his month we concentrate
on a family of fish that are, on the most part, overlooked
by even the most ardent catfish hobbyists. The Aspredinidae
family are what is known in the hobby as " Banjo
Cats" or "Guitarrita" (little guitar)
owing to their long flattened banjo/guitar shape.
They are even cited as "Frying Pan Fish".
You will probably get my drift now on the shape of
this months factsheet individual, namely, Bunocephalus
coracoideus, the "Banjo Catfish".
Banjo Cat is a rugged looking individual with its
lumps and bumps and can not be classed as pretty in
the sense of the word, but has a charm all of its
own in the catfish world. Its head is very broad and
flat with very small eyes, 3 pairs of barbels with
the maxillary's reaching to about a third of the length
of the strong serrated pectoral spine which you can
observe in the bottom head shot. As you can also see
in the photo the best substrate for them is sand where
they can bury themselves for the best part of the
daylight hours and only appear at night where they
can be seen scurrying across the bottom looking for
food. They can propel themselves through the water
by taking water into their mouths and then propelling
it out of their gills thus causing a burst of speed
across the substrate.
It is said that they shed their skin periodically
but I would surmise that this would coincide with
a downturn in water quality in their tank thus causing
stress and the shedding of the skin.
family is divided into two subfamilies, Bunocephalinae,
this months subject, and Aspredininae and can be told
apart by the longer anal fin of the latter, and also
the longer body. Below you can see the differences
in the species Platystacus
the "Banded Banjo" from the subfamily Aspredininae,
and Bunocephalus coracoideus from the Bunocephalinae
subfamily in the top picture.
sexing out of this species is not easy but a rule
of thumb is that the females are larger and fuller
in the belly and usually a little darker in colouration.
Can be kept in groups and are non aggresive inmates
in a shallow tank. The main problem is seeing them
as they are a nocturnal species and you may be able
to spot them if you feed at lights out in the dusk
of a half lit room or fishhouse.
To finish off,
this is a peaceful catfish which has its own small
fan club here in the U.K. especially in the Catfish
Study Group, so if
you live in the United Kingdom or are visiting, why
don't you came along to one of the meetings and find
out more about this odd catfish.
River basin of Bolivia, Brazil, and Peru.
Type locality: Nauta, Peru.
D 1/4; A 1/6-7; P 1/5; V 1/5;
Head and anterior part of body very strongly depressed
and broad, tapering posteriorly. Caudal peduncle very
long and compressed. Pectoral fin-spines very stout
and serrated. No adipose fin. 3 pairs of barbels,
of which those on the maxillary are the longest and
reach to the pectoral fin when laid back. Skin naked;
flanks with rows of tubercles.
Depending on health, uniform
dark brown to pale brown with dark bands and blotches.
The whole body is strewn with small pale spots. Underside
paler, often with brown blotches. Fins translucent
brownish with pale brown to black blotches; caudal
with a dark edge.
Care & Compatibility
No problem to keep in a community
tank and they will forage out in the open when food
is introduced. Can be kept in groups and are non aggresive
inmates in a shallow tank. The main problem is seeing
them as they are a nocturnal species and you may be
able to spot them if you feed at lights out in the
dusk of a half lit room or fishhouse. Provide sand
as a substrate as they will dig themselves into this
and will smell food as it is introduced.
This is one of
the few Banjo's that have been spawned in captivity.
The eggs which can boast a total of 4,000 are laid
in the sand and would probably be better served if
they are removed to a smaller tank or container, and
when hatched will need to be fed very fine first foods
such as brine shrimp and micro worm, after they have
used up their yolk sac. They can then be weaned onto
small worm foods such as grindel worm and tubifex.
Determining the sexing out
of this species is not easy but a rule of thumb is that
the females are larger and fuller in the belly and usually
a little darker in colouration.
Adults when settled in their
tank are not fussy feeders and can be fed a healthy
diet of worm foods such as frozen bloodworm and tubifex
and also tablet food at lights out.
Dorsal fin: The primary rayed fin(s) on top
of the body. Nuchal: Area between the skull and
dorsal fin. Pectoral fins: The paired fins just
behind the head. Tubercles:
Tentacle-like projections. Ventral fins: The paired fins, between
the pectorals and the anal fins.
Buno = mound;cephalus
= head.(with bumps on the head) coracoideus:Like a raven, black.
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. Sterba, Gunther;Sterba's Freshwater Fishes of the World no 1.