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Acanthodoras spinosissimus  (Eigenmann & Eigenmann, 1888)

canthodorus spinosissimus
belongs to the Doradidae family and is very similar to Acanthodoras cataphractus (Linnaeus, 1758)
. The main differences are the lateral body plates of the caudal peduncle in A. cataphractus tend to meet above and below (except the last one), whereas in A. cataphractus the last four or five pairs are separated. A. spinosissimus also has a broader and spinier humeral process. and A. cataphractus also tends to be a more slimmer fish.

Acanthodoras spinosissimus


In their natural habitat these catfish are said to be abundant in the calm waters of swamps and mangroves. They are most active at night preferring to take refuge during the day. Not often imported but can sometimes can be found as a bycatch alongside Platydoras armatulus.



Acanthodoras spinosissimus  = dorsal view


Dorsal view

This genera is the only of the family that has a rounded tail. When these individuals are caught they will emit sounds by the movement of their thorny pectorals and secrete a milky substance from the axillary pore under the humeral process. This substance is harmful for other fish and Schomburgk (1841) reports that is bitter to the taste.


Head more wide that long. The body is completely assembled with spines that are fairly deep, they cover more than half of the body and are almost in contact in the dorsal area.

A thin yellow band all the long flank and another more faint, from the eyes to the start of the dorsal fin. All fins have markings without a specific pattern.

Aquarium Care

These catfish are ideally suited to being kept in a community aquarium environment with other medium to large species of fish such as Bleeding Heart Tetras, Emperor Tetras and other catfish. The main thing to remember is that these catfish have quite a large mouth and are capable of eating any fish small enough to fit inside.


Wherever possible it is recommended that the aquarist keep these catfish in small groups of four to six specimens, assuming that they are available in these numbers; failing this they are quite happy to shoal with other members of the family Doradidae. In their natural habitat they would be found in very large shoals.

The close cousin Acanthodoras cataphractus is documented as having been spawned in aquaria. Both parents were observed digging a depression in the substrate into which the eggs were deposited. The eggs were guarded by both fish. The eggs hatched after 4-5 days although unfortunately the young did not survive beyond the fry stage of development. This should also be the case with Acanthodoras spinosissimus

Sexual Differences

The males tend to be more slender than the females which tend to have a plump appearance.


Omnivorous and readily accepts a mixed and varied diet which they search through the substrate. Catfish pellets, good quality flake foods, granular foods, cultured whiteworm, earthworms, aquatic snails which they relish and frozen foods such as bloodworm to name but a few.

Glossary of Terms

Humeral process: Bony extension of the pectoral girdle.
Dorsal: The primary rayed fin(s) on top of the body.
Pectoral: The paired fins just behind the head.

Pectoral girdle: The bony or cartilaginous skeletal arch supporting the pectoral fins.



Acanthodoras: from the Greek acantha = thorns, and doras, meaning skin; in reference to the spines on the bony scutes along the lateral line.
spinosissimus: the most spiny.


Burgess, W.E. 1989 An atlas of freshwater and marine catfishes. A preliminary survey of the Siluriformes. T.F.H. Publications, Inc., Neptune City, New Jersey (USA). 784 p.
Conservación Internacional; seris de Guías Tropicales De Campo. Pecos del medio Amazonas Región de Leticia. 546 p.
Ferraris, C.J. Jr., 2007. Checklist of catfishes, recent and fossil (Osteichthyes: Siluriformes), and catalogue of siluriform primary types. Zootaxa 1418:1-628.

Grant, Steven: pers. comm.
Ferraris, C.J. Jr., 2007. Checklist of catfishes, recent and fossil (Osteichthyes: Siluriformes), and catalogue of siuriform primary types. Zootaxa 1418:1-628.
Photo Credits
© Steven Grant

Factsheet 244

Doras brunnescens, Doras spinosissimus
Common Name:
Chocolate talking catfish
South America: Amazon and Essequibo River basins. Type locality: Upper Essequibo [Guyana].
15cm. (6ins)
22-26°C (71-79°F)
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                                                                                                                                        Factsheet 244 = updated October 20, 2004, © ScotCat 1997-2018 Go to Top