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Trachelyopterus galeatus  (Linnaeus, 1766)  

n the 1970s and 80s T. galeatus (known then as Parauchenipterus galeatus) was one of the few members of the woodcats that you could purchase in the U.K. but today there has been a resurgence in popularity for this family although they are still more popular with catfish enthusiasts due to their crepsular habits.

Trachelyopterus galeatus


Not one of the prettiest catfishes around and can often be seen in different colour tones due to the substrate/decor in the tank, and also coming from different river systems they can have a brown colouration (as above) to a darker version (below).

Trachelyopterus galeatus


Aquarium setups should contain hiding places such as pipework as they will jamb themselves in there until dusk where they will venture out for food. If you keep them in a dimly lit tank you will be able to see them more often. Not a quickly growing catfish so they will take several years to reach adult size. Substrate in the tank can be of choice, either small round gravel or sand. The larger the tank the better so they can grow to their potential, anything over 3ft in length is recommended for a pair.


An easy catfish to keep with no special demands on the keeper, although regular water changes are best adhered to.

Dorsal spines (total): 1; Dorsal soft rays (total): 5 - 6; Anal spines: 0; Anal soft rays: 20 - 25. The body is stocky, the head a little depressed, the inferior jaw a little prognathous, the cephalic helmet covered with finely pigmented skin in adults, with a fontanelle shorter than the orbital diameter.

Body colour brown through to dark brown with dark blotch on operculum and just below dorsal fin. Brown mottled appearance throughout body.

Although they are not greatly aggresive they can not to be trusted with small fish so would be better housed with species larger than themself.

The spiny structure of the pectoral fins enables the male to hold the females during mating (internal fertilization). Sperm can be kept in the female's genital tract for several months, owing to a gelatinous emission from the seminal vesicle of the male. At maturity, the size of the adhesive eggs (20% of the female's weight) is 3 mm. Nine days after hatching, alevin size is 1.5 cm and they feed on microscopic worms or small insects. At around 11 days, their negative phototropism pushes them to hide themselves under branches or rocks.

Sexual Diferences

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 won't be too far away with this assumption. 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.


Most prepared foods such as tablet and pellet and frozen foods such as bloodworm. If the aquarium is dimly lit you can see the it coming out to feed and will grab food out of your hand if you dangle frozen bloodworm in the water.

Trachelyopterus: Greek, trachelos = neck + greek, pteron = wing, fin


Anal Fin: The fin forward from the anal cavity.

Dorsal Fin: The primary rayed fin(s) on top of the body
Operculum: The bony covering of the gills of fishes.



Boujard, T., M. Pascal, F.J. Meunier and P.-Y. Le Bail 1997 Poissons de Guyane. Guide écologique de l'Approuague et de la réserve des Nouragues. Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, Paris, 219 p.
Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2009.FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication. www.fishbase.org, version (01/2011).

Photo Credits

Top picture:      
© Allan James @ ScotCat
Bottom Picture: © Enrico Richter @  Amazon Predators
Factsheet 177

Silurus galeatus, Pseudauchenipterus galeatus, Trachycorystes galeatus, Parauchenipterus galeatus, Auchenipterus maculosus, Parauchenipterus paseae
Common Name:
Common Woodcat
South America: Brazil, French Guiana, Peru, Surinam, Trinidad & Tobago.
22cm. (8¾ins)
20-24°c (67-75°f.)   
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                                                                                                      Factsheet 177 = updated December 16, 2018 , © ScotCat 1997-2018 Go to Top