last factsheet of 2017 and we head to South America
to a member of the Auchenipteridae
family and one you do
not see very often in the hobby, not like Auchenipterichthys
coracoideus, the "Midnight Catfish".
I am referring of course to Auchenipterichthys
There are four
species in this genera namely, A.
coracoideus, a species
that occurs in the upper Essequibo River, Auchenipterichthys
longimanus, the most widely distributed species
of the genus, and found through much of the Amazon
and Orinoco River basins, Auchenipterichthys
thoracatus from the
upper Madeira River basin and at one time misidentified
as A. coracoideus and our fourth species
of the genus,and our factsheet of the month
for December 2017, A. punctatus (and its
junior synonym A. dantei). It is found in
the upper portions of the Orinoco and Negro River
basins in Venezuela and the central portions of the
Amazon River basin in Brazil. At the northernmost
collecting site (altitude of about 150 m) along upper
Rio Negro, the water was blackish, over rocky bottoms.
the extended sharp spine to dorsal fin.
punctatus is most
similar in appearance to A. longimanus, which
differs from A. punctatus primarily in lacking
distinct, dark spots covering the head or body. Auchenipterichthys
punctatus is readily distinguished from its other
two congeners, A. coracoideus and A.
thoracatus, which have coracoids that are covered
ventrally only by a thin layer of integument and appear
to be exposed to the surface, the anterior teeth on
premaxilla are visible in the closed mouth and, typically,
eight (rarely nine) branched pelvic-fin rays (Ferraris
Orinoco River and Upper Amazon River basins, including
the Negro River.
Dorsal-fin origin at approximately
0.30–0.34 of SL. Length of dorsal-fin base slightly
less than one-half of length of first branched dorsal-fin
ray. Dorsal-fin spine pungent, with slightly curved,
convex anterior margin (see above image). Body depth
at dorsal-fin origin 0.25–0.27 of SL and equal
to, or slightly greater than body width at cleithrum.
Body depth at anal-fin origin approximately 0.25 of
SL and equal to HL. Body compressed, with width at
anal-fin origin slightly less than one-half of body
depth at that point. Ventral surface of coracoids
not exposed on ventral surface of body (Fig. 1c).
Lateral line complete and midlateral. Canal having
irregular zigzag pattern, with oblique posteriorly-directed
branches off main canal. Lateral line canal extending
short distance onto caudal fin base and branched with
both obliquely posterodorsal and obliquely posteroventral
Overall ground colouration
of adults tan to brown, universally dark on dorsal
portion of head and body other than in smaller individuals
that may have darker spots scattered over dorsal
one-half of body. Midlateral region along lateral
line pale other than in smaller individuals. Pale
region in such specimens forming narrow,
irregularly-margined, horizontal stripe. Lateral
and dorsolateral surface of body with series of
unpigmented, rounded spots of size most often approximately
equal to one-fifth of width of pupil or smaller.
Lateral surface of body ventral
of lateral line tan to light brown and overlain
by variably sized and distributed spots of dark
pigmentation. Dark spots proportionally larger in
small specimens. Abdomen and lower portion of head
posterior of lateral mandibular barbel pale. Margin
of lower lip darkly pigmented.
Care & Compatibility
A tank setup for this species
would entail a minimum size of 36x12x15ins (92x30x38cm)
with plenty of hiding places with a temperature around
the 23-25°c (73-77°f.) mark. Filtration
could be by external or internal filters.
You don't need to provide too strong a current in
your aquarium as this would unnerve this secretive
fish and also not too bright aquarium lighting would
benefit this cat also. A parting shot here is the
fish you would include with your A. punctatus,
try to keep away from small tetra-like fish as
they will soon disappear at night and also aggressive
fish such as the larger Cichlids which would harass
this catfish and stop it getting any food. Good community
catfish with normal sized patrons but not to be trusted
with small Tetras for instance, which will be picked
of at night on its twilight patrols.
This family practice
internal fertilization with the female depositing
the fertilized eggs on aquatic vegetation with no
care of the eggs shown. An unsuccessful breeding report
for A. coracoideus states that the male swims
behind the female and they suddenly lock their pectoral,
female's adipose and caudal fin. They speed around
the tank and are oblivious to anything around them.
After this confrontation they
break apart and fall to the aquarium floor where they
sit for a couple hours in a "dazed" condition.
To sex male from
female is common to the Auchenipteridae
family. Juveniles are
hard to sex but as they mature the males develop a
black hooked extension to the anal fin which resembles
the gonopodium of Livebearers of the Goodiae family.
Stomach contents of four specimens
indicate a diet consisting mainly of insect nymphs
and adults. (Soares-Porto, L.M.1994).
Can be fed most aquarium fare such as good quality
flake, white worm, tablet and pellet foods and frozen
foods such as bloodworm. Better
to feed at lights out until they get accustomed to
the daytime feeding regime when they may very well
The major bone of the pectoral girdle, extending upward
from the pectoral fin base and forming the rear margin
of the gill cavity, also: the principal bow-shaped bone
of the prectoral girlde, dermal in origin, forming the
rear margin of the gill cavity. It articulates dorsally
with the supracleithrum and ventrally with the scapula
and coracoid. Anal fin:The median,
unpaired, ventrally located fin that lies behind the
anus, usually on the posterior half of the fish. Coracoids:
Middle and lower section
of the pectoral girdle.
Lateral line: A sensory line, along the sides
of the body. Dorsal: The primary rayed fin(s) on
top of the body. Caudal fin:
The tail. Pungent: piercing or sharp-pointed.
Auchenipterichthys: From the Greek, auchenos, meaning neck;
pteron, meaning fin; ichthys, meaning fish in reference
to the long cranial shield, giving the appearance
that the dorsal fin originates at the neck region. punctatus: From the Latin
punctatus = 'spotted'.
C.J. Jr., 2007.
Checklist of catfishes, recent and fossil (Osteichthyes:
Siluriformes), and catalogue of siluriform primary
types. Zootaxa 1418:1-628. Ferraris, C.J. Jr., Vari,
P. Richard and Raredon, J.Sandra; Catfishes
of the genus Auchenipterichthys (Osteichthyes: Siluriformes:
Auchenipteridae); a revisionary study. Neotropical
Ichthyology, 3(1):89-106, 2005. Soares-Porto, L.M. 1994 Auchenipterichthys
dantei, a new species of catfish from the Amazon Basin
(Siluriformes: Auchenipteridae). Ichthyol. Explor.