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Brachyplatystoma tigrinum  (Britski, 1981)

ScotCat has now reached its 70th factsheet and to celebrate this milestone we have regular contributor and catfish expert for the U.K.magazine Practical Fishkeeping, Chris Ralph, who has picked a quite magnificent catfish in the Tiger-striped catfish, Brachypatystoma tigrinum. Over now to Chris for an in-depth look at this beauty.

rachyplatystoma tigrinum
is also known as the Tiger-striped Catfish. This magnificent catfish belongs to the family Pimelodidae, representatives of which can be found widespread throughout the rivers of South America. The original specimens that were caught and described by Dr Britski of the Saô Paulo Zoology Museum were from the Rio Maderia in Brazil. It was originally thought that this was the only location where this species of catfish was found, however this catfish is known to be collected in Columbia and I personally have experience of Peruvian exporters collecting these fish in Peru. The original fish were collected in 1978 by Michael Goulding. A publication by Dr Dario Castro of the University of Bogotá in 1984 recorded this catfish as being collected from the lower Caqueta River in Columbia.

Brachyplatystoma tigrinum

Brachyplatystoma tigrinum is quite closely related to Brachyplatystoma juruense, but has a longer upper jaw, and the first rays of the dorsal and pectoral fins are described as being flexible and not pungent. Both of these catfish share a similar colour pattern of inclined stripes on the body, although it has to be said that Brachyplatystoma tigrinum is the more striking of the two fish. Brachyplatystoma juruense is quite often referred to as the "False Tigrinus". The colour pattern is outstanding with a yellow to almost white base colour to the body with black stripes. Most of the fins share this same colour pattern of that of the body of this catfish.

Brachyplatystoma tigrinum

The show size listed in the Catfish Study Group U.K. listing is 450mm s.l. i.e. from the tip of the snout to the base of the caudal peduncle. In their natural habitat, however they grow well in excess of this size and can attain lengths in excess of 600mm quite easily. This catfish is perhaps one of the most expensive specimen from this family of fish. The first specimen that I ever saw back in the mid eighties had a price tag of £1000 (U.K.), and I have recently seen specimens for sale at between £500 and £600. Obviously consideration needs to be given to the size of aquarium in which to keep such a magnificent catfish as this, I would not recommend anyone to keep one of these catfish in anything less than a 72" x 24" x 24". As well as the size of aquarium good filtration is also very important in order to keep a catfish such as this in perfect condition. I would also suggest that sand such as BD Aquarium sand be used as a substrate for the aquarium. This is a catfish that I have not personally kept which probably has something to do with the high price that these fish demand.

I know of a couple of catfish enthusiasts that have kept this fish successfully over the years, one of which was Graham Crook (Danny Blundell's son-in law) and Robin Warne.

It was whilst on a recent fish collecting trip to Peru with Robin Warne, Giles Barlow, Allan James, Jools and Clare Dignall, Stephen Pritchard and Alan Appleton that I found out some little known information about this fish. The exporter in Peru that specialises in large specimen fish such as this informed us that they collect them as juvenile specimens from a local breeding area in the river and grow them on for export. We were informed that when collected at between 50 and 75mm they could be reared successfully in the holding tanks and fed on their favourite food of knife fish. This particular exporter found that when collected at a size of around 300mm they did not fare well and would not feed in captivity. The Peruvian exporter keeps these catfish at his premises for around six months before offering them for sale.

Long upper jaw. First rays of the dorsal and pectoral fins are described as being flexible and not pungent. Long maxillary barbels reaching back to the posterior of the dorsal insertion. Small eyes laterally placed.

Yellow to almost white base colour to the body with black stripes. Most of the fins share this same colour pattern of that of the body of this catfish. Head area from snout to insertion of dorsal fin, devoid of stripes.

Suggested tank mates! anything that does not constitute a meal, I would suggest some of the larger Characins as opposed to any other catfish, which may compete for territory. Most enthusiasts would keep this catfish as a single specimen in a display aquarium.

There are no known obvious external sexual differences 
Not recorded.

As these are predatory catfish they prefer meaty foods such as whole prawns, mussels, pieces of fish and earthworms etc.

Brachyplatystoma: Greek, brachys, eia = short + Greek, platys = flat + Greek, stoma = mouth

Glossary of Terms:
Maxillary barbels : Pertaining to the upper jaw. (maxillary barbels)

Sands, David; Catfishes Of The World Volume 3 Auchenipteridae and Pimelodidae
Baensch; Aquarium Atlas Photo Index 1-5

Photo Credits
Chris Ralph.
Factsheet 070

Merodontotus tigrinus  
Common Name:
Tiger-striped catfish, Zebra Shovelnose
South America: Amazon River basin
Up to and over 60.0cm (24inch)
22 -26°C (71-79°F)    
6.5 - 7.5.
4-30° dGH
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                                                                                                                                  Factsheet 70= updated December 14, 2018 , © ScotCat 1997-2018 Go to Top