudodoras holdeni.
A real “Tank buster” if ever
there was one. Quite a character obviously suited to large accommodation
especially if keeping a number of fish together. Peaceful towards
other fish and members of its own kind. Other doradids such as
Agamyxis pectinifrons (Spotted Dora), Platydoras
costatus (Striped Dora), Oscars and any other fish of a compatible
size. Large pieces of bogwood and clean plastic drainpipe of suitable
diameter for them to hide under. Ideally heater guards should
be provided in order for the fish not to burn themselves.
As yet unknown.
|There are no known external
sexual differences. There are however some thoughts and
suggestions that there may be some differences in the shape
of the bony plates which extend from the head to the edge
of the pectoral fins. It has been suggested that the male
has a more pointed plate, whilst the female has a more rounded
plate. There is no scientific evidence that is available
to support this observation.
Readily accepts all manner of prepared foods.
Stinking Sinking Catfish Pellets are high on the list, alongside
floating pellets and sticks, as well as frozen bloodworm, chopped
mussel and earthworms.
Oxys = sharp; doras = cuirass ( helmeted)
niger : Black body colour
© Allan James @
in the September 2005 edition of Practical Fishkeeping magazine.
|Doras niger, Doras
humboldti, Pseudodoras niger, Corydoras edentatus, Rhinodoras
niger, Rhinodoras prionomus, Rhinodoras teffeanus.
|Mother of Snails Catfish,
Ripsaw Catfish & Black Doradid
|Amazon region, Peru, Brazil,
Rio Purus, Rio Sao Francisco.
| In excess of 90cm (36ins)
| pH 6.0 to 7.8 with up
to 25 dGH hardness
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