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Platystomatichthys sturio (Kner, 1858)

he slight upturned snout of this 'pim' (hence the common name of Sturgeon catfish) makes it possible for it to find the finest food organisms in the substrate. It is reported that some imported specimens are half starved and need tender loving care to recover. Some of these specimens end up with a deformed snout which has either been damaged in transit or in captivity.

Platystomatichthys sturio

If this species is not given enough space it will invariably damage its snout against the aquarium glass sides so they must be given as large a tank as possible. Below is an image of a specimen with a deformed snout. Water conditions must of course be of the highest quality when dealing with this species as they will not tolerate ammonia or nitrites so very good filtration is in order if thinking about purchasing the Sturgeon catfish.



Specimen with damaged snout.

Specimen with damaged snout due to either in transit or in captivity.


Platystomatichthys sturio
is monotypic (the only species in this genera) and is closely related to the Duckbill Catfish, Sorobim lima and as such has similar looking lateral plates beginning just behind the head and extending back to around the position of the ventral fins. These plates are covered with skin similar to S. lima.


Platystomatichthys is classified under the "Calophysus-Pimelodus clade". Within this clade, it is considered a part of the "Pimelodus-group" of Pimelodids, which also includes Pimelodus, Exallodontus, Duopalatinus, Cheirocerus, Iheringichthys, Bergiaria, Bagropsis, Parapimelodus, Platysilurus, and Propimelodus.


Body slender and long, covered with thin skin. Head long, depressed anterioly, the upper jaw projecting well beyond the lower jaw, the exposed underside of which is covered with fine rasp-like teeth. Three pairs of barbels, two pairs of moderately short mandibular barbels and one pair of extremely long maxillary barbels which well exceed the length of the body. Caudal fin deeply forked, with the outer rays of the upper and lower lobes extended into long filaments.

Sides silvery grey, shading darker dorsally and to creamy white on the ventral surface. A series of large round black spots along the side, varying in number between individuals, though usually one spot below the middle of the dorsal fin and another at the base of the upper lobe of the caudal fin are present.

Aquarium Care
Provide a soft substrate such as sand or smooth gravel as they will dig and root and will need a powerful external filter. The tank must be twice the length, in width, of the barbels on this species, so it can turn around with no obstruction. A 4ft tank should be the minimum length. Provide a swift current in the tank for this species.


Can be kept together or singly but will be predatory to smaller fishes especially as they grow larger. If housing with other fish the large cichlids of South America or large cyprinids such as tinfoil barbs will do well.

Not recorded.


Not reported

Tubifex, small earthworms, tablet and pellet foods.

Platystomatichthys: Greek, platys = flat + Greek, stoma = mouth + Greek, ichthys = fish

Glossary of Terms:

Maxillary barbels: Pertaining to the upper jaw. (maxillary barbels)

Mandibular barbels: Pertaining to the lower jaw. (mandibular barbels).
The tail.
Ventral fins:
The paired fins, between the pectorals and the anal fins.

Dorsal fin: The primary rayed fin(s) on top of the body

Baensch, H.A. and R. Riehl 1985 Aquarien atlas. Band 2. Mergus, Verlag für Natur- und Heimtierkunde GmbH, Melle, Germany. 1216 p.
Conservación Internacional; seris de Guías Tropicales De Campo. Pecos del medio Amazonas Región de Leticia. 546 p.
Lundberg, John G.; Parisi, Béatrice M. (2002). "Propimelodus, new genus, and redescription of Pimelodus eigenmanni Van der Stigchel 1946, a long-recognized yet poorly-known South American catfish (Pimelodidae: Siluriformes)" (PDF). Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 152 (1): 75–88. doi:10.1635/0097-3157(2002)152[0075:PNGARO]2.0.CO;2.

Photo Credits

© Enrico Richter @  Amazon Predators


© Johnny Jensen @  Johnny Jensen's Photographic Library


Factsheet 220

Platystoma sturio 
Common Name:
Sturgeon catfish
South America: Amazon basin. Type locality: Rio branco, Brazil.
30cm. SL. (12ins) 40cm TL ( 16ins)
21-25°C (69-77°F)
6.0 - 7.5.
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                                                                                                                                  Factsheet 220 = updated December 15, 2018 , © ScotCat 1997-2018 Go to Top