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  Parastegophilus maculatus
 (Steindachner, 1879)

he last monthly factsheet of the year (2016)
brings us to one of the least kept catfish families,
Trichomycteridae, which contains most of the parasitic catfishes and although the vast majority are small they can be nasty but none the less they are very interesting in their own right.


Parastegophilus maculatus


Parastegophilus maculatus in its natural habitat enters the gill chambers of large catfish such as Luciopimelodus pati and feeds on the gills. There is a patch of about seven thorn-like opercular spines and another patch of approximately nine interopercular spines. These are erectile, and by first erecting these on one side and then those on the opposite side, the fish is able to inch its way forward into narrow openings.The sub-family Stegophilinae have sucking mouths with which they can hang on to the bodies of other fishes.


Homodiaetus maculatus, Stegophilus maculatus 

Common Name

Spotted parasitic catfish






South America: Lower Paraná and Uruguay River basins, Argentina. Type locality: La Plata, Prov. of Buenos Aires, Argentina.


6.0cm. (2½ins)


16-26°c (59-79°f.)


Head depressed, body loach-like. Dorsal fin placed posteriorly. Anal fin behind dorsal fin, ventral fin slightly in advance of dorsal fin. None of the fin rays are modified into spines. Maxillary barbels small, minute labial barble present under maxillary barbel. Copious covering of mucus over entire body.  


Body olive on upper half, lighter below. A series of black spots along middle of sides, plus a number of smaller spots above. Large black blotch at base of caudal fin. Upper and lower lobes of caudal fin black. Base of dorsal fin dark, remainder of fin olive.


Not recommended for the home aquaria with other fish but if kept would do better on its own with its own kind.

Sexual differences
Not known


Not documented.


Difficult to feed with aquarium made foods as this is a species that feeds of fish, scales and body mucus so certainly a catfish for the specialist.


Parastegophilus: Greek, para in the side of + Greek, stego, to cover + Greek, phileo = to like.
maculatus : Spotted.

Glossary of Terms

Anal fin - The median, unpaired, ventrally located fin that lies behind the anus, usually on the posterior half of the fish.
Dorsal fin
- The primary rayed fin(s) on top of the body.
Ventral fin - The paired fins, between the pectorals and the anal fins.
Maxillary Barbel -
Pertaining to the upper jaw. (maxillary barbels).
Caudal fin - The tail.
Opercular spines -
Spines on the the bony covering of the gills of fishes.
Interopercular spines -
Between the preoperculum and the operculum.
Preoperculum - The anterior bone of the opercular series, forming the border of the cheek.


de Pínna, M.C.C. and W. Wosiacki, 2003. Trichomycteridae (pencil or parasitic catfishes). p. 270-290. In R.E. Reis, S.O. Kullander and C.J. Ferraris, Jr. (eds.) Checklist of the Freshwater Fishes of South and Central America. Porto Alegre: EDIPUCRS, Brasil.
Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2006.FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication.  www.fishbase.org, version (02/2006).
Ferraris, C.J. Jr., 2007. Checklist of catfishes, recent and fossil (Osteichthyes: Siluriformes), and catalogue of siluriform primary types. Zootaxa
Catfish Association Great Britain. Volume1. 1983

Photo Credits

© Steve Pritchard (From the publication; Catfishes of The World by David Sands vol.5 Bagridae and others p. 30)



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Factsheet 246

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