Platydoras armatulus (Valenciennes,
Update: January 2009.
When this factsheet was first compiled in April 2006 we had captioned
this Dorad as Platydoras costatus, as this was the name
that we knew this catfish as for a great number of years. Due
to the work carried out in the paper by Piorski, N.M.,
J.C. Garavello, M. Arce & M.H. Sabaj Pérez
in 2008 we came to realise that the real P.costatus was
indeed indigenous to the coastal drainages of Suriname and French
Guiana and what we had called for years, P.costatus,
was in fact Platydoras armatulus. I will carry on with
the original text with references to this. As a footnote there
are four species of recognised species of Platydoras:
P. armatulus (Paraguay-Paraná and portions of
Amazon and Orinoco basins), P. costatus (Corantijn and
Maroni basins), P. brachylecis (Rio Mearim, rio Pindaré,
rio Itapecuru and rio Parnaíba basins in northeastern Brazil)
and P. hancockii (Negro, Essequibo, Demerara, and upper
t is now 56 factsheets ago (no
17) since I ventured into an in-depth
look at this months lookalike Dorid partner, Orinocodorus eigenmanni,
so basically for this months no 73 effort, Platydoras armatulus,
most of the criteria works both ways concerning water parameters
and basic husbandry. For a start the common names are alike with
eigenmanni having the longer nose hence the Long Nosed
Raphael whereas our subject this month is the Raphael Catfish
a common name used in North America, however in the U.K. you will
hear Humbug or Chocolate Talking Catfish
for this species. In its native Peru it is called in the local
Spanish dialogue "Rego rego" meaning something to do
with water which maybe our Spanish friends can enlarge upon.
This is one of the nonindigenous catfishes
that have been released from the home aquarium into the waters
of Florida in the U.S.A. and had been collected in the early 1980s
but not as yet established, which must be a relief to the local
wildlife authorities but must also anger them to the irresponsible
actions of the persons concerned.
This is in my opinion an easy catfish to keep even for the catfish
novice as long as you don't intend to show this fish off to your
friends as it will just disappear when introduced to your tank
and will be forgotten until maybe 'spied' one evening a few months
later. It can be extremely nocturnal but strangely enough can
be 'trained' when older to come out of its retreat at feeding
time as can be seen in the top picture, he/she gets fed around
7.30 every night and as soon as the cover glass is moved it swims
out of its pipe and up to the water surface for its rations of
either frozen bloodworm, tablets or pellets. When this fish is
younger and not often seen it is a good idea to feed after lights
You will have to be aware of the pectoral spines in P. armatulus
(bottom picture) as they are extremely strong and powerful and
you will get a nasty shock, not too mention the pain if you get
on the wrong side of these fins. If you have to catch this fish
for any means such as moving to another tank or even showing this
fish at a show you will have to catch it by either maneuvering
it into a glass vessel or the method I use is just to pick the
pipe up where it resides and move it (quickly!) to your chosen
destination. When young you can even net this fish but when it
gets bigger it can get caught in the mesh of the net and apart
from having to cut the net to release it you can stress the fish
In common with most of the Doradidae
family it can create a sound by grating its fin bones in each
socket and amplifying the noise via the swim bladder which is
one reason why it got its common name of the Chocolate Talking
As a footnote this is a fairly easy catfish to keep as long as
you can provide it with shelter such as pipes or cave work. It
will even jam itself into the pipe with its pectoral spines and
will be unremovable.
Dorsal 1/6; Anal; 10-11; Body; 28-31 large
scute bearing plates leaving small naked area along the back.
Dorsal Spine; serrated on both sides, those on the posterior edge
smaller, sometimes disappearing with age. Caudal Peduncle; covered
above and below with modified caudal fulcra. Maxillary barbels;
Extending to tip of humeral process. Eyes; large and laterally placed.
Upper part of the body dark brown/black with
conspicuous white lateral band which meets its opposite number on
the head, just above the eye and extends through the hooks on the
scutes into the caudal fin. Snout and lower part of head, white.
Dorsal white to cream at base and tip of dorsal spine, remainder
of fin dark. Upper and lower margins of caudal are white or cream.
Pectoral ray white/cream, remainder of pectoral fin dark.
If keeping more then one you will certainly
need many 'nooks and cranies' as they will tustle with each other
for the best hideing places and could do damage with these pectorals.
Not to be trusted with smaller fish such as the small tetras as
they will be picked of at night but will do well with Cichlids and
the middle of the range South American Characins which grow over
the 6-8cm range.
Not reported in the aquarium.
Easy to feed on frozen food such as bloodworm,
tablet food where I find the Tetra variety to be a favourite, and
pellet foods. In youngsters it is better to feed at night after
lights out, the older they get they will get bolder and come out
at feeding time.
Platys = broad; doras = cuirass.
- Bony plates.
Caudal Peduncle - The area between the dorsal
fin and the tail.
Humeral Process - Bony extension of the pectoral
Scutes - Bony covering
Northern Area Catfish Group
Information Sheet no. 09.
Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2002. FishBase.World
Wide Web electronic publication. www.fishbase.org,
20th August 2002
Sabaj, M. and C.J. Ferraris Jr., 2001. Doradidae.. pp.
In [Editorial list.]. Checklist of the Freshwater Fishes of South
and Central America. In preparation.
Piorski, N.M., J.C. Garavello,
M. Arce & M.H. Sabaj Pérez
(2008): Platydoras brachylecis, a new species of thorny catfish
(Siluriformes: Doradidae) from northeastern Brazil. Neotropical
Ichthyology 6 (3): 481-494
Allan James @