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Tatia aulopygia  (Kner, 1858)

he genus Tatia contains around about 14 species (2010) distributed throughout South America east of the Andes from Venezuela and Colombia to Southern Brazil. They don't grow big and the largest size recorded is 12cm. ( 5ins).

Tatia aulopygia


Tatia tend to be kept by catfish fanatics (for the want of a better word!) as you will not see them from one week to another as they are nocturnal (active at night) and you have to feed at lights out or as I do, put food into the pipe or crevice that you will find them jammed into. 

Tatia aulopygia is quite a plain catfish. The eyes are large with a skin over them and a few non catfish aquarists tend to think that they have cloudy eye's and it is a disease, but this is normal for the Auchenipteridae family.
The barbels are moderate in length reaching to the end of the dorsal fin and they tend to bend them upwards when looking for food. They can also tuck their barbels alongside their cheeks making them nearly invisible. I tend to think that there is a groove in this area where they can lay their barbels in. They possess two pairs of barbels, one pair of mandibular and one pair of maxillary.

They have quite a chunky body with a broad based caudal peduncle (between the dorsal and caudal) which is unusual in itself as in most fish it slopes down to the caudal fin. Tatia possess a very small adipose fin and a moderately sized ventral and anal.


The anal fin is the key to the sexual dimorphism of this genus, if you think of the male and female of most livebearer fish (Goodeidae family) and you will not be too far away with this assumption. As you can see above the female has a normal anal fin but the males are modified into a copulatory organ with the first and second ray thickened and longer, it is thought that the male uses this to clasp the female during the spawning embrace.


Tatia aulopygia = close up

Dorsal fin I,5 (n=7); dorsal-fin spine with 14-16 antrorse serrations along entire anterior margin; posterior margin smooth. Pectoral fin I,5 (n=7); pectoral-fin spine with 21-24 antrorse serrations along anterior margin; small serrations close to spine base; 14-16 retrorse serrations along posterior margin; serrations along both margins progressively larger toward spine tip. Pelvic fin i,5 (n=7); margin rounded. Adipose fin small, origin on vertical through end of anal-fin base. Anal fin iii,7-8 (n=7); anal-fin pterygiophores in eight rod-like proximal radials and seven cartilaginous distal radials. Caudal fin forked, lobes with rounded tips, 8+9 principal rays, 18- 20 upper procurrent, 17-20 lower procurrent rays (n=7). Pleural ribs 10-11 attached to consecutive vertebrae. PostWeberian vertebrae 38-39 (n=4).

Body coloration is somewhat variable, usually with large bands or blotches irregularly distributed over sides of body. In some specimens colouration is uniformly dark or pale brown, with caudal fin mottled.
Some young specimens have small spots over ventrolateral parts of body and a barred caudal fin.

Give them small pipes, and they do seem to like to hide in the crevices of bogwood as well. They appear to be happier if they can jam themselves in with the use of their pectoral fins. Community tanks are fine for this species although you may find that they will predate on fry from other species, but apart from that they come well recommended but don't expect to see them too often.

Internal fertilisation with the eggs deposited 24-48 hours later. Also a report on Tatia creutzbergi, (T. gyrina) with them placing their adhesive eggs on the underside of wood with no broodcare after the event. A few members of the Auchenipteridae family have been spawned in the hobby with a successful breeding and raising of the young of Trachelyichthys decaradiatus by Dick Thompson, a former member of The Northern Area Catfish Group (now Catfish Study Group U.K.)

In its native habitat they feed on small invertebrates and crustaceans and in the aquarium they will eat anything given such as frozen bloodworm inserted in to their hideaway, catfish tablets, white worm (sparingly) and prawns and shrimp. They do like their food and you can see them shooting out of their hideouts and swimming in a frenzied manner to try and take all for themselves, especially when you feed them their favourite food, frozen bloodworm.

Tatia: In honour of Mr. C. Tate Regan.

Burgess, Warren.E.Dr. Freshwater and Marine Catfishes
Riehl, Baensch. Aquarium Atlas 3.1997.
Catfish Association Great Britain. Volume1
Sterba, Gunther; Freshwater Fishes of the World 1
Sarmento-Soares, Luisa Maria; Martins-Pinheiro, Ronaldo Fernando A systematic revision of Tatia (Siluriformes: Auchenipteridae: Centromochlinae) Neotropical Ichthyology, 6(3):495- 542, 2008.

Photo Credits
   ©   Johnny Jensen's Photographic Library
Factsheet 048

Common Name:
Snowflake Woodcat
South America: occurs in the Madeira river drainage of the Amazon basin. Most records are from upper reaches, in the Guaporé and Mamoré rivers.
10cm (4ins)
21-24c (69-75f )
6.5 - 7.5.
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                                                                                                                                         Factsheet 48 = updated January 29, 2016 , © ScotCat 1997-2016 Go to Top