month (August 2011) we welcome back Adrian Taylor,
member of the Catfish
Study Group. He takes a
look at the "Grass Cutter Catfish", Schilbe
is a medium size catfish of around 20cm in length
and on rare occasions this mid-sized and somewhat
attractive species can be found in our local fish
stores. It originates from in the drainage of the
Congo river in Africa and out side this area is only
found in the Cabinda province of Angola. These are
not a bottom feeding Catfish but are a mid-water to
surface open water active swimmers; that although
normally are found in small groups, can from time
to time be found schooling together in quite considerable
has no adipose fin, which distinguishes them from
other similar coloured Schilbe species. It
has a small head; large eyes and a long anal fin that
can have anywhere between forty three and fifty nine
Care for these
mid-water catfish is relatively easy. Keep with a
group of four or more in a medium to large size aquarium
that is well-filtered having a pH ranging between
6 and 7.2; a temperature of between 22 and 25°C,
with wide open spaces with long grass like
plants and a few pieces of bogwood positioned around
its margins would make an ideal habitat for a small
group of Schilbe marmoratus.
River basin and Shiloango system. Type locality:
la rivière Sankuru (Kasaï).
Never has an adipose fin, whereas
some of this family may or may not have. Also akin
to this family is the drooped down caudal fin.Small head; large eyes and a long anal fin
that can have anywhere between forty three and fifty
nine branched rays. Similar to S.yangambianus
and S.brevianalis which also have a marbled
pattern but these two species possess an adipose fin.
The body and head have a light
brown to tan base colour, marbled with brown to sooty
black spots, and with a large sooty black spot on
the lateral line between the dorsal and pectoral fin
base. The ventral surface is coloured white.
Care and Compatibility
Tank mates however should be
chosen with care, as anything that Schilbe marmoratus
can fit into its mouth will be predated upon.
There are no reports
of this catfish breeding behaviour in the wild or
of any captive spawning successes. It may well be
that when these African catfishes congregate in large
schools it is a precursor to spawning activity?.
Feeding is un-problematic as
this is a catfish that readily accepts commercial
prepared foods such as pellets and granules. Frozen
foods, whitebait, prawns and slivers of white fish
such as haddock should be given as part of a weekly
schérifié (noble). It probably announces
the superiority of this species for its taste. marmoratus: Marbled; mottled.
fin:Fleshy finlike projection without
rays, behind the rayed dorsal fin. Dorsal fin:The primary
rayed fin(s) on top of the body. Lateral line:A sensory
line, along the sides of the body. Pectoral fin: The paired fins after
head and before anal fin.