Astroblepidae family is little known as they prefer
cool water and are not kept very often in the hobby
due to their exact requirements. But nonetheless they
are very interesting especially in their climbing
Fishes of the
family Astroblepidae (and its one valid genus Astroblepus
Humboldt, 1805) are found in freshwaters streams (between
200 to 13,400 feet above sea level) of the tropical
Andes from Panama to Bolivia, and occur in both the
western Pacific and eastern Amazonian slope drainage
systems in South and Central America.
closely related to the Loricariids, and in fact one
genus of fish (Lithogenes Eigenman, 1909)
seems intermediate between the two families, having
the shape and form of an Astroblepid, but some plates
on the body and other morphological characters closer
to Loricariids. Astroblepids are distinguished from
loricariids by the naked body, which is covered by
bony plates in loricariids. At the time of writing,
Lithogenes is currently placed in Loricariidae.
view with the suckermouth and the attachment apparatus
on the belly
The images above
were taken by myself in the field at an altitude of
1471m and a water temperature of 15.6C (60.1F). We
found Astroblepus in the Madre De Dios region
between 443m (1453ft) to 1471m (4826ft) high but never
Upper Ucayali River
basin and the Madre De Dios region Peru
All species of Astroblepus
feed on Aufwuchs which is why they are problematic
to keep in the aquarium for any length of time.
The structure of their mouth and teeth reminds one
strongly of loricariids.
adopted perfectly to strong current. They do not
have only a suckermouth, but also a moveable adhesive
apparatus on the belly. Both specializations allow
the fish to climb even over the strongest rapids
existing. On the upper edge of the opercula is a
small aperture that allows the fish to breath even
although the mouth is attached to the ground.
There are at present (April
2019) 67 species in the Astroblepus
This species may be A. mancoi or a very
Upper Ucayali River basin and the Madre De Dios region
Peru. Type locality: le haut, Peru.
Astroblepidae have the head and body depressed, flattened
and not covered by an armour of dermal scutes.
Two pairs of barbels, one maxillary
and one nasal. The dorsal fin is short with 6 to 7
rays that is provided with a stout spine. An
adipose fin is either present or absent and when present
it is often long and low with a stout spine. The mouth
is inferior, with the lips expanded and forming a
Dark brown body colour with
yellowish vertical bands. Caudal fin outer rays
with brown and yellow bands. Dorsal fin clear with
hard ray sporting brown and yellow bands.
Care & Compatibility
Not an easy family of catfishes
to keep as they would have to have a large tank with
rocks and some appropriate vegetation. The water would
need to be fast flowing and provided with extra oxygen
via an air tube fed into the powerhead flow. The tank
should be set up with rocks so as to provide an area
where the water current will be slower. Any fast water
fishes could be added that are used to cooler water
Males have an
elongate urogenital papilla that apparently functions
as an intromittent organ.
insect larvae, spirulina tablets or paste, algae based
foods and live bloodworm would probably be the staple
diet but you may wish to try glassworm and blackworm
(although these won’t tend to stay on the substrate
unless the current takes them there).
Dorsal fin: The primary rayed fin(s) on top
of the body. Adipose fin: Fleshy finlike projection
without rays, behind the rayed dorsal fin. Maxillary barbels: Pertaining to
the upper jaw (maxillary barbels). Nasal barbels:
On top of the head, by the nostrils. (nasal barbels). Opercula: The bony covering of the
gills of fishes.
Astron = star; blepos = look. macoi:
For the Inca Ayar Manco,
coloniser of Cuzco, the “Moses of the Peruvian
Indians”, who, about 1100 A.D. led the exodus
from Tampu-tocco.” (Eigenmann & Allen, 1942)
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.
Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2017. FishBase.
World Wide Web electronic publication. www.fishbase.org,
( 02/2017 ).
Google Maps: 2019. Grant; Steven, The Aquarium Gazette:
Issue 1; February/March 2008; ASTROBLEPUS. www.aquariumglaser.de www.gowildperu.com