he theme 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 waste away.
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 brown colour.
The close up image below shows the barbel arrangement of this
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.
easy to keep in captivity
as 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 freshwater dip.
The 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.
A tank set-up for them would comprise
of a sand/gravel or 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.
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 edged.
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 primary rayed fin(s) on top of the
Pectoral: The paired fins after head and
before anal fin.
Anal Fin: The fin forward from the anal cavity.
= Plotos =
Lined or streaked.
Robert; Look, but don't
touch!, Marine Catfishes of the Family Plotosidae. Tropical
Fish Hobbyist, July 1996.
Dakin, Nick; Bats & Cats. Fishkeeping
Answers, November 1993.
Sterba Günther; Freshwater Fishes of
the World Vol.1
Silurus lineatus, Platystacus anguillaris, Plotosus anguillaris,
Plotosus thunbergianus, Plotosus marginatus, Plotoseus
ikapor, Plotosus vittatus, Plotosus castaneus, Plotosus castaneoides,
Plotosus arab, Plotosus flavolineatus
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.
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