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Callichthys callichthys  (Linnaeus, 1758)   

he Armoured Catfish is well named as the flanks of this catfish resemble the tiles on your house roof and as such is one of the most hardiest patrons of our aquariums.

Callichthys callichthys

As you can see from the side panel this member of the Callichthyidae family, which also includes the Cory's, is well distributed around most of the countries of South America and as only recently as 1999 this catfish was monotypic ( having only one species, such as a monotypic family of fishes). Three more recently described species, Callichthys fabricioi Roman-Valencia, Lehmann and Muñoz, 1999, from the upper Cauca River of the Magdalena River basin in Colombia, Callichthys serralabium Lehmann & Reis, 2004, from the upper Orinoco River, near La Esmeralda, Venezuela and the headwaters of the Negro River tributary of the Amazon River, both in Brazil and Venezuela and the latest, Callichthys oibaensis Ardilia Rodríguez, 2005, from the Suárez River basin, Colombia. The differences between our factsheet subject this month, Callichthys callichthys, and Callichthys serralabium is that Callichthys serralabium possess a serrated lower lip, 8–9 branched rays in the pectoral fin, an irregular colour pattern of dark, diffuse blotches on flanks of adults, a longer anal-fin spine, and absence of the prenasal central plate.

In its natural habitat Callichthys callichthys can move from a dried up stream to other waters by crawling on its ventral fins.

Callichthys callichthys was many years ago a much sought after catfish in the U.K. but as trends and time passes by and the many species of Corydoras started arriving in this country due to the much improved air travel, and also the much vaunted arrival of the many new varieties of Loracariids and the L-numbers, its popularity waned, but there is still an interest among the more discerning aquarist that the Armoured Catfish still has a part to play in the catfish fraternity.

Callichthys callichthys = male

As stated earlier, Callichthys callichthys is an easy catfish to keep as long as its inhabitants are not too small, such as very small tetras and Livebearer fry, apart from that you well need at least a 30inch (76.5cm) long to give them some room with hiding places such as rockwork and or, a wood layout such as bogwood or branchwork. Sand or gravel for the substrate would suffice and of course a weekly change of water of about 20-25%.

D 1/6; A 1/5-6; 26-29 bony scutes in the upper lateral series, 25-28 in the lower. Body elongate, of almost uniform depth, tapering in breadth posteriorly. Head broad, flattened dorsally. Two rows of bony scutes on the flanks, arranged like tiles on a roof. Caudal fin rounded. 2 pairs of maxillary barbels which reach to the pectoral fins when laid back. Eyes small.

Dark olive-green to dark grey with a delicate blue or violet sheen on the flanks. Underside blue-grey to brownish. Fins grey with dark spots, the margins pale or in fine specimens, orange to reddish.

Very adaptable to water conditions and can be housed with most other fish as long as they are not too small or overly aggressive. More than one can be kept. May be prone to digging and uprooting plants.

Is a bubble nest builder and as such can lay up to 120 eggs in the nest. The male looks after the nest area and can be heard making grunting noises when doing so. The young hatch at about 4-5 days and can be fed as per Corydoras species. The male in breeding condition sports orange to red in the pectoral spine as seen in above image.

Can be fed most aquarium fare such as good quality flake, tablet, pellet foods and frozen food such as bloodworm.

Callichthys: Callum = hard skin; ichthys = fish.

Lehmann, Pablo and Reis, Roberto E.; Copeia: Vol. 2004, No. 2, pp. 336–343. Callichthys serralabium: A New Species of Neotropical Catfish from the Upper Orinoco and Negro Rivers (Siluriformes: Callichthyidae)
Lehmann, Pablo and Reis, Roberto E.; Systematic revision of the neotropical armored catfish genus Callichthys (Ostariophysi: Siluriformes: Callichthyidae).
Sterba, Günther; Sterba's Freshwater Fishes of the World vol.1

Factsheet Request
Mathew Childers

Photo Credits

Top:       Allan James @ ScotCat

Bottom: Danny Blundell

Factsheet 095

Callichthys asper, C.coelatus, C. laeviceps, C.loricatus, C.tamoata, Cataphractus callichthys, C.depressus, Silurus callichthys
Common Name:
Armoured Catfish, Cascarudo
Argentina Argentina
Brazil Brazil
Colombia Colombia
Ecuador Ecuador
French Guiana French Guiana
Guyana Guyana
Paraguay Paraguay
Peru Peru
Surinam Surinam
Trinidad & Tobago Trinidad & Tobago
Uruguay Uruguay
Venezuela Venezuela

18.0cm (7 ins)
20-27°C (68-81°f.)
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                                                                                                                                Factsheet 95 = updated December 14, 2018 © ScotCat 1997-2018  Go to Top