for this catfish of the month (May 2007) is "Look,
but don't touch" which tells you a little bit
about this member of the Plotosidae family.
This is the first factsheet that does not encompass
a freshwater species as the "Coral Catfish"
lives in the open ocean and thus in a saltwater situation.
The "Look but don't touch" mantle refers
to the very venomous spines in their dorsal and pectoral
fins and Burgess (1989) and Nelson (1994) state that
their stings might be fatal in some circumstances.
If you do succumb to a sting from this catfish you
need to first thrust your hand into hot water as hot
as you can stand it to heat the poison up and so hopefully
dilute it, and then you may have to make a trip to
your local hospital if things get worse. Best to have
someone around when working with this fish.
In their natural
habitats they school in a group looking for food so
if purchasing you must not buy them singularly but
in a group of between 5 and 8. The freshwater species
of the Plotosidae family can be bought as individuals
but not this saltwater cousin as they will sulk and
When very young
they are mostly black and when they start to mature
the white to yellow ventral stripes begin to appear
gradually to make this catfish a real beauty to the
enthusiast. It is only when they get to the adult
stage that they lose this trait and revert to a murky
The close up
image below shows the barbel arrangement of this species
lineatus- head view
easy to keepin captivityas long as you can purchase a group
free of any parasites as they don't like copper based
medications in the aquarium and it is better to drop
the salinity of the water gradually if you spot any
problems with diseases, to basically give them a freshwaterdip.
size of a group of this species necessitates that
you house them in a large aquarium, starting of with
a 4ft tank for juveniles working your way up to a
8ft x 2ft x 2ft tank for a small group of adults.The life span is reputedly 7 years.
tank set-up for them wouldcomprise
of a sand/gravelor coral/rock
rubble, which can be aggregated in flanks or balls
on sandy bottoms. A good water current is preferred
with hiding places in the aquarium.A
good quality salt mix (pre-mixed for a day before
use)of a constant high
or low range salinity is fine. The pH values would
need to be monitored with the heavy feeding that is
common with these cats.
Red Sea and East Africa to Samoa, north to southern
Japan, southern Korea, and the Ogasawara Islands,
south to Australia and Lord Howe Island. Palau and
Yap in Micronesia.
Less than 20ppm
Dorsal 1/4-5; combined fin
80-100/~10-70-80; Pectoral 1/10-11; Ventral 11-12.
Body elongate, torpedo shaped, compressed. Head large.
The second dorsal combines with the caudal and anal
to form a uniform fringing fin. 4 pairs of short barbels.
Upperside dark brown to blackish,
becoming fawn towards the belly which itself is
delicate brown to yellowish. Young fishes with 2
(-3) striking pale, yellowish to bluish-white, longitudinal
stripes. Fins brown, the combined fin often dark
Care & Compatibility
Can be kept with other Marine
fish of compatible size but larger adults would be
best kept on their own. Can be kept with invertebrates
when young but could pose a problem for them when
they get larger.
In their natural habitat they
lay their eggs in nests constructed by the males in
shallow, rocky areas in the summer months. There have
been reported spawings in the home aquarium as well
as in Public Aquaria.
No problem in this department
as they will greedily feed on pellets, marine flake,
frozen and fresh food. Two daily feedings of at least
one of defrosted frozen food will suffice.
The fin forward from the anal cavity.
primary rayed fin(s) on top of the body Pectoral: The paired fins after head
and before anal fin.
= swimming. lineatus
= Lined or streaked.
Nick; Bats & Cats. Fishkeeping Answers,
November 1993. Fenner,
but don't touch!, Marine Catfishes of the Family Plotosidae.
Tropical Fish Hobbyist, July 1996.
Sterba Günther; Freshwater Fishes
of the World Vol.1.